Cheap Thrills | Summer Guide | Salt Lake City Weekly
Support the Free Press.
Facts matter. Truth matters. Journalism matters.
Salt Lake City Weekly has been Utah's source of independent news and in-depth journalism since 1984.
Donate today to ensure the legacy continues.

Culture » Summer Guide

Cheap Thrills

You don't have to burn through your savings to have fun in and out of the sun



Summertime, and the livin’ is easy—but all those big summer concerts and festivals don’t come for free. So what’s a wage slave or cheapskate to do? Don’t worry—we’ve got you covered six ways to Sunday. Our staff has come up with more than 50 ideas to enjoy yourself in Utah this summer, all free or under $10.


Stargazing at Day-Riverside Library: Free
For a summer activity that’s both fun and educational, join the stargazing party at Rose Park’s Day-Riverside Library, hosted by University of Utah astronomers. Basic astronomy will be taught, with a focus on looking for solar flares, sunspots and prominences; participants can then browse the night sky at their leisure. Solar telescopes will be provided, so all you’ll need to bring with you is an exploratory eye. Day-Riverside Library, 1575 W. 1000 North, Salt Lake City, 801-594-8632, Aug. 8, 7:30 p.m.,

Days of ’47 Family Fun Day: Free
Nothing quite says “summer” in Utah like carnival games and rodeo, so round up the kids for Family Fun Day at the Utah State Fairpark, part of the Days of ’47 festivities. Other attractions include live music and dancing, pioneer demonstrations, a magic show, educational crafts and an art garden. If you’re the parent of aspiring cowboys or cowgirls, they’ll have the opportunity to meet some of the human and animal stars of the rodeo, and even learn how to rope a cow. Children between ages 5 and 12 are eligible to enter the Mini King & Queen Competition, the winners of which will get to ride in the Youth Parade on July 14. Utah State Fairpark, 155 N. 1000 West, Salt Lake City, 801-931-5526, July 7, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.,

Pioneer Park Picture Show: Free
Everyone knows the best part of summer are the warm, balmy evenings, and what better way to enjoy them than spreading out a blanket under the stars and watching a movie? The annual Pioneer Park Picture Show is an outdoor series screening films from past Sundance Film Festivals and other international film festivals, shown each Friday night. This August’s lineup hasn’t been announced yet, but last year’s diverse lineup included the indie romance (500) Days of Summer and acclaimed documentary Man on Wire. Pioneer Park, 300 S. 300 West, Salt Lake City, 801-333-1106, Friday evenings in August, 9 p.m.,

Music at Main: Free
For an evening of music against a backdrop of stars and the modern architecture of the Salt Lake City Main Library, gather your music-loving friends and head to Music at Main at the library amphitheater. This summer’s lineup of local talent is more than eclectic, featuring Palace of Buddies, Dark Seas, Bright Whistles, the Chinese-instrument-tinged sounds of Matteo, Theta Naught, hip-hop rhyme master Burnell Washburn, electro-rockers The Suicycles, Tolchock Trio and more. Salt Lake City Main Library, 210 E. 400 South, Salt Lake City, 801-524-8200, Tuesday evenings in July and August, 7 p.m.,

Live Music and Tennessee Tangos at Sugarhouse Barbeque Company: $4.50
There isn’t a better combination of food and entertainment than authentic, slow-smoked, Memphis-style barbecue and live music, which can both be found at Sugarhouse Barbecue Company. And on Thursday nights, the tasty local musical talent is made even tastier by the half-price Tennessee tangos appetizers. Only $4.50 at half price, Tennessee tangos are delectable little morsels of dry-rubbed, smoked rib ends cut into bite-size pieces and served with a tangy honey-citrus dipping sauce. Past featured bands have included the Red Desert Ramblers and The Step Twins. 2207 S. 700 East, Salt Lake City, 801-463-4800, Thursday evenings, 6:30 p.m.,


Sugar House Arts Festival: Free
The charming neighborhood of Sugar House is home to an annual July 4 arts festival and fireworks display that’s become a summer tradition. Every year, traffic is blocked off in front of the Sprague Library, and the sidewalks are lined with local food carts and arts and crafts vendors. Local bands provide entertainment throughout the day, and if your kids aren’t in the mood for music, there’s a children’s area with games and crafts. But the main attraction is the many talented artists who set up shop to hawk their handcrafted wares. After a day in the sun, enjoy watching the fireworks in Sugar House Park. 2100 South and Highland Drive, Salt Lake City, July 4, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.,

See the Virgin in the Tree: Free
Back in 1997, city workers removed a tree limb from an old American elm at Taufer Park and revealed what appeared to be an image of the Virgin Mary herself embedded in a knothole. Unfortunately, the image has been vandalized during the past 15 years, but visitors can still visit the holy shrine and view a photograph of the divine tree lady attached to a limb of the tree. Taufer Park, 700 S. 300 East, Salt Lake City

Disc in the City: Free
One of the best ways to enjoy the landscape of Salt Lake City, get a workout and talk trash with your friends is a laid-back round of disc golf at the University of Utah disc-golf course. What used to be the school’s regular golf course is now a wide-open, nine-hole, beginner frolfin’ course. It’s free to play, but if you drive, you’ll need to have a university parking permit or pay at the meters. South Wasatch Drive, Salt Lake City,

Salt Lake Bees: $5 & up
Minor League Baseball is well under way, and the Salt Lake Bees make it easy to haul the family out for a cheap night at the ballgame. Tickets normally range from $8 to $24, but with promotions like Monday Family Night (a ticket and a hot dog for $5), two-for-one Tuesdays, $1 hot dog Wednesdays and Thirsty Thursdays ($2.75 drinks), you’ll be rooting for the home team and your massive savings. Spring Mobile Ballpark, 77 W. 1300 South, Salt Lake City, 801-325-2273,

Fairmont Skatepark: Free
Built on the remains of the old Sugar House public pool, the Fairmont skatepark is one of Utah’s hidden shred gems. It’s a classic cement-style park that spans over 15,000 square feet and hosts a street park with a variety of rails, ledges and gaps, a mini ramp and an 8-foot mini bowl. The park recently installed outdoor lighting, so now you can thrash late into the evening. BMX riders are also allowed. 2200 S. 900 East, Salt Lake City


Daughters of Utah Pioneers Memorial Museum: Free
If you’ve ever been interested in Utah’s rugged pioneer past, then spend an afternoon at the Daughters of Utah Pioneers Memorial Museum. The museum hosts the largest collection of artifacts based around the time of the earliest settlers to enter the Valley of The Great Salt Lake. With free admission, you can drag the whole litter out for an action-packed afternoon of edutainment. 300 N. Main, Salt Lake City, 801-532-6479,

Utah Film Center Screenings: Free
You might as well cancel your Netflix subscription—all the best documentaries, kids’ movies, independent films and dramatic movies are presented by the Utah Film Center, often for free. Escape from the sweltering sun and catch some great cinema in various locations around town, including the Salt Lake City Main Library and the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. Various locations,