To-Do List: Winter Family Fun in Park City, Utah

I love traveling with my family, but it can be daunting to find a winter vacation destination that appeals to everyone’s interests. Fortunately, Park City had something for everyone.

When I found out it was my turn to plan our family getaway last Christmas, I was very nervous. Our clan includes my parents, my two brothers, my sister-in-law and my husband, and almost everyone has a different idea of what makes the perfect vacation.

Ultimately, we settled on Park City, Utah. The family-friendly mountain resort town seemed like the perfect winter destination, with the added convenience of a major airport (Salt Lake City International Airport) just 30 minutes away. My husband and I had visited several times, and we felt comfortable playing tour guides for the group. We knew it would be tough keeping everyone happy for the weeklong trip — but Park City was up to the challenge.

Hit the Slopes.

The key to harmony on our family vacations is recognizing that not everyone has to do everything together. Several members of my family love to ski, so they were ready to spend all day on the slopes. A couple others were beginners looking for mellow, groomed runs. And some, like my parents, preferred the comfort of a warm chalet.

The good news: Park City offers it all. The area is home to two world-class ski resorts, Park City Mountain Resort (which includes another ski area, Canyons Village) and Deer Valley Resort. My husband, brother and I spent a couple of days skiing until our legs felt like rubber, while my other brother and his wife opted to take a group lesson. I knew it was a success when they returned at the end of the day happily chattering about conquering their first intermediate blue runs.

Enjoy a Winter Wonderland.

In Park City, you don’t have to downhill ski to enjoy the stunning landscape. The area abounds with other fun activities that entertained our entire family. One sunny afternoon, we took a break from the resort hubbub and went cross-country skiing instead. My parents took a lesson at the White Pine Touring Nordic Center, where they slid along the outdoor track while admiring the sparkling white terrain and serene alpine atmosphere. Meanwhile, my husband and I explored Round Valley, which offers an extensive network of Nordic trails, providing a wonderful workout in the crisp mountain air.

We all finished the day with some impromptu sledding — an activity that provides laughs and picture-perfect moments for people of all ages — at a neighborhood park.

Get in the Holiday Spirit.

Park City gets decked out for the holidays and offers many family-friendly seasonal events. Our first night in town, we strolled down Main Street, taking in the decorations, brightly lit pine trees and festive window displays. The next night, we enjoyed going to Park City Mountain Resort’s Snowfest, a free festival in the ski village. It takes place every evening from mid-December through Dec. 31 and includes live music, street entertainers, sweet treats and more.

On Christmas Eve, we went to the Park City Mountain Resort base area to watch the annual torchlight parade. Local skiers wound their way down the mountain in formation carrying colored lights, creating a spectacular show. For maximum holiday cheer, “ooh” and “ahh” at the moving lights while sipping on hot apple cider.

Elevate Your Palate.

One thing everyone in our family agrees on is that we love good food — and there’s plenty to choose from in Park City. For a nice night out, try 350 Main. The restaurant is housed in a historic building and serves locally sourced, internationally inspired fare. My favorite dishes were the briny smoked oysters on the half shell and the spice-crusted venison.

Courtesy of Yuki Yama Sushi

If you’re a sushi aficionado, head to Yuki Yama Sushi, which serves up executes traditional sushi with precision and flair. They fly their fish in daily from the West and East Coasts, and the freshness is evident in the taste. Plus, the sake and creative cocktails make the perfect accompaniments.

But my favorite place for an après-ski drink is the No Name Saloon. This colorful Western bar is cluttered from floor to ceiling with knick-knacks and odd antiques. It’s a great place to get some Utah craft beer or a tart-and-stiff whiskey sour.

When all was said and done, we ended the trip with great memories and in high spirits. Despite my initial nerves, everyone in my family had a blast — which means Park City has a permanent place in my personal vacation record book.

Quick Tip:

Park City has a small-town feel, but it’s only a 30-minute drive from Salt Lake City, Utah’s capital and largest urban area with plenty of shopping, concerts and shows. You can also head to the city for a Utah Jazz basketball game or to see the impressive light displays at Mormon Temple Square.


Where to Stay:

Marriott’s MountainSide

Marriott’s Summit Watch

Melanie W. is a writer living Denver, Colorado.