Best Ski Towns: Park City, Utah

It’s the ideal ski town: beautiful scenery, dozens of kid-friendly resorts, and a downtown bursting with great restaurants and shops surrounded by not one, not two, but three major ski resorts, with half a dozen more nearby. It’s Park City, Utah, and I challenge you to go once and not want to come back for many more family ski vacations.
The Canyons
Where to ski: You really can’t go wrong whichever resort you choose, but our pick is Canyons┬áResort, Park City’s largest ski resort with over 4000 acres and 19 lifts. You certainly need more than one day to truly explore this mega-mountain, and with long runs (some over a mile) and plenty of terrain parks, you won’t be spending your valuable time in line for the chairlift. Their ski school is excellent, but given the diversity of their mountain, from groomed trails to expert chutes, the kids can ski all day with you.

Where to stay: We loved Westgate Park City, located near the base of The Canyons and five minutes away from downtown. This resort has it all: luxury (think plush towels, spa, and adults-only pool), cozy ambiance (the huge lobby’s fireplace is always ablaze), roomy suites, and a wonderful indoor-outdoor pool and hot tub complex complete with game room, tennis courts for the summer months, and playground. Westgate hosts a full kids’ program with off-site activities as well.

I more recently stayed at Grand Summit Hotel at Canyons Resort, which is more ideally located to the slopes, offers a ski valet and storage service, and a pool that rivals that of The Westgate. Dining is closer at-hand at Grand Summit Hotel, though standard rooms are more spacious at Westgate.

WestgateWhere to eat: Head to historic downtown for the best grub. Kids will like the Red Banjo Pizza Parlor (322 Main Street), which looks like an old west saloon, and if you get a night out without the children, try Wabo House (1385 Lowel Avenue).

What to do when not on the slopes: Families would be remiss to vacation in Park City and not visit Olympic Park, site of the 2002 Salt Lake Olympic Games (3000 Bear Hollow Drive). If you think your family will want to ride on ‘The Comet’ (bobsled), the ‘Gold Package’ ($75 per person) is a good value, and includes entrance to the museum and a guided tour in addition to the ride. There’s also a zip line, ski jumps, and other extreme fun at-hand.

Wherever you stay and ski, you’ll want to reserve ample time to explore downtown. Parking is free in the public lots, or if you’re staying nearby, check the free shuttle service for times and stops (they run near-continuously). We love Park City’s community atmosphere; you truly feel as though you’re visiting someone else’s hometown, not a tourist destination. Be sure to visit the U.S. Olympic Spirit Store (751 Main Street) for a glimpse at Park City’s merchandise of Olympics past, and Rocky Mountain Chocolate (510 Main Street), where your kids can select caramel apples nearly as big as a melon.

How to get here: Getting to Park City is easy, thanks to Salt Lake City International Airport being a major hub. From the airport, most resorts offer a shuttle, but if not, booking passage on one is easy. (We’ve had good luck with Park City Transportation.) Car rentals are also available of course, but depending on where you’re staying and skiing, you may not need one in compact Park City, given their great inter-town transportation system.

Read more Best Ski Town picks!