Some people love the snow and some people hate it! We recently decided to embrace the winter weather and spend a long weekend in beautiful Utah! In just 4or 5 days, you can explore the best sights of Salt Lake City and experience Park City skiing or other winter sports activities.
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This December, we enjoyed a pre-holiday, long weekend trip to Utah. It was an area we hadn’t visited together before and it presented a good chance to do a little bit of Park City skiing after visiting Salt Lake. Below is a rough outline of what we did each day with much more detail to follow in the sections below!
|Afternoon flight to SLC, arriving in the evening. Check into SLC hotel and off to bed.
|Explore Salt Lake City then make the short drive to Park City.
|Park City skiing!
|More Park City skiing or explore other Wasatch Range highlights and activities.
The Companion pass is great to have if you live in a Southwest hub and can be worthwhile even if you don’t. It offers 2-for-1 travel on both paid and reward flights. The companion only pays a small fee for taxes, etc. and you can change your designated companion throughout the year. If you earn the companion pass early in 2023, it will be good not ONLY for the remainder of 2023 but for all of 2024 as well.
Salt Lake City Highlights
We arrived in Salt Lake City later Wednesday evening and after picking up our rental car, checked into the Kimpton Hotel Monaco, which is located just a couple of short blocks from most of the sights below!
NOTE: Temple Square is undergoing a massive restoration project. Before visiting any sights, be sure to confirm which are open and which are not.
Temple Square Area
After breakfast at the hotel, we headed toward Temple Square where we visited the gorgeous Joseph Smith Memorial Building (formerly the Hotel Utah). From there we walked down the block to snap a few photos of the Beehive House and Lion House. Both are former residences of the presidents of the Mormon church and are open for touring if you’d like to see inside.
Next, we stopped inside the Conference Center, which holds the largest auditorium of its kind in the world! Take some time to peek inside the theatre and to view the cutaway model of the Mormon Temple. The guides on hand that day gave us a wonderful explanation of the significance of each of the rooms. If you’re lucky, you may even be able to catch a glimpse of the famous Tabernacle choir in rehearsal!
The temple was hidden under scaffolding while we were there but it still makes for an impressive sight. Right next door is the Tabernacle, where they had an organ concert going on during our visit. The 11,623-pipe organ is both visually and acoustically impressive.
Fun Fact: Natty Guy’s stepfather worked for a Cleveland-area company called Holtkamp and had serviced this organ on multiple occasions.
Directly across the street is the Family History Library and we had such a fun time playing around with their extensive genealogical records. Natty Guy was able to trace his roots back to Adam & Eve, LOL! You can play with their Family Search software at home from your computer.
Fun Fact: Ancestors and genealogy are very important to the Mormons. Mormons believe that they can baptize their dead relatives by proxy to help them achieve full access to heaven. Hence, the extensive collection of family histories help ascertain for whom in their bloodline they should be praying.
The Great Salt Lake
Sitting about 30 minutes west of the downtown area, the Great Salt Lake is worth a quick view! Stop at the Great Salt Lake Visitor Center to view the short film on the lake’s history as well as to learn the background of the Saltair Resort, the remains of which you’ll see on your drive out.
Now head east again towards Park City and the mountains. On the way, you may want to stop by the two sights below.
The Sundance Catalog outlet store, located in an unassuming strip mall in the vibrant Sugar House area, has great deals on all those fantastic things you see in the catalog!
Lastly, you may want to stop by the This Is The Place Heritage Park & Monument. This is a living history museum that is especially attractive if you’re traveling with children. They can take pony rides and a train ride as well as visit a Native American village and watch demonstrations from pioneer tradesmen. Without kids, take a drive up to the entrance to view a few of the monuments and gorgeous mountain scenery.
There is certainly much more to do in Salt Lake but this plan will give you the highlights in a long but doable day! From your last stop, continue driving another half-hour to 45 minutes to Park City, Utah.
Two highly recommended places to stay in the greater Park City area include the St. Regis Deer Valley and the Waldorf Astoria. We opted to stay at the Waldorf as prices were high when we booked and we have a boatload of Hilton points to burn!
We did stop at the St. Regis Deer Valley to admire the views from their bar and check things out. The St. Regis feels much larger than the Waldorf Astoria and there were noticeably more kids. I think it would be the better choice for family travel and that the Waldorf is better suited to couples on their own.
We were quite pleased with the Waldorf! The room was spacious and well-designed, the hotel offers a shuttle service into town, and has all the fun winter break amenities like hot tubs, nightly s’mores, hot chocolate, etc. The only drawback is that there is only one bar/restaurant on site. We both felt an additional option would make for a nice upgrade.
Ideally located for Park City skiing, the Waldorf is situated slopeside next to the Frostwood Gondola which takes you directly into Canyons Village. From there, you can take dozens of lifts to wherever you want to go!
Park City Skiing
We did not bring ski equipment with us so rented our gear from Ski Butlers. This excellent service sent two reps to our room shortly after we checked in and they came with an array of garb for us to try on (multiple boot and helmet sizes, etc.). Once we were properly fitted, they took all of our gear to the onsite ski valet so that we could just walk down to the prep room in the morning and be on our way!
The Friday we skied was actually the opening day of the ski season for Park City and we felt very lucky that the mountain had a very good amount of fresh snow and most lifts were open. Neither of us realized prior to our visit that Park City is the largest ski resort in the US! Spread over 7,300 acres and with 330 trails and 43 lifts, you’ll have plenty of ground to explore.
It had been 7 years since we last skied and I felt the trails in Utah were both a bit steeper and narrower than those of the same type (green, blue, black) in Beaver Creek, Colorado. We especially enjoyed the runs that go through the Colony, a high-end residential area where you can ski right by houses rented to Justin Bieber, Taylor Swift, and those owned by other celebrities.
Other Wasatch Range Activities
No need to worry if you don’t ski or snowboard, there are lots of other fun activities to do in the area. We met couples that had been snow tubing and one that had been snowmobiling. Snowshoeing and dogsledding are options as well, and there is a large skating rink for those that prefer the ice to snow. Check out All Season Adventures for a comprehensive activity list.
Make a little bit of time in your day or after dinner to explore downtown Park City. There are dozens of restaurants, bars, shops, and art galleries. While we didn’t stop at the Park City Museum, we heard that it was pretty informative and doesn’t take too long to tour. Since we were visiting pre-holiday, there was a fun street display of large interactive snowglobes interspersed along Main Street.
About 30 minutes outside of Park City on the way to Sundance is the Midway Crater. This is a geothermal hot spring located in a 55ft limestone dome on the grounds of the Homestead Resort. Make a reservation if you’d like to swim or scuba dive here. We just stopped to look as we were headed on to Sundance and I didn’t want to be wet!
Robert Redford’s Sundance resort is just incredible and worth a short visit. Nestled deep in the pines, it has a very private, serene, and romantic vibe! Explore a bit and enjoy lunch or dinner at the Foundry Grill (reservations suggested).
Dining in Park City definitely comes at resort prices. But when in Rome…We enjoyed meals at the following locations:
- Riverhorse on Main. This was the fanciest of the places we ate! We started with the bacon-wrapped shrimp and I enjoyed the local rainbow trout while Natty Guy ordered the trio of wild game. We shared tastes and thought the buffalo and venison were both good, the elk a bit “gamier”. The atmosphere, service, and wine list were all excellent!
Cafe Terigo was recommended to us a by a friend that takes an annual girls’ trip to Park City. This cafe has a super-warm and cozy, comfortable vibe with outstanding cocktails. After a long day of skiing, we both enjoyed a salad and the hearty bolognese!
- Chimayo. Another super-vibey joint with an upscale Mexican/Southwest slant. Incredible margaritas and unique dishes like duck enchiladas, that were superb. Be sure to ask to be seated upstairs by one of the fireplaces, not in the much louder/cramped basement area!
The Viking Yurt was also mentioned as a fun experiential-type meal but was sold out during our visit!
Are you looking for a winter getaway but hate the cold? Then check out another one of our favorite spots, The IHG El Presidente hotel in Cozumel, Mexico!
Until next time…keep cultivating a simple, stylish, and satisfying life!