Roam Guide / Park City, Utah
Gretchen Rubell is a Minnesota native who spent most of her 30’s living in Arizona and traveling across the West Coast and Hawaii for work. She moved to Park City, Utah a few years ago with her husband for the small town feel, to ski and raise a couple of little girls. Life is an adventure every day, and now Gretchen enjoys traveling mostly for leisure, using up the frequent flier points she’s earned over the last 10 years. On her travel bucket list is hiking the Havasupai Waterfalls, driving the coastline in Big Sur, and heli-skiing near Banff.
Park City, Utah
Park City has small town charm and an unpretentious sophistication of a big city. The mountain is easily accessible making it the quintessential ski town.
When to go?
While Park City is lovely during the off season, its main appeal has to be Winter when the slopes abound with fresh powder. If you’re looking for a ski trip, the snow came deep and early this season! Park City received over two feet of snow the first week of December, and 30” of fresh snow at the end of January and plenty more to come! The resorts are typically open through Easter weekend, depending on the snowfall.
How to get there?
Fly into Salt Lake City Airport, on a direct flight daily, check out Skyscanner for the best prices. Hop in an Uber for around $40, or schedule a pre-arranged ride with the reliable and professional, Gus at Gus Transportation ($50-$150) for the 30 minute drive up the mountain and into Park City. Car rentals are easy to access from the airport, but be sure to book a 4-wheel drive or secure chains, as there are often restrictions on I-80. Once you arrive in town, there are plenty of free buses that can take you around the city, or ride the trolley up and down Main Street and just leave your car behind.
Rtip: If you are traveling to Park City, Gus Transportation is graciously offering our readers a 10% discount, just mention code Readyroam10.
Where should we stay?
There are plenty of options for Vrbo type options. This allows you to stay close to the mountain, soak in a private hot tub, and cook your own meals. I would probably recommend something in town right in the heart of the action. This Condo at MotherLode is ski In- ski out, walkable to everything up and down main street Park City, and right next to the High West Distillery. Get your groceries delivered from the Grocery Girls, or order ahead on the Smiths app to pick-up when you drive into town. If you are looking for a quaint and historic option you must check out one of the handful of rooms at the historic Washington School House also near “main,” with easy reservations at Booking.com. If you are opting for a luxury ski in- ski out option, the Montage Deer Valley sits on top of Empire Pass, and provides a year round pool, full service spa and a variety of restaurants. Equally luxurious and wonderful is the Stein Eriksen Lodge and Spa in Deer Valley, Utah’s only Forbes Five-Star hotel and spa.
Rtip: Another option to consider if you are okay being a little less central is the Hotel Park City, Autograph Collection through Marriott — perhaps this is an opportunity to offset the vacation costs with hotel points as Hotel Park City comes highly recommended by R&R contributors.
What should we do?
If you are in town in the winter, chances are you’re there for Park City Mountain Resort, the largest ski and snowboard resort in the U.S. There are over 7,000 acres, bases at both Park City and the Canyons, and terrain for every level. Deer Valley Resort has equally great trails and offers a five star skiing experience. The on-mountain restaurants at Deer Valley offer exceptional mountain cuisine. I recommend a bowl of the turkey chili for an afternoon lunch. Stop at the one of the yurts on either mountain for a hot cocktail to warm up while on the slopes. To unwind after a few days of skiing, Park City Yoga Adventures offers stand up paddleboard yoga at the Homestead Crater, which is a warm natural spring in nearby Midway. While in Midway, put on your walking boots and visit the Ice Castles if you have time.
Rtip: Make life easy by ordering ahead! Not only can you order your groceries ahead, but you can also have your skis delivered by Ski Butlers or Skis on the Run.
If you prefer to leave the skiing to the pros, consider visiting during a professional or Olympic event. In February 2019 the World Championships in snowboarding and freestyle skiing will be held in Park City. Utah hosted the winter Olympics in 2002, and is hoping for the opportunity again in 2030. Utah Olympic Park has an amazing free museum, as well as the opportunity to try out bobsledding and zip lining if you are brave! If you are looking for something both unique and adventurous, call Luna Lobos dogsledding where you can learn about the world of dog sledding and hop on a sled for a private winter ride.
During the last two weeks of January you can rub shoulders with stars in attendance at one of the largest film festivals in the country, Sundance. The town lights up as one of the busiest weeks of the year. Expect pricier accommodations and difficulty getting restaurant reservations, but this is the best time to be on the slopes — as many locals don’t want to brave the crowds, and most Sundance attendees are there for the screenings, not the skiing. Package ticket sales go on sale in October, and individual tickets go on sale early in January. You can get last minute wait list tickets on the Sundance app as well.
Where should we eat?
If you are searching for a little sustenance before hitting the slopes I recommend The Bridge Café, which is literally on the Bridge where the Town Lift is. You can grab a breakfast burrito and head up the mountain in minutes! They have a super cute patio for summer (or warm winter) afternoons. If you’re driving in from Salt Lake City, stop at Vessel for some healthy breakfast options, including a hearty avocado toast with sea salt and lime.
Main Street offers a variety of unique and trendy restaurants, including Handle, Fletchers, and Firewood —and reservations are recommended at all of them. At Handle, I recommend going it “family style,” start with the apple bacon biscuits, Kung Pao cauliflower and don’t miss the fried chicken (it’s a signature dish).
If you are looking to grab a slice of pizza, stop at Davanzas in town. If you are looking for something more unique, try Este. I like the white pizza (olive oil, garlic, oregano) but the Ol’Vortman is also popular, which is pretty much everything you’d ever want on a pizza.
For something really low-key, I suggest you walk, or take the free trolley, to grab a bite at Riverhorse Provisions. It’s a gourmet grab and go restaurant and market. There is outdoor seating; it is casual, affordable, family friendly and delicious! If you are here for breakfast, go with the with strawberry fritters or polenta French toast. For lunch, I recommend the wild game meatballs or a ‘provisions bowl’ if you’re looking for something healthy.
“Mexican? I moved from AZ! There is no good Mexican in Utah (or Minnesota) but, if you must, El Chubasco is good.”
Off Main Street, I suggest you head up the mountain to try out a warm Swiss cheese raclette, the meat and soup selection, and the dessert buffet at Deer Valley Fireside Dining at Empire Lodge. And for a real experience, book dinner in the Viking Yurt at the Park City Mountain Resort, only accessible by sleigh ride up the mountain.
On the other hand if you are exhausted after a long day of skiing, and prefer to stay in, hire a private chef. I recommend Chef Matt Fischer with Omakase Catering, who will prepare a variety of sushi and Asian inspired options to your liking.
What should we drink?
You can ski right into town to the High West Distillery. High West is at a base of the slopes, so you can easily stop for a burger or a Dead Man’s Boots (my drink of choice) and take the lift right back up. I love ordering a round of appetizers, including house made pretzel and fondue with fingerling potatoes and apples. The whiskey onion soup is yummy as well. If you’re not on skis, pick up a bottle of High West Whiskey to take home. Several of their whiskeys are sold only in Utah. The party goes all day at No Name Saloon in the middle of Main Street. They have a year-round heated rooftop patio that overlooks the mountain perfect for Apres Ski.
If you are looking for a little pick me up, head to Atticus on Main Street for great cup of joe or try my favorite, the Goblet of Fire, delicious cinnamon spiced black tea with cloves and orange peel.
Remember, You can only buy alcohol, including wine and craft beer at the state run liquor stores (grocery stores carry only 3.2% beer). There are three such stores in Park City located at Kimball Junction, Snowcreek/The Market area, and one off-Main on Swede Alley. You can view pricing online. If you are staying in a rental, you may want to ask your property manager to purchase alcohol for your unit, but use your discretion on that one.
What is the one can't miss item on your itinerary?
Whether you are here for skiing or not, it’s wonderful just to stroll Main Street, dotted with historic buildings, art galleries, boutiques and amazing restaurants.
Tell us something we don't know?
Every night of the year, both the Montage and Waldorf Astoria offers fireside s’mores and you don’t have to be a guest at either resort to partake in the fun!
What should we shop or what should we bring back with us?
For sure you should grab a limited release bottle of High West Whiskey, only available at the retail store. For a sweet retreat head over to Ritual Chocolate and enjoy the drinking chocolate at the cafe and then head home with a few bars for yourself. If you are a parent, or looking for a gift, you should consider stopping by Cade & Co for handmade leather baby shoes from a local Parkite. There are so many cute options to pick from and they even offer custom made pairs! If you need a new outfit while in town, Mary Janes or Olive & Tweed boutiques offer trendy clothing and unique gifts.
For stylish and buttery soft Park City souviner t-shirts (that you will actually wear) visit Motherlode, just off of lower Main Street.
What should we pack for the trip?
Mountain Chic – Leave your heels at home! Ski coats are acceptable, even in the high end restaurants. For a dressy mountain look, I recommend Sorel wedges for comfort, style, and snow protection. Be sure to pack your favorite leggings, a couple cute sweaters and a great pom hat.
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