Park City Is the Ideal Summer Mountain Town Getaway
You read that right: summer.
Maybe you know Park City as a hub for hobnobbing with celebrities at Sundance Film Festival, headquartered in Utah every January since 1981. Or perhaps you regard the place as one of the world’s premiere destinations for skiing (home to downhill events during the 2002 Olympic Winter Games). But you’re least likely to know this idyllic mountain town as a sensational summertime destination. That’s a big mistake.
I was once misguided myself. In fact, it wasn’t until last July that I finally made my way to Park City during the warmer parts of the year. Even then, it was just supposed to be a stopover between two more enticing points of seasonal interest.
But as soon as I stepped outside the car, I felt the midday mountain air kiss my skin: a perfect 80 degree day, fairly typical for this time of year. The streets of Main Street, overrun with tourists throughout winter, was markedly more manageable. I even admired the lovely peaks minus snow.
Soon that stopover extended into a wondrous weekend, and one of my most memorable stays in this part of Utah. Here’s a look at the best things to do there this summer—or any summer.
Hike and bike
There are literally thousands of miles of established hiking trails to explore in the forests directly above and around Park City. Get high enough beyond the tree line and you can marvel at the peaks of the Wasatch at your back and the Uinta range facing you in the distance. From the family-friendly paved pathway of Farm Trail, to the six-mile trek up to Fantasy Ridge, there’s a walking trail for every level. And there’s a stunning panorama around every turn.
For those that want to pedal their way through the landscape, Park City mountains count more than 450 miles of public mountain-biking trails. Or you can opt to buy a lift ticket from Deer Valley Resort and explore their meticulously maintained terrain. The Holy Roller is a highlight therein: five miles of meandering through aspens and pines on a 1,300-foot descent. If you’re in need of wheels, rent them from one of three White Pine Touring outposts across town. The outfitter always offers guided excursions with local experts.
Elevate your arts and culture
When it comes to art and entertainment around here, the Sundance Film Festival is merely the most high-profile confab. Throughout the summer months, you can choose from a trove of outdoor happenings in Park City. The Latino Arts Festival is a perfect place to start, returning this June as a cultural showcase of live performances, visual arts, and film screenings. The Utah Symphony goes on stage twice a week below the peaks as part of a summer-long Deer Valley Music Festival. Depending on when you’re here, you can enjoy orchestral adaptations of Abba’s pop catalog, or lay back under the stars and get serenaded by R&B legends Boyz II Men. Or just catch a live show at the century-old Egyptian Theatre downtown.
Fly down mountains without any snow
Utah Olympic Park was initially built for the 2002 Winter Games, but in the years since, it has been retrofitted to accommodate all sorts of summer sports. Here you’ll find one of the steepest ziplines on the planet, which propels adrenaline junkies at speeds of up to 50 mph, simulating what it’s like to launch off a K120 nordic ski jump. And if you’ve ever wanted to know what it’s like to race a bobsled (who hasn’t?), you’ve come to the right place. A professional pilot can take up to two passengers down the actual olympic track. You’re on wheels rather than skates, riding over concrete instead of ice, but the thrill—and velocity—is very nearly the same.
Savor a balmy pub and grub crawl
A town of just 8,500 year-round residents, Park City punches well above its weight class when it comes to fabulous food and drink. At the foot of its eponymous resort you’ll find the High West Saloon—the world’s first ski-in gastro-distillery. The now-famous whiskey brand that bears its name was born here in 2006. The cocktails and bar fare remain as relevant as ever. It’s still a difficult reservation during primetime dinner hours, but you at least have a chance of bellying up to the bar in summer. Good luck getting past the door during ski season.
One block west, Main Street is so dense with delicious dining options that you needn’t venture off the thoroughfare once during an entire weekend stay. Savor an expansive array of sake and sushi at Yuki Yama, explore American “western cuisine” at Purple Sage—signature dishes include sugar and chili cured duck, and fresh Utah trout—and enjoy elegantly arranged game at Riverhorse On Main, Park City’s most-lauded upmarket eatery. That oughta fill you up.
Now wash it all down with a world-class pub crawl along the very same street. For a local’s vibe, head to No Name Saloon or The Spur. For high-minded mixology, make it Alpine Pie Bar. Then end up at OP Rockwell Cocktail Lounge & Music Hall, where a Victorian frontier vibe creates the perfect setting for nightly guitar jams. You never know who might hit the stage on any given evening. After all, this is Park City in summer. It’s full of surprises.