It’s no secret that the Utah State Capitol has an amazing walkway that blossoms in the Spring. We’ve written about the Cherry Blossoms at the Capitol before. The real secret is the free tour that you can take at the Utah State Capitol Building. We took this hour-long tour recently and really enjoyed seeing and learning about this amazing building.
Tours of the Capitol start on the hour between 11 am-3 pm at the east entrance. These free tours are offered Monday-Friday, except on holidays. There is some parking on the east and north side, but it does fill up fast. Once you do get parked, enter the Capitol between the lions on the east side. There is a security desk where the docents meet five minutes before the hour to start tours.
One tip is to arrive early for the tour. Just to the right of the security desk is a small museum that is interactive for the kids. It isn’t large, and will only take 15-20 minutes to enjoy, but it’s a great place to wait for tours to start. Find more info about the Visitor Center later in this post.
The actual tour takes you to three levels of the building. You’ll see the Gold Room, which is where the governor greets guests and addresses the state in press conferences. The tour also visits both the House and Senate Chambers, and if Congress is in session, you can very quietly spend a few minutes watching them work. You’ll also visit the retired Supreme Court room, the Court having been moved to larger quarters outside the Capitol Building in 1998.
The kids will enjoy standing under the Capitol Dome and seeing the many paintings and statues that depict Utah History. This is especially meaningful for kids about ten years old, whose school curriculum covers these topics.
The tour actually goes beneath the building as well. Down below, you can see the stabilizers that were added to the Capitol, which will keep the granite from splitting up during an earthquake.
First Floor Displays
There are a few things that are “off-tour” that you can stop to see as well. The bottom floor of the Utah Capitol has a replica of the Liberty Bell. Just east of it, there are displays of Utah industries, including film-making and films made in Utah. There are also portraits of all the governors of Utah on this floor.
If you miss the free tour, you can still wander around the capitol building if it is open. Make sure to spend some time inside the visitor center, like we mentioned above. There is a replica of the lions that are on display outside. There are also lots of interactive and hands-on displays for the kids to enjoy. Our boys liked pretending to give a speech, and making drawings of the different symbols used in the Capitol. There is also a short film that you can watch about the building.
Grounds of the Utah State Capitol Building
Outside the Capitol there are some amazing spots that are worth a visit. Directly west of the Capitol down the steps, there are large monuments to the military and first responders. The statues in these gardens were some of our boys’ favorites because they are really beautiful. Remember to practice reverence as you visit. To the north of the building there are a few more statues featuring influential Utahns. We also loved the large reflecting pool to the north of the Utah Capitol. It’s a great spot for photos. To the south are large ornate beehive statues. Finally, on the southwest corner is a massive memorial to the Pioneers, which showcases the Mormon Battalion.
All these stops taken together, along with the cherry blossoms, can take up to a half day. There are also lots of beautiful green grassy areas where you can have a picnic right next to the Utah State Capitol Building. But the great thing is, you don’t have to visit all these sites at one time. They are all free, and can be done on separate visits. For current hours and tour times, visit the Utah State Capitol website. There are many other great tours in Salt Lake City, too. Check out Temple Square to see where else you can visit.