Park City: Where to Stay, Play, & Eat
Park City, Utah
Park City, Utah is a 45-minute drive from the Salt Lake City airport. We visited during the week of Christmas in 2020, so the quaint, absolutely adorable town was cheerful and brightly decorated with Christmas trees and lights. The panoramic snow covered mountain views were pure magic for this Texas girl. I instantly fell in love with the charming, laidback town.
My husband and I planned this trip because he wanted to introduce me to skiing, a sport he is quite good at and enjoys. We chose to stay close to and ski at Park City Mountain because it has a good number of green runs for beginners. I soon realized, after my first day of ski school, that I was not cut out for skiing. This realization came as I was being tobogganed down the mountain by Snow Patrol. One word: traumatic. Let’s save that story for another day.
Travel During the Holiday Season
Since we visited in December 2020 in the height of the pandemic, the streets, restaurants, and shops on Main Street were not as crowded as they usually may be. The weekend, as to be expected, was noticeably more crowded than weeknights. An added bonus of traveling during the holiday season is all the added Christmas trees, strung lights, and cheerful decorations.
As a first-time skier, the ski slopes seemed to be crowded, especially in the afternoon. We waited in long lines, sometimes waiting an hour, to get on the ski lift to go up the mountain. Pro tip: Get to the ski slopes as soon as they open to ski a few good runs before the crowds show up. The slopes on Christmas Eve and Christmas day were not crowded at all.
Where We Stayed
We stayed at Silver King right next to Park City Mountain. Silver King has 1-, 2-, and 3-bedroom condominiums that are individually owned and decorated. Silver King is less than 100 yards away from the ski lifts at Park City Mountain, so although it's not a ski-in/ski-out lodge, you don’t have to walk far to get to the slopes. The swimming pool, hot tub, and fitness center were added bonuses. After a long day of skiing or walking around town in the snow, the hot tub will be your sanctuary.
I loved the 1-bedroom condo we stayed in because it had a spacious bathroom and changing area for all of our ski clothes as well as a fully equipped kitchen and wood burning fireplace. We saved money by going grocery shopping when we arrived and cooked breakfast every morning in our kitchen. Pro tip: Unlike where I'm from in Texas, wine is not available for purchase at the grocery store, so you have to make an additional trip to the liquor store for that.
How to Get Around Park City
The first day we were in Park City, we used Uber to get everywhere. BIG mistake. Uber is extremely expensive in this mountain resort town; we were spending $30-$40 to drive 3 miles up the road!
Thankfully, we discovered the free bus system that continually loops around town to all of the spots you want to be. Bonus: the buses come around regularly so you usually don’t have to wait longer than 5-10 minutes to hop on a bus to your destination. Pro tip: Download the ‘myStop’ app to see exactly what time your bus is scheduled to arrive.
What If You Don't Ski?
Like I mentioned earlier, skiing didn’t turn out to be my forte. My husband, however, is a fabulous skier and I didn’t want to deny him the joys of our ski trip, so I spent a couple days on my own.
The Lodge at the Mountain Village has a stunning outdoor ice skating rink where I spent my time. I also spent time reading mystery novels on the balcony of the Legacy Café at The Legacy Lodge. The large balcony overlooks the Park City Mountain and ski lifts, so I had a perfect view. JJ met me there for lunch. Getting around town using the bus system is safe and easy, so you can also catch a bus to Main Street. The Historic Main Street is full of charm and you can walk the streets and browse the shops.
Where to EAT in Park City
The food! In my opinion, it's the best part! Park City is full of amazing restaurants and we ate very well on this trip. Since there are so many choices, I narrowed down our favorite eating establishments.
Riverhorse on Main
Riverhorse on Main, known as Park City’s top-rated restaurant, was the perfect choice for our Christmas dinner. It is one of the oldest and most famous restaurants on historic Main Street. This restaurant was truly a memorable experience. The food, service, and atmosphere with live music were all top notch. I ordered the Scallop and Shrimp Tom Kai which was the best meal I ate in Park City! JJ was equally happy with his order of Trio of Wild Game. The restaurant is on the pricier side, but honestly, I would have paid even more for our meal - it was that good! For all the reasons and more, Riverhorse on Main is my top choice for best restaurant in Park City.
Freshies Lobster Co.
Freshies is a small, cozy restaurant with beautiful large windows letting in tons of light. You order at the counter and take a seat while they prepare your order and bring it to you when it is ready. The restaurant only has a few tables and bar seating along the window, so it can get cramped with a large crowd.
The food was pricey, as to be expected with lobster, but it was 100% totally completely worth it! Can you tell I loved it?! JJ and I both ordered a lobster roll and it was the best lobster roll, or lobstah as they say, I’ve ever had! Coming Soon: Their website says they will ship fresh lobster, lobster roll kits, and lobster bisque straight to your door. Sign me up!
Purple Sage gives off ‘classy cowboy’ vibes and serves ‘American Western Cuisine’. The restaurant is beautiful with an intimate atmosphere. The menu is full of unique twists on classic American dishes. When I travel, I like to get out of my box and order food I normally wouldn’t. At Purple Sage, I tried the Sugar and Chili Cured Duck with chili mac-n-cheese. The hatch chili mac-n-cheese was the star of the dish for me.
The Bridge Café & Grill
The Bridge Café & Grill is located next to Town Lift on Main St. so you can ski-in and ski-out of the restaurant. The patio offers scenic views and heaters, so although it was snowing, we sat outside. I ordered a hot toddy to warm up and a salad. I wasn’t expecting much from a simple lunch, but I was blown away by the views, service, and deliciousness of the entire experience. That’s right, The Bridge Café & Grill is an EXPERIENCE! Sit on the patio to enjoy the view, trust me, the heating system (and a hot toddy) will take care of you.
Grappa is a former boarding house turned into an Italian restaurant. The two-story building has lots of charm with a cozy fireplace downstairs and panoramic views of Main Street from upstairs.
Funny story, we were at Grappa in the middle of a heavy snowstorm that knocked the power out to all of Main St. The Grappa staff was incredibly accommodating by bringing candles to our table (hello, romance!) and offering us our choice of a free appetizer or dessert. The food was good and the atmosphere was charming and romantic. I ordered the Osso Bucco which was delicious, but I missed not having pasta. My fault for not ordering pasta at an Italian restaurant. I will definitely go back on my next visit.
501 on Main
We enjoyed the sights and energy of historic Main Street at 501 on Main. The restaurant is designed beautifully with large windows letting in light and liveliness from outside. We tried this restaurant for lunch right before leaving for the airport to come home. I’m so happy we did because it was a delicious meal. JJ was weary about trying this restaurant at first because he thought the menu looked “basic”.
It is a classic menu with soups and sandwiches, but it is anything but basic. We were happy with the Lobster Bisque and Bison Chili we ordered. The spiked hot chocolate was pure chocolatey goodness; I may have had one with my meal and one for dessert!
Where to DRINK in Park City
Main Street has many options for eating and drinking, but we found our two favorite spots.
Old Town Cellars
Of course we would become regulars at a wine bar during our week long vacation. Luckily, we found Old Town Cellars on our first night in Park City! We returned a few times during our stay. At first, the atmosphere pulled us in, but the kind service and quality wine kept us coming back. Old Town Cellars is underground with exposed brick walls and cozy seating arrangements.
Old Town Cellars does not serve food, but they allow food to be brought in. One night for dinner, we ordered Italian to-go at the restaurant down the street and brought it to eat at Old Town Cellars. Old Town Cellars was cool and welcoming. If I lived in Park City, I would be at this spot weekly.
No Name Saloon
No Name Saloon is a unique spot to grab a quick meal and drink. The atmosphere is fun and welcoming. The motorcycle hanging from the ceiling at the entrance says it all. We went to this saloon a couple of times to grab a drink before dinner or a quick snack in the middle of the day.
First Time Skiing Tips
Well, I was tobogganed down the mountain on my first ski trip, so you probably shouldn't take advice from me on this topic. My only advice is to try your best and if you don't succeed, find joy in the beautiful scenery and town around you!
My second piece of advice for first-timers is to not spend a ton of money buying new ski clothes. Ski clothes can be very expensive. Since I don't plan to ski again, I'm thankful that I didn't spend too much money on my ski outfits. Of course, you can still look cute without blowing your whole budget. Surprisingly, I found quality, inexpensive pieces on Amazon! I literally bought everything from Amazon: ski pants, jacket, gloves, hat, goggles, and thermal underwear.