Park City, Utah has morphed from Mormon community to miners’ mecca to world-class skiing Valhalla with three major resorts. Sundance added a sexy cinematic element to the mix when Robert Redford came to town, and today the little burg nestled in the embrace of the Wasatch mountain range is a lively vacation destination year-round. Utah? You bet.
When it comes to accommodations you can go big at one of the sprawling luxe mountaintop resorts such as the St. Regis (great bar scene) or the Montage, but for a cozier experience, book one of the 12 rooms at the Washington School House Hotel. The limestone-clad structure was built in 1889 and served as one of the town’s original schools. A recent renovation introduced reclaimed barn wood, heated marble bathroom floors and beds piled with Pratesi linens and goose-down comforters. And it’s a quick schuss down the hill to Main Street nightlife.
Best in Snow
You can still ogle the Olympic Park where much of the icy action went down in 2002. Relive the rings at the museum, watch acrobatic shredders navigate moguls from the observation deck and book a ripper on a bobsled that hits 65 mph speeds. At Canyons Resort, a couple of miles away, intrepid powder hogs can arrange heli-skiing, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing and dogsledding. The BBQ ribs at the Tombstone Grill alone are worth the lift ticket, or grab some sweet and savory waffles at the new Red Pine waffle shack.
Ski right up to the High West Distillery and Saloon for some pulled pork and dry-aged bison rib eyes and wash them down with a whiskey flight. Owner David Perkins is a biochemist who studied spirits in Kentucky and Scotland before hanging out his shingle at this Victorian house and livery stable. Buy the distillery’s small-batch bourbon blends as boozy souvenirs.
The No Name Saloon on Main Street is a cluttered, chill hang where you’ll likely see lifties, townies, gold medalists and Silicon Valley billionaires sitting together at the long wooden bar. Plant your butt on a stool and order a 4-Play Porter from Shades of Pale, a local craft brewery.
The vibe at the airport in late January is more LAX than SLC, with packs of placarded drivers waiting to whisk indie Hollywood to the Sundance Film Festival (January 22 to February 1 this year). Park City’s population explodes for 10 days, filling Main Street with sponsored pop-up lounges, concerts and late-night condo afterparties. If you want to catch a last-minute flick and you’re not industry, just check in at the main box office for day-of tickets, or take a chance on the wait list. Directors screen their tales at oddball venues all over these two cities from dawn till midnight, but your best bet is Eccles, the largest theater, at Park City’s high school. Dress down for everything in PC, as even studio muckety-mucks and A-listers favor jeans, mukluks, puffers and the loftiest fur hats you’ll see outside of Russia.