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With an artist for a husband, my family and I tend to do a lot of art-related activities (UMFA Free Third Saturdays, UMOCA Free Family Saturdays, etc.)

One of our all-time favorite things to do in Salt Lake City, however, is the Gallery Stroll, which happens every third Friday of the month from 6-9 pm (except for the month of December, during which it takes place on the first Friday of the month). 

The Gallery Stroll is an awesome FREE event during which most of the art galleries in Salt Lake City stay open later, drawing in visitors with fresh new art exhibits and yummy hors d'oeuvres. (Sometimes we hit up art galleries just for the great food they offer.  You can get pretty full on just the food without even eating dinner beforehand - shhhh, don't tell the art galleries.)

The Salt Lake Gallery Stroll has been around since 1983 (quite an impressive tenure - that's older than I am!).  I was introduced to the Gallery Stroll in my college days (great free date night, by the way). My husband and I started gallery strolling while we were dating, and we've continued the monthly tradition ever since. Usually, we hold the Gallery Stroll sacred for date night; however, with a growing family, it's sometimes difficult to find a babysitter when you need one. The moral of the story is that sometimes we take our kids with us on Gallery Stroll, and it's actually a really fun family activity when it happens.

For those of you who are terrified of taking your kids into art galleries or museums (or even entering an art gallery yourself), here are some ground rules to go over with your littles before heading one of these places:

  1. Don't touch anything!
  2. Don't run around, play tag, yell, scream, etc.  It's okay to do these things on the playground, but not in an art gallery/museum.

That's pretty much it. As long as you lay down these rules and review them before you go out with your kids, you should be okay (but you still need to take into consideration your own kids' temperaments, behaviors, etc.).

Here are a few other tips to help you and your kids have a successful gallery stroll:

  1. Turn the Gallery Stroll into a scavenger hunt.  In each gallery my husband and I took our kids, we had them look for something specific in the artwork - shapes, colors, plants, flowers, words, animals, etc.  Get creative and help your kids look for recognizable subjects in the artwork.  This will get them really looking at art and make the whole evening that much more fun.
  2. Look at the artwork first, and then enjoy the food.  This way the galleries know you're there for the art . . . and maybe the food, but make the artwork the priority.
  3. Talk about the artwork with your kids.  Ask them what they like about it or what they don't like about it.  Discussions about art provide some quality bonding time with your kids.
  4. Make sure you gauge how well your kids are surviving the late hours of this event.  The Gallery Stroll runs past my kids' bedtimes, but they're okay staying out a bit later on the weekends.  If your kids are beyond tired, just go home.  It's not worth it to fit in one more art gallery at the expense of your (and your kids') sanity.
  5. In all of my gallery strolling career, I've only run into really distasteful (gross, suggestive, offensive, etc.) art once or twice.  The artwork at any gallery is usually okay for anyone to observe.  With this being said, if you are concerned at all about any of the artwork, feel free to contact any art gallery to check about the subject matter of the artwork beforehand.  Art galleries are very happy to answer questions about any artwork, and you can check out what art is going to be on the current Gallery Stroll on their website.

The best part about the Gallery Stroll is that the artwork changes each month at every gallery. There's usually something for everyone. My advice: give Gallery Stroll a chance with your kids. If it doesn't work out with your kids in tow, make it a date night next time.  Happy strolling!

On the *third Friday of each month, galleries and other businesses that support visual artists stay open late, providing an opportunity for art enthusiasts to tour their exhibits after hours. *In December, the Gallery Stroll is held on the first Friday of
Entrance Fee(s)
Helpful Tips

Visitor Info (from the Gallery Stroll website):

Gallery Stroll is held the third Friday of each month, except in December when it is held on the first Friday. Gallery Stroll officially begins at 6 pm and continues until 9 pm. But some galleries remain open all day and stay open after 9 pm. It’s a good idea to check individual galleries for hours if you are planning on visiting later. You can do that by checking on the Current Stroll tab and finding phone numbers for galleries that way.

Where does Gallery Stroll start?
Gallery Stroll is a self-guided tour. You can begin wherever you like to make the most of your experience. There are certain areas with a higher concentration of galleries if you are interested in walking. Feel free to call 801.870.0956 for specific questions.

Do I need a ticket to get into Gallery Stroll?
Gallery Stroll is a free, public event. No tickets are required. The doors are open and you are welcome to walk in.

Where should I park?
There are many places to park downtown. It depends on where you’re headed. There is free public parking at the Rio Grande Depot where the Rio Gallery resides. You can also find parking meters along most streets downtown, or take TRAX to the Gateway area and walk from there.  Parking anywhere on Salt Lake City streets is free after 8 pm.

Is there a map that shows me where all the galleries are?
Yes, pick up a Gallery Guide at any participating business or download the map under the Current Stroll link (available week before Gallery Stroll).

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