Visit Park City to hit the slopes and enjoy apres ski in a charming mountain town that feels as if you’ve landed in a snow globe.
By Ashley Ryan
As soft, fluffy snowflakes float down around you amid the twinkling lights of Main Street, it’s hard to deny the magic of Park City.
Known as Winter’s Favorite Town, this Utah destination has it all—powder skiing at world-class resorts, delicious dining at innovative restaurants, tranquil hotel experiences, a historic downtown district and more. While most luxury regions feel more formal, even in the wintertime, Park City has an easy, breezy air about it, thanks in large part to its ski-in/ski-out culture.
Orange County skiers can drive to Big Bear, Mammoth or even Lake Tahoe with ease. But if you’re looking to explore the mountains outside of California, Utah is one of the easiest to reach: Simply fly to the Salt Lake City airport and, in a half-hour ride, you’ll find yourself nestled amongst the beauty of Park City, ready to explore all that the old mining town has to offer.
Hitting the Slopes
There are two ski areas in town that travelers simply must visit. The first, Deer Valley Resort, has been named one of the best in the country by readers of Condé Nast Traveler magazine, likely due to its uniqueness. Open only to skiers (hold on, snowboarders, we’ve got advice for you, too), the property prides itself in its attention to detail and limits the number of lift tickets sold each day. Because of this, it’s a great place to avoid crowds, enjoy the perfect powder and take in serene views of the slopes.
Relish a healthy breakfast at Fresh Tracks Kitchen in the resort’s Snow Park Lodge. Then, before taking to the snow, stop by the on-site rental shop, where you can find everything you need to hit the slopes. Deer Valley has over 100 trails that traverse more than 2,000 acres, ranging from easy (green) to expert (double black diamond). Ski lessons are also available for beginners, children and those with physical disabilities, and, because of the quality powder—deemed The Greatest Snow on Earth—and lack of snowboarders zipping by, Deer Valley is a wonderful place to learn.
Skiers and snowboarders alike can visit the largest alpine resort in the country, Park City Mountain Resort. The property—which contains 7,300 skiable acres, with half of the 330-plus trails labeled as expert and another 42% intermediate—is designed for experienced athletes. It’s also owned by Vail Resorts, so it’s part of the Epic Pass, ensuring unlimited seasonal access to ski areas in Lake Tahoe (in California and Nevada), Colorado, Canada and more. And with a summit elevation of over 10,000 feet, keep your eyes peeled on the lifts for the large moose that roam the area.
Additionally, winter evenings come alive at Park City Mountain with Silver Sky Nights, a seasonal celebration that includes live music, ice carving demonstrations, sweet treats and a fireworks spectacular above the snow on certain dates through Feb. 18.
Those looking for more mild snow play can go snowshoeing with views of the Rocky Mountains, take the family dog sledding with professional racers, cuddle up under a cozy blanket for a romantic sleigh ride or visit Woodward Park City for tubing.
Apres Ski Adventures
When looking for a place to stay, there’s simply nowhere that compares to the level of relaxation you’ll find at Westgate Park City Resort & Spa. After a long, cold day on the slopes, a trip to the hotel’s Serenity Spa is in order. The stunning space features a cascading waterfall above a hot tub, a steam room and sauna in addition to 14 rooms where guests can enjoy massages, facials and other skin care treatments, hot stones, aromatherapy, pedicures and more. If you’re lucky, your experience just might include a little bubbly and chocolate-covered strawberries, too.
Elsewhere in the hotel, a heated indoor/outdoor pool, an adults-only version and two hot tubs just add to the resort experience. Or, if you’d rather relax in your room, spring for one of Westgate’s villas, which are offered with one, two or four bedrooms and feature jetted bathtubs as well as unique showers that can also be used as steam rooms.
The Westgate offers a few dining options to indulge you after a day in the snow. The casual Drafts Burger Bar is perfect for gourmet burgers and sandwiches, but you’d be remiss not to try the Tatchos, tater tots smothered in melted Gouda and topped with bacon, green onions, tomatoes and sour cream. The eatery is also known for its over-the-top milkshakes and numerous beers on tap.
For fine dining, you can’t skip Edge Steakhouse, where the innovative culinary team crafts meals that are likely to be one of the best you’ve ever had. In addition to an impressive selection of quality wines and creative cocktails, diners can choose from seasonal or chef’s tasting menus. Make sure to try the domestic wagyu steak, a cross between Kobe beef and American Black Angus. Pair it with lobster tail for the ultimate indulgence. Starters like spicy shrimp, steak sashimi, ahi tuna and Spanish octopus round out the menu, along with a variety of soups, salads and sides. Just outside, the restaurant also offers the Edge 360 experience, where guests can book one of two outdoor globes in which to enjoy a warm, romantic dinner.
Within walking distance, you’ll also find the Red Tail Grill, a cozy spot in Canyons Village with dishes like warm tomato soup, hummus, chorizo nachos, sandwiches and more. Or stop by Dos Olas, an elevated Mexican spot with colorful decor that offers refreshing margaritas to pair with tacos, burritos, fajitas and guacamole prepared tableside.
Venture downtown for breakfast at The Eating Establishment, a quirky spot partly owned by actor Ty Burrell that serves up unique meals like the loaded baked potato omelet, corned beef hash and eggs skillet, smoked salmon atop avocado toast, and French toast with lemon curd from Portugal. Or, for dinner, visit Riverhorse on Main for another dining experience that you won’t want to miss. With live music, glass art reminiscent of ice and a glow from creative light fixtures, the ambiance rivals the outstanding dishes found here. The upscale eatery’s menu features starters such as buffalo tartare, pierogies and bacon-wrapped shrimp to accompany entrees like wild salmon and ratatouille, beef short ribs topped with chimichurri and macadamia nut-crusted halibut served with mango broccolini and whipped herb potatoes.
If it’s simply drinks you’re looking for, there are plenty of options as well. Wasatch Brewery and the No Name Saloon are open late for a nightcap after dinner. Another spot to try is Alpine Distilling, where the brand’s award-winning spirits are used to craft contemporary cocktails. In addition to its whiskeys and gins, Alpine is known for its fresh-baked pies—the perfect unexpected complement to the inventive drinks.
Out on the Town
Those looking to explore the region can learn a lot about its connection to the Winter Olympics at the Utah Olympic Park. Originally built for the 2002 games that were held in Park City, the site has become a training space for athletes as well as an educational center for the general public to enjoy. In the winter, visitors can take a guided tour of the property, ride down the sliding track in a bobsled, visit museums on the history of skiing and the 2002 games, watch professional skiers practicing on the slopes and take in views of the Snyderville Basin from the top of the ski jump ramp.
Whether you visit for apres ski or not, the town’s historic Main Street is another place you’ll want to focus your attention. This quaint space just furthers the feeling of being in a beautiful snow globe with its Snow Globe Stroll, which visitors can catch again next holiday season. Wander up and down the street to find the nine life-size globes, then press the interactive button on each for a stunning display of Park City’s finest attributes accompanied by holiday tunes. This is also the best place for shopping in the region, with souvenir shops nestled together with high-end boutiques, art galleries, a historical museum and artistic statues.
Each January, Park City is also home to the famed Sundance Film Festival. Celebrities converge on the town for film screenings, panels and more, all in celebration of independent cinema.
But spring, summer and fall have plenty to offer travelers as well, from river rafting, fishing, hiking, zip lining and mountain biking to events like the Park City Song Summit, the Miner’s Day Parade, Autumn Aloft hot air balloon experience and the Kimball Arts Festival. No matter when you visit, you’re sure to find the magic that makes Park City what it is—a uniquely warm destination filled with history, culture, arts and beyond.