Charming, rustic, sexy, folksy — Park City, Utah is all of those things rolled into an easy access, laid back package. It’s a fun small town with a sophisticated vibe that will remind new parents of their B.K. (Before Kids) days and refresh the affections of empty nesters who want to be where it’s at.
Park City Weekends for All Seasons
January brings the annual Sundance Film Festival, a Robert Redford-inspired cultural event that put this former silver mining town on the international jetsetters map. We have friends in Hong Kong who come every year for 10 days of movies, celeb sightings and great skiing, and they’re only a few of the 7,000 visitors who descend on the town during this period.
February, March and even April are packed with glorious bluebird days and fine powder skiing and riding. May, probably muddy; June through September glorious for outdoor sports like kayaking, hiking and mountain biking. The mountain resorts have day time children’s summer camps for school-age kids. A bit of autumn rain is often followed by first snows in October. Thanksgiving to New Year’s become prime “early season” weeks for skiing and riding and cozying up in front of a fireplace. Winter is the big season here, with childcare for ages 8 weeks and up available at the major mountain resorts.
Winter Weekend Romance with Baby in Tow
Most romantics will enjoy the best of the city by avoiding Sundance and coming during the snow season. That’s the ideal time to try world-class skiing at the local Park City Mountain or Deer Valley. Snowboarders can skip Deer Valley, the 5-star mountain that limits capacity to only 6,000 skiers per day. But they can follow the likes of Justin Bieber, Lady Gaga and Taylor Swift to the terrific terrain parks at Park City where celebrities in goggles and beanies mix with the locals and every day visitors.
Both mountain resorts have ski schools for children ages 3 and up but Park City is our pick with kids because of its strong family focus, strict helmet policy (everyone under 18 enrolled in a lesson and all instructors must wear helmets). Park City Mountain also has night skiing, a mountain coaster, and a very cool tubing park in town.
Summer Romance, even with big kids, in Park City Utah
In summer, we do the day hikes at the major resorts by hopping the bus and just walking, walking or getting a lift ticket and ridiing up to the very top. Walking down with kids is the easiest way to get them out into the hills, and watching the mountain bikers who tow their rides uphill on specially adapted chairlifts is a treat, even if you haven’t gotten into the sport yet.
Speaking of adaptive, the National Ability Center has really active programs to introduce kids of all abilities and all ages, regardless of physical or mental needs, to a variety of sports like rock climbing, biking and horseback riding.
Park City leads the summer activity list for families with school-age kids because of their amazing alpine slide and summer day camp. Note they also have a miners-themed toddler play area where parents can keep kids busy and happy even if they hate sports.
At any time of year, stroll the walkable Park City Main Street, with its historic mining-era buildings packed with designer clothing, outdoor wear, art and the work of local artisans. The last Friday of the month is for gallery open houses but any day or night is right for dining around firepits or window shopping.
Park City Dining for Foodies
There are many, many excellent restaurants in Park City, and even more in Salt Lake City which is only a 30-minute drive. Most are open for lunch and dinner, but check out their websites to be sure as schedules change according to season.
Good Karma is one of those retro hippie spots where everyone feels at home. This small cafe serving delicious homespun Middle Eastern style food really caters to the type of local who wears hiking shorts in winter. In nice weather, strollers, kids and dogs cluster outside and visit while waiting for a table to open up, since their salads, soups, vegetarian fare and bakery cannot be beat at any price. Good Karma is lively, cozy and just makes people feel better about life; go early because people hang out for hours to avoid the tourist congestion of Main Street.
The High West Distillery, tucked into a historic warehouse building a block off Main Street, is already a few years old but feels like it’s been a Park City fixture for a century. Specializing in homemade whiskeys and imaginative spirits produced on site, High West is also famed for its excellent cuisine. Stuffed jalapenos in a beer batter, grilled mini vegetables, roast elk in a bourbon sauce, local trout and other delicacies, some flavored with spirits and many not, create a varied menu that invites people to return. Kids are welcome with their own menu and, afternoons, the distillery next to the restaurant is open for a fun factory tour.
Grappa belongs to local restauranteur Bill White, and has an upstairs that does private parties for visiting celebrities and a popular downstairs restaurant known for its excellent northern Italian cuisine.
Lespri, a Romantic Family-Friendly Park City Hideaway
Club Lespri is the hot red, six-room boutique hotel we found on our last visit. We loved its stylish decadence, great location in Prospector Square, and huge, comfy rooms with kitchens; pictured in our video.
Today, these rooms are reserved for equity members of Club Lespri, which has grown into a property management agency with several cool accommodation choices in town or closer to the slopes. Locals like to come to Lespri for the day spa, Rain, where the excellent massage therapists who work at the resorts’ famous spas, like the Waldorf Astoria’s Golden Door, take care of their friends and family. With much lower rates than up the hill, it’s a great place to treat loved ones to a healing muscle rub at the end of a long day of skiing.
Planning your Romantic Park City Getaway
Salt Lake City is served by several airlines, including low cost carriers like JetBlue and Southwest. From the efficient Salt Lake City International Airport (and flights land from around the world bringing in skiers and snowboarders), it’s a quick drive or shuttle van to your Park City base.
We love skipping the car rental, it’s much less stress, especially if you’re not used to driving mountain roads in snow or rain. The free PC Transit service cruises by all the mountain resorts, local condos and throughout the commercial center so we can put our feet up and relax. Preschoolers love the transportation adventure too.
For more information about Park City Utah — and we warn you that many new residents say “We came for the winters but stayed for the summers” — check out the Park City Chamber of Commerce site.
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