Random acts of kindness happen all throughout a typical Utah day. A stranger may let you break in front of him in the store line. A posted sign in a parking lot might remind you to smile. Locals probably call these instances common courtesy, but we prefer to refer to them as “Utah moments.” And around Park City, you don’t have to go very far to experience them.
One clear instance is how a ski town of 8,000 full-time residents that welcomes winter guests from all over the world to ski also makes sure that those who have no intention of hitting the slopes have a great time, too. While some may discount this as an empty gesture, Forbes Travel Guide editors assure you that it isn’t. Park City genuinely cares about every one of its 600,000 annual guests — whether you’re excited about the November 18 opening day for ski season or not — and it’s got a full calendar of fall/winter dining options, cultural events and outdoor adventures to prove it.
For the vacation-starved hotel lover
There are so many luxurious distractions at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Waldorf Astoria Park City that if you didn’t look out of your room window and see the skiers zooming down the mountain, you probably wouldn’t even realize you were 7,000 feet above sea level. The rooms, specifically the one- or two-bedroom suites, are stunning examples of alpine plushness (leather chairs, gas fireplace) with domestic pleasures (42-inch flat-screen TVs, full granite kitchen).
When you step outside your room, senses are tugged in every direction: Waldorf Astoria Spa is a fabulous escape with 15 treatment rooms and a menu dashed with seasonal services like the pumpkin spice pedi (a U-taaah moment); Forbes Travel Guide Recommended restaurant Powder wows guests and Parkites alike nightly with modern, imaginative fare such as roasted monkfish and sunflower-speckled king salmon; Powder’s bar stirs up evening fun with great cocktails (Park City Sidebar with local High West Distillery whiskey) and pours (Park City Brewery’s Pow Day is the first custom beer in the Waldorf brand).
For curious epicureans
When it comes to dining out here, locals appear much more concerned with flavor than fanciness. That’s precisely why places like Deer Valley Grocery Cafe and Silver Star Cafe continue to thrive. At the latter, you’ll find dogs eating under their owners’ tables, a local acoustic musician serenading and toe-tapping customers digging into the famed smoked mushroom burger, buttermilk fried chicken and other from-scratch regional dishes.
Red Tail Grill, one of six winter dining options at Canyons Village, is well regarded as an après-ski destination for beers and quick bites, but it’s also an underrated après-nap spot for a Cowboy Burger (bison, cheddar, bacon and barbecue sauce) and potato wedges.
Things tidy up ever so slightly at Tupelo and Four-Star Riverhorse on Main, but that’s mostly because the cornmeal-crusted catfish and lobster jambalaya on the respective menus demand respect. Four-Star J&G Grill Park City, the signature establishment at Four-Star The St. Regis Deer Valley, caters to a casual-chic clientele that appreciates chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s take on contemporary American selections.
For the culture-thirsty visitor
Two of the city’s busiest times of year are mid-January (Sundance Film Festival, January 19 to 29, 2017) and early August (Kimball Arts Festival, August 4 to 6, 2017). If you’re not in town while either event is going on, you can still get your fill of film and fine arts in other ways.
With regards to cinema, the Park City Film Series keeps the reels rolling at the Jim Santy Auditorium with a schedule that includes crowd favorites (The Iron Giant, November 5), international treats (Asterix and Obelix: The Mansions of the Gods, November 12) and independent features (Aspen Extreme, December 7).
As for the visual arts, stops along Main Street (the central thoroughfare during Sundance and Kimball) like Prewitt Gallery, Mountain Trails Gallery and Gallery Mar have long established themselves as fine exhibitors for locally, regionally and world-renowned artists. Pop into these addresses and others during Park City’s monthly gallery stroll (November 25, December 30).
Of course, if you ever feel inspired to grab a brush yourself, one-day classes on clay painting, portrait drawing and other disciplines occur throughout winter at Kimball Art Center.
For the reluctant outdoorsman
Park City Mountain Resort and Canyons Resort merged in 2015, creating a 7,300-acre playground that is now the largest ski resort in America. It would be a shame to trek so close to it and not play around a little. We won’t ask you to grab your poles and goggles, but if you’re willing to at least try your hand at zip-lining or hopping aboard the 4,000-foot, twist-filled Alpine Coaster, we promise you won’t be disappointed. (We’ll just call it a bonus if you catch a glimpse of a moose below while riding the gondola up to the zip.)
At Deer Valley Resort, activities range from hot-air balloon tours to sleigh rides. If you’re already thinking about the great Instagram shots you’ll take then, just imagine the cool snaps you’ll get watching some of the planet’s top winter athletes during the FIS Freestyle Ski World Cup on February 1 to 4, 2017.
But speaking of picture taking, Bald Eagle Mountain is a tremendous backdrop for a family photo shoot, too.
Back at the Waldorf Astoria Park City, the concierge can assist with planning more outdoor fun. From snowshoeing and dogsledding to a host of other non-skiing adventures in between, if there’s excitement to be had anywhere on the Wasatch Mountains, he will help you find it.
Should the snow deter you from outside activity altogether, head to the recently opened Escape Room Park City for an experience you won’t forget. Owners Shirin and Dirk Spangenberg have concocted an engrossing storyline centered around a collapsed silver mine. Using your wits and any knowledge you might have on the town’s history, you’re given an hour to solve enough riddles to get out before all of the “air” in the mine is used up.
Don’t worry about the puzzles vexing you too much; should you stumble at any point in the room, one of the Spangenbergs will have their own “Utah moment” and provide you with a small clue.