From the first time I visited Park City, Utah way back in 2017 it has held a special place in my heart. Since then, I've returned three more times and it has never once disappointed me. In fact, Park City somehow just keeps getting better.
Sure there are more challenging places to ski and ride than the two main Park City ski resorts. That's not to say that you cannot find some serious terrain at Park City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort, you can, however, the skiing is only a small part of the whole package that the area brings to the table. Park City is special in a lot of ways.
The skiing; the atmosphere, the food, the people...they all make Park City, Utah a special place to visit. Park City offers the ultimate package and therefore I always knew that I wanted it to be the spot for my wife and daughters' first ski trip out west.
So it was as the state of Utah just kept getting pounded with one big dump after another, my family and I decided this was the winter to pay them a visit. And that we did as we made our way to Park City over our recent spring break to experience all that it has to offer and test out some amazing gear that a family of five might need while there.
Park City, Utah Hotels Set the Stage
Our trip got off to a bit of an unpromising start when we received a text message from Delta at 6 AM on our day of departure that our flight out of Newark Airport was delayed two hours. What was once a 6:40 PM departure was now pushed back to after 8. We ultimately didn't leave Newark until after 9 and didn't land at Salt Lake City Airport until 12:15 AM mountain time.
So much for my quick pit stop at Proper Brewing to get beer for the room.
Nonetheless, after picking up my rental car and heading out on I80, I immediately understood and appreciated (kinda) the delay. It was absolutely nuking. The snow appeared as if it were coming down in a way that would suggest we had just gone into "ludicrous speed." That, however, was not the case, as our speed hovered around 30 and we eventually rolled into the Westgate Park City Resort and Spa around 2:30 Am mountain time roughly 24 hours after I had woken up the previous day.
Choosing the Correct Park City Hotel for You
There are a multitude of Park City, Utah hotels to choose from when you visit the area and you really cannot go wrong with any of them. I've been fortunate enough to stay at a variety of them including the Waldorf Astoria, Hyatt Centric, Stein Eriksen Lodge and, most recently, the Westgate. All have lived up to their potential.
So how do you choose?
It's tough but if I could make one recommendation, it would be to pick one in the area in which you'd like to end your day. Want to end your day on Main Street? Then book a hotel downtown. Planning to ski at Deer Valley for the bulk of your trip? Then stay at one of the many hotels they have there.
Excellent Accommodations at The Westgate Park City Resort and Spa
Me, I really enjoy Canyons Village for a variety of reasons that include the restaurants, the skiing and the atmosphere. This time around, my family and I stayed at the Westgate Park City Resort and Spa. Conveniently located in Canyons Village, just steps away from the Red Pine Gondola, it offers a wide range of benefits for travelers looking to relax and unwind.
The resort boasts over 300 spacious villas, ranging from cozy studios to luxurious multi-room suites. We stayed in the Signature Two-Bedroom Villa, providing us with all the furnishings of home during our stay. In addition to the excellent accommodations, the resort offers a wide range of amenities. This includes a spa, swimming pool, and several on-site dining options like the Drafts Burger Bar (which I'll talk about later). The indoor/outdoor pool was a huge hit with my daughters while the hot tub was most definitely appreciated after a day of skiing.
Of course, being in Park City primarily to ski, the Westgate resort's ski-in and ski-out access was key. It's so easy to hit the slopes as early or as late as you want. Then when the day ends, the resort's proximity to Main Street and the convenient shuttle service ensure easy access to the best of Park City.
Park City, Utah Ski Resorts Delivered the Goods
As I mentioned earlier, this was the first time my wife and daughters were, not only visiting Park City but also skiing out west.
Man...did luck out! The snow started coming down in the area, the day before we flew in and it did not stop until Friday afternoon, once again starting up Sunday night into the following Wednesday. This made skiing Friday and Monday at Park City Mountain Resort two pretty incredible powder days. Not to mention the still untracked terrain we managed to find while skiing at Deer Valley Resort on Saturday.
With 7,300 skiable acres to choose from, there is no shortage of options to ski at PCMR. That makes skiing there on an epic powder day, like the one we had that Friday, an unforgettable experience. I manage to get out west a couple of times a winter and have never really gotten a dumping quite like this one. Imagine, like in the case of my wife and daughters, that your first-ever experience is the culmination of a three-day snowstorm. What fortuitous luck. I'm now totally screwed as they'll never want to ski the east again.
Seeing the smiles and listening to their jubilation as the four of them got their first taste of "the greatest snow on earth" is a memory I'll never forget. The learning curve was short and after a few laughter-filled falls they were blowing through the pow in no time. Lapping some really great runs off the Motherload Chair they eventually graduated up to successfully take on McConkey's Bowl (arguably the steepest terrain they've ever skied).
My girls always love to ski, but I haven't seen that much joy on my wife's face while snowboarding since we first started dating. Normally, only in it for the après, she had so much fun that she did something unheard of for her and went out on her own the next day while my daughters and I skied Deer Valley.
Deer Valley Resort has always been one of my favorite places to ski. There is just something special about the resort that I truly enjoy. However, catching it on a bluebird day that followed a powder was a true highlight for me.
The resort's reputation for excellent snow conditions was only enhanced by the three days of snow that they had just received. With not a cloud in the sky, the sun shown bright, glistening off the impeccable snow they are known for. The groomers are always top-notch at Deer Valley (it's kind of their thing) but this day, they were in the best I've ever skied them. Skiing with our super knowledgeable and outgoing host we toured many of these groomers en route to skiing all 6 of their peaks.
What's even better is that as he realized my daughters' abilities he began to guide us off-piste along the way. There we found some incredible powder turns left over from the day before. For skiing enthusiasts like me and my daughters, a bluebird day following a powder day was an incredible experience that was only enhanced by the stunning views of the Wasatch Mountains off in the distance.
Park City, Utah Restaurants Just Keep Getting Better
What is skiing without après ski? Everyone needs a little sustenance to refuel their bodies after skiing all that vertical, right? Park City restaurants and bars have long excelled at providing a top-notch food and beverage scene to complement the town's equally great skiing and snowboarding.
And...they just keep getting better.
Riverhorse on Main, Tupelo, High West Saloon, The Farm, Fireside - I could go on and on but these are some of my favorite restaurants in any mountain town that I have been to. Not to mention bars like Pig Pen Saloon, The Spur and the Umbrella bar all rank right near the top of my list as well. This time around, we hit a few of the aforementioned establishments and even ventured out to try some new ones.
When skiing the Park City Mountain side of the resort, I always make it a priority to après ski at The Pig Pen Saloon. This time around, my ambitions were no different. I needed to get there so my wife could do the shot and t-shirt deal that they are famously known for. However, on our last run of the day, we made a quick pit stop at The Viking Yurt.
The Viking Yurt at Park City Mountain Resort
The Viking Yurt is not new, but it was new to me and well worth a stop. How could we not? With an inviting crowd sitting out in front of the yurt enjoying warm cocktails and beers, I came to a skidding hockey stop and said, "We're going in!" The atmosphere inside is as welcoming as the crowd outside. Yurt bars are in general really cool and the Viking theme made this one even better.
A small bar with two taps, a few hot cocktails and some food highlighted the back left of the yurt while the warm, wood-burning stove lit up the other side. My daughters who protested slightly when we stopped to go in were instantly satiated by their hot chocolates, soft, chewy chocolate chip cookies and seat by the fire. Normally a spot for Norwegian-themed snowcat dinners, it was a fun respite on the way to my old staple, aprés ski at The Pig Pen Saloon.
Drafts Burger Bar
Another Park City restaurant that was new for me this time around was Drafts Burger Bar (DBB). Conveniently located in the Westgate where we were staying, dining here was a no-brainer. What sets Drafts Burger Bar apart from other pubs and bars is its extensive selection of craft beers. They boast 50 different kinds of beer from all over the world including 20 on tap. This kind of selection is always music to my ears and my taste buds, which were dancing from the delicious local ones I enjoyed with dinner.
Their beer selection though is only half of the equation. Drafts is not just a beer bar, the restaurant has also gained notoriety for its extensive menu of hand-crafted burgers. Some of them are straight up out of control. Take for example the Vote for Pedro that I ordered. A burger topped with a Chile Relleno, pepper jack cheese, pico de gallo, avocado, smoked queso, fried jalapeno and lettuce, left me with little room to finish my beer and NO room for one of their delectable Milk Shakes.
Hand-spun and oversized Drafts milkshakes are to die for and my gorging myself on wings and a burger did not stop my daughters from splitting one. Yes, it's that big and well worth it based on the spoonful they reluctantly shared with me.
The Brass Tag at Deer Valley
The Brass Tag is a popular dining spot at Deer Valley Resort that surprisingly, I have never been to. Located inside The Lodges at Deer Valley it offers a unique selection of entrees and pizzas all cooked inside a brick oven. We headed there after enjoying a few beers at Deer Valley's Brews and Tunes something they started last spring and has grown in popularity every season since.
The atmosphere at the Brass Tag is relaxing and inviting with decor that you would expect from a lodge in the mountains. We arrived in our ski gear and still felt quite at home. Their salads were delicious, the pizza was tasty (and that's coming from an NJ pizza snob) but what we really came for was their famous Cookie Skillet.
If you have not seen the Cookie Skillet on Instagram, or anywhere else, it's to die for. Large enough to share, it combines a warm, gooey chocolate chip cookie with a layer of melted ice cream. The skillet is served hot so the ice cream begins to melt into the cookie as you dollop it on top. It is absolutely a must-try for anyone visiting The Brass Tag.
Dos Olas in Canyons Village is One of My New Favorites
Of all the new places that we tried, our absolute favorite was Dos Olas. A Mexican restaurant in Canyons Village, this one was not only new to me but actually new to Park City. To say we were thoroughly impressed would be an understatement of epic proportions. The food and atmosphere exceeded all expectations.
Dos Olas has a swanky yet, laid-back vibe. Walking up, you are greeted by an extensive outdoor patio that, when it's not dumping snow will most certainly be packed. Inside the expansive bar awaits as you open the door. If there's a wait, I suggest ordering their Pico Mucho. A riff on a Margarita, the serrano pepper adds just enough kick to let you know it's there. If cocktails aren't your thing then I suggest giving the Sir-Veza Mexican Lager a try. Brewed in collaboration with the local Bohemian Brewery, it is an excellent pairing for their classic yet upscale Mexican fare.
The menu has a wide range of Mexican dishes that go beyond the typical options you might find at other restaurants. We had an opportunity to sit down with executive chef Carlos Segura and you could just feel his passion as he spoke about how his family's recipes played a major influence in the dishes on the menu. That love of family and food is shown through each and every dish. Whether it was the barbacoa nachos we had as an appetizer, the fish tacos I had for dinner or the Flan or Churros and ice cream for dessert, it did not matter. They all over-delivered!
Overall, Dos Olas is a fantastic spot in Park City for anyone looking for delicious, authentic Mexican cuisine and a fun, welcoming atmosphere. It definitely ranks up there for me as one of my favorite Park City restaurants and I will most certainly be back.
Powder Paradise: Our Incredible Ski Trip to Park City, Utah Part 2 Coming Next Week.
Be sure to check back next week as I get into our amazing powder day snowmobiling in nearby Heber Valley, the stops we made there and a review of all of the ski gear we demoed throughout the trip.