Considering a visit to Salt Lake City’s Natural History Museum of Utah with kids? Absolutely go! This is one of the best natural history museums we’ve visited, with five stories of exhibits on earth and life science. The museum is located on the University of Utah campus in Salt Lake City, and families can easily spend a full morning or afternoon here.
If you’re visiting in the warmer months, allow time to explore the outdoor spaces, including terraces with views of the Wasatch Mountains and downtown, and hiking trails that lead from the museum. During my visit in winter, these areas were closed due to heavy snow, but this may not always be the case.
Natural History Museum of Utah with kids:
The building housing the museum alone is impressive; its copper exterior and LEED Gold certified features echo the message of the permanent exhibits: one of sustainability and eco-responsibility. Start on the second level (admissions is on level 1) and check out the topographic map in the lobby. Then start in Past Worlds, which houses an impressive dinosaur exhibit with a paleo lab.
In this area is the ‘backyard’ room for young kids; be sure to check it out with toddlers and preschoolers.
The Past Worlds section will lead seamlessly into the First Peoples and Land areas…just follow the sky bridges and pathways. In this way, this natural history section evolves from prehistoric times slowly to present day life, with sections on early humans and anthropology as well as geology and local Salt Lake climate studies. This leads to the large Life section, which has a working naturalist lab with glass walls so kids can watch scientists at work.
At the very top of the museum on Level 5, the Sky section offers amazing city views, an elevated outdoor terrace, and exhibits on the night sky. Past Sky, the circular Native Voices room showcases present-day Native American culture on the Wasatch Front and further, including beyond the Salt Lake basin.
Be sure to check out the current special exhibit, which is housed on Level 3. During my visit, it was an extensive exhibit on poison; both natural poisons found in nature as well as human myths, lore, and history of poison. It was very interesting and had something for all ages.
Admission and hours:
Admission information can be found here. At the time of my visit, adult admission was about $15, teens were $13, and kids 3-12 were $10. The museum is open from 10 am to 5 pm. As with many museums, it is usually worth looking into a museum membership if you have a large family or plan to visit more than once a year. You can turn your day admission into a membership at the time of your visit.
Note: there is a cafe on site, as well as picnic lunch areas available.
The museum is located at 301 Wakara Way, within the University of Utah campus. There is ample parking, and it’s easy to access from the TRAX public transit system.