Park City, Utah: Sundance Shines in Summer

From August 4th to the 6th look out for the Kimball Arts Festival in Park City. Photo by Mark Maziarz.

Perhaps best known internationally as the ski resort that houses America’s largest independent film festival, Sundance, held annually in the dead of winter, Park City is a year round attraction in the heart of Utah.

Located about thirty five minutes from Salt Lake City airport, entering Park City and its historic Main Street feels like walking into a picturesque postcard. Snow still littered the ground and the mountain while I was visiting, however by the time you read this article that will have melted away; the green of the mountain proving a beautiful backdrop. There are no buildings over three stories, and Park City’s mountain range and resort sits as centre stage, looming over Main Street.

Main Street itself enjoys a cacophony of bars, shops and restaurants, with a free shuttle helping transport visitors along the stretch of outlets. Though they’re not exclusively located on Main Street, Park City is crammed full with 60 bars and 100 restaurants – a remarkable number for a city that only boasts a population of 8,000. This number, or course, doesn’t reflect the year round deluge of tourists who descend on the city. Though limited accommodation does keep that number in check – at least outside of major events like Sundance.

Along the strip, the Mary G. Steiner Egyptian Theatre, built in 1926, holds a prominent spot. Herman’s Hermits were playing the night I arrived. If you look hard enough you’ll also find an original Banksy, protected from the elements (and the ever fascinated public) by glass down one of the street’s many laneways.

Speaking of art, you’ll find a remarkable number of art galleries along Main Street: Fatalis, Prewitt, Gallery Mar, Terzian, Prospect and McMillan – all selling and displaying a unique array of works. Some, like the Prewitt Gallery, is dedicated at least in part to a particular artist, in this case race car driver and artist Hal Prewitt. And if you’re looking for some luxury fashion, stores like Gorsuch will have you covered. It goes without saying that Park City caters to the high end of town in a big way, though there are stores and experiences for guests all all financial persuasions. Arts events also scatter the Summer calendar, including the Kimball Arts Festival (official website) in August.

THE DRINK.

Australians, who represent the largest international market here in Park City, will be thrilled to see their own influence on the streets, namely in the coffee. Campos Coffee isn’t hard to find, nor is a flat white – look out for Harvest (820 Park Ave), which is owned by Australians, as well as five5eeds (1600 Snow Creek Dr Ste EF), both of which are fairly new. Atticus (538 Main St), meanwhile, has been in operation for quite a while, though offers fantastic coffee alongside the two newer establishments.

And then there’s the whiskey, with the world’s only ski-in distillery, High West (703 Park Ave). The distillery, which is also a bar and restaurant, offer tours of the operation, which of course includes tastings – all of which adhere to Utah’s stricter-than-most alcohol regulations. Suffice it to say, you won’t find free-pour here, though that’s something that Australians will be more than used to.

Located on Park Ave, which runs right along the mountain, parallel to High Street, High West have been in their current building since 2009, though the structure itself has been there since 1907. They produce 20 gallons on site per run, and offer Sunday brunch, daily lunch and tours, where you’ll take in the smells (whose grain and yeast ensures it smells like a Brewery), and learn fun facts, like: whiskey ages twice as fast in the US than it does in Scotland. The whiskey here is as good as you’ll find anywhere in the world, and the double rye is my personal favourite. Enjoy it neat or in one of the many delicious cocktails on offer.

Back on Main Street, the Wasatch Brew Pub (250 Main St), famed for its Polygamy Porter, is a popular and must visit spot. They serve their own beer and that of Squatters, their sister operation in Salt Lake City. You’ll find Wasatch at the top of Main Street’s primary run of shops.

If you’re looking for a place to drink the day away, Park City’s oldest watering hole No Name Saloon (447 Main St, pictured above) feels straight out of Nashville, and proves one of their most popular. Even mid week, off season, the place was packed to the rafters by 4pm, with anyone looking for a seat fresh out of luck. The food and drink offerings here are plentiful, though I felt more at home in the New York style dive bar next door O’Shucks Bar & Grill (427 Main St), which had plenty of room at the bar, excellent music, and a lack of light to make sure you can easily waste away the day and night with a bottle of whiskey.

DINING.

I enjoyed lunch at Café Terigo (424 Main St, Park City), who offer a French and Northern Italian menu amongst a cozy and laid-back dining setting; an atmosphere typical of the area. The eclectic menu features salads, sandwiches, pastas, pizzas and risottos. The baked ricotta cheese starter is a must, with tomato jam, basil pesto and grilled bread to spread it all over. I had the grilled salmon with avocado and baby onion rings on mixed greens for my main, with a stunning honey mustard dressing.

There is no shortage of comfort food anywhere in Park City – and you’ll find some hidden gems off the main strip. Up in the mountains of Park City, Fireside Dining (9200 Marsac Ave) comes as one of the most recommended restaurants in the area. I wasn’t able to fit it into my visit, but its Swiss feast which sits around five fireplaces sounds rather remarkable. Definitely try and make a booking while you’re in town.

THE MOUNTAIN IN SUMMER.

Photo Supplied by Visit Park City.

So, beyond the year round attractions, what does the mountain offer in Summer? Like any ski resort, a deluge or mountain activities from hiking to mountain biking and everything in between is on offer, and the lift continues to operate for those who want to take themselves, or their bikes, direct to the top of the mountain. You’ll also find additional activities like mini golf, harness trampolines and climbing walls. Look out for live music throughout the resort and be sure to enjoy the alpine slide and the alpine coaster.

If you’re looking for further adventure, the Utah Olympic Park is a short five minute drive away, and they offer year round activities, including bobsled rides, zip lines & museums.

WHERE TO STAY.

Though it is an option to stay in Salt Lake City and enjoy Park City as a day tripper – such is how I took in the city – there is an impressive array of known brands and boutique offerings that adhere to the intimacy of the city. You won’t find any sky rise Hiltons here, rather hotels like the luxurious Main & Sky (201 Heber Ave, Park City), the bespoke Summit Watch (780 Main St) and MountainSide (1305 Lowell Ave) from Marriott and the Treasure Mountain Inn Resort (255 Main St). Air BnB is of course an option, for those with more of a budget.

GETTING THERE.

There are daily indirect flights to Salt Lake City from Australia with connections through Los Angeles (Virgin/Delta, Qantas and all US carriers), San Francisco (United and Qantas), Honolulu (Hawaiian Airlines), Vancouver (Air Canada) or Dallas (Qantas). Car rental, pre-booked shuttles, taxis and Ubers are amongst the options to get to Park City from SLC airport. The trip takes about 35 minutes. If you’re travelling with Skis or mountain bikes, make sure to book an appropriate car, shuttle or Uber (UberSKI is totally a thing here). En route to the city, also consider a visit to the Utah Olympic Park.

For more about Park City, head to the Visit Park City website.

Visit Park City hosted the writer for the afternoon, with Utah Tourism flying the writer over with Virgin Australia via Los Angeles. Additional activities were provided by High West and the Café Terigo. While in Utah, the writer stayed in Salt Lake City at the Hotel Monaco – A Kimpton Hotel (15 W 200 S, Salt Lake City). Photos by the author unless otherwise mentioned.