There is a slew of slopes to select from in our country and Deer Valley/Park City is surely a worthy selection for your next winter escape. From great mountains to awesome shopping to decadent dining, you'll find everything you need here to maximize your travel experience. Below is the ultimate guide to the area with everything you need to know about where to eat, ski, lodge, and play.
First, let's define the two towns that are often used interchangeably. Deer Valley is a smaller, more upscale neighborhood whose mountain only welcomes skiers (sorry snowboarders!). Park City is less than two miles away and has a lengthy pedestrian-friendly Main Street and a ski resort that encourages both skiing and snowboarding. In fact, you can literally ski onto Main Street from Park City Ski Mountain. They are so close to one another, you can't go wrong with planting yourself in either town while visiting the area.
Below is my list of the TOP TWELVE things to do while visiting the Park City area:
1. Ride the Funicular at The St. Regis Deer Valley for spectacular sunset views of Deer Valley. There is no fee to ride up the mountain and it is open to the public.
2. Hit the Slopes in Park City. Shredding the trails is an essential part of a visit here, this is a ski destination after all. There are 341 trails at this bustling mountain that draws thousands of people each day. Even though locals told us they were having a very quiet season, this was by far the busiest ski resort we visited. By 9:00 am hundreds of skiers marched towards the lifts to get an early start on the snow. Arrive early and don't worry, with over 7,300 acres there is enough room for everyone.
3. Meander the Paths of Park City Mountain Village
Besides being the center of the ski lifts, Park City Mountain Village offers many retail shops, cafes, restaurants, bars, fireside outdoor lounge areas, and a large ice-skating rink. For those opting for a ski-in/out lodging option, there are many to choose from that provide easy access to the lifts while also having the convenience of the village square at your doorstep. It's a nice size village for a ski resort with more shopping and dining options than most.
4. Stroll the Sidewalks of Park City's Main Street
Rumored to have more restaurants per capita than any other US city, Main Street is a top-rated destination. You can easily spend a couple of hours strolling through the streets that house over one hundred independent stores, fifty restaurants, and dozens of art galleries. Make sure to find the Banksy originals on the wall by Java Cow and at 537 Main Street (you'll want to turn into the alley around the corner from Aranof Jewelers and walk towards the hidden garage to find this piece). The strip is overflowing with shops and sites built in the kind of charming architecture you'd expect in a small town. At night, it's beautifully lit up making it a wonderful place to visit any time of day. You're sure to find yourself here more than once as there are too many wonderful offerings to absorb in just one visit.
Park City Fine Art is one of my favorite galleries on the main drag. They showcase a stimulating collection of traditional and contemporary western art with many pieces focusing on icons like Clint Eastwood and Marilyn Monroe. The bi-level space is inviting, colorful, and quite impressive.
Another unique store that really caught my eye is Tresor, a beautifully curated family-owned shop oozing with spectacular natural stones. The woman managing the space, Cyrous, is a warm and interesting woman who is fun to chat with. Don't miss the opportunity to see the gorgeous geodes that are extracted from magnificent mountains all over the world.
Prospect Gallery is another gallery you'll want to see. The interior space is a massive, rustic, barn-like interior with enormous pieces of art displayed throughout. The gallery features a lot of pieces by Ashley Collins who is celebrated as a top female contemporary artist and has a beautiful story of using her talent to transform her life of homelessness into a successful and philanthropic one. This gallery is a true visual extravagzanza filled with colorful work of leading contemporary and modern artists.
5. Play at Utah Olympic Park
The Utah Olympic Park was built for the 2002 winter Olympics and offers visitors thrilling bobsled rides, miles of cross-country ski trails, and the longest tubing trails in the state. The thirty-minute drive from Deer Valley will take you through breathtaking landscapes of farmland and mammoth mountain peaks. The drive alone is worth the trip but tubing at the park will make the adventure more thrilling. You'll have a blast sliding down the long paths at super speed! We had some great laughs and screams here as we held on to our tubes for dear life.
6. Enjoy Meals at the Many Delectable Dining Establishments
There are a plethora of dining options that deliver delicious dishes in Park City. Reservations are highly recommended as many places do not accept walk-ins. The food scene here is lively, creative, and never redundant. Below are some of my favorite dining destinations for you to check out during your visit.
Bartolo's in the Newpark Town Center of Park City prepares traditional Italian cuisine for its dinner guests and an all-day brunch menu that serves interesting twists on conventional dishes. For example, their avocado toast is served on freshly baked focaccia bread and is topped with mozzarella cheese and a drizzle of balsamic reduction. Um yum. Better yet, my savory quinoa/veggie waffle topped with greens, hollandaise sauce, and poached eggs was to die for. My husband ordered a chicken parmesan, which is also on their dinner menu. He didn't love it as much as we passionately cherished our brunch servings. Stick to the brunch menu, it's what they do really well here.
There are no words to describe how insanely fresh and delicious the food is here. Make your reservation asap at this sushi sensation located in the heart of Main Street. You cannot miss out on this menu. We ordered the lamb lollipops, the coconut curry crab, ramen noodles, miso cod, shishito peppers stuffed with goat cheese, crispy tuna tartare, and a selection of nigiri, rolls, and two special maki rolls (the executive and the green hornet). We were oohing and aahing as flavors burst in our mouths with each bite. Our younger two, who are vegetarians that don't particularly love Japanese cuisine, ordered two veggie rolls for the first time (I usually have to beg them to order just one). Even the edamame beans were so fantastic we ordered a few bowls. The food is truly phenomenal, you will not be disappointed. The only slight qualm we had with the restaurant is that they haven't mastered the fine balance of delivering good service without being overwhelming. We felt constantly interrupted by staff members clearing our plates or refilling our waters or bringing in new dishes. It was non-stop foot traffic at our booth and our conversations didn't last more than a couple of minutes before they were broken. Plan for a memorable meal and save the talking for later.
This is a wonderful option for farm-to-table dishes prepared with the freshest ingredients available. The menu is so vegetable-heavy you will leave feeling healthier and well-nourished. The roasted tomato soup will blow your socks off. I found it extremely difficult to resist the urge to lick the bowl. The crispy Brussels sprouts were perfectly broiled and achieved a beautifully soft texture that many chefs cannot master. I ordered the butternut shakshouka, which interestingly enough do not come with eggs. I got a kick out of this. It's kinda like ordering a burger without the meat patty. In any case, I splurged on the $4 surcharge for two eggs to be included in what is traditionally an egg-based dish. Make sure you do too. The golden yolk running into the well-seasoned squash-filled skillet was a divine experience, especially when soaked in the fresh bread served on the side.
With so many fantastic food options in Park City it's hard to pick a winner but if we had to, Handle is the champion of creative, captivating cuisine. You'll leave wanting to sign up for a culinary class wishing to recreate these incredible dishes in your own kitchen. Since there were so many enticing vegetarian options, we chose to go all veg and even the carnivores in our group had no regrets. We started with the buttermilk biscuits drenched in honey butter. You'll need to order a few of these as you can't get enough of the flavors in this dish. The honey crisp apple on sourdough with ricotta and candied hazelnuts is beyond delicious as are the curried eggplant tartare, quinoa and farro beet salad with cilantro puree, the bang bang cauliflower, the Brussels sprouts with pistachios and truffle powder, and the mushroom bolognese. Their cocktails are equally inventive; the carrot and ginger mezcal is essentially spiked juice. Handle is a destination in itself so make sure to make your way over to pay homage to the local and regional ingredients that will permanently leave a mark on your palate.
This is where the locals come for their take-out needs. Park City Provisions, on Main Street, has a menu filled with every kind of food you could crave for. They also have a small market you can shop from while waiting for your order to be prepared (although sadly it's not as exciting as their made-to-order dishes). From ramen (delicious!) to breakfast burritos or burgers to goat cheese pockets, the kitchen serves all the basics plus unexpected items on their menu. Everything we ordered was delicious, fresh, and well packaged ensuring all stayed hot and intact during the short drive home. We ordered the veggie ramen, fish tacos, their famous fries (sooo good!), avocado toast, a breakfast burrito, and an omelet with a toasted bagel. Such a variety of offerings for every palate and each one was a big success!
7. Satiate Your Sweetooth
Coffee, ice-cream, baked goods, stickers, novelty socks; it's all available at this quirky neighborhood institution. Java Cow will instantly place a smile on your face as soon as you enter and receive warm greetings from Java the cow. It's the ultimate place to get a sugar high and leave with a trinket you'll never need but couldn't resist purchasing. Oh, and the Banksy original I mentioned earlier, is right around the corner.
There are 360 Rockie Mountain Chocolate Factory locations throughout the USA and lucky for you, one is located on Main Street. Despite their massive production rates they are able to pull off really good chocolates. We couldn't resist a stop here every time we strolled around Main Street. My favorite is the dark chocolate pecan cluster - just the right amount of pecans in decadent dark chocolate.
Located inside The Chateaux Deer Valley, a posh resort with stunning grounds, Cena offers an enticing dessert menu to enjoy while scoping out this well-known hotel. Although we did not find the interior as appealing as it is made out to be (although the exterior grounds are truly beautiful) we did take delight in the desserts we ordered. The Torta al Cioccolato comprised of vegan dark chocolate cake and amarena cherries pistachio raspberry gelato was instantly devoured and the perfectly whipped cream in the Babà Napoletano, a limoncello soaked cake with apricot coulis and candied ginger was heavenly.
8. Grab Cocktails in Stunning Landscapes
The St. Regis Deer Valley delivers cocktails like no other. Enjoy well-balanced drinks at the bar or better yet, head outside to their magically lit outdoor lounge that is masterfully equipped with heaters, fires, and the perfect positioning to soak in the views of Deer Valley. For those of you willing to drop some cash on a more unique experience, rent a yurt in the hotel's Yurt Village which will set you back approximately $150 per person (not including alcohol) but will provide a special meal in a romantically decorated private yurt while being pampered by catering staff.
Stein Erikson is another ultra-lux property located in Deer Valley that makes for a wonderful apres-ski experience. On a beautiful winter day under a warm sun and the bluest sky, lounging in their outdoor patio is a true delight. You'll be sure to stay cozy under their space-age heaters alongside the skiers swishing by. Their creme brulee is a work of art that deserves major mention, it's absolutely mind-blowing. This is a place you'll love unwinding in while being in the midst of all the mountain action.
9. Stay Fit
If you haven't burned enough calories on the slopes to make up for all the mouthwatering meals you've eaten and you're looking for a full-service gym, Silver Mountain Sports Club & Spa is the place to work out. The fitness center is in a spacious, modern facility that has every kind of cardio and strength-training equipment you could ever need. They also have a Raquette club room, a separate boxing gym, a spa, and two outdoor steaming-hot pools. Make sure to ask for the membership 5-visit punch card which is only $65 ( just 13 bucks per visit!) versus their individual day pass rate of $30.
10. Maintain Your Level of Caffeine Intake
Silver King Coffee will certainly appease your need for caffeine. This drive-through coffee hut makes ordering coffee super easy with friendly service and prompt turnaround time. They also prepare some hard to resist house specials like Mexican Mocha, Lavender Latte, and Pumpkin pie dirty chai. I found their drip coffee to be too acidic for my taste but I couldn't start my day without one of their dreamy creamy lattes in hand.
11. Take a Day Trip to Nearby Towns/Cities
Salt Lake City is only a 40-minute drive from Park City and is definitely worth the venture to soak in a larger city's personality. Similarly, the charming town of Sundance is less than an hour away. If you want to spend a day on a striking mountain that is geared for more advanced skiers/snowboarders or maybe just relax in a world-class spa, check out Snowbird, also less than an hour drive. Depending on how much time you have in Park City, these are some neighboring areas to consider exploring while in town to get a good grasp of some of the many amazing places this part of Utah has to offer.
12. Take a Walk of Shame into one of Utah's State-Run Wine & Liquor Shops
Utah has by far the strictest laws on alcohol sales and consumption. No wine or alcohol is sold on Sundays or major holidays. They close by 7:00 pm (even earlier in other parts of Utah) and they are all state-run. There are no fancy-schmancy well-curated wine boutiques here. Nope. You will literally need to enter what looks like a state penitentiary to get your booze on. The brick building in Park City with minimal windows and government-trained employees will make most consider a life of sobriety. The locals we spoke with avoid shopping at these rather depressing edifices. Instead, they take a 40-minute drive to Wyoming for cheaper prices and nicer storefronts. Or, as another option, if you're in a bind, here's my tip (I always love a great loophole) - you can order a bottle of wine at a bar and take it home with you.
Where to Stay:
There are hundreds of lodging options in Deer Valley and Park City at every price point depending on the property's proximity to the ski resorts. There are also hundreds of condominiums and homes available for rent via home rental sites. We booked our VRBO Property # 2078910 home in Deer Valley and loved its location, size, decor, strong wifi signal, and well-stocked kitchen. If you're traveling as a family or with a group, you will find that this house will suit all your needs.
Six nights was hardly enough time to take advantage of the myriad of offerings in this lovely area. The locals are friendly, the landscape is striking, there are abundant ski trails with challenging trails for all levels, the food scene is vibrant, the sky is a perfect hue of blue, the town's Main Street is packed with shops, there are nearby towns eager to be explored, and the powder is oh so powdery. I haven't even mentioned the Sundance Film Festival, which is closed this year due to Covid-19. Each winter the festival draws in thousands of indie film fans to Park City, adding another element to the major appeal this city has. Add this special place to your winter travel list and enjoy all its magical qualities.