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Park City: The perfect long weekend destination
The best places to stay, ski and dine while in the former mining town
Chase Sapphire® is a presenting sponsor of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival, an independent film exhibition in the United States. Launched in 1981, the Festival showcases new movies, music events, panel discussions and more each January in Park City, Utah.
Park City, Utah, is perhaps best known as the home of the Sundance Film Festival, when the silver mining town turned ski resort enjoys 10 days of star-studded glamour. The rest of the year, however, it is known as one of the most convenient ski towns in the West. Its location, just 45 minutes from Salt Lake City's airport, makes it perfect for a long weekend from nearly anywhere in the US.
Here's a look at what is new, as well as venerable favorites, in Park City:
What to do
The biggest news from the ski world in recent years has been the 2015 merger of the Park City and Canyons resorts. The combined area is now the country's largest ski resort, with some 7,300 acres of skiable terrain. Last year, the Quicksilver gondola connecting the two areas debuted--making it quicker, and easier, to explore the mountain. Both areas are blessed with Utah's famous dry powder (regular "monster dumps" result in an annual average of 370 inches of snow, praised by skiers for its perfect consistency thanks to the lake effect from the Great Salt Lake).
The Park City-Canyons resort, grand as it is, is not the only show in town. The Deer Valley resort may be smaller, with just over 2,000 acres, but it is beloved by skiers, in part because it is a ski-only resort with no snowboarders allowed.
If you aren't a skier, or simply want to take a break from the slopes, there's a long list of other winter pursuits to try. All Seasons Adventures offers a full gamut of activities: cross-country skiing, dogsledding, sleigh rides, and snowshoeing among them. Park City Food Tours offers its own popular snowshoeing excursion. A two-hour trek, led by a naturalist who explains the local flora and fauna, ends at the Silver Star Café. The duck hash and buttermilk-fried chicken are among the standouts at this local favorite.
Where to eat
Park City has undergone a food revolution in the past decade. Diners once had to settle for ski resort standards like burgers and chili. But the town's transformation to a year-round destination has elevated its food scene. Tupelo Park City, which opened at the end of last year, has quickly secured a reputation as one of the best restaurants in town.
Chef Matt Harris (previously of Market by Jean-Georges, and the St. Regis Deer Valley) puts the emphasis on local ingredients—trout, lamb from Bear Lake, and homemade ricotta. New this season is an après happy hour from 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., with small bites like chicken-fried steak sliders and whiskey-glazed pork buns.
At Handle, chef Briar Handly also serves innovative takes on American dishes. His vegetable-centric menu offers opportunities to enjoy dishes with seasonal produce you might not think of often—in the winter kohlrabi, sunchokes, and turnips while parsnips are fried up like bacon in apple butter and served with bresaola. (Handle also opened a second location in Salt Lake City, HSL, earlier this year.)
Open since 1987, Riverhorse on Main is a venerable old dame of Park City. And they continue to go strong, not only serving steaks and halibut, but also buffalo and elk, in a large, airy space with a lively, festive atmosphere. The wine list is long, and especially strong on California wineries. Brunch is also popular. Fuel an afternoon of exploring the town with the cheddar cheese biscuits, huevos rancheros, or smoked salmon scramble.
The latest addition to the town's food scene is the much-anticipated Firewood, also on Main Street. Chef John Murcko, well known in Park City, opens a new venture this season where, as the name implies, the focus is on meats and other dishes cooked over an enormous grill.
Where to sip
You'll find the world's only ski-in gastro-distillery in Park City. The High West Distillery and Saloon on Park Avenue, one block off of Main Street, pours the company's signature whiskeys and ryes. They also have a menu of bar food to accompany your drinks—lamb stew, three-bean chili, and a selection of small plates.
The Wasatch Brewery on Main Street has the distinction of being the oldest brewery in Utah (it opened in 1986) while its brewpub followed in 1988. Wasatch serves a selection of their ales, stouts, wheat beers.
The Park City Brewery is located 15 minutes north of town, but is another must-stop for microbrew fans. Finally, O.P. Rockwell has a cocktail lounge vibe, and also hosts frequent concerts.
Where to sleep
If you are planning a no-expenses spared visit to Park City, the leading luxury options are the Waldorf-Astoria Park City and Washington School House and, in Deer Valley, the St. Regis Deer Valley and Montage Deer Valley resorts. The 160-room Waldorf-Astoria Park City has its own gondola to the Canyons ski area, and all the comforts of a large property, from ski concierges to a 16,000-square-foot spa. The 12-room Washington School House may not have all the bells and whistles of a large resort, but what you get instead is an intimate hotel in a converted 1899 school and rooms furnished with antiques.
Deer Valley sits just five minutes south of Park City's Main Street. There, the 181-room St. Regis Deer Valley has a contemporary ski lodge feel and even if you aren't staying at the hotel, you may want to drop in for drinks at the bar, which serves a menu of small plates created by Jean-Georges Vongerichten. Or try a more substantial dinner at the hotel's J&G Grill.
At the Montage Deer Valley, the perks for guests start first thing in the morning—with early access to the mountain through the First Tracks program—and go late—with the après scene getting an haute twist with the slopeside Veuve Clicquot yurt, Après Lounge & Beach Club. There, you can sip bubbly and snack on black truffle popcorn and Nicoulai caviar after a day of skiing.
Not all the options in Park City are budget-busters. Life at the 300-room Grand Summit Hotel revolves around the heated outdoor pool in the afternoons, and when it is time for dinner, the six restaurants in Canyon Village are right outside the hotel.
The Silverado Lodge has accommodations from one to four bedrooms, ideal for any size group. It is impossible to get much closer to the slopes than at the Sundial Lodge, which sits next to the base of the Red Pine gondola.
Insider Tip: Right next door to Tupelo, the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory's caramel apples are a local favorite. Asked for a favorite not-to-be-missed culinary experience in Park City, chef Matt Harris of Tupelo recommends buying one of the apples and strolling Main Street.
Read more about all that the Festival has to offer on Chase.com/SapphireOnLocation.
John Newton is a Chase News contributor. His work has appeared in AFAR, Condé Nast Traveler, and Travel+Leisure, among other media outlets.