Anyone looking for a winter vacation destination would do well to skip Aspen, Colorado and opt instead for Park City, a moderately sized ski town nestled in the picturesque mountain valley just 30 minutes from Salt Lake City.
Since Salt Lake’s airport is a regional hub, it’s not hard to find cheap fares to get there. I recommend taking the Park City airport shuttle and not worrying too much about a rental car. I personally don’t leave the resorts too often when I stay there. But when I do, the resort shuttle and the city’s bus system can get me to downtown Park City, where the shopping and restaurants are. The whole town is built to cater to ritzy resort goers and ski-bums alike, so you’ll find it easy to get there with your skis and all of your gear.
Utah boasts the “Best Snow on Earth,” and I find it hard to disagree. The powder on the slopes after a fresh snow at Deer Valley is one of the best days of skiing I’ve ever had. I think it has something to do with the cold, dry air; it must keep the powder from turning too slushy. I’ve never been to the two other large resorts in Park City, Canyons and Park City Mountain Resort, but I imagine the snow is just as good. You can also go cross-country skiing in surrounding canyons and other areas, though I’ve never done it.
You’re not limited to just skiing, though. The downtown area is a joy to explore. The buildings, cabins and homes along and around Main Street are styled to reflect the towns mining heritage. And the shops and restaurants lining the main drag cater to all sorts of tourists and locals alike.
When you want to take a break with some amazing food, you can stick with the resort restaurants, or head downtown to places like Purple Sage or O’Shucks Bar & Grill. If you’re looking for something sweet, you have to stop by Rocky Mountain Chocolate. Ice cream parlors, brew pubs and pizza joints are all available if you’re willing to hike the steep sidewalks that march right up the mountain. If you’re too tired to walk, jump on the free road trolley that creeps up and down the hill.
If you’re there in January, you should definitely get in on the Sundance Film Festival to catch some amazing independent films and sleeper hits destined for the Oscars. You might even catch a glimpse of big Hollywood types at screenings and parties.
Park City is definitely a destination that I’ll be coming back to again and again. I might not make Sundance next year, but I do think I’ll come back for the snow.
image by National Geographic