*After a year filled with uncertainty, hardship, and way too much time in front of the computer, the recipe for a surge in outdoor activity is clear: warm temps + the hope of a return to “normalcy.” Folks are venturing out into the streets, the foothills, and—as with any summer since the settling of SLC—Liberty Park.
The list of activities below has been adapted since its original publication in 2019. Addenda and additional notes from the other side of COVId will be bolded, including changes in operating hours.
Be it during our lunch break or post-brunch, one of our all-time favorite places to mill around is undeniably Salt Lake City’s centermost oasis, Liberty Park. And, judging by the population of said spot on any remotely sunny day of the week, it seems that teems of our city’s saltiest agree. There's a veritable smorgasbord of activities to engage in here, and we like to think of this spot as a sort of "choose your own adventure" arena. Without further ado, here are a few of Liberty’s best things to do…
1. People watching: Because obviously. Perhaps humanity’s oldest pastime, the simple observation of other people doing things can somehow be the source of hours of fun. Liberty Park has the population of a small city on most weekends, and all you need do is post up on a bench or grassy patch and take in the grandeur. A few can’t-miss things to gander: the noble LARPers (usually standing steadfast in the northeast quadrant), the slack-liners (everywhere), and the drum circle (just follow the never-ending, Jumanji-esque beat). Better still, we imagine the post-quarantine style choices made this year will go down in history. We’ve been cooped up a long time, and folks are antsy to express themselves while also having a newfound respect for leisurewear. Will they emerge in tie-dye sweatsuits? Handmade cottage-core pinafores? A gown purchased in early 2020 that never saw the light of day? Euphoria-inspired makeup with a DIY mullet? We can’t wait to find out. For optimum afternoon enjoyment, BYO blanket, Bluetooth speaker, and Nalgene bottle (full of water, surely).
2. Farmer’s Market: Most locals are acquainted with the famed Downtown Farmers Market, but the Liberty Market is quickly climbing the ranks as a true contender. Fridays, June through October, from 4:00 pm to dusk, you can find some of SLC’s freshest produce, tastiest food trucks, and most delightful local wares. Last year saw some 87 vendors come through, so you’re bound to find the fixins you seek, and the free bike valet is a definite plus. Be sure to check out Art in the Park, every third Friday of the season, for gifts, knickknacks, and the like. The first summer 2021 Liberty Park Farmer’s Market is officially on the books! Help welcome our local vendors back Friday, June 11th, from 4:00pm to dusk.
3. Tracy Aviary: The largest and oldest of only two free-standing aviaries in the US, Tracy Aviary is a stellar place to stroll, observe, and appreciate nature’s majesty (without having to wander too far your zip code). Be sure to pay respects to Andy, the particularly striking Andean condor, and don’t miss the always-on-point flamingos.
4: Liberty Park Pool: Open Memorial Day through Labor Day every year, the Liberty Park pool is our very own slice of The Sandlot-style summer magic. There’s a slew of aquatic programs and classes available, and, at just $2.50 a day and $50 for an adult season pass, it’s highly unlikely you’ll snag a better deal for sun-soaked, chlorine-drenched summer fun (and, after all, isn’t that the best kind?). Liberty Park Pool officially opened for the 2021 season in late May. Reservations are available (and recommended) for June! SPF recommended, but not required for entry.
5: Athleticism: With several basketball, tennis, and volleyball courts, this park is sort of perfect for whatever level of athleticism you sport. For the solo types, the outer rings of the park serve as the perfect go-at-your-own-pace path for walking/running/biking/blading (and for the observer, there’s no better place to see folks making their maiden voyage on that pair of quarantine-purchased roller skates). The sand volleyball courts are a favorite amongst both Top Gun fans and people-watching types, but for a more low-key (though not necessarily less-competitive) match, make your way to the designated bocce ball or horseshoe arenas. We’re only keeping score if you are…
6: Pond ’n’ Paddle Boats: A central gathering spot of this central gathering spot, the over-sized pond at Liberty Park is chock full of birds of all sorts, each vying for whatever crust of bread you’re willing the spare (distribute at your own risk). It’s a lovely little place to gather and watch, and the rentable paddle boats are an added level of adorable. Cue up “Sittin’ On The Dock Of The Bay,” and settle in...
7: Rides! Corndogs! Perhaps one of Liberty’s quaintest features is this hidden-in-plain-sight mini amusement park. Simply referred to as “the rides” by locals, this area—essentially located smack-dab in the middle of the park—features a carousel, a swings ride, and a mini carousel, as well as a few other kid-sized attractions (one of our faves: the miniature train that runs up and down the center of the park’s main boulevard, filled with ecstatic kiddos and one very patient conductor). The concessions stand (open 11am-7pm) actually slings high-quality, remarkably delish corndogs, burgers, custard, and more, but we think the overall charm of this place alone is worth the price of admission.
8. Proximity to…everywhere: Located just off 700 E between 9th and 13th South, Liberty Park is pretty much as centrally located as it gets in this fair town. Translation: it’s walkable to (and from) oh-so-many of our favorite salty spots. Hungry? Tradition, Manoli’s, and The Park Cafe are within almost literal spitting distance. Looking for a post-walk shop? All the goods of 9th & 9th are just a few blocks away. With the right footwear, you can hit all your fave spots and be home by dinnertime.
9: Dogs: Whether or not you count yourself an animal lover, chances are you can’t resist the cuteness overload of a frolicking park pup. Set that doggo after a frisbee—or, better yet, put it in a BabyBjorn?!—and we’re apt to stop mid-walk to fawn all over it. Good Boys abound at Liberty Park, and whether you’re strutting your mutt or just enjoying the scenery, it’s pretty hard to not have a good day here.