If you are looking for a winter mountain paradise, you will find it here in Park City. It is the quintessential mountain town that we all talk about wanting to move to at some point. Less than an hour outside of Salt Lake City in Summit County, you will find it an easy place to adjust to, whether you are looking for some adventure or just want to take it easy and enjoy some peaceful tranquility and quiet time for reflection and solitude.
Park City has become a year-round destination in the United States. It has everything you need for outdoor activities during both the winter and summer as well as cultural and historical significance. It is here they host the Sundance Film Festival every year which brings in movie stars, directors, and all manner of personnel in that industry from around the world.
But when you want to come is during the winter months. With fresh snow lining the streets almost daily it is such a wonderland for those who may have not had the opportunity to experience this firsthand. Being from Los Angeles, California I was in constant bewilderment and excitement at this experience even for just a few days.
How to Get to Park City
If you are coming from out of the state or country, you will be flying into Salt Lake City International Airport (SLC). From there you can take a rideshare or taxi, rental car, or public transportation. As it is such a popular end destination there are several shuttle services between Park City and the airport. Many of the resorts offer pickup and drop of as well during your stay as long as you book them in advance.
You then make your way onto I-80 Eastbound freeway which is a straight shot to the town. This is also an enjoyable ride and gives you your first taste of the snow and mountains as you pass through.
Park City Snowboarding Resorts and Skiing Lodges
What you are most likely coming for in the winter is the outdoor activities of snowboarding and skiing. It has the largest resort in the U.S. which is Park City Mountain Resort. With a layer of fresh snow the mountain slopes are pristine and just waiting to be ridden. It does not matter if you are a newbie or a veteran as they can fit your skill level easily.
You don’t have to stay here and can purchase a lift ticket for the day or however long you intend to stay. There is free public transportation that will drop you off right in front of the entrances. The staff are friendly and you can take beginner classes if this is your first time trying out the winter sport. It’s a great way to spend part of your day as it does get crowded.
The resort is the closest one but if you venture outwards you can choose to go to Deer Valley Resort for more skiing slopes or Woodward Park City for some great tubing and freestyling. Woodward also has the benefit of additional indoor activities such as an indoor skatepark, parkour, and trampolining if rather try and keep warm inside.
Other Park City Winter Activities
Snowshoeing – Smaller tour operators specializing in outdoor activities away from the popular resorts and attractions here can help take you across miles of trails throughout the backcountry. They will help provide equipment and local guides to take you through the forest and alpines for a great worthwhile experience.
Dogsledding – Professional dogsledding teams can take you through the wilderness at some incredible speeds and is a fun family activity to change things up a bit.
Sleigh Ride – Perfect for either a group or if you choose, an intimate setting. You can choose a combination of a ride and an upscale multiple-course dinner at extraordinary heights that will have you at a higher elevation so you can see the town lights below in the winter evening.
Park City Historic Main Street
Here is where you are going to want to spend most of your downtime when you aren’t out on the slopes. The street is lined up with older Victorian buildings that reflect the silver town mining origins and is filled with everything you need and you are going to want to peruse through every store.
It’s filled with quality restaurants, unique artist galleries, bars, and boutique shops. Find the local craft goods and specialty items that help showcase the Utah small-town mountain life. You will find the locals friendly and accommodating as these places rely mostly on tourism.
You can easily just stroll through if you really want to explore more than shop. Start at the bottom and work your way up to the top. It ends when you start seeing residential housing.
Fun tip: There is a family fun bonus while walking through town. There are large snow globes placed sporadically in different parts of town. They are mechanical and operate with Christmas and snow-related figurines and music when the button is pressed. You can get a town fun map to check off each one you see or use the city app.
Park City Museum
Here is a family-fun place where you can learn about the history of this charming town before it focused on becoming a ski resort destination. Surprisingly it was originally built as a silver mining town and was an unpopular area compared to nearby Salt Lake City. What has now become expensive prime real estate worth millions was in its heyday settled by poor workers, immigrants, and other various groups looking to make their fortune.
Exhibits include the the steps of the mining process, the individual businessmen who became rich during the mining period, daily life above ground, and the infamous criminals who spent time in the Park City jail. It’s a small building with only 2 floors and a sub-level where the original jail was built beneath the historic City Hall. It’s inexpensive to visit and you can see the whole museum in 1-2 hours. There are plenty of video and the displays so you are not just reading. Very small crowds come through here throughout the day so you won’t feel rushed.
High West Saloon and Distillery
A nice glass of whiskey to warm you up in the snow is a great way to go. Doing it in a historic saloon right in town shows off part of that mountain life charm. Don’t worry about the old information that Utah is a dry state with their liquor laws. While you are here, it’s the same as any other state where you have a valid ID. This distillery has been around these parts for almost a decade and have made themselves part of the community.
If you are instead interested in taking a distillery tour, it’s located just outside of town in Wanship. They also provide a Sunday brunch with some great panoramic views to go with your whiskey tour if you choose to go that day. The buildings give you an old-western vibe instead of a facility. You can choose several tour options, ranging from 1-2 hours along with different sample flight selections of their types of whiskey.
Santa Claus Pub Crawl
I didn’t know about this great event until after I had already arrived in Park City. This annual event at the beginning of December has all the locals and tourists out in full dress up on the main street. You have reindeer, ice princesses, snowmen, elves, full Christmas-themed dress suits, winged angels, and of course the Santa Clauses.
This holiday-themed event is all part of Operation Hope which helps to donate toys and money to the needy. Most of the bars and pubs on the main street allow free entry if you donate a toy or pay a $10 cover charge as a donation.
There is no set schedule and you can hop from bar to bar depending on your mood. Some places will have a line waiting around the block. It makes you feel like a part of the city as you converse and meet new people who are out just enjoying the snow and holiday spirit.
Where to eat in Park City
Park City may be small but it does not lack in when it comes to your food. Here you have a wide range of dining opportunities to choose from in your budget. Part of the appeal is the wide selection of choices that have established themselves all along Main Street.
Some of them are award-winning high end restaurants like Riverhorse on Main and 350 Main Brasserie. A few are owned by the chef’s and others are budget-friendly local eateries where you can be treated like an extended member of the family.
It’s great how much variety they have here. You have some quality sushi spots like Flying Sumo (their logo is a sumo wrestler in skies and I just love the clever wordplay). Other cuisines include Italian, Mexican, and French.
You will find this place filled with coffee shops that are cozy and perfect for a relaxing morning. Some of them are located in the back of gift shops and clothing stores. They give off a more festive and pleasant feel that way in my opinion.
Take part in a local wine and food tour for excellent samplings and tastings from culinary experts and local chefs. Really show off your pairing knowledge when you go out to dinner.
Where to Stay in Park City
The real estate here is no joke and you can tell by the grandiose hotels and homes throughout Park City. It’s easy to find numerous accommodations here to meet your group size expectations. Luxury hotels like the Waldorf Astoria or Hyatt Centric are amazing and can cater to all your needs. Or if you prefer choose friendly bed-and-breakfast-type places for a more budget-friendly experience. If you are going solo, stay at the local hostel and maybe meet up with some other singles looking to hit the ski slopes and explore the town.
A lot of the locals provide Airbnb’s to help support the cost of living in such an amazing place when they are out of town for the season. Townhomes and apartments are plentiful here so make sure you book early so as not to miss out.
Park City is just full of amazing opportunities for some great experiences and memories. My vacation here was amazing and I would love to come again in the future time permitting. If winter was fantastic I can’t wait to see what the summer and spring is like here.
This article originally appeared on The World Overload. Featured Photo Credit: Unsplash