There’s Tracey Aviary and Botanical Park located in Liberty Park (very large park SE of Downtown) Liberty is busy every weekend with tons of picnickers, joggers, people chilling. Big dog park nearby too.
Red Butte Gardens and Arboretum is lovely. Often there is some sort of exhibit or show going inside the main building. I went to glass (craft) show there one Thanksgiving while visiting my daughter in SLC. Red Butte is also where they held her residency graduation dinner. Red Butte is on the east side of UU and there are spectacular views of the city from the foothills of the Wasatch Mtns there.
Open air concerts are held in the Red Butte amphitheater so you may want to check to see who’s playing.
There’s a great hiking & mountain bike trail that starts in the parking lot of UU’s hospital and runs south toward Red Butte along the foothills of Wasatch.
You could check to see if the Jazz have a home game scheduled when you’re visiting and go to Vivint Arena.
Besides Downtown, look at the Sugarhouse area, which is very popular with young adults. There are a couple good brewhouses, a several pizzerias and a number of interesting casual restaurants. So is 9th by 9th area. Lots of restaurants in 9th by 9th.
For dining, I recommend Red Iguana–assuming you can get a reservation. (Don’t even think of trying to just go–even during the week. The place is always busy.) Great Mexican food.
D and husband also like Freshies–which is fast casual lobster restaurant. Freshie’s makes an excellent lobster roll.
I also like Crack Shake in the 9th by 9th–another fast casual place, this one selling jibori chicken prepared in a variety of styles. Pretty Bird (downtown and Sugarhouse locations ) is another chicken place and the go to for Nashville hot chicken.
Caputo’s Market is a classic place to get fresh deli sandwich, salads, pasta dishes to go. Homemade tiramisu is wonderful
For Thai food–Chanon Thai Cafe.
For fine northern Italian food-- Valter’s Osteria
SLC has surprisingly diverse dining scene. Pick a cuisine and you can probably find it there.
Unfortunately UU really doesn’t have much of a traditional campus town near campus, but light rail allows students to get off campus to more “happening” areas without needing a car.
D has lived in SLC for 4 years now. Her experiences-- most people are nice and SLC is more liberal and diverse than she was expecting. However, get too far outside of SLC and the ski resort areas and people who don’t look like everyone else can run into issues. Two of her co-residents–both Muslim women in hijabs–were racially profiled, stopped & questioned extensively more than once by county sheriffs for no real reason while driving on their way to a hospital facility (where they worked as doctors!) outside SLC.
SLC is great place if you enjoy outdoor activities–skiing; hiking/backpacking; mountain, road and gravel biking; kayaking & white waterrafting. All those and more are available nearby.
SLC has surprisingly bad air quality, especially during the winter. It often ranks in the top 10 for worst air quality in the world.
Rents in SLC are high if your child wants to move off campus. Not quite SF or Seattle expensive, but not far from them.
Edited to add-- if you go to Caputo’s at 15th and 15th, go next door to Tulie’s Bakery to get a cookie or hand pie for dessert.