Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opened the University of Deseret in 1850, just 2 1/2 years after they arrived in the Salt Lake Valley. It closed 2 years later, due to lack of funds and the greater need for primary education, but reopened in 1867 as a business academy. The name changed in 1892, and the growing school moved to its present location in 1900. The university now sprawls over 1,500 acres on the east side of the city.
The university's Red Butte Garden and Arboretum (tel. 801/585-0556; www.redbuttegarden.org) features 100 acres of display gardens and another 100 acres in their natural state, with 4 miles of nature trails. Located in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains, this is a terrific spot to take a break. The gardens are open May through August, Monday through Saturday from 9am to 9pm, Sunday from 9am to 5pm, with shorter hours the rest of the year. Admission is $6 for adults, and $4 for children 3 to 17 and seniors 65 and over. From downtown, drive east on 400 South, past the university entrance, continuing until 400 South becomes Foothill Drive; turn east on Wakara Way and continue to the entry drive. Allow 2 hours.
The University is also home to the Utah Museum of Fine Arts and the Utah Museum of Natural History.