Ultimate Weekend Guide to Park City

Where to eat, sleep, and play in Park City, whether you’re spotting celebrities or hitting the slopes

Park City, Utah is chock-full of frolicking celebrities and shearling-clad shutterbugs on standby every year around this time. From Jan. 19–29, the Sundance Film Festival kicks off the 2012 season with a roster of new films and plenty of A-list gossip, but there’s more to this former mining town than meets TMZ’s eyes.

Saddling the western Rocky Mountains and the eastern Great Basin region is a cozy ski-town destination full of swagger all its own. Home to the U.S. Ski Team and location for many of the 2002 Winter Olympics events, this liberal Utah city with not one, not two, but three mountain resorts — Canyons, Deer Valley, and Park City Mountain — proves that Park City isn’t merely a playground for celebrities. Plus, if you hop a morning flight from most any U.S. city to Salt Lake’s international airport (a mere 30 minutes from Park City), you can ski free by converting your boarding pass into a same-day lift ticket.

So whether you’re there to see the season’s best films (read: spot celebrities) or hit the slopes, here’s our guide to a long weekend in the snowy city.

Friday: Park City Mountain

Right in the center of the action, Park City Mountain is the town’s most accessible mount.  Whether you grab a morning coffee at Java Cow and jump on Main Street’s Town Lift or hit the slopes after lunch at base level Legends Bar and Grill, you’re guaranteed a great day of skiing on some 114 trails.

On the slopes, Park City Mountain boasts one of the cooler eateries in the city: The Viking Yurt. Reached by snowcat-pulled sleigh, this winter wonderland experience is not to be missed; while for a quick bite after a morning of runs, hit the Snow Hut, grab a bowl of soup, and soak up the sun on the outdoor deck.

At the end of day, hit the world’s only ski in-ski out distillery, and the first in the state since the 1870s, High West. Located just off of Main Street at the base of Park City Mountain, this super-cozy spot — the interior of which looks like an ad for Ralph Lauren Home — makes a really great high-end whiskey (Rendevous Rye) and vodka (Vodka 7000'). Pair your cocktail with snacks like hand-cut potato chips, spiced almonds, and shishito peppers, or settle in for some shared larger plates; always packed for après ski, this is the spot in Park City to get your post-ski drink on.

Take some time to cruise Main Street, discovering where the locals go. Though beloved establishments like Cisero’s and concert hall Park City LIVE (formerly Harry-O’s) are taken over by headlining Hollywood studios during Sundance, these low-key spots are great spots to catch local music on non-Sundance weekends. For chill drinks and two-handed burgers, No Name Saloon is littered with kitsch like old movie posters, Christmas lights, and ceiling-hanging antique bicycles, and for elevated high-end fare in a multi-room space, head to Talisker on Main (pictured). The menu changes regularly, but if they’re serving it, don’t miss the fried chicken and the Brussels sprouts. (Photo courtesy of Talisker on Main)

Unlike Canyons and Deer Valley, Park City Mountain doesn’t offer dedicated lodging, but central Park City digs include the Marriott Park City — the command center for Sundance — the ski-in, ski-out condos at Snow Flower, and charming boutique Club Lespri. With an intimate spa offering guest specials and some of the city’s best sushi at Prime Steak Sushi Bar, Club Lespri is, hands-down, one of Park City’s undiscovered gems.

 

Saturday: Deer Valley

Named the number one ski resort in North America by the readers of SKI Magazine for the fifth (!) year in a row, Deer Valley has established itself as a world-class destination for those who love everything about ski season. Unlike its counterparts, Deer Valley restricts snowboarding on its trails; the resort is the place to escape the sometimes-terrifying whoosh of tricked-out boarders on a mission. With $7 million in improvements for the 2012 ski season, including four new SunKid conveyor lifts to transport beginner skiers and young children up the ski slopes more efficiently, and a new Children's Adventure Area Map featuring Deer Valley Ski School mascots like Bucky the deer and Quincy the bear, Deer Valley is worth a stop on any Park City itinerary.

In addition to the many accolades, the lack of boarders, and proximity to Park City’s Main Street, part of the allure of Deer Valley is the level of luxurious accommodations. Beautiful self-service condominiums with ski-in, ski-out access can be had on any budget, but for many, Montage Deer Valley (pictured), St. Regis Deer Valley, and the European-styled Stein Eriksen Lodge sweeten the deal. All feature luxury spa facilities and high-end accommodations, as well as steep price tags for their white-glove service.

At the Montage, guests have access to more than 200 acres of all-new peaks and terrain and, after a long morning skiing, a personal valet waits to store skis, carry equipment, and keep your boots warm while you head inside to refuel. The clubby Apex (pictured), Montage’s signature restaurant, serves lunch and dinner and at après-ski, guests can roast marshmallows at the fire pit, or sip on Montage’s private label beers crafted by Park City favorite Wasatch Brewery. This season also sees the arrival of Yama Sushi, which serves rolls and sashimi, alongside sake flight pairings overlooking picturesque ski runs. At The St. Regis, Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s J&G Grill dishes out steaks, chops, and seafood in a gorgeous neutral-colored dining room overlooking the mountains. For more casual eats, Royal Street Café at Silver Lake Lodge rounds out the choices with simpler fare like paninis and crocks of chili. (Photo courtesy of The Montage Deer Valley)

 

Sunday: Canyons Resort

Set a bit farther off of Park City’s main drag, Canyons is a self-sufficient property with its own village, a host of spectacular restaurants overseen by Salt Lake Magazine’s “Best Chef,” John Murcko, and a collection of lodgings that range from the swank Waldorf to the centrally located Grand Summit to a host of condos offering ski-in, ski-out access. Last year, Canyons launched their state-of-the-art, heated, orange-bubble quad lifts, which mimic the feeling of seeing the world through ski goggles and act as a direct-connect gondola from the village. Oft considered Park City’s most challenging mountain, Canyons’ mile-long Terrain Park attracts boarders, while the newest property — the Waldorf Astoria attracts the fabulous and the famous. (Photo courtesy of the Waldorf Astoria)

Where to eat at Canyons is always a tough call — too many choices. On-mountain, the excellent Lookout Cabin serves hearty fare like potato and leek bisque, bison chili, beef short ribs and winter vegetables over house-made papardelle, and the fan-favorite Alpine “Mac n’ Cheese," at 8,300 feet. In the village, it’s all about The Farm, a farm-to-table concept sourcing fresh, local ingredients, while new to the Canyons family is Bistro, the only fully certified Kosher restaurant open all season long at a ski resort. 

Whether you’re headed to Park City for Sundance’s scene, or just a bit of the Wasatch Mountain range’s famous snow, you’re guaranteed to fall for the quaint town’s laid-back attitude and wealth of snow-covered fun.  Oh, and if you see him, please tell Mr. Redford we say hello.

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