Why Vacation in Park City, Utah?
There are 5 cities in the United States named, Park City, but only one of them plays host to one of the largest independent film festivals in the world, the Sundance Film Festival. And only one of them was home to the 2002 Olympic Games. That’s Park City, Utah.
Besides the annual film festival, Park City is highly touted as one of America’s best mountain resort towns and skiing destinations (”Home to the Greatest Snow on Earth”).
Park City is nestled in the Wasatch Mountains, which are part of the Rocky Mountain range. The Wasatch-Cache National Forest is nearby. The surrounding hills, once filled with silver and gold, turned poor prospectors into millionaires during the area’s rich mining years.
In 1870, with the discovery of gold, miners advanced on this mountainous Utah area, pickaxes and hopes of fast riches, held high. But the boom ended with the flooding of the mines.
The vibrant city was all but deserted until the 1930s when a new boom was begun: skiing. The area’s Park City Ski Club turned lemons into lemonade, or rather a deserted mine dump into a ski jump, thus planting the seeds for this modern day world class ski resort city.
Park City, once a boom town, is now populated by less than 7500 residents. The town is considered to be part of the Utah’s capital city’s metropolitan area; it is a short drive away, just 32 miles from Salt Lake City.
While Park City has been home to many cultures, the
English and the Germans settlers comprised the majority of the peoples who first chose this mountain area as their home base; followed closely by the Irish.
Park City has a moderate climate with temperatures rarely going above 85 F in the hottest summer month of the year, July. Winter temperatures demand full parkas, toques, scarves and warm mittens because below freezing is the norm in the winter months (November through March). Average snowfall is an adequate 350 inches in the resort areas, and just short of 150 inches in the populated areas. The abundance of snow makes Park City the perfect place for a snow sport or ski vacation.
But Park City, Utah has more to offer than just winter skiing; this mountain town is a popular summer destination, too.
Must Sees in Park City, Utah!
Park City Sunday Market – This fun-for-all, open-air market runs from mid-June through mid-October. Tourists will be treated to great food, fresh produce, admirable arts and crafts, and a variety of local talent including strolling musicians, bands, clowns and even, belly dancers. Sommeliers should take note because wine tasting is offered, too.
The market is easily located on Park City’s Main Street between Heber Avenue and 9th Street. It is open from 9 – 3 PM every Sunday except during the Kimball Arts Festival.
Utah Olympic Park – While no longer used for Olympic events, this park still hosts the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Team, and its exhibits and activities are open to the general public, daily.
Kimball Art Center – For 30 years, tourists and locals have been treated to the finest visual arts through this city center, via a variety of exhibitions and special events.
And of course, an absolute must see are Park City’s world class ski resorts. There are three major ski hills to choose from: Park City Mountain, the exclusive Deer Valley, and The Canyons. These can be visited year round.
Museums & Theatres in Park City, Utah
History buffs and museum lovers won’t be disappointed by Park City’s collection. Everything from skiing history to the town’s mining background is amply covered by the area’s museums.
Alf Engen Ski Museum – Here’s a ski lover’s dream. Everything you wanted to know about skiing, and more, including the 2002 Winter Olympics, all housed at the Utah Olympic Park.
Real museum fans should plan a quick side trip into Salt Lake City which is accessible easily by car or bus. Utah’s capital city has over a dozen museums including the Utah Museum of Natural History, the Utah Museum of Fine Arts, the Chase Home Museum of Utah Folk Arts, the Classic Cars International Auto Museum, and the Museum of Utah Art & History.
If you have an interest in mining history, the Kennecott Copper Mine and Visitor Center is a short 28-mile ride southwest of Salt Lake City.
Back in Park City, the Mary G. Steiner Egyptian Theatre is available to those theater-oriented folks on a year-round basis; it just underwent a major renovation.
The Park City Performing Arts Foundation offers a wide variety of dance and musical performances in its 1300-seat theater.
The Park City Film Series keeps film lovers happy on Friday and Saturday nights with an eclectic blend of independent films.
Outdoor Recreation in Park City, Utah
Recreational activities are endless in Park City, regardless of season. In the winter, there are the usual activities like skiing, snowboarding, ice skating, snowshoeing, winter hiking, and sleigh rides.
Ski Resorts – World class skiing and snowboarding awaits the thrill seekers. Hop onboard a bus or stay in a resort to take advantage of this spectacular skiing. Choose from Park City Mountain, the exclusive Deer Valley, or The Canyons.
Golf – Park City Golf Course is located within the town limits. The course was first opened back in 1963 as a nine-hole course, but since has increased to a full 18-hole course, complete with all the expected amenities, including a Pro shop. Take a virtual tour of the course and plan your links strategy in advance.
But there are many golf courses to choose from in the Park City area: Wasatch Mountain Golf, Soldier Hollow Golf Course, Homestead Resort Golf Club, Pete Dye Canyon Golf Course, Jack Nicklaus Golf Course, or the Jeremy Ranch Golf & Country Club.
Fun-for-the-Whole-Family Activities – Utah Olympic Park – Don’t pass up the chance to see the Olympic Park. Since the 2006 Olympics, the park is now a fun zone for visitors offering a variety of activities including bobsled rides, an Alpine slide, ziplines, and aerial shows. Entrance to the park is FREE!
City Parks – If you choose to stay within the town limits, but still want to get out for a walk and fresh air, there are two city parks to choose from: South End City Park and Rotary Park. Set in the area’s beautiful mountain location, the parks are a great place to spend some family time; they both come complete with barbeque pits and picnic tables. Rotary Park has a mountain stream flowing through the property, and it is conveniently located just back of the Park City Golf Course.
Summer Recreation – How much time do you have? Park City offers many fun and exciting summer outdoor adventures including a huge number of excursions. Take part in a full or half day rafting adventure on the Provo River; go fly-fishing, horseback riding, or hiking; try river luging, kayaking or go mountain biking. Or plan a full week’s whitewater rafting excursion on the Green or Yampa rivers. And with over 90 mountain lakes, there will be plenty of boating opportunities, too.
There are guides for every sport who will see even the most uninitiated through a safe and fun experience. Even women will find their wilder side catered to with the area’s Femme Fatale adventure weekend.
Heber Valley Railroad – Train aficionados will love this 100-year old steam train. The company offers everything from a Raft ‘n Rail adventure to Murder Mysteries. Heber City is located on Highway 40, just 18 miles from Park City.
Disabled? No problem. The Park City locals want everyone to enjoy their stay and have set up special services for those needing assistance during their holiday.
Festivals, Fairs, and Concerts in Park City, Utah
Park City, Utah could be considered a world cultural capital with its summer cornucopia of festivals and concerts; the city hosts more than 3 dozen musical events every summer.
Deer Valley Music Festival – The Deer Valley Music Festival is just one of a dozen festivals that Park City offers. It runs mid July to mid August and features classical, opera, chamber and pops music.
Park City’s Jazz Festival follows in the 3rd week of August.
The Autumn Classics Music Festival is held from the end of September into the beginning of October.
Park City Winterfest 2007 – Moonlight snowshoeing, sled dog races, Alpine skiing competitions, ice carving competitions, live entertainment, and great food comprise this hugely popular 9-day winter event. The festival kicks off at the beginning of February and ends with a huge fireworks display on a Sunday evening.
Sundance Film Festival – Robert Redford, the handsome American actor, is probably the most famous name acquainted with this popular world class film fest. In fact, the festival is named after one of Redford’s movie characters, the Sundance Kid.
The festival is designed to give new independent film makers a shot at stardom; directors like Quentin Tarantino and Steven Soderbergh have the Sundance Festival to thank for their trip into the Hollywood limelight.
The festival, once held in September, is now held in January, during the peak of the skiing season. Tourists can do a double whammy this way; get their fill of film and snow with a single visit.
Kimball Arts Festival – This annual summer event takes place at the beginning of August. Crammed with family activities, a children’s play zone, a beer garden, great foods, 30 live bands, and the works of some of the top artists in the nation, the Kimball Arts Festival is well worth a visit.
Shuttle buses are the only way to get around during this time, as the Park City Main Street is closed to cars. You’ll join the 100-thousand others who attend this festival in a weekend filled with live entertainment, and 100s of art works ranging from photography to oils to jewelry.
Calendar of Events – Park City has so many festivals, they are too numerous to mention. Best to check in at the city’s Chamber of Commerce web site for current events and dates.
Dining in Park City, Utah
No shortage of food types here. Hungry diners will find everything from full 5-course gourmet fare to simpler burger, pizza, or taco menu items. Italian, Asian, Mexican, American, French? It’s all here in Park City.
But since this town is run by both its seasons and the arrival of tourists, restaurants open and close their doors at different times throughout the year. Use this dining guide when planning which restaurants you will visit during your Park City stay.
Here are some of the top-rated eateries on Park City’s Main Street and in the town’s general vicinity:
- Prime Steak House
- Texas Red’s Pit BBQ & Chili Parlor
- Bistro 412
- Red Banjo Pizza Parlour
- The Eating Establishment
- Davanza’s Pizza
- Wahso Asian Grill
- Adolph’s (French Cuisine)
- 350 Main Restaurant (seafood)
- Grappa Italian Restaurant
- Dynamite Dom’s Restaurant
- Chimayo Restaurant
- Loco Lizard Cantina
Getting to Park City, Utah
The nearest commercial airport to Park City is the Salt Lake City International Airport. Most major and some smaller airlines, like Salmon Air, fly into this major American hub airport.
You’ll need to get from the Salt Lake City airport to Park City by van or rental car. Van-sharing options are available. Prices range from $110 US to $132 US per person. Or maybe only a limousine will do? Try this link for details on all forms of transportation from the airport.
Arriving by Car
Car Travel -Be sure to check out the Utah Visitor Centers. These links may be helpful in your trip planning. Do you need a Utah Highway Map? And here is a handy Driving Distance guide.
Car Rentals – If you are used to driving, then rent a car to get around this area. Car Rentals – Some discounts are also available.
Bus – Park City is not served by major bus companies, but Salt Lake City certainly is, including Greyhound.
A light rail transit system also operated within the Salt Lake City area: the Trax. Up to date route and time information is available through the Utah Transit Authority Information site.
Amtrak has regular daily stops in Salt Lake City.
Getting around Park City, Utah & Area
Park City offers free transit service from mid-April through mid-November to the outlying Summit areas, between 7:30 AM and 10:30 PM. Bus signs are blue with white letters; routes are identified by colors and times.
The city’s Historic Main Street Trolley operates daily from 10:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m.
HOT Savings Links
Park City Lodging Deals
Utah Travel Deals
Park City Vacation Planner Guide
Book a Park City Sleigh Ride
Olympic Park Museums
Park City Map
Park City Street Map
Utah Travel Guide
Salt Lake City and General Area Map