A big part of Park City's appeal lies in its convenience: Since it's so close to Salt Lake City's airport, you can get there and get skiing quickly, and you don't need a car. Details below, along with more easy, affordable, family-friendly ski resorts around the country.
WHEN TO GO
Park City Mountain Resort, Deer Valley Resort, and the Canyons are open from December through early April. In December and January, you'll find the most fresh snow but also the coldest temperatures (in the 20s). When we went in March, the skiing was still excellent and the weather very pleasant (in the 30s and 40s).
WHERE TO STAY
TREASURE MOUNTAIN INN Minimally staffed (but with excellent housekeeping service), it feels more like a condo complex than an inn. The studio-to-three-bedroom suites aren't exactly swanky, but they are spacious, extremely comfortable (think plump leather couches), and outfitted with full kitchens. Laundry is available in the basement. The Morning Ray Cafe off the lobby serves organic breakfasts with lots of eggy options. 255 Main St., from $116 a night for a studio that sleeps three, treasuremountaininn.com.
MARRIOTT'S SUMMIT WATCH These one- and two-bedroom villas are as "on the mountain" as it gets in downtown Park City. If you already have your gear, you can just cross the street and jump on the lift to PCMR. 780 Main St., from $99 a night for a one-bedroom villa that sleeps three, marriott.com.
Between 8 and 10 A.M., the Main Street bus stops just outside Treasure Mountain Inn and runs directly to PCMR (it's about a 15-minute ride; Deer Valley and the Canyons are about 15 and 20 minutes away, respectively). To get to the resorts at other times, you take a trolley car down Main Street and transfer to a bus at the Old Town Transit Center. Some buses also make stops at nearby shopping centers. All public transit is free.
PARK CITY MOUNTAIN RESORT The 3,300-acre resort has an impressive 107 trails blanketed with dry powder (no nasty slush). Lift passes: $83 a day for ages 13 and up, $52 a day for ages 7 to 12, free for kids under 7 with a paying adult; parkcitymountain.com.
PCMR KIDS PROGRAM Ski lessons are offered for kids ages 3 1/2 to 14 (class sizes range from three to five children). Our daughter's class, which lasted from 9 A.M. to 3 P.M., included two 75-minute lessons; in between, she did art projects and climbed on indoor gym equipment. Lunch is provided in all classes, as well as gear for ages 5 and under. Six-hour classes: $165 each for ages 3 1/2 to 5, $225 each for ages 6 to 14.
GEAR RENTALS My husband and I rented our equipment from Aloha Ski & Snowboard, located right across from PCMR's magic carpet. Best of all, you can store your equipment overnight for free there. alohaskirentals.com.
ALPINE COASTER For those who don'tor won'tski, this roller coaster, which weaves through the trees, provides downhill thrills. $20 a ride for riders 54 inches tall and up, $7 for riders under 54 inches; parkcitymountain.com.
GORGOZA PARK About 10 minutes from Park City (via shuttle service from town), it has seven lanes of excellent snow tubing, plus a not-too-scary "tubing carousel" for younger children. Snow tubing: $3 a ride for ages 3 to 6, $8 for ages 7 and up; parkcitymountain.com.
WHERE TO EAT
For the most part, locals stay away from Main Street because of the touristy prices. But if you don't have a car and don't want to ride the bus to get to the grocery stores (which are on the edge of town), these are your best options.
DAVANZA'S This pizza-and-burger joint was our favorite place to eat by far, primarily because of the fun beer-can decor and the fact that you can feed a family of three here for less than $30. Go with the thin-crust pizza. 690 Park Ave., davanzas.com.
ZONA ROSA We liked this midrange Mexican restaurant because (a) the food came very quickly, (b) the staff was friendly, and (c) the staff gave us a sippy cup and crayons without our needing to ask. 501 Main St., (435) 645-0700.
JAVA COW CAFA & BAKERY Homemade ice cream provides the perfect dessert bribe to get a tired kid out of the hotel room so everyone can go have dinner. 402 Main St., (435) 647-7711.
CHIMAYO At this famed southwestern joint, two appetizers and two margaritas cost us around $50. The atmosphere is a little too upscale to be small kidappropriate, so we ate our goat-cheese chiles rellenos in haste. Still, the food is delicious, and the place feels like the "real" Park Cityyou should go if you can get a sitter and want a date night. 368 Main St., chimayorestaurant.com.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE...
Steamboat Ski Town, U.S.A. (Steamboat Springs, Colorado) The light, dry powder that makes this area a popular training ground for Olympians also makes it ideal for far-from-Olympic-level skiers. Based in a charming former ranching town, the resort offers classes for kids as young as 2 1/2, five children-only lifts, dogsledding, and a log-cabin-and-teepee play area. Stay less than 400 yards from the slope at the Bear Claw condominiums (from $215 a night for a studio). Thirty minutes from Yampa Valley Regional Airport, steamboat.com.
Mountain Washington Resort (Bretton Woods, New Hampshire) Nearly 800,000 acres of national forest surround it, making for spectacular views, even from the beginners' slopes. Kids will go wild for the carousel at the new play area; parents will enjoy the grand slopeside Mount Washington Hotel, built in 1902 (visit the lounge even if you're not staying at the hotel, which is on the pricey side). For space and value, reserve a Townhomes condo (from $259 a night for a two-bedroom). Two and a half hours from Boston's Logan International Airport; mountwashingtonresort.com.
Northstar-at-Tahoe Resort (Lake Tahoe, California) Of Lake Tahoe's seven major ski resorts, Northstar has best captured the family niche. Along with dozens of highly specialized classes, including one that teaches parents how to teach their children to ski, Northstar has 10 children's parks and an enormous ice-skating rink surrounded by fire pits for s'mores-making. All activities are within walking distance of one another; stay at the Aspen Grove condos by the slope (from $216 a night for a studio) and you won't need to rent a car. Forty minutes from the Reno-Tahoe International Airport (shuttle service available), northstarattahoe.com.
Coreno, Catherine. "Utah: Park City." Cookie Dec.-Jan. 2009: 151. Popular Magazines. Web. 12 Nov. 2009.
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