Known as the home of the celebrity-filled Sundance Film Festival, the Utah mountain town of Park City has a reputation as a pricey destination where the elite goes to play. And while it can be expensive to visit Park City, there are a surprising amount of things to do at very low prices. Here's how to splurge and save in Park City, Utah.
With lift tickets for a single day of skiing starting at around $150, plus the cost of any lessons or rentals, hitting the slopes quickly becomes an expensive endeavor. Being said, there’s good reason many pony up for the privilege of taking on Park City’s epic slopes. Thanks to its proximity to Salt Lake City (just 32 miles), you can go from the airport to one of the town’s two ski resorts (Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain Resort) in about two hours. You can even ride up the mountain from the Town Lift, a chairlift located right downtown, which means you can go from shopping and dining to the top of mountain in just a few minutes.
Après ski, relax sore muscles with a massage at the spa at the Stein Eriksen Lodge, and the price of a spa treatment includes access to the sauna, steam room, Jacuzzi, and an invigorating cold plunge pool.
It only costs $26 for a combo ticket for Park City Mountain’s Flying Eagle two-seater zip-line and the Alpine Coaster, a half-mile long ride on an elevated track down the mountain at speeds up to 30 mph. Plus, there’s no admission fee for the Utah Olympic Park. Built for the 2002 Olympics, it’s now a U.S. Olympic training site that frequently hosts competitions open to the public for free or a small admission fee.
Also free: Tours of High West Distillery, the world’s only ski-in distillery (and Utah’s first legal distillery since 1870). You can also ride on the Historic Main Street Trolly through downtown Park City, where 60 original Victorian buildings still stand, and where you can find more than 50 restaurants and 100 shops to explore.
For a relaxing soak without the high price tag, head to Homestead Crater. Located about 30 minutes from Park City, this 65-foot-deep pool is sheltered under a limestone rock dome and fed by geothermal waters that remain 90 to 96 degrees all year round. Entrances fees start at around $13 for a simple soak; standup paddle board yoga, snorkeling, and scuba diving are also available.
In addition to its working distillery, High West also has a restaurant serving inventive cocktails made with the distillery’s own bourbon, rye, and vodka, as well as hearty yet refined “Western mountain cuisine” like chicken schnitzel, three-bean stew, and bison burgers. For a more romantic evening, head to Riverhorse on Main for seasonally influenced dishes like red snapper with wild mushrooms, or hand-cut buffalo tartare. If you're craving a more intimate and picturesque setting, make reservations at Glitretind at the Stein Eriksen Lodge, where roaring fires and mountain views compliment dishes like Utah lamb, Rocky Mountain elk, or wild mushroom agnolotti.
When locals want a cheap, filling meal, they head to El Chubasco to load up on burritos, fajitas, and tacos for around $10 per person. On Main Street, Wasatch Brewery offers a wide selection of pub grub—nachos, mac and cheese, pizza, and burgers—for under $15 per entree.
There’s no shortage of amazing luxury properties in Park City, though the prices can climb nearly as high as the elevation. At the Stein Eriksen Lodge, located at the base of Deer Valley, rooms start at around $1,000 in peak ski season (and as low as $250 other times of year). If you’re going big, go for a lodge luxury room, which offers 1,200 square feet of private space, wood-burning fireplaces, a murphy bed in the living room, a full kitchen, and a patio with your own private Jacuzzi tub. Onsite, there’s the Glitretind restaurant and Troll Hallen bar and lounge, two pools, a game room, a movie theatre, spa, on-site ski shop, and local shuttle service.
Most of Park City’s more affordable hotels lack the mountain views (or close proximity to the mountains or downtown) but, for budget travelers, the savings may be worth a bit more time going to and from the main attractions. Reliable chains like Hyatt Place and Hampton Inn and Suites have rooms starting at around $200 in peak season.