Park City VacationHit the Slopes
Comrades, it’s been one hell of a winter. Between the polar vortex on one coast and a severe drought on the other, you may be tempted to while away the rest of your years among palms and young coconuts. But on this 12th day of March, we have another suggestion: Go skiing.
Why now: Because you’ve only got 34 days until resorts close for the season. Before you know it, August will be here. And as you trudge through the sweltering city streets, cursing that select group of slim and attractive people who just don’t sweat, trust us. You’ll be lusting for fresh pow.
- Catching the view at the top of Empire Express lift at Deer Valley before taking your first run. (The hardcore skiers among us can even head to Alta for a day trip – it’s only an hour’s drive.)
- Letting your tastebuds sample their way around town on a Park City food tour. Take your pick of taverns or restaurants, or have Shirin, your guide, curate a private tour just for you. She’ll give you the CliffsNotes on Park City’s history while she’s at it.
- Visiting the Mines to Moguls exhibit at Park City Museum, which is actually chock full of interesting information and a great place for families.
- Sitting down to a bowl of beef and buffalo chili at Robert Redford’s Zoom. The menu – and portion sizes – appeal to après-ski appetites. We also love the roaring fire, silver scale and original 1886 wood floors. History is everywhere, folks.
- Warming up with a whiskey flight at High West Distillery.
- Snowshoeing, followed by paddleboard yoga, in a hot spring crater – seriously.
- Exploring the wintry terrain by dog sled with Lunas Lobos.
Your Home Away from Home
You have choices when it comes to accommodations in this neck of the woods. If you want a buzzy social scene – well, as buzzy as a seasonal mountain town can be – opt for a room at the boutiquey Washington School House in downtown Park City. We love this hotel for its balance of low-key attitudes and sky-high standards. It’s in a 125-year-old limestone schoolhouse, which was renovated and reopened last year. Quarters are cozy (there are only 12 rooms) but exquisitely decorated – the owners sourced the antique decor from around the world, and no two rooms are alike. They’ve even got a 2002 Olympic torch out by the pool. This is not a ski-in/ski-out spot, but the concierge will get you passes and drop you off at any of the surrounding mountains. And, the staff’s friendly, casual vibe will make you feel right at home. Seriously, their attention to detail is so meticulous that we swear they were using some sort of futuristic tracking system to manage our needs and preferences. Or maybe it’s just a really well-organized whiteboard.
WSH is just a few icy steps from the heart of Main Street. In the market for fur or techy outdoor gear? Look no further than every single shop in town. And it turns out that Park City is also pretty hip to booze – surprising considering Utah’s famously strict alcohol laws. No, you can’t get a tap beer that’s more than 4 percent alcohol, but you can get a bottle. And if you’re going beer, go with locally brewed Squatters. Opt for their Hop Rising (9 percent alcohol), but be warned: Altitude laughs in the face of tolerance levels. Soak it all up with a hearty beef tenderloin at Robert Redford’s Zoom, or a meal at the standout Talisker on Main. Silver has the best Old Fashioneds in town, and if you stick around long enough, the bar turns into a dance floor for a late 40s set. Two words: Michael Jackson. You won’t be able to look away.
If you’re in more of a whiskey mood, pop by High West Distillery. You’ve probably seen their whiskey behind the bar of your favorite hang – it seems to be everywhere these days. Turns out it’s the first distillery in Utah in 130 years. It’s also one of only two distilleries in the world that still makes oat whiskey, and in an old-school German pot still, to boot. Take a tour downstairs before settling in for a whiskey flight at the upstairs restaurant. Speaking of, we thought we’d seen every possible creative utilization of Mason jars until we saw this restaurant. Now that is crafty. Two other notable booze mentions are the recently opened Rock and Reilly’s, straight in from West Hollywood, and the No Name Saloon, if you’re looking to revisit your fraternity days. It happens.
Fun fact: High West ships the leftover protein from the distillation process to a dairy farm in Canada where it’s used to feed the cows. In return, they get fresh cheddar to use at the restaurant. It’s a new spin on farm to table.
Ski In, and Stay In
If you’re into a more traditional ski vacay, the St. Regis Deer Valley and Montage Deer Valley are winners in their take on alpine luxury. Both resorts are like cities unto themselves. You have to take a funicular (the only one at a North American ski resort, in fact) to get up to the St. Regis’ mountain perch, but don’t worry – once you’re there, you won’t want to leave. The butler will make sure of that. Until it’s time to ski, of course, at which point a valet will step in to help you step into your skis. The service is such that you’ll wonder why you’d ever bother putting your own shoes on again. Hit the slopes, then après at the Euro-inspired Ski Beach, or at Jean-Georges’ J&G Grill. We can’t not opt for a Bloody Mary at a St. Regis establishment (they’ll even teach you how to make it here – and we’ll teach you how to make it here), but it’s worth noting that their wine program is also impressive.
Alternately, the sprawling Montage (the most high-end resort in Deer Valley) has 154 rooms, 66-plus suites, 5 restaurants and a 35,000-square-foot spa. If you go Montage, chances are, you won’t make it into Park City proper. And that’s OK, because there is plenty to do right here. Spend your morning skiing before grabbing lunch at the resort’s newly opened Burgers and Bourbon. Parents will love the kid-friendly programming – there’s even an on-site bowling alley. At night, head next door to Fireside Dining at the Empire Canyon Lodge for fondue and roasted meats. It’s classic. And after a grueling day on Empire Pass, there’s nothing better than sinking into the spa’s whirlpool and taking in the stunning mountain view. Cocktail in hand, of course.
Fun fact: Let’s not forget that Park City was originally a silver mining town, and there are still hundreds of thousands of tunnels snaking their way underground. In the ‘60s, someone brilliantly decided to reopen Spiro tunnel as a sort of gimmicky ski lift. Essentially, skiers hopped an open-air “train,” were pulled into a tunnel and then transferred into a cage to be lifted 1,800 feet through dank darkness and deposited atop Treasure Hill. It’s an adventure we’re glad we never had to say yes to.
If skiing isn’t enough action for you, Park City Yoga Adventures has your back with snowshoe-meets-yoga adventures for a full-body workout. Choose your adventure: Snowshoe up a mountain to a yurt where a fire is lit and yoga ensues. Or – and this is what we’re really into – post-snowshoeing, head to a 90-degree, 200-foot-deep, 10,000-year-old mineral hot spring, located in the middle of a crater, for paddleboard yoga. Talk about mind-blowing. Except we’re talking about yoga, so it’s actually really relaxed.
(Photos courtesy of Montage Deer Valley, Washington School House and Park City)