We have a few more weeks of summer vacation here in Utah. What to do with kids once the glow of long, lazy summer days has worn thin, the family vacations are past, and the temperatures soar? Take them to the library. Better yet, spend a whole day at an extraordinary library.
For my children (ages 9 and 6), spending an entire day at the downtown Salt Lake City Public Library is a treat. Not only does this unique library have what is possibly the largest collection of children's books in the state of Utah, but it also has a waterfall, a rooftop garden, a real beehive, movies to watch and computer games to play. Even if your kids aren't hardcore bookworms, the Salt Lake City Public Library really does offer hours of FREE family fun.
Here are my top tips for spending the day at the downtown Salt Lake City Public Library:
1. Check the calendar
You may want to plan your visit around one of the library's special programs, such as story time, Lunch Bunch, Wednesday crafts, Dog Day Afternoon, or Friday Movie Afternoon. Click here to see all the special events at the Salt Lake City Public Library. There are several library branches in Salt Lake City, so make sure your event is happening at the Main branch.
2. Consider taking Trax
If you are planning to spend the entire day at and around the library, consider public transportation. It is not difficult to find parking around or under the library, but it is difficult to find free parking, unless you're willing to cruise the surrounding blocks and walk. There is a Trax stop in front of the library.
The parking meters on the street accept credit cards and are easy to use, but you cannot pay for more than two hours at a time, so you have to pay attention to the time, and move your car every two hours. Park underground for as long as you want, but expect to pay more per hour.
A bonus to using public transportation is that it will open up more dining options on 400 South or downtown Salt Lake City for lunch or dinner.
3. Establish a base
Families with young readers will probably want to establish a base downstairs in the children's section. There are lots of nooks and crannies, like the “attic” or the “ice cave” here to sit down and share books. On pleasant days, there is also a patio with a waterfall. This is a sheet of water rolling down a wall and into a grate on the ground, so it is possible for kids to play around it without getting soaked.
4. Bring an extra adult
The library is a fun place for adults to explore too, so bring your spouse or team up with a friend. One adult can supervise young children while the other browses for magazines or other reading material to bring back downstairs to the children's section. If your kids are older, this might not be such a big deal.
5. Where to eat
Bring a picnic or snacks to eat on the roof or on Library Square, or choose a restaurant in the area. The library has its own cafe, Salt Lake City's first Dunkin Donuts just opened across the street, or many other options can be found within a few blocks.
If a full day at the library is a little much for your family, there are lots of other fun things to do nearby. One of our favorites is The Leonardo museum next door.
Good to Know
Where: 210 East 400 South, Salt Lake City
- Mon.-Thurs. 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
- Fri.-Sat. 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
- Sunday 1-5 p.m.
How Much: FREE
How Long: 1-8 hours – how much does your family like to read?
Amenities: cafe, restrooms, family restrooms, breastfeeding/changing room. TIP: In addition to the regular bathrooms, find child-size family bathrooms in the east end of the children's section.