For a high-end Bohemian mountain retreat that defies any preconceived notions you may have had about Utah, book a three-night escape to Park City (locals not-so-jokingly call their mountain sanctuary “Park City, Colorado”) and prepare to be impressed. Friday through Sunday is best in summer—which is terribly short, mind you, at 7,000 feet elevation.
Assuming you fly Southwest (because sometimes rates are as low as $49), you’ll be in Salt Lake City before you can even boot up your laptop. Book a shuttle with Park City Transportation ($64 roundtrip, 1-800-637-3803) from baggage claim or rent a car at the airport. Thirty-five picturesque miles later and you’ll be delivered right to Park City proper, precious Old Town and beyond, the tony upper and lower Deer Valley condo and ski communities scattered amid high mountain passes (think log mansions).
If you’re watching your wallet, try the Yarrow, the Canyons Resort and Park City Peaks, all of which offer great deals. Or, if you prefer luxury at any price, the St. Regis, Stein Eriksen Lodge and the Sky Lodge can oblige. Once settled, stroll Main Street and ogle original local artwork, handicrafts, sweets and tempting menus. Dolly’s Bookstore, with its resident cats and caramel apples, is always a good place to start. Caffeinate at the recently relocated and revamped Alpine Internet Cyber Coffeehouse at the Kimball Art Center and shop hip clothing at Mary Jane’s and Olive & Tweed, and luxe denim at Upstairs at Muddy’s. This is also the time to make dinner reservations: Shabu for sushi and pan-Asian; Prime Steakhouse & Piano Bar or Butcher’s Chop House for steak; Jean-Louis and Wahso for fancy; and Zona Rosa or Bistro 412 for casual.
After dinner, sample local brews at the Wasatch Brew Pub (I recommend the Summerbrau) or wine flights at Baccus Wine Bar. The Spur offers live music and a casual tavern experience. For a more complete nightlife experience, actor Danny Masterson’s Downstairs nightclub will happily oblige Las Vegans with Park City’s first legal bottle service. And of course, No Name Saloon and O’Shucks are always there when you simply must slum it with the off-season lifties.
In summer the lush mountain setting is ideal for hiking, mountain biking and boating on the Jordanelle Reservoir. John Sarbo of Beyond Limits (435-640-6435, byndlimits.com) leads tours—private or semi-private small groups—that include breakfast and/or lunch plus all the Utahan knowledge you can retain. If you have a need for more speed, the summer bobsled, world’s steepest zip line and alpine slide await at the Olympic Park.
No doubt hungry from a day of sailing lessons or trekking the Wasatch front, the place to be Saturday night is High West Distillery. Opened in December, the state’s first distillery since the 1870s (and the world’s only ski-in distillery) serves its own locally made rye whiskeys and vodkas aside robust, seasonal small and large plates, such as bison, trout and elk. After dinner, stick around and enjoy live music in the saloon with a tot of High West’s 21-year-old Rocky Mountain Rye or High West Silver oat whiskey.
Summer Sundays bring the Park Silly Sunday Market, a daylong open-air festival along historic Main Street (10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 13 through Sept. 26, parksillysundaymarket.com) with food vendors, locally grown produce, arts and crafts, a beer garden for adults and a petting zoo for children. The hyper-recycling, zero-waste event (the bandstand is solar-powered) is a shining example of what happens when a frontier boomtown enters the 21st century with its thinking (ski) cap on.