For Jeremy’s 30th birthday, we knew we wanted to visit somewhere special. Somewhere that had “Jeremy” written all over it. Somewhere he could snowboard, soak in a spa, drink whiskey, and sip fancy water with fruit in it like the princess he is. Oh, and somewhere we could escape to for a fabulous, pampered weekend getaway.
Park City, Utah fit the bill.
We were surprised to realize how close Park City is – a nonstop flight from Oakland to Salt Lake City nonstop is under 2 hours, and Park City is only a 35 minute drive from Salt Lake City. Even when you include all the schlepping to and from the airport, that’s roughly the same amount of travel that it takes for us to visit Lake Tahoe. And we take weekend trips to Lake Tahoe all the time. How did we not realize that Park City is just as accessible to the San Francisco Bay Area as Lake Tahoe?! Consider our minds blown.
Jeremy’s birthday is the first week of April, which meant that we were visiting Park City on the tail end of its spring season. This actually turned out to be a benefit, and we definitely recommend visiting Park City in the spring!
In this post, you’ll find everything you need to know about what to do, where to eat, how to get around, where to ski & snowboard, where to chill if you’re NOT skiing, and all of the best Park City, Utah things to do in spring.
Table of Contents
Psst: Looking for more snowy weekend getaway destinations? Here are some other posts that you should check out!
- The 4 Best Salt Lake City Ski Resorts for a Weekend Getaway
- The Ultimate Salt Lake City Brewery Guide: 25 Best Salt Lake City Breweries & Brewpubs
- The 10 Best Weekend Trips from San Francisco, California
- Where to Stay Near Yosemite National Park
Why Visit Park City in the Spring?
You may not think of Park City as a spring destination. But you might be surprised at how long the skiing and snowboarding season in Park City lasts! You’ll find plenty of snow on the ground all the way through the first few weeks of April.
We visited Park City during Jeremy’s spring break, the first week of April – which was, incidentally, also the week of Jeremy’s 30th birthday, the real reason for our trip. While everyone else celebrated spring flowers and chocolate and bunnies on Easter Sunday, Jeremy hit the slopes – only to discover that everyone else had dressed up in silly costumes for the occasion! Um, what?
Yep, that’s right: Jeremy was the only one wearing like, snowboarding gear. Everyone else was wearing fuzzy onesies, 80’s ski outfits they found at vintage thrift stores (or possibly dragged out of the back of the closet) and full on costumes, like it was Halloween. Turns out that around this time of year when the tourists have mostly cleared out, the locals come out to play – and they do things a little bit, er, differently.
One of the coolest things about skiing or snowboarding in Park City in the spring is Spring Gruv. Spring Gruv is a silly festival that falls around the end of the ski season each year, in late March and early April. And when I say silly, I do mean silly. The lack of crowds this time of year clears space for some of the most ridiculous, hilarious activities we’ve ever seen performed on skis and snowboards.
One of the main highlights of this ridiculous festival is Pond Skimming, when 100 intrepid souls hurtle themselves down a mountain in order to attempt to make it across a frigid, but definitely not frozen, pond on their snowboard or skiis. It’s kind of like Ninja Warrior meets the Winter Olympics, and it’s amazing. Here’s a video of a bunch of people flinging themselves into freezing cold water while wearing ridiculous costumes.
So obviously, you can see why Park City was calling out to us for Jeremy’s 30th birthday. We’re suckers for ridiculousness.
But Spring Gruv isn’t the only reason to head to Park City during the springtime! Here are some other reasons why visiting Park City in the spring is an excellent choice.
- The crowds have thinned out. Hate crowds? Us too. Especially when you’re not exactly a pro at navigating yourself through throngs of people in skiis or snowboards. Less crowds in town mean less crowds on the mountains, too!
- It’s actually warm out. During our trip, Park City’s temperatures hovered around 50 degrees – even up on the mountain. That means less restrictive layers, no freezing cold fingers, and no beard icicles! You can make due with a light jacket and some sunglasses. Although we definitely saw plenty of locals wearing even less than that….
- You can score some deals. From resort deals to sales on gear and clothing, you’ll find prices falling around the end of ski season in the early spring. This is great, because it means you can spend more money on things like fancy spa treatments if you happen to be the not-actually-into-skiing type (ahem: Lia).
How to Save Money in Park City
There’s no way around it: Park City isn’t the most budget friendly destination. But you only turn 30 once, and we wanted to splurge for Jeremy’s birthday! Besides, we found INSANELY cheap tickets to Salt Lake City on Southwest, which helped offset the entire cost of the trip. So, we made our peace knowing that we would be spending a little more than usual. If you’re prepared to splurge, Park City definitely delivers.
That said, there are a few ways to save money during your visit to Park City. We scoured this guide before our visit, and came up with a few other ideas too. Here are our favorite tips.
- Visit during the spring. Obviously, since this is a post about visiting Park City in the spring, this is our #1 tip! During the spring, prices (and minimum stay requirements) at resorts fall, gear goes on sale, and everything gets a little bit cheaper.
- Bring your own goggles, gloves, and ski clothes. The less gear you have to rent, the more you’ll save, and these things can easily be packed in your suitcase! Jeremy recommends these goggles and these gloves. For ski clothes, he always wears his rain pants over his hiking pants (over his wool under-layer when it’s cold out). On top, he layers a wool long sleeve shirt with his rain jacket. He stays warm and dry all day long, even though let’s be honest, he’s not exactly the most graceful of snowboarders. He’s also been known to wear a bike helmet and a beanie instead of renting a helmet, which makes Lia nervous, but apparently it’s legit. By the way, here are the femme equivalents of all of those items: rain pants, hiking pants, wool leggings, wool shirt, rain jacket.
- Rent your gear in Salt Lake City. We stopped by a gear shop on our drive from Salt Lake City airport to Park City. The shop was Christy Sports Ski and Patio (where you can buy snowboarding gear AND patio furniture in the same place! …. Cool?) and our gear rental ended up being about $100 for 3 days. You can also book your rental online – here’s one that’s about as cheap as what we paid.
- Bring snacks or stop at a grocery store. Eating out for every meal gets expensive – not to mention it isn’t exactly the healthiest thing. We recommend picking a couple of must-visit restaurants (like the 2 we recommend below) and stocking up on snack food to tide you over between meals as much as possible. Instant oatmeal packets are perfect for breakfast if your room has a coffee maker to heat water, and grab-and-go snacks like protein bars, almonds, peanut butter pretzels, string cheese and dried fruit are fantastic for keeping your energy up on the mountain. We also treated ourselves to the epic breakfast buffet at our hotel, which honestly kept us full all day long!
- Bring the necessities with you on the mountain. When I say “necessities,” I’m talking things like sunscreen, chapstick, a re-usable water bottle, etc. We pack everything we need into our handy Hydration Day Pack.
- Skip the rental car. You can actually get around Park City entirely with inexpensive public transportation. We rented a car for our trip, and we really didn’t need it. Plus, the parking expenses added up fast, especially in downtown Park City!
How to Get Around Park City
Park City has one of the most surprisingly robust -not to mention inexpensive – public transportation systems we’ve ever seen. Once you get yourself to Park City, you won’t need a car. You can get to Park City from Salt Lake City using the PC-SLC bus from Salt Lake Central Station- more information here.
Here’s how to get around Park City once you arrive:
- Free Downtown Trolley: Park City has a free trolley running the length of Main Street. How cute is that? It’s like being in real-life Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood (or Daniel Tiger, which our 3-year-old niece is OBSESSED with. We think she’d love Park City). The Trolley runs from 10:00a.m. until 10:00p.m. and connects to the Old Town Transit Center, where you can transfer to other routes and buses.
- Free Buses: Yep, the buses are free too – and they take you all over the place. View the routes here and the schedule here, or just head to the Park City bus tracker to plan out your route!
- Free Hotel Shuttles: Most area hotels, including ours, have a free hotel shuttle that will take you to downtown or the nearest ski lift.
- Lyft: For anywhere that a shuttle, bus, or trolley won’t take you, you can just use Lyft. If you’ve never used Lyft before, make sure you grab a discount code when you sign up – here are the current promos. (FYI, we prefer Lyft to Uber because Uber treats their employees like dirt and thinks they’re above the law).
Spring Skiing and Snowboarding in Park City
You have two choices for skiing and snowboarding in Park City: Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain. Deer Valley is for skiiers only, and it connects directly with several local resorts including Stein Eriksen Lodge, which is where we stayed.
But we’re into snowboarding, not skiing. Er, well, one of us is. The other one is too clumsy to be allowed to do either. So it was a no-brainer to pick our resort because we only had one option: Park City Mountain.
Park City Mountain is owned by Vail Resorts, so if you have the Epic pass, you’re good to go. Like many of the Vail Resorts, it is sprawling. How big, you ask? Park City Mountain is the largest lift-served ski resort in the United States!
Suffice it to say, you will not be seeing the whole mountain in a day. There are 348 trails, 41 lifts, and 7,300 acres of skiable, snowboardable … shreddable terrain.
If you’ve never gotten the chance to see (or ski) a resort this size, you can expect tons of lifts, endless possibilities for what to ride, dozens of food and drink options, and something for everybody! Park City Mountain has a great ski school for first-timers, and everyone there is incredibly helpful and kind. The park is great for all types of skiers or snowboarders, and an absolute must for anyone going to Park City!
- Psst: Planning to visit a few ski resorts this year? Check out the Epic Ski Pass, which includes unlimited access to this resort & a ton of others all over the world!
About Park City Mountain
Jeremy spent a full day snowboarding at Park City Mountain, and came back full of tips that mainly went right over my head. But I had him write them all down. So here are Jeremy’s snowboarding and skiing tips.
I’m giving you this opportunity to mentally switch your inner reading voice from me to him. Startingggg …. NOW!
Are you reading this in Jeremy’s voice yet? I’m gonna take that as a yes. OK, here we go.
The main Base Lodge at Park City Mountain is on the south side of the park. This is the best part of the park to start your day in, because there are all levels of runs. For those of you unfamiliar with ski run levels, you’ve got Green Circles (Easy), Blue Squares (Intermediate), Black Diamond (Difficult), and Double Black Diamond (Insanity).
Don’t ask me why it’s this way, or why whoever made the system decided to use three colors/symbols that look similar in low visibility conditions. The point is, the Park City Mountain Village side has plenty of options for all levels of skiiers and snowboarders.
The higher up the mountain you go, the more challenging the runs. A good starter route is to take the Payday Express lift to Bonanza Express. Here you’ll get dropped off at about 9,500 feet elevation and be treated to a wonderful 360-degree view. Once there, you can take Homerun all the way down for a perfect warm up. This route also takes you by the Viking Yurt, a nice place to pop in for lunch. You could also take a snowmobile up to it for dinner!
The Base Area also will take you to the Town Runs, short blues that end…yep, IN TOWN. Like…step out of your skis or board and you’re on Main Street. This is a great option if you’re like us and your partner doesn’t want to be on the mountain all day…or ever.
I had the pleasure of coming off of a run to be met by Lia, who was filming and cheering me on like I was in Little League. And yes, it feels just as good at 30 as it did at 10.
The other end of the park is Canyons Village, at the north end of the park. On this side, there are a lot of black diamond and double black options, with a good handful of blues. There are not a lot of green trials, and the few there generally act as a bridge to the harder runs.
I’d say use this side of the park if you’re on the advanced side of the spectrum. Unless you’re the world’s bravest beginner and WANT to ride runs called Massacre, One Hundred Turns, or Free Fall.
One other important thing to note: Canyons Village is home to The Orange Bubble Express, the country’s first enclosed and heated ski lift. Which is SO cool, and also crazy comfortable.
Unfortunately, getting to the Canyons side from the main area while on the mountain requires some advanced routes and gondola hopping, but luckily you can grab a free shuttle between Canyons Village and the Base Lodge.
By the way, if you catch the last lift on the north side and it’s a Friday, stick around to meet the Avalanche Dogs in Canyons Village at 4:30. The Avalanche Dogs are the adorable band of hard-working Golden Retrievers that come to the rescue in the event of an avalanche, and if you’re a dog person like I am, this is the best way to meet them other than being in an actual avalanche.
Wanting to ski at additional resorts in the area? Check out this guide to the 4 best Salt Lake City ski resorts for a weekend getaway!
OK, time to mentally switch back from Jeremy’s voice to Lia again. Annnnnd … GO.
What to Do if you’re NOT Skiing or Snowboarding
Park City may be a snow-lovers paradise, but for those of us who aren’t exactly athletically gifted (ahem: Lia) it may not seem like there’s much to do in Park City. But there’s actually plenty of things to do in Park City to keep you entertained while your friends/family/partner are racing at breakneck speeds towards certain doom on top of freezing cold mountains. Here are our picks for the best things to do in Park City that aren’t skiing or snowboarding!
Have a Spa Day
Where there are snow-loving athletes, there are spas. In theory, the spas are to help the aching muscles from all of the athletic activity you’re supposed to be doing, but you know what? Sitting at a computer all day makes MY muscles ache, and that’s hard too. Or something.
Anyway, there are some epic spas in Park City. By far, the best one is in Stein Eriksen Lodge, which also happens to be Utah’s only 5-star spa!
You do NOT have to be a guest at the lodge to book a spa treatment, and if you are a guest, you don’t have to book a spa treatment to enjoy the spa. Either way, it’s easy to spend an entire day in this luxurious haven of warm bubbly water and soothing tea, gazing out over the snowy mountains as less relaxed people fly down mountains doing incredibly un-relaxing things.
Because we were guests at Stein Eriksen Lodge, as soon as Jeremy left to go do flips on the mountains or whatever, I slipped on my cozy slippers (I love when hotels give you cozy slippers!) and headed straight for the spa. It was like, 100 feet from my hotel room, which mean that I was panting by the time I arrived because there were like 5 stairs and we were at a high altitude. So I definitely earned my day of relaxation.
In the spa, I was handed a cozy fleece robe and given free rein of the spa facilities, even though I didn’t have a spa treatment booked (sure, we might have been staying at an insanely luxurious resort, but we’re still on a budget of some kind, sometimes).
Anyway, I maximized every inch of that spa. I swam in the outdoor pool, then relaxed in the outdoor hot-tub. Then I sat in the wet sauna, and then the dry sauna, and then the INDOOR hot tub, and then the indoor Nordic ice bath.
I repeated this cycle until I could wade into the Nordic ice bath up to my stomach, breathing deeply like some kind of Nordic yogic goddess, thinking “mind over body, mind over body, my toes are numb, mind over body….”
But you know what? Cycling between hot and cold and sweat and ice felt AMAZING. I felt pure and clean. Also, I drank about 16 cups of the delicious tea they were serving, which definitely did some kind of herbally, purifying magic.
After dunking myself in and out of various pools, I took a refreshing shower and then played around in front of the mirror rubbing lotions and stuff into my skin and making glamorous faces at the mirror.
Note: This all ended up being excellent practice for the time I jumped into a fjord in Norway in the middle of January…
Eventually, I took my extremely well-hydrated skin into yet anther cozy lounge and relaxed under a blanket while reading a book, gazing out into the snow, and snacking on tea cookies. It was the perfect way to spend a relaxing day NOT skiing or snowboarding!
If you aren’t a guest at Stein Eriksen, you’ll need to book one of their luxurious, award-winning spa treatments in order to access the spa – take a look at their spa menu. But do plan to spend some extra time soaking it all up: you can easily spend a full day just relaxing in the spa, even if your treatment only lasts for an hour!
Explore Downtown Park City
Downtown Park City is absolutely adorable. The long Main Street is lined with shops, restaurants, and bars. Definitely spend a day or night just wandering up and down Main Street and popping into anywhere that strikes your fancy!
One of our favorite spots was Atticus Coffee, Books, & Teahouse, an adorable little local coffee shop slash bookstore (we’re suckers for coffee and books).
Do Some Less-Athletically-Inclined Snow Activities
If you’re not into skiing or snow-boarding but still love to frolic around in the snow, there’s plenty of ways to get your snow fix in Park City!
- Snow-Shoeing is an excellent way to explore the snowy peaks of Park City without needing athletic skills more complex than walking. We went snow-shoeing for the first time ever in Salt Lake City, and it was absolutely incredible – it’s my new favorite winter sport! To save some cash, bring your own snow-proof winter boots – these are mine, and yes, I did go snow-shoeing in them! You can book a guided snow-shoeing trip with White Pine Touring, recommended by our friend Jess from A Passion and a Passport (who has an excellent guide to visiting Park City for non-skiiers).
- Spring Hiking: In the springtime, the snow begins to melt and expose the lower elevation trails of Park City even while the higher elevation trails still require snow-shoes. So if you’re looking for scenic views of snow-covered mountains and trees but don’t feel like strapping on snow shoes, head to this round-up of the best spring hikes in Park City and pick a path.
- Snow-Mobiling: The least athletic snow activity of all! Snow-mobiling is a great way to spend a day on the mountain and soak up the spring snow without having to actually, like, exert athletic effort. You can rent a snow-mobile through late April from Red Pine Tours.
- Utah Olympic Park: Head to the former site of the Park City Winter Olympics to partake in some good old fashioned snowy fun. You can pick up a Spring Gold Pass which includes unlimited day use of the Discovery Course, Canyon Course, Summit Course and Drop Tower.
- Alpine Coaster: Careen through the snowy mountain on a sled at the Alpine Coaster in Park City Mountain! Unlike regular sledding, you’ll have a seatbelt and be attached to a track, which personally makes me much more inclined to actually enjoy myself instead of just being terrified.
- Fly Fishing: Look, I’m gonna be honest with you. I have never personally gone fly fishing. But it’s big in Park City, which is close to one of the best trout fisheries in the country. Wade into the chilly water and breathe in that fresh mountain air. There’s apparently something very meditative about fly fishing, and we’ll take any excuse to stand around and gawk at a beautiful, snowy vista! You can book a fly fishing trip with Park City Fly Fishing.
Where to Eat in Park City
Although we were attempting to reign in our budget during our trip to Park City, we did find a few gems that were WELL worth it.
Start with a specialty coffee from Pink Elephant, who serves the best cup in town. You’ll just have to go through a hipster AF boutique and a hipster AF barbershop in order to find the coffee shop, which is up the stairs. In case you’re wondering: the coffee shop is hipster AF, too. Not that we mind.
If you only eat at 2 restaurants, let it be these two.
- High West Saloon: This distillery serves up the best whiskey in Utah, plus some of the best food in Park City! We first tried to get a table here on a Saturday night, which was a mistake – the waiting list had already filled up. Even in spring, this place is poppin’. But we came back the next day for lunch, and the hype is so worth it. We recommend the dark-chocolate elk chili, which comes with a grilled cheese sandwich for the perfect comfort food side. The banana pudding is also to die for. And make sure you get a whiskey flight, too!
- Five5eeds: We went a little bit out of our way for this spot, which is tucked unceremoniously in a shopping mall close to downtown. But it absolutely blew us away. From the excellent coffee (the spot was created by Aussies from Melbourne, who make some of the best coffee in the world) to unique, expertly created dishes, we kept coming back for breakfast and lunch (take note: the restaurant closes before dinner). Our favorite dish by far was the short rib benedict – my mouth is still watering.
For dessert, we recommend s’mores. Nowhere on earth does s’mores the way Park City does (and as competitive s’mores connoisseurs who have been known to go well out of their way for a good bottomless s’mores bar – like the one we flipped our sh** over in Yosemite – this is something we take very seriously).
- Here’s an excellent list of where to get s’mores and s’mores
accessoriesdesserts in Park City, from the budget friendly $7 S’mores Pizza at Park City Pizza Company to not one, but TWO complimentary DIY s’mores bars at Montage Deer Valley Resort and St. Regis Deer Valley.
Where to Stay in Park City, Utah
Park City is full of cozy, luxurious resorts, but there are a few budget-friendly options to be found as well. Here are our picks for where to stay in Park City on any budget!
Budget (Under $100/night): Vacation Rental
If you’re on a budget, your best bet is to rent an AirBnB, VRBO, Glamping Hub, or similar. This is the cheapest way to stay in Park City, especially during the spring when demand for accommodations has decreased, bringing down prices for algorithm-controlled vacation rentals as well.
One thing to note before you book is how far you’ll be from Park City’s free transit. If you’re too far away you’ll need to rent a car or take Lyft to get around, which will eat up all of those accommodation savings – so it may be worth it to spend a little bit more and stay closer to town.
Mid-Range (Under $200/night): The Silverado Lodge at Canyons Village
Canyons Village is part of Park City Mountain and includes a number of resorts and hotels. The Silverado Lodge Park City is quite affordable depending on the season and day of the week.
You’ll be a 10 minute walk away from the Park City Mountain lift, and easy access to free shuttles that will take you to the Base Lodge and the downtown Town Run lift, where you can pick up other free transit options.
Luxury Splurge: Stein Eriksen Lodge
So, we don’t typically opt for the most luxurious 5-star resort in town (in fact, it’s the ONLY 5-star resort in town). But it was Jeremy’s 30th birthday, which is a BIG DEAL, so we decided to treat ourselves just this once and stay in Stein Eriksen Lodge, the “World’s Best Ski Resort.” And you guys …. ohmygosh.
From the fancy fruit water in the lobby (yes, we are easily impressed) to the luxurious spa to the breathtaking mountain views to the ski lift right outside the door, which we watched while eating one of the most impressive breakfast buffets of our entire lives, Stein Eriksen Lodge was the perfect place to splurge for a special occasion. We had an incredible time and would highly recommend a stay at Stein Eriksen Lodge if you’re looking to ball out on something truly amazing! Check prices and availability for Stein Eriksen Lodge.
Still looking for a place to stay in Park City? We recommend using Booking.com to find the best deal. It’s a search engine that compiles all hotels on one booking site, saving you time and sanity! Click this big, pretty button to compare pricing on Booking.com.
Are you packing up your ski gear and booking a trip to Park City, Utah this spring? Are you more of a snow bunny or a spa … person? Drop us a comment below!
Psst: Looking for more weekend getaway destinations? Here are some other posts that you should check out!
- The 4 Best Salt Lake City Ski Resorts for a Weekend Getaway
- The Ultimate Salt Lake City Brewery Guide: 25 Best Salt Lake City Breweries & Brewpubs
- How to Plan an Amazing Lake Tahoe Winter Trip (on a Budget)
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Disclaimer: We received a complimentary stay at Stein Eriksen Lodge as well as lift tickets from Visit Park City. All fruit-water guzzling, hot-tub-hogging, and relaxation room snack hoarding are 100% our own and totally not their fault.
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