Sometimes the best time to visit a winter resort is in the summer when hiking and different outdoor entertainment abound. In Park City, Utah we found warm days, beautiful terrain, gorgeous sunsets, and great fun. It’s less than two hours by plane from San Francisco to Salt Lake City. Then rent a car or take a shuttle to travel the additional 30 minutes to Park City.
At 7,000 feet, Park City sits in the Wasatch Mountains. It is best known for the 2002 Olympics, the Sundance Film Festival and (over 130 years ago) silver mining. Many buildings are part of the National Register of Historic Places. It’s a laid-back town with a hip vibe and lots to do.
The Washington School House Hotel is a luxe boutique property conveniently located off Main Street. Built in 1889, the historic limestone school was transformed with plush interiors and a heated pool on a tree-filled hillside of aspen and spruce. With only 12 rooms/suites and friendly and attentive service, the hotel provides an intimate place to enjoy Park City.
Each evening, wine and hors d’oeuvres are served in the living room with its stunning 10-foot-tall antique mirror and antler chandelier. In the morning, the private chef serves a luscious fare that energizes you for the day. This hotel knows how to provide a great experience. (800-824-1672, www.washingtonschoolhouse.com)
Across town, you’ll find The St. Regis Deer Valley set in the Wasatch Mountains. Ride the funicular from the street up their spectacular multilevel resort. Guestrooms and bathrooms are oversized, boasting comfortable rustic furnishings with all of the amenities. Take in the views from your room or mellow out by the fire garden.
Each evening, delight in sabrage, the ancient technique of opening a bottle of champagne with a saber, and join other guests as you sip the bubbly and breathe in fresh mountain air. If money is no object, indulge in the St. Regis butler service — now that’s luxury. (435-940-5700, www.stregisdeervalley.com)
Park City is a celebrated playground where the only thing that’s difficult is deciding what to do. Our trip coincided with the Park City Wine & Food Classic. We savored incredible food and wine tastings and witnessed amazing cooking demos. There are even outdoor adventures (like group hiking and biking) followed by events with top chefs and winemakers. The Stroll of Park City took us up and down Main Street (including to restaurants with second floor balconies) for delicious taste treats, cocktails and wine. (www.parkcityfoodandwineclassic.com)
You’ll discover the town’s past from mining to skiing at the Park City Museum (435-649-7457, www.parkcityhistory.org). Kimball Art Center is the place for exhibitions, classes and tours (www.kimballartcenter.org).
See the memorabilia from the 2002 Winter Olympics at Utah Olympic Park then take an up-close guided tour of the Olympic luge and ski jump runs. If you’re daring, race down the bobsled track. Today, the 400 acres are used for competitions and training (435-658-4200, utaholympiclegacy.com).
Park City has over 400 miles of public trails, so hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding are hugely popular. In Deer Valley, we met our guide at Snow Park Lodge and had an invigorating half-day hike across meadows full of wildflowers and through Aspen forests with stunning views (800-424-3337, www.deervalley.com).
At the Canyons, we took off with our guide on the Lookout Ridge Trail. A number of hikes are available from easy to strenuous with one thing in common — breathtaking scenery (www.canyonsresort.com).
When it was time to revitalize, we headed to the luxurious Spa Montage at the Montage Deer Valley. Meditation areas, hydrotherapy, herbal mineral baths, deep tissue massages, and other treatments are available to cater to your every desire (435-604-1400, www.montagedeervalley.com).
Additionally, the Remède Spa (435-940-5830) at the St. Regis fully services your needs and in-room massages are available at the Washington School House Hotel. All the hotels have pools.
In the summertime, the Utah Symphony and Opera team up with the Deer Valley Music Festival. In the Snow Park Outdoor Amphitheater (just steps from the St. Regis), we enjoyed a patriotic celebration of music and ordered a gourmet picnic dinner delivered to our blanket on the grass (www.deervalleymusicfestival.org).
For late night entertainment, the scene is at the bars and cafes along Main Street. The Sidecar should be the last stop (www.sidecarbar.com).
Find lots of outdoor gear at each of the resort shopping areas (Canyons and Deer Valley) and along colorful Main Street. For a local favorite, try the cosmic deli and mud bar at Mountain Body Spa (www.mountainbody.com). And for cowboy classics, it’s Burns Cowboy Shop (www.burnscowboyshop.com). Explore charming galleries, book stores, boutiques, and don’t forget the museum and park shops.
High West Distillery & Saloon, a hot spot in town, is a refurbished livery stable. They distill some of the best spirits around, and it’s a terrific place to enjoy a meal and fantastic cocktails. For lunch, try the pan-seared Utah trout salad or whiskey-cider-braised short ribs paired with the Campfire whiskey (one of nine distilled by High West) and a mule made with High West peach vodka (435-649-8300, www.highwestdistillery.com).
After hiking in Deer Valley, we hit the Royal Street Café. With a huge outdoor patio and expansive views of the mountains, it’s great for kicking back. The Deer Valley turkey chili was spicy and good with the RSC blueberry mojito, one of several award-winning cocktails on the menu (435-645-6724).
The Red Tail Grill is located at the base of the mountain at the Canyons Resort, near where the hike began. Soak up the sun and the sights; relax outside on the deck, and relish a jalapeño margarita with their delicious guacamole and chunky gazpacho (435-615-8068).
The signature restaurant at the St. Regis is J&G Grill from Jean-George Vongerichten with menu favorites culled from his years as a chef. It’s a great dining experience with knockout views, a casual-chic vibe, and food, wine and cocktails that are hard to stop talking about. Try the Bloody Mary topped with wasabi celery foam and served with an individual dispenser of Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce. The chilled corn soup and grilled Thai snapper are tasty choices from a menu that doesn’t disappoint (435-940-5760).
Park City Chamber & Visitors Bureau: www.visitparkcity.org
Park City Mountain Resort: www.parkcitymountain.com