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Some of my absolute favorite memories from my childhood were from our family ski trips. Some of my ski memories were funny (like the time my binding broke and I tried to ski down on one ski), others were traumatic (sliding off a chairlift because my snowpants were too slippery), but most of them were just amazing (grandparents, cousins, snow forts, treats and cocoa). Every winter, my parents would bring us out to Utah for a week so that we could ski with our grandparents and cousins, play in the snow all day, and it was our most anticipated vacation year after year.
What makes Park City a great winter destination for families?
Now that I’m the parent, with my own set of little skiers, I’m trying to create the same memories for them that meant so much to me growing up. Our family ski traditions involve tic-tacs, cocoa, bagels, and lots of racing each other through the trees!
As a parent, I also fully understand just how much planning and preparation that my parents put into our annual ski vacations, whether it’s for a weekend trip or a full week. One thing that I am learning is that with family ski vacations, location matters. When you’re single, riding the bus 10 minutes farther to save a few bucks is not big deal, but as a parents with young kids, it’s a totally different ballgame!
Choosing the best location for a family ski trip means that instead of being frustrated and frazzled during our trip (because we’ve all been there), I can actually relax and spend my time enjoying how much fun it is to ski as a family.
It’s all about LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!
In the world of skiing, I have many favorites, and Park City is close to the top of my list. In fact, we primarily moved to Utah, just to be close to the great skiing in the Wasatch Mountains (and of course closer to Grandma and Grandpa).
What most people overlook is that while Park City is great for a family ski trip, there are lots of other reasons that make this a great winter destination that have nothing to do with skiing. In fact, you don’t even need to know how to ski to enjoy Park City in the winter (though you’ll probably love it if you try it).
Here are 10 reasons why Park City is a great place for a family winter getaway.
1. Close to the airport.
Park City is only about 35 minutes away from Salt Lake City airport, which is absolutely perfect for families. After a long flight, the last thing that you want to do is to add a long car ride to your travels. Skiing in Park City simplifies your travel considerably, getting your vacation off on the right foot. In fact, it’s so close to the airport that you can just grab a shuttle to your hotel and use the free in-town shuttle in Park City.
2. Free Shuttle
Take my advice and just don’t rent a car when you come to Park City. Between driving in the snow, paying for parking and dealing with traffic on icy days, having a car when you ski in Park City really just isn’t worth it. When you’re in Park City, just take the free shuttle that goes all over town for most of your needs. When the shuttle times don’t align with your schedule, there’s no shortage of Uber’s in town. But really, the shuttle is awesome, and if you have kids, they’ll probably become quite obsessed with it like mine have!
3. Historic Main Street is just off the slopes
Main Street is the perfect place to unwind after a day of skiing. If you’re staying downtown it’s an easy walk from just about anywhere, and if not, the free shuttles all go there. It’s a great place to shop, grab a treat, and if you want to make a night of it, grab some dinner at a local restaurant and enjoy the simplicity of just walking home! Whether you’re looking for something hot or cold, make sure to take the kids to Java Cow for some ice cream or hot chocolate.
4. Chairlift access in the middle of town
How many towns can say that you can ski right into downtown?!? This is one of my absolute favorite things about Park City because it makes the entire town feel like a ski-in ski-out place to stay. When you’re ready to hit the slopes in the morning, just hit the town lift and you’re all set.
5. Huge variety of lodging options
Park City really does have it all in terms of lodging, so you can find something that suits every travel style and budget. Whether you want a simple chain hotel, a private house, a luxury 5-star hotel, or even ski-in ski-out chateaux, you’ll find it all here.
We absolutely LOVE staying in Airbnb’s when we travel and some of our favorite Airbnb’s in Park City are this stylish townhome that sleeps 7, this cute condo in Prospector Square, and this rental that feels like a lodge.
6. Great activities to do on NON-SKI days
No matter how much you love to ski, the reality is that on a family ski vacation, you’re going to be doing more than just skiing, so choosing a location with several other activities is really important. Since most kids aren’t going to be able to ski for 7 days straight, you’ll be thrilled with the number of things you can do in Park City on non-ski days. Here are some of our favorite things to do in Park City on non-ski days:
- Head out for a sleigh ride in Park City.
There are several different options for sleigh rides in Park City and most of them are in the evening. Several sleigh rides in Park City include dinner.
- Go snowmobiling in Park City.
If your family didn’t get enough speed and adventure while you were out skiing, you absolutely need to head out for a day of snowmobiling.
- Go sledding in Park City.
If you’re coming to Park City, sledding is an absolute MUST! NOt only beacuse it’s incredibly fun, but also because its incredibly CHEAP (or free). The best sledding hills in Park City are at the Park City Ice Rink and behind the Middle School (go after school hours, please). Sleds are cheap and can be picked up at sporting goods stores or Walmart, and some hotels even have sleds you can borrow. If you’re looking for a facility that offers sledding, head over to Soldier Hollow in Midway (about 20 minutes away) where you can get tubes as well as be towed back up the hill.
- Go to the Ice Castles in Midway.
The Midway Ice Castles are a truly unique and exciting experience for kids young and old. Located at the Homestead Resort, the Midway Ice Castles have twisting tunnels, ice sculptures, fountains, and even ice slides meant for racing, it’s one of the coolest things you can do around Park City. While you’re over there, you should also plan on going swimming in the geothermal crater at the Homestead Resort for an absolutely amazing swimming experience.
7. Kid friendly nightlife in Park City
Trust me, I get it – when you think about nightlife, the first thing you think of is getting a babysitter! In Park City there are lots of kid-friendly activities to do apres ski. Here are some of our personal favorites.
Jupiter Bowl Park City
Jupiter Bowl is a bowling alley in Park City that feels like a combination of a bowling alley and a sports grill (with pretty great food). It’s relaxing enough that you won’t be totally exhausted at the end of the night and you can also just take your time, enjoy your food at your lane, and not rush through your evening.
Park City Escape Room
If you ask my older kids what their favorite thing to do in Park City is, they’ll quickly tell you that the Park City Escape Room is their favorite place. While we haven’t taken our younger kids, there are several different room set-ups so you can easily choose a room that’s best for the ages and size of your family.
8. Restaurants galore
There is no shortage of dining options in Park City so whatever your family likes, you’ll probably find it here. Main Street is the place to go for one of a kind local restaurants, or if you’re looking for something more familiar, head out to Kimball Junction for several chain restaurants and quick eats. Typically, I find that restaurants right in town are more expensive and as you head farther from town, prices get cheaper.
9. Ski terrain for all abilities
When you ski in Park City, you will literally find something for everyone, because this is just SO MUCH TERRAIN. Between Deer Valley and Park City (the largest ski resort in the US), the terrain options seem endless. Are you looking for the best ski runs at Deer Valley or the best ski runs at Park City? We’ve got you covered:
- Best Beginner Terrain at Park City: First Time Lift and run, as well as High Meadow at the Canyons base area.
- Best Intermediate Terrain at Park City: Canyons base area, specifically Saddleback lift and most of the runs east of Tombstone lift.
- Best Expert Terrain at Park City: Jupiter Lift and Bowl, Super Condor Express at the Canyons side.
- Undoubtedly the best expert terrain at Park City is accessed off the Jupiter Lift. Up there you’ll find lots of
- Best Beginner Terrain at Deer Valley: Quincy lift, Ontario and Bandana runs.
- Best Intermediate Terrain at Deer Valley: Keno and Nabob runs, as well as Steins Way.
- Best Expert Terrain at Deer Valley: Ruins of Pompeii and Mayflower Chutes
10. Close to Salt Lake City
It’s pretty rare that you can get a great ski vacation right next door to a major city, but in Utah you absolutely can. Salt Lake City is only about 20 minutes from Park City, so if you’re looking to do some shopping, see a play, or even take the kids to the museum or the zoo, you are pretty much right there.