It’s Cathy from My Book a Day. Christmas time is the most magical time of the year with kids. Our kids (ages 18, 12, and 4) are no different. I love sharing the magic of Christmas with our kids in Salt Lake City. There are so many things to do and see and most of them are free or very inexpensive.
Here are my favorite Christmas activities in downtown Salt Lake City.
There are so many unique things on Temple Square, especially during Christmastime. Start by going inside the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. There is always a volunteer playing Christmas music on the piano in the lobby. At this time of year, you’ll hear favorite Christmas hymns.
Make sure to check out the Giving Machine. It's a hugely popular vending machine where you can purchase items that will help people locally and around the world. There are so many great opportunities for you to give service at the machine for others who are less fortunate. Who wouldn’t want to buy a goat or a chicken for someone in a third world country?
Before you leave, grab cookies and cocoa from Nauvoo Cafe! You could also eat at any of the other restaurants on Temple Square: The Roof, The Lion House or The Garden Restaurant. And make sure to see the view of Temple Square from the top floor of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building as well.
There are so many live Christmas performances on Temple Square during December. They have a website with a guide to when and where each performance is so that you don’t miss even one. And bonus, these are usually inside, so you can warm up after seeing the lights. Another thing to look for is the sister missionaries outside caroling. Our family loves the sweet feeling we get when we see these dear sisters performing.
Make sure to notice the Nativities from many different countries. This has become a fun family tradition for our family. We even spotted a new nativity this year! There’s also the large nativity next to the Tabernacle with the Christmas story and the one in the fountain. Make sure to see them all!
Parking in City Creek Center is free for the first two hours, making this a free outing!
City Creek Center
Speaking of City Creek Center, that’s where you should head with your family next. I love the way City Creek Center is decorated with beautiful lights and a tree. There are so many things to do there!
You can start your visit to City Creek Center off by visiting Santa Claus. He’s a huge part of the magic of Christmas for kids. There is a virtual line, so you can shop or dine instead of standing in line.
Next, check out the Macy’s candy windows. These get crowded. One tip for avoiding the crowds near these windows is to see them earlier in the day. It doesn’t have to be dark to view these; they’re great when it’s light as well. Our family loves seeing the huge ornaments made completely of different kinds of candy.
One more window we always visit is the window at the Deseret Book Flagship store in City Creek Center. They have a different theme every year. This year is nativities from around the world and it’s beautiful. You can also go inside and see where the nativities are from. Our kids enjoyed playing with the kiosk that lights up different countries on a world map to show where the nativities are from.
There’s also the water fountain with the fire. This is a really unique feature of City Creek Center and it’s just a fun thing to watch. There is a fire show at the top of each hour. In addition, at 7 and 9 pm, there’s a show with 3 songs. Make sure to watch your kids. We’ve watched this show from the second floor of City Creek Center. It not only keeps your kids away from the fire, but sometimes you can get a better view being up higher.
When you visit the fountain, make sure to see the beautiful Christmas tree as well. It’s right next to it. You can’t miss it.
The Jingle Bus looks like a lot of fun! It’s a bus that runs between City Creek Center and the Gateway. There are multiple stops where you can get on and off. You can view all the beautiful downtown Salt Lake City decorations and hear bits of history from the tour guides on the bus. The best part is that it’s all free as well!
Windows at The Grand America
Make sure to go see the Windows at The Grand America Hotel. This really is something I look forward to all year. The Grand America Hotel pulls out all the stops. The windows are so much fun to look at, and there’s an I Spy type game that goes with them.
There’s also a huge gingerbread house. I love that there are usually stats about how much flour, eggs, molasses, etc went into it. And it’s always surprising just how long it took to make. This year there’s also an Eiffel Tower replica that is beautiful. Your kids will love that you can get a cookie at the gingerbread house!
The Grand America charges for parking. We were there for just over an hour and paid $6 to park.
There is nothing like celebrating Christmas in Salt Lake City. It's such a beautiful place to spend an evening or weekend.
Want more ideas for Christmas activities across the state of Utah? Click the button to read Allison's post, 50 Christmas Activities in Utah for Families.