Salt Lake City  boasts some of the best-preserved historic architecture in the American West. From the magnificent public buildings to the craftsmanship of humble workers’ cottages, the city’s structures say a lot about early citizens’ pride in their earthly City of Zion.
The Utah Heritage Foundation (485 North Canyon Rd., 801/533-0858, www.utahheritagefoundation.com ) has information and self-guided tour brochures on Salt Lake City’s historic districts. In addition to Temple Square  and the State Capitol , any tour of the city’s historic architecture should include the following:
South Temple Street was probably the most prestigious street address in all of early Utah. Many religious and business leaders owned stately mansions along South Temple, once known as Brigham Street. (A number of these homes are now B&Bs.)
Twin towers and gargoyles embellish the imposing Catholic Cathedral of the Madeleine (331 E. South Temple, 801/328-8941, www.utcotm.org ). Adjacent is the equally impressive First Presbyterian Church (12 C St., www.fpcslc.org ).
The palatial Kearns Mansion (603 E. South Temple, 801/538-1005) now serves as the official governor’s residence. Thomas Kearns, noted for his silver-mining wealth, became a U.S. senator and publisher of the Salt Lake Tribune. The Kearns Mansion is open for free tours Monday–Saturday in summer and on a limited schedule the rest of the year.
Just north of South Temple Street is the district known as The Avenues, where the majority of Salt Lake City’s early Catholics lived. While most of these homes aren’t grand mansions, they are excellent examples of Victorian workers’ homes.
Streets in the Marmalade District on the hillside west of the capitol bear the names of fruit trees — hence the term “marmalade.” Many residences date from the 19th century.
The McCune Mansion (200 N. Main, http://mccunemansion.com ) is one of the city’s most eye-catching old houses. The turn-of-the-20th-century turreted structure features a tiled roof and exceptional interior woodwork.
Downtown’s grandest building is undoubtedly the City and County Building (400 South and State Street). This confection of a building resembles a fanciful Scottish castle right out of Brigadoon and once served as the Utah State Capitol ; it’s now the seat of SLC’s local government.
Across the street at Main and 400 South is the Exchange District, a clutch of grandly handsome office towers that served as the banking center for turn-of-the-20th-century Salt Lake City .