One longtime local, an avid backcountry skier, recently confided, “There are two seasons in Park City. Winter and Waiting for Winter.” 

We beg to differ.  Perhaps it’s the brevity of a Park City summer that makes it so cherished; perhaps it’s coveted so much simply because it deserves it. When we shed our winter whites in favor of garden greens, there’s even more daylight to explore our mountain playground—and more time to love our season-specific activities, events, and traditions.   Here are some of our favorites.

Epicurean Delight

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Street Food  Imagine one long dining table down the length of historic Main Street (thankfully closed off to cars). Two dozen restaurants embellish their allotted dining spaces with everything from fresh flowers and linen napkins to full-on tiki bars to lounges with couches and vine-covered trellises. If you buy a seat at your favorite restaurant’s section, you’ll be part of a toast that waves a mile up and down Main; if not, you can simply stroll the street, visit with friends, and hit the Spirit Garden for live music and frothy beverages. It’s not a gourmet’s pipe dream; it’s Savor the Summit, our quintessential evening of open-air culinary revelry, and yes, it goes long into the night—this year on June 17.

Image: Mark Maziarz

Locally grown or harvested ingredients inspire our chefs; the fresh mountain air and tranquil summer views entice diners. Historic Main Street comes alive with just-for-the-season hanging flower baskets. Sunny outdoor dining decks and patios all over town overlook neighborhoods, golf courses, and resort chairlifts gliding over wildflower-strewn landscapes. From the pancake breakfast in City Park on the Fourth of July to the Park City Food and Wine Festival tastings, there’s no better way to enjoy Park City’s rich buffet of assorted restaurants than outside. Just don’t forget the sunscreen.  

Double Take
Summer is the season for locals (and visitors who want to act like locals) to indulge at our 100-plus restaurants. Check The Park Record, our biweekly newspaper, for an abundance of “off-season” two-for-one coupons at local eateries.

Summer Suds
What better way to slake a summer thirst than with a seasonal, locally brewed pint from one of our brewpubs? Try Wasatch Brew Pub’s Summerbrau Lager, a copper-hued Czech-style pilsner; their brand-new Ghostrider White IPA, with citrusy American hops and a touch of coriander; or Squatters’ Pineapple Express, a light pale ale with an aroma reminiscent of freshly sliced pineapple.

Brain Freeze
Indulge in exquisite house-made gelatos in ever-changing fresh flavors of the day (think black cherry, Meyer lemon, or coconut) from Vinto, Cortona, La Niche, or Stein Eriksen Lodge... or good old creamy ice cream from Cows or Coldstone Creamery.

All Hands on Deck
You haven’t experienced Park City summer until you’ve had a cold beer on the upper deck of the No Name Saloon, mingling with the motorcycle crews that make the saloon a regular pit stop on scenic summer rides and watching the sea of people floating down Main Street.

Dough Nuts
Be at The Market at Park City at 3:30 p.m. (every day except Sunday and Tuesday) to pick up a freshly baked artisan loaf from Red Bicycle Bakery—promptly at 3:30, because they sell out every day. The baguette with olive oil and sea salt has created numerous addicts in town, and it’s just the right size, in its brown paper wrap, to stuff into your picnic basket.

Wild Life

Park city summer 2013 flower power alpine i heart pc ioh6ky

Flower Power  Alpine buttercup. Mountain bluebell. Indian paintbrush. Sego lily. The names for our summer display of wildflowers are almost as pretty as the plants themselves. July is the peak month for carpets of color bordering our trails and dressing our meadows, so get out and enjoy. Fire up the free app “Flora of the Wasatch,” created by Wasatch Wildflowers author Steve Hegji, and you’ll have a trusty botanical buddy who can help you identify what you’re seeing out there.

Image: Rick Laverty

No humidity. No bugs. Need we say more? OK, if you insist: wildflowers, wildlife, all sorts of scenic walks, trails, hikes, and drives ... In a Park City summer, nature nurtures the spirit and soothes the soul. Daytime highs hover in the 80s; if you get hot, you can sit in the shade to cool down. By 9 p.m. it’s sweater weather, which means you’ll have no trouble getting a refreshing sleep in the cool mountain air. And that’s important because the following day, there will be wildflowers, wildlife, no humidity, no bugs...

Beauty and the Beast
Early summer in Park City marks the return of the elegant, almost prehistoric-looking sandhill crane. You’ll see them gracefully strolling through local wetlands and hear their distinctive honk overhead as they fly over the marshier parts of town. Their ballerina-like poise is offset by the Belushi-like ridiculousness of our pudgy friend, the potgut (local slang for the Uinta ground squirrel). The burrowing devils ruin our lawns, and their habit of scurrying spastically across roads is a bane to cyclists, but we have to admit: they’re kinda cute.

Nature Valley
The new McPolin Nature Trail is an unpaved, single-track, one-mile loop, about a quarter mile from our iconic White Barn, designed for maybe-not-quite-so-athletic walkers of all abilities. Interpretive signs describe plant and animal life and local history. To find the trail, park at the lot on SR 224, take the under-the-road path, and head north on the Farm Trail.

Sunset Boulevard
The road is only open May–October, so don’t miss your chance: take the scenic drive up Marsac Ave, which becomes Rte 224, and keep heading up, up, up to Guardsman Pass. (Signs mark the route well.) Stop at the pullout at 9,700 feet for inspiring convergent views of Brighton, Albion Basin, Heber City, Park City, the Uintas, and a carpet of aspens and conifers as far as the eye can see. When they’re washed in the rosy hue of alpenglow, there isn’t a better sunset spot in town.

Playground Rules

Park city summer 2013 floar your boat paddleboard cywf0s

Float Your Boat  Yeah, we live in semidesert terrain, yet we’re blessed with access to all kinds of water. You have your sailing, water skiing, and jet skiing at Jordanelle and Deer Creek Reservoirs (both within a 20-minute drive of PC); you have your blue-ribbon fly-fishing on the Middle Provo River (about 15 minutes—and you’ll feel like you’re on the set of A River Runs Through It); you have the snowmaking pond at Gorgoza Park (which everyone uses to swim their dogs); you even have (new this summer) stand-up paddleboarding at the ponds in lower Deer Valley. Dive in!

Image: Jim David

Sure, we play around here plenty in winter, with all of our skiing, riding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and tubing. But in summer, we really let it rip. The days are longer, offering more time to pack in absurd amounts of outdoor recreation, and the moderate temps keep us from overheating. With golf, swimming, mountain biking, hiking, fly-fishing, road cycling, stand-up paddleboarding, horseback riding, sailing, and more, you could make a full-time job of taking advantage of all we have to offer—except that would be working too hard for summer.

Split Personality
Everyone has to do the recreational double at least once, just for bragging rights: go over to Snowbird and ski for the morning (closing date TBA sometime in June/July), then return to Park City for an afternoon on the links. Fore!

Riding the Rail
One of the crown jewels of Park City’s 450-plus-mile trail system, the Rail Trail embodies recycling at its best. Pull out those old train tracks and leave a 30-mile, easy-to-navigate path that winds through beautiful countryside—and even provides free plastic bags for you to pick up after your dog. Heck, you can ride your bike all the way to Coalville on this thing (and if you want to know what’s over there, read “East of Eden”).

Big Air
Don’t miss the truly unique Flying Ace All Star shows, Sunday afternoons at our Utah Olympic Park. World-class freestyle athletes jump, spin, tuck, twist, and soar off the ramps and land in a bubbling 750,000-gallon splash pool, with their skis on.

Mountain Cool
No matter how hot it gets under the high-altitude sun, you can always visit our Mid Mountain Trail, elevation 8,000 feet. The route links all three of our resorts (20 miles in all if you want to walk or ride the whole thing; most people jump on and off in shorter sections), and you’ll find yourself enveloped in a canopy of forested coolness.

Duffers’ Dusk
Link the day to the evening at Twilight Golf at Park City Golf Course, which offers nine holes for just $10, starting at 7 p.m. Walkers only; bring your own beverages.

Culture Shock

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All is Fair  Lest we start to seem a tad highfalutin with our symphonies and high-end galleries, Park City shows its raucous spirit at the weekly Park Silly Sunday Market. Here is where you’ll find scantily clad belly dancers, beer, peace pipes, tattoos, tie-dye, hemp, lava lamps, puka beads, and more at an array of craftsy hippie booths—plus an adjoining beer garden.

Image: Jill Orschel

Locals used to say how great it was that Salt Lake City and its opera, symphony, and ballet were just down the road a piece. Well, guess what? Artists, performers, filmmakers, and patrons of the arts now make a reverse pilgrimage every summer to breathe in our clear, cool Park City air. So we get world-class musical and performance acts hitting our stages and world-class artists showing up for exhibitions. Add that to our two dozen local galleries and a state-of-the-art performing arts center, and it’s no wonder the Utah Symphony drives up for weekend performances under the stars—complementing the free, live outdoor music you’ll find five nights a week.

All-American
There is no better way to enjoy local culture at its finest than celebrating Fourth of July in Park City. It’s a highly coveted day of leisure, dating back to the era when miners had only two days off a year: December 25 and July 4. We still pack as much fun into 24 hours as possible, starting with a 7 a.m. fun run, a pancake breakfast in City Park, and a full-on old-time parade down Main Street. Rugby and sand volleyball tournaments, a street fair, live music, kiddie games, and a Utah Symphony performance lead up to fireworks over Park City Golf Course at dusk. If you only have one day to spend in Park City, this is it.

The Art of Strolling
If you’re like some locals, and you keep meaning to check out our amazing galleries but haven’t quite gotten around to it, pencil in the Gallery Stroll, the last Friday of every month from 6 to 9 p.m. All of the galleries are open, many with visiting artists available for painting demonstrations or socializing, and they offer munchies and enticing libations to lure you in.

Film Noir
We don’t have a drive-in, but it doesn’t get more romantic than watching a summer Sundance Institute movie en plein air. The films start around 9 p.m., so bring warm clothes for after the sun goes down. This summer’s showings, between City Park and Red Butte Garden Amphitheatre are TBD (check out sundance.org/utah to stay up-to-date and also get full details on showings there).

Classical Gas
The Utah Symphony and Utah Opera have made Park City their summer home at the Deer Valley Music Festival since 1986, and attending a weekend symphony performance at Deer Valley’s outdoor amphitheater has become a locals’ rite of summer. Bring a blanket or low-rider chair and an elaborate picnic, let the kids run around on top of the grassy hill, and snuggle up under the fleece as the sun sets to philharmonic strains.

 

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