Thinking about a cultural escape? Surprisingly, Park City, Utah strikes just the right balance for relaxation and entertainment this spring.
Known for producing some of the best powder on the planet, Park City, Utah is likely atop the lists of most travelers’ premium vacation spots during winter months. With two mountain resorts within its limits, Park City is distinct for its storied Olympic legacy. Home of the last games to be held on U.S. soil (2002), the town has the largest concentration of luxury ski-in/ski-out accommodations in North America.
But beneath that glistening veneer of winter fantasy, lies wonders that rival any springtime haven you might imagine. Park City’s other season offers a spectacular look at one of the most beautiful towns in American and an escape unmatched for its serenity and bucolic wonder.
And for those seeking to slip away for a cultural escape, there is no better place this spring than Park City, Utah.
Neatly tucked away 32 miles (51 km) southeast of downtown Salt Lake City, Park City’s mountainous region engenders quietude unlike any popular destination in the West. With gorgeous mountain views, spectacular terrain, sun-filled days and starry nights, the area is the perfect escape for the worn and weary. But those looking to fill their days with cultural appreciation can enjoy an even greater escape into the array of arts offerings the area quietly proffers.
A place where days of hiking, biking, fishing and art festivals are followed by evening concerts, nightlife, dining and deluxe accommodations, this is Park City in the spring.
Home to a host of multi-talented visual artists, Park City boasts an embarrassment of riches in the wealth of art galleries and studios it houses year-round. The area’s popular Main Street presents a worthy cache of restaurants and shops to browse, but galleries with art works that sate every taste and flavor also abound. Terzian Galleries (terziangalleries.com) proffers oil paintings, glass, ceramics and sculptures, all created by regional artists of merit. Steps away is Montgomery Lee Fine Art (montgomeryleefineart.com), a locally owned studio showcasing a variety of fine art in various medias and across a variety of subject matter. Across the street, you find Park City Fine Art (parkcityfineart.com), home to art and artists that offer a more regional focus. You’ll find a bevy of art works from nature-inspired paintings to some with Western themes, making this studio a particularly interesting diversion.
Also on Main Street, Gallery MAR (gallerymar.com) presents contemporary paintings and sculptures by emerging American artists. Meyer Gallery (meyergallery.com), a Main Street mainstay, gives art enthusiasts more representational and abstract works to peruse.
A slate of photography galleries also line Main Street, and often showcasing works with nature as their focus. Mangelsen – Images of Nature Gallery is home to much of the catalogue of works by Thomas Mangelsen (mangelsen.com). It houses a stunning array of landscape photography and wildlife and plenty from the Southwest. Bret Webster Images (bretwebsterimages.com) proffers a wide array of photos reflecting natural lands in the U.S. and beyond. David Beavis Gallery showcases bright, gleaming nature images that jump off the easel; and Earthlight Galleries shows dazzling photography by a small collection of nature photographers.
If you happen to be around during the last Friday of the month, get in on the free Park City Gallery Stroll, where locals and travelers alike gallery hop along Main Street, enjoying delicious bites and engaging Park City art lovers and artists.
The lively arts are alive and well in Park City, and no better venue showcases that passion than Eccles Center for the Performing Arts (parkcityinstitute.org), an arm of Park City Institute, which strives to make Park City a “smarter, more curious, illuminated place.” Enter the Eccles Center and you may find Grammy-winning musicians from across all genres. And world class dance is always on the schedule with companies like this season’s Aspen Santa Fe Ballet and New York Times Critic’s Choice winner Complexions Dance.
For the intellectually curious, the Park City Institute offers its popular Speaker Series and TEDxParkCity, which this season presents New York Times bestselling author Stephanie Land.
Visiting Park City in the summer months? Try connecting with one of most spectacular music series locals rave about. It’s the five-week Deer Valley Music Festival, which blends the talents of the Utah Symphony and Utah Opera with national touring acts that range from classic rock to country to show tunes, pop and even jazz. The pairings offer a fresh look at the symphony and an opportunity to learn how musical boundaries fall so artfully in the hands of world class artists.
Of course from late winter to early spring Park City culture comes alive with events for which it is likely most famous. The world class Sundance Film Festival (sundance.org) kicks off in late January every year serving as a prescient look into the Oscar-quality films that will hit the big screen in the coming year. And between showings, of course, you can get in a few runs down the slopes, chit chat with celebrities at movie premieres and indulge your foodie instincts with some of the area’s best eateries.
The 10-day festival boasts participation by a host of local theaters showcasing feature films, documentaries and selections of short films.
Catch a first glimpse at some of the most promising world class films on slate for the film world in the coming year amid the most stunning views and spectacular landscape.
Park City has a storied history with vast stretches of culturally rich and historically significant sites. The city was discovered in 1868 when soldiers stationed in nearby Salk Lake City traveled the mountain from Big Cottonwood Canyon to mine silver. Two years later, when the Transcontinental Railroad was completed, hopeful miners flooded the area in droves with designs on riches and instant wealth. The promise of rich silver ore brought George Hearst, the father of William Randolph Hearst, to Park City, and his $30,000 Ontario Mine yielded more than $50 million in its lifetime.
Located on Main Street, the award-winning Park City Museum (parkcityhistory.org) promotes a mission to preserve, protect and showcase Park City’s rich history and cultural legacy and to promote and advocate the preservation of Park City’s important history and historic sites.
From Park City’s origins as a bustling silver mine to the subsequent booms, busts, fires and freezes since, the town’s adventurous spirit lives on. Throughout the town’s historic reinvention as a ski town that emerged as a world-class destination to host global events like the 2002 Winter Olympics and the Sundance Film Festival, the Park City Museum offers insightful and enlightening exhibitions that detail that rich history and articulate the importance of Park City’s magnificent arc and importance to life in Utah.
Park City is well known for its amazing food profile. It’s among the best in the nation. Park City offers foodies a haven unlike any other in Southwestern United States. And why shouldn’t it? A vacation spot that attracts world class travelers from across the globe each year should have nothing less.
And the varieties are endless. One upscale option you’ll want to try is Shabu on Main Street (shabumein.com). This popular, family-owned mainstay has been around for 14 years serving up zesty freestyle Asian cuisine with a side of hospitality that would send anyone home with a smile.
Dimly lit and inviting, the convivial atmosphere makes an impact from the moment you make your way downstairs from its Main Street entrance. Of course there are a few traditional Thai dishes on the menu, but those with a distinct appreciation for Asian fusion cuisine will be particularly well-rewarded.
The Caramelized Black Cod with sweet miso, egg foo young nestled in wok-seared vegetables is a perfect dish for anyone with a yen for seafood, and the Shabu Sizzle is an exciting teriyaki mix of grilled vegetables, chicken (or beef if you so prefer) with crisp shrimp and tender salmon. But the star of the show is Bibimbap, a traditional crispy Korean rice bowl with gently braised pork belly, Szechuan chicken sausage, gorchujang, namul, soy and a delicately poached egg. Generously stirred, this dish is a delightful mix of savory goodness you’ll devour until the very last drop.
If casual comfort food is your thing, then try Deer Valley Resort’s popular Royal Street Cafe (deervalley.com). Located in Silver Lake Lodge, this popular local bar and grill offers creative American and international cuisine amid the busy sun deck overlooking the entrance to Deer Valley Mountain. With a diverse menu harboring inventive appetizers like the fresh Dungeness Crab Tower with sauces of wasabi, ginger-soy and sweet chile, delicious panini and their award-winning Bacon BBQ Bison Burger, you can’t go wrong for an afternoon feast. My favorite: their signature Deer Valley Turkey Chilli. With just the right amount of heat and hearty texture, this flavorful dish is an absolute must. If you really want something decadent to relish, ask for the chilli/cheese option.
Like Chicago, Park City is a hot bed of premier chefs, and foodies will enjoy sampling their wares one plate at a time. At least one of those should come from the kitchen of Vinto Pizzeria, (vinto.com) located at the base of Main Street. Helmed by executive chef Ann Carothers, Vinto strives by bringing locals from the community into the restaurant. Both Carothers and owner Helene Loyd proffer fast, healthy and delicious Italian food with wood-fired pizzas leading the pack in terms of popularity. Everything is made fresh in-house, and food always makes its way to the table in less than 15 minutes. The menu is consistent, so once you find your favorite, you can lock it in. But specials and seasonal plates still offer some area for experimentation. Add to this generous slate of eateries a diverse local offering of libation providers like High West Distillery, Old Town Cellars and Park City Brewery, and you’ve got the makings of a spring vacation infused with culture and enveloped by serenity that you won’t soon forget.