The tried-and-true saying “time is money” implies that time is worth a specific dollar amount, and thus should be jealously conserved. But we submit that our time—especially those precious nonworking hours—is priceless, and thus should be savored to the fullest. So what follows is a Park City winter bucket list: a curated collection of things, both well known and more obscure, that no Park City wintertime sojourn should be without. Enjoy, but don’t rush: up here in the mountains, time is on your side.
Freak Flag Fest
No nudity, thongs, or bare behinds are allowed, but pretty much everything else goes at the Annual Pond Skimming Contest (parkcitymountain.com). Upwards of 100 skiers and boarders typically compete to see who can skim across a pond with the most style. Costumes are not mandatory, but you’ll be in the minority if you eschew the tutu, sequins, and/or wigs.
Annual Santa Stagger
Nothing says “the holidays” quite like a mob of 100 inebriated locals in fuzzy red and white suits. The Santa Pub Crawl (parkcityrestaurants.com), held on the first Saturday in December, invites revelers of all denominations to sport their favorite seasonally inspired garb and partake of Historic Main Street’s legendary mixology. And, yes, there is a costume contest.
Chafing Dishes Done Right
True confession: we wish there were a season pass to Deer Valley’s Seafood Buffet (reservations required, open Thu−Sun, 435.649.1000, deervalley.com). If—or more like when—you go, be sure to tour the stations before picking up a plate. More than one tear has been shed by novices who mistakenly fill up valuable crab-leg real estate with lettuce leaves.
Art and Soul
Rest your skier’s quads and stretch your creative muscles with a class at the Kimball Art Center (1401 Kearns Blvd, 435.649.8882, kimballartcenter.org). “Try glass fusion or wheel throwing pottery,” suggests Jocelyn Scudder, education program manager at the KAC. “We usually offer one- and two-day workshops in jewelry and ceramics as well.”
Clocking in at speeds in excess of 80 miles per hour, the Winter Comet Bobsled Ride (Utah Olympic Park, 3419 Olympic Pkwy, 435.658.4206, utaholympiclegacy.com) navigates the entire 15-turn Olympic bobsled course, allowing three riders per sled (plus an experienced pilot) to experience up to 5Gs of force. Ibuprofen not included. And that's just the tip of all the fun winter activities available at the UOP.
Learn from the best at the Park City Speed Skating Club’s weekly Learn-to-Speed-Skate nights (Mondays, 6:30−8 p.m., 600 Gilmore Way, 435.615.5700, parkcityspeedskatingclub.blogspot.com). Club coaches include former Olympians Catherine Raney-Norman and Derek Parra. Best of all, your first class is free.
Earn Your Turns
At just shy of 10,000 feet above sea level, Park City Mountain Resort’s Jupiter Peak (“The Peak” to locals and mountain patrollers) is home to some of the Park’s highest in-bounds skiing. Named for a historic nearby silver mine, Jupe’s interplanetary hot spots include O-Zone, Machetes, and the Hourglass chutes. Hike up to this legendary high point—visible from anywhere in the city limits—from the Jupiter Chair or Pinion Ridge off McConkey’s.
Townies to the Top
Every ski town has chairlifts; Park City has its very own Town Lift. Steps off of Main Street, this throwback triple carries Old Town skiers and riders through fragrant spruces, over glistening corduroy, and alongside rusting mine-era tram towers to the heart of Park City Mountain Resort within minutes. At the end of the day, return whence you came and glide into High West Distillery for après whiskeys.
Uptown Fare (1401 Kearns Blvd) owner Karleen Reilly does things her way. Her delightfully cozy eatery in the Kimball Art Center building is open a civilized Monday through Friday only from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Each day she roasts an entire turkey for homemade soups and sandwiches. And during January’s über-crowded Sundance Film Festival, she makes Parkites the celebrities by reserving coveted seating for local residents only: if you’re not a local, you’re not allowed in.
Mountain patrollers, lifties, and groomers are loyal patrons at The Corner Store (1325 Lowell Ave, 435.645.8666, thecornerstorebar.com), located at Park City Mountain Resort’s base area. They regularly give up insider info on terrain openings, weather forecasts, and secret powder stashes when stopping in to grab a breakfast burrito in the morning or decompressing with $3 PBR tall boys and tequila shots at the end of the day.
Gourmet to Go
Just rolled into town, have unexpected company dropping by après-ski, or working late? Bill White Restaurant Group’s Family To-Go Dinners feed a family of four (even teenage appetites) with a hearty main dish, side, salad, and focaccia ready for pickup 15 minutes after your call. Choose from five pastas from Ghidotti’s (6030 N Market St, 435.658.0669); or pasta, salmon, turkey, or meatloaf from Windy Ridge (1250 Iron Horse Dr, 435.647.0880).
Crumby Carpe Diem
Red Bicycle Bread’s delicious artisan loaves are baked daily at The Market at Park City (1500 Snow Creek Dr, 435.645.7139) and put out on display at 3 p.m., warm from the oven. The chewy “stick” bread (also referred to as “crack” bread due to its addictive qualities) is drenched with olive oil and sea salt. But you snooze, you lose: get there at 4 p.m., and it’ll mostly likely be sold out.
A Walk on the Wild Side
There isn’t a more snow-laden, sylvan, secluded, or spectacular winter hike or snowshoe than Rob’s Trail (mountaintrails.org). With room for just two to walk side by side, the trail winds back and forth at a comfortably mellow pitch (starting at 7,000 feet above sea level, about five miles round trip if you choose to do the whole thing). You’ll see mountain laurel, aspens, pines, gorgeous open views of Snyderville Basin, and, at the top, the Canyons side of Park City Mountain Resort. Located off of Bear Hollow Drive (about 1.5 miles past Park City Nursery). Park in designated spots only, and remember to be avalanche-aware.
Hike the steep, 45-minute Iron Mountain Trail with a little plastic sled called a Swiss Bob (just big enough to fit your derrière), and then careen back down the luge-like path with glee and giggles in about 10 minutes. From Hwy 224 take PayDay Drive, and then subsequent rights on Iron Canyon Drive, Iron Mountain Drive, and Iron Canyon Court. Park in the few available roadside spots, and walk to the narrow trailhead at the cul-de-sac. (The Swiss Bob will set you back about $50. You can find them online or at local sporting goods stores.)
Sidle up to the fire to thaw those tootsies or peer out at the peaks surrounding Deer Valley’s (deervalley.com) Flagstaff Mountain in Cushing’s Cabin (located at the top of the Silver Strike chairlift), a
cozy place to take a break without the hustle and bustle of the Empire, Snow Park, or Silver Lake Lodges. Order a steamy cup of hot cocoa—don’t pass on the whipped cream and marshmallows—then double down on the sugar rush with a homemade Deer Valley cookie as big as your face. Warm up. Fuel up. Bonk no more.
Popcorn at the Park City Film Series (Jim Santy Auditorium in the Park City Library, parkcityfilmseries.com) is popped “naked,” allowing patrons of this art-house film series to apply real melted butter and an array of toppings ranging from sweet to salty to spicy—including grated Parmesan and ancho chile hot sauce. The films suit all tastes, too, from children’s lit–inspired sagas to foreign-language cinémathique.
Song for Your Supper
Tucked away near the base of Park City Mountain Resort’s Silver Star lift is the funky Silver Star Café (1825 Three Kings Dr, 435.655.3456, thesilverstarcafe.com), home to Park City Limits, an intimate dinner show series reminiscent of supper clubs found in Northern Michigan and Wisconsin. Accomplished singer-songwriters harmonize with unexpected riffs on comfort-food classics on weekends throughout the winter and every night during Sundance, from 7:30 to 10 p.m.
Lift the handle, push down, and kaboom!— lights, vibrating floors, and sheer hands-on fun. And no shushing allowed. Dozens of other attention-grabbing displays at the Park City Museum (528 Main St, 435.649.7457, parkcityhistory.org) are the antithesis of the typical ho-hum tributes to days gone by. The area’s rough-and-tumble mining past heritage and thrilling skiing history are told with a multimedia savvy that will have even the most die-hard electronics addicts putting down their screens.
Pull up lane-side and roll with it, Fred Flintstone–style—that is, Fred Flintstone of the future. Think black-lit lanes, multiple flat screens, an après-appropriate bar and eatery, lane-dedicated servers, plus bowling’s favorite cousins: foosball, billiards, and an arcade. Jupiter Bowl’s (1090 Center Dr, 435.658.2695, jupiterbowl.com) Sunday Funday deal ($5, noon–7 p.m.) translates into pizza, soda, shoes, and 90 minutes of off-piste, multigenerational fun for six.
Alternative Air Time
The Park City Info Channel (pcinfo95.com) has been turning ski bums into hosts since 2003. They may not perkily sip coffee at 6 a.m. or overwhelm you with extreme Utah adventures, but hit 95 on your cable box for fun, quirky, totally local programming like Trail Tales, Yoga Moment, and Park City Cocktails.
You’re probably aware of what’s arguably Park City’s most popular Old Town draw, High West Distillery (703 Park Ave, 435.649.8300, highwest.com), the country’s only ski-in/ski-out gastrodistillery. But did you know it’s the only place in Park City allowed to sell package hooch on Sundays? Find their bottles of craft whiskeys and vodkas in the saloon’s adjoining General Store (open daily, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.).
Cheer on the international flavor and toast extreme athleticism in an event that’s as close as it gets to delivering an Olympic moment in a non-Olympic year: the FIS Freestyle World Cup (deervalley.com). Mogul-bumping and aerialist pros compete under the lights in a high-flying spectacle with incredible atmosphere. Catch the daytime training and qualifying runs by pulling up on skis; munchkins might even snag an autograph or fist-bump from the world’s best.
Sure, there’s plenty of track in Park City proper to give those skinny skis a workout, but for a little wilderness immersion therapy, road-trip up to the Uinta Mountains’ Shingle Creek Trail (located 9.5 miles up the Mirror Lake Highway from Kamas). The 2.5-mile out-and-back trail passes through fragrant pine stands and open meadows and is mostly flat except for a couple of very short, giggle-inducing hills. Be sure to stop at the Samak Smokehouse (1937 E Mirror Lake Hwy, 435.783.4880, samaksmokehouse.com) for some “Stickies,” their answer to the PowerBar.
After just one day of hauling skis and poles to and from the slopes (especially with kids), even the most die-hard schusser will consider a cruise or Disneyland for their next winter vacation. Which is why Deer Valley’s free—as in no charge—overnight ski storage at Snow Park and Silver Lake Village Lodges (deervalley.com) is one of the most underrated perks in the ski biz.
When there’s fresh pow, let everyone else wait in line for the rope to drop at 9990', Jupiter, or Empire while you head for these wide-open, just-enough-pitch runs and let it rip. Canyons side of Park City Mountain Resort: Fool’s Paradise, Specter, and Chimera. At Deer Valley: Perseverance Bowl, Lady Morgan Bowl, and Peeler. At Park City Mountain Resort: Assessment, Powder Keg, and Seldom Seen.
Walk outside on a clear winter’s night in Park City, and you’ll swear you can pluck the stars from the sky. Gain an even better vantage point (and burn off that après fondue) with All Seasons Adventures’ Star Gazers Tour (435.649.9619, allseasonsadventures.com). Guides pick you up from your home, hotel, or condo and take to you the Empire Canyon trailhead for the two- to three-hour snowshoe tour of the real stars’ homes.
Between the Covers
The pleasure of browsing a bookstore for hours is a rarity these days, but it’s alive and well in Park City at Dolly’s Bookstore (510 Main St, 435.649.8062, dollysbookstore.com). Adding to the charm are three resident cats (Mr. Dolly, Pippi Longstocking, and Curious George), a Park City councilwoman (Liza Simpson, selling books), and well-known authors, often in Park City on vacation, who populate the monthly book-signing schedule.
Yoga, paddleboarding, and hot springs ... these are a few of our favorite things. Especially when combined. Loosen up those tight, post-slope quads with a stand-up paddleboard yoga class on the 90-degree, mineral-rich waters inside the Homestead Resort Crater. Better yet, venture on a guided snowshoetour before your floating yoga session (parkcityyogaadventures.com).
On the search for that classic cashmere sweater or hunting for the perfect bargain cowboy boots? The Exchange (1755 Bonanza Dr, 435.649.3726) owner Kristin Ensley does the work for all of us, curating a spacious showroom filled with vintage treasures, funky costumes, and jewelry from every era that are worth far more than their price tags.
Leave Old Town behind, and you’ll be rewarded with comforting, vegan, and healthy lunch options every day of the week. At Fairweather Natural Foods (1270 Iron Horse Dr, 435.649.4561, fairweathernaturalfoods.com) the friendly kitchen angels always have two crock pots warming soups like Thai coconut curry, shitake mushroom barley, and garlic spinach garbanzo; follow them on Facebook or Instagram to find out what’s cookin’ each day.
Pining for seats to a great film at Sundance? Locals can beat the crowds and get “Best of Fest” tickets, then choose from free screenings of award-winning films on Monday, February 2. Summit County residents get twice the perks with Townie Tuesday, a free screening at Redstone Cinemas and Library Center Theatre. Stay up-to-date with the upcoming festival via the Sundance website.
Downhill, Free Style
Grab a tube, saucer, or traditional slider and let gravity be your guide. All ages and stages head to the hill behind the Park City Ice Arena (600 Gillmor Way) with one carefree—and cost-free—plan: good ol’ fashioned sledding. Helmets are a great idea, especially given the often mammoth-size jumps created by industrious youth, but it’s the perfect way to expend the entire family’s energy in no time without breaking the bank.
Euro Comfort Cuisine
Glide into the Viking Yurt (435.615.9878, vikingyurt.com) at the “five-way” of Homerun and Silver Queen at Park City Mountain Resort for grilled cheese and tomato soup that far surpass Wonder and Campbell’s. The Viking version boasts Full Moon cheddar and marinated tomatoes on fresh sourdough served with a generous bowl of tomato coconut curry soup. Enjoy it on the yurt’s deck with a Bloody Mary for maximum effect.