Ultimate Guide to the Christmas Ski Vacation

Written by Alexa Owen • Nov 17, 2016

The holidays are upon us, and as per tradition, the second half of December marks the major opening of ski season worldwide. Are you ready for the biggest week of the year?

source: Whistler

This is when resorts pull out all the stops: from skiing Santas and torchlight parades to live concerts and 5-star holiday dinners, ski resorts and mountain towns are the places to be for the quintessential snowy Christmas and fun-filled vacation weeks. While hotels get fully booked and the slopes can be packed, bigger crowds mean bigger events: a huge perk when it comes to entertaining with the whole family. What’s more, resort employees are fresh off their own off-season getaways, meaning they’re ready to work efficiently and cater to the huge influx of guests with a smile.

How exactly did we choose the resorts in this guide? All are well-suited for families, as well as couples looking for a romantic holiday getaway. Festive events abound. Off-the-slopes activities – everything from snowmobiling through National Parks to historic foodie tours – abound. You’ll see lodging options for all budgets and award-winning restaurants serving up delectable dishes in elegant dining rooms. We’ve also narrowed down the best shopping destinations for holiday gifts and post-holiday sales in each town. Continue reading for your ultimate guide to the Christmas ski vacation!

Stowe

Best For: New Englanders seeking a local holiday getaway; family-centered holiday events.

Picture-perfect Stowe reigns as Vermont’s go-to destination for the ideal ski getaway, and Christmas week is, in our opinion, the best time to experience this world-class resort and quaint town in all its holiday lighted grandeur. From horse-drawn sleigh rides to meandering walks through covered bridges, laid-back pastimes abound. A major draw is the actual town of Stowe, which boasts historic inns, unique shops, and family-owned restaurants that revolutionized the farm-to-table culinary trend. There’s a certain authenticity to this resort that draws in a grounded crowd. Yes, there will be crowds this week, but there will also be plenty of free events, holiday activities, and snow to go around.

Cheat Sheet

Stay…at The Stoweflake for modern rooms, on-site spa, and daily holiday activities throughout Christmas week.

Fine DiningThe Dining Room at Edson Hill is small, rustic, elegant, and boasts one of the most creative menus in Vermont.

Cheap Eats...Stop by The Canteen for pizza by the slice and massive subs for under $12.

Après...at the Matterhorn, where locals and tourists alike hole up with craft beers and lively conversation to wait out Mountain Road traffic at day’s end.

Shopping…Find the best Vermont cheeses and wine selections at Stowe Wine and Cheese.

Holiday Cheer...Catch daily live performances of the Northern Bronze Bells Ensemble at the Pavilion patio at the Spruce Peak base.

Off The Slopes…Take a horse-drawn sleigh ride through picture perfect Vermont scenery for a unique tour of the greater Stowe area.

Terrain

Stowe is the closest taste an east coast skier gets when it comes to challenging terrain that mimics that of the Rockies. Advanced skiers will find 2,360 feet of vertical drop, and 30% of skiable terrain contains bumps, trees, and steeps. Like other Vermont resorts, over half of skiable terrain is rated intermediate, and beginners have the most trail options off the Toll House Double lift.

Lodging

Stowe offers modern comforts in quintessential New England settings; many of the inns and resorts are situated on expansive pieces of land and historic sites that offer the most charm during holiday season.

Luxury

For the five-star experience, stay at the Stowe Mountain Lodge; located at the resort base, it boasts the best slopeside location in Stowe, as well as spa services, lounge, and Solstice restaurant.

Mid-Range

We love The Stoweflake for its extensive holiday event offerings, which include cookie decorating and a Christmas Eve visit from Santa; there’s also an on-site spa for unwinding after a day on the slopes.

Value

Cozy up to the in-room wood burning fireplaces at Golden Eagle Resort suites; rooms boast modern décor, and the downtown location is ideal for shopping and dinners out on the town.

Dining

Vermont loves fresh farm-to-table food, and Stowe area chefs pride themselves on selecting high quality ingredients to craft innovative New England comfort foods.

Book in advance for a fireside table in the homey dining room at Edson Hill; specialties include modern twists on classic favorites, like the seared duck breast with sweet rowen cheese curd in mushroom cognac sauce.

Fresh, local ingredients inspire the menu at ultra elegant Solstice; start with the steamed mussels, then indulge in entrees like the burgundy braised short rib with Cabot Vermont cheddar croquette.

For the ultimate experience in rustic elegance, book a table at the Bistro at Ten Acres Lodge; sip a fresh-pressed cocktail in the fireside lounge, then move to one of the 3 distinct dining areas for a menu of roast meats and delectable seafood.

Shopping

You’ll likely find holiday sales in downtown Stowe – especially just after New Years; outdoor gear stores and local artisan goods abound, as well as high-end import shops.

Shop at Chalet Life for vintage and antique home décor that drips with elegant mountain style (and the price tags to match).

In 2012, Winterfell filled the niche market for luxury ski wear in Stowe, and has since decked out tourists with European imports, name brand outerwear, and some local artisan goods.

Don’t leave Vermont without some of the state’s signature delicious cheeses; Stowe Wine and Cheese boasts the best of it, as well as a huge selections of wines, patés, and gift baskets.

 

Holiday Events

Between Christmas and New Year’s, the ski resort offers daily festive events and activities; they’re mostly kid-centered, but couples can enjoy the artsy influence as well.

Check out the Ice Carving at Spruce Peak Village Center throughout the week; professionals from Northwoods Ice Craft create winter themed sculptures that make for great photo ops.

Professional photographer Jesse Schloff will offer Complementary Family Photos on select days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve at the Pavilion for all Stowe resort guests.

The Northern Bronze Bells Ensemble performs live at 1 and 4 pm December 29th-30th on the outdoor patio at Spruce Peak Village.

 

Activities

Stowe is the outdoor playground for laid-back winter activities; be sure to explore surrounding areas on a day off from the slopes

Venture out on your own or take a snowshoe tour to explore the extensive trail systems around the Stowe area – and learn a bit of Vermont history while you’re at it.

Venture through covered bridges and wooded trails with a horse-drawn sleigh ride; family and couples bookings are both available.

For an excursion outside Stowe, visit the Ben and Jerry’s Factory in neighboring Waterbury, which offers several daily tours of the world-famous ice cream production headquarters.

Tips

Christmas and New Year’s mornings are the BEST times to ski: the slopes are empty and lift lines nonexistent!

Vermont weather can be finicky in late December; plan for some off-hill activities, especially for the kids, who can burn out in bitter cold weather.

 

Whistler Blackcomb

Best For: Families and couples seeking the big resort holiday experience and tons of free entertainment.

Whistler Blackcomb pulled in top awards from SKI Magazine reader polls this season, including the coveted #1 Overall Resort for the third year running! The resort pulls out all the stops at Christmas – including fantastic last-minute package deals. The village boasts over 200 shops, big-name luxury hotels like the Four Seasons and the Westin offer fantastic spas, and the nightlife is unparalleled when it comes to North American mountain towns. There’s a certain ease in the air, even amongst the hustle and bustle of holiday season. We highly recommend booking restaurant reservations early – the best restaurants fill quickly. (And you must check them out).

Cheat Sheet

Stay…at the Four Seasons for red carpet service and the most festively decorated luxury hotel in Whistler.

Fine Dining…Book early at Araxi for a taste of Pacific Northwest farm-to-table fare and gourmet oyster bar.

Cheap Eats...Drop by local favorite Peaked Pies for savory Aussie meat and veg pies starting at $6.

Après...slopeside at the Garibaldi Lift Co. (the GLC) for happy hour specials and local craft beers.

Shopping…Splurge on 100% wool goodness at the Whistler Sweater Shop.

Holiday Cheer...Take the kids by the plaza skating rink for Skate with Santa, which includes an afternoon of photo ops and unlimited hot chocolate.

Off The Slopes…Whistler steps it up at the Coca Cola Tube Park, which also boasts spaces for fire pit lounging while the kids lap the lanes.

Terrain

Whistler wins top ranks for most terrain in North America at a whopping 8,171 skiable acres. The Peak-2-Peak gondola connects Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains, which each boast their own base villages. Whistler’s extensive lift system and top-notch infrastructure enable them to keep lift lines low, even during peak periods. Terrain split is 20% beginner/55% intermediate/25% advanced, with extensive backcountry options available beyond resort boundaries.

 

Lodging

Whistler is not short of luxury accommodation, but there are also value options that include boutique hotels, condominium rentals, and private homes; here are a few of our top holiday picks.

Luxury

Something about the holidays makes for an extra special stay at the Four Seasons; expect gorgeously decorated lounges, phenomenal customer service, and the okay from management to have an in-room Christmas tree.

Mid-Range

Fan favorite Summit Lodge Boutique Hotel boasts spacious rooms, tapas bar, spa, and concierge in the know of all the best Whistler events.

Value

The Listel Hotel gets points for its superb location in the heart of Whistler Village; rooms are clean and simple, staff friendly, and the continental breakfast complementary.

 

Dining 

Whistler chefs specialize in menus crafted from fresh, local, often organic fare; most fine dining spots offer holiday menus – contact individually for details and menus.

Contemporary Grill & Vine is offering a pre-fixe four course Christmas Eve dinner, as well as Christmas day brunch buffet; fare is upscale and atmosphere is family friendly.

Araxi pioneered farm-to-table dining in Whistler, and executive chef James Walt crafts the menu from the freshest seasonal ingredients available; the oyster bar is a great place to unwind après or late night.

The Bearfoot Bistro not only boasts finely crafted Pacific Northwest fare, but also the Ketel One Ice Room – the world’s coldest vodka tasting room; we recommend separate visits for the distinct experiences.

Shopping

Whistler and Blackcomb Villages boast over 200 shops; many are dedicated to tourist t-shirts and sweats, but you’ll also find fantastic high-end clothing and art.

Support local artisans with a splurge at Black Tusk Gallery, which features fine collections from Northwest Coast native artists.

The Whistler Sweater Shop imports gorgeous sweaters from Norway, and also stocks high-end Canadian brands like Cowichan and Thermohair.

Stop by 122 West for unique gifts and décor; the wine bottle bags are our favorite and include everything from faux fur to rustic Canadian flag designs.

 

Holiday Events

Skate with Santa, carol with community singers, and enjoy tons of free entertainment throughout the week.

An interdenominational Christmas Eve service takes place at the Westin; the Christmas Carol Service features the Whistler Children’s Chorus and Whistler Singers.

The annual Skate with Santa day at the Olympic Plaza features hot chocolate, holiday crafts, and photo ops with the big guy himself.

Catch Whistler’s pro skiers and riders at the Fire and Ice Show Sunday evenings; the event is free and family friendly, while the after party at the GLC is adults only after 8 pm.

 

Activities

Whistler boasts more activities than you’ll know what to do with: here are a few family-friendly ones for the holiday week.

Whistler runs a Family Après at the Olympic Plaza on Mondays and Wednesdays; free entertainment includes ice skating, storytelling, tobogganing, and more.

Take a night out on the town after dropping the little ones off at Kids’ Night Out, which runs select evenings during the holiday week.

The Coca Cola Tube Park is a big hit with kids and families: it’s fully lit for night tubing, offers 7 lanes, 2 tube sizes, and a fire pit with hot beverages for lounging.

Tips

On a date to be confirmed, Whistler hosts its annual Dress Like Santa day; meet at the Whistler Village Gondola at 8 am for a group run and photo, then ski the rest of the day free!

Whistler boasts some of the best package deals in the industry for Christmas ski vacations – availability is limited, so book asap!

Aspen

Best For: Big resort offerings with small community vibes.

Aspen is not only one of the top resorts in the world, but a Colorado town with real mountain characters. The holiday season blends big resort offerings with local events – so if you’re seeking that home town holiday feel with all the plush amenities of world-class skiing, this is your place. There are 4 separate mountains operating under the Aspen pass, the remaining 3 being Snowmass, Buttermilk, and Aspen Highlands – all connected by a convenient bus system. While you can find some value and mid-range lodging, Aspen is a great place to indulge. Party-goers will find elegant shindigs on and off the slopes, so be sure to pack your faux fur boots. For the best deals, arrive just before Christmas.

Cheat Sheet 

Stay…at the elegant St. Regis, which boasts nearly 2 weeks of festivities over the Christmas and Hanukkah holidays.

Fine Dining…Opt for Christmas dinner at Element 47, whose four course pre-fixe menu features optional truffle tasting.

Cheap Eats...Treat yourself to breakfast at Poppycock’s, an Aspen locals’ favorite with old school diner eats like oatmeal pancakes topped with the works for under $8.

Après...in style at 39 Degrees, which boasts plenty of lounge space by the outdoor pool and super creative cocktails.

Shopping…Keep it local with a trip to Pitkin County Dry Goods, a family-run favorite for clothing, accessories, and stunning jewelry.

Holiday Cheer...Families should sign up early for a carriage ride with Santa around downtown Aspen on December 23rd.

Off The Slopes…Get a taste of the Aspen wellness scene with mountaintop yoga 3 mornings a week at the Sundeck.

 

Terrain

Aspen is not a colossal resort – that’s part of why we love it. At 673 skiable acres, the intimidation factor remains low, while advanced skiers will find some of the best (and underrated) terrain in the state. Neighboring Snowmass is a popular destination for families and offers its own holiday events. Some of the steepest glades may not open early season, as this is dependent on snowfall. Intermediates can find scenic cruisers off the Ajax Express.

 

Lodging

Aspen is known for its green certified buildings, making it an ideal place to stay eco-friendly; we appreciate the understated luxury of high-end lodging options as well (like the St. Regis, which is located in an historic red brick downtown building).

Luxury

For the ultimate Christmas holiday destination, indulge at the St. Regis; several of the town’s holiday events are centered at the hotel, including gingerbread house crafting, stocking decorating, and Hanukkah celebrations as well.

Mid-Range

Hip and eco-friendly, book at The Limelight for spacious, well-lit rooms, scenic rooftop terrace, outdoor heated pool and ski valet with prime access to the slopes and downtown.

Value

You can’t beat Mountain Chalet Aspen for its central location and family-friendly vibes; the décor is lodge style, and there are a range of rooms available for various budgets.

 

Dining

Aspen is delightfully international when it comes to cuisine, but be sure to indulge at least a few meals in classic western fare; here are some top picks:

For Christmas dinner, book a table at The Little Nell’s Element 47; enjoy a four course pre-fixe menu featuring delicacies like caviar, pecorino crusted quail, veal chop and delectable deserts.

Matsuhisa opened in 1998, and has since served tourists and locals the finest sushi and Japanese-Peruvian fusion fare in town.

Located inside the historic Wheeler Opera House, Justice Snow’s serves up delectable plates of contemporary western fare; opt for the pecan crusted ruby trout with white cheddar grits and smoked tomato butter – it’s divine.

Shopping

You can drop big bucks at Aspen’s luxury boutique stores; this town delivers when it comes to high-end goods and clothing (we recommend getting a fine pair of cowboy boots if nothing else).

We love family-owned Pitkin County Dry Goods for its long standing reputation in the Aspen community as a go-to for mountain town clothing and beautiful jewelry selection.

Kemo Sabe is the hot spot for upscale western ware, from authentic cowboy boots to fine leather accessories.

Head to Chequers for elegant gifts and homeware; while some (small) items are under $50, expect most price tags to read much more.

 

Holiday Events

The town of Aspen holds its annual 12 Days of Aspen starting December 20th; festivities include cookie decorating, library story times, themed après parties, film screenings, and more.

Don’t miss the Ugly Sweaters après party at legendary 39 Degrees on December 22nd; dress to impress in your favorite vintage holiday getup.

On Friday, December 23rd, families can sign up for a carriage ride around town with Santa himself; tours start at 3 pm, and reservations are required!

Kids age 8 and up (you too, adults) are invited to join in on the trail of Aspen skiers as they snake down Snowmass on New Year's Eve in the Torchlight Parade.

 

Activities

Aspen boasts all the usual mountain town pastimes, plus a few unique opportunities (mountaintop yoga, anyone?)

Honor the Norse god of snow with Ullr Nights, a Friday night festival of games, tubing, snowbiking, s’mores, and live music at Elk Camp on Snowmass.

The Aspen Animal Shelter welcomes visitors to take shelter dogs on walks – a great way to spend an afternoon off the slopes, and a favorite for kids.

Start the day with mountaintop yoga at 11,000 feet on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays; the resort offers yoga for skiers at the Sundeck for just $5.

Tips

Aspen is easy to get around without a car, and even boasts its own airport -- feel free to ditch the car this Christmas.

Lift lines aren't so much of an issue at Aspen (compared to resorts on the I-70 corridor) -- but if the crowds do set in, head to Lift 1A.

Jackson Hole

Best For: An Old West Christmas draped in contemporary comfort with world class skiing.

There may be no official Santa Ski Day, but Jackson Hole knows how to do the holidays – on and off the slopes. From mountain ambassadors handing out fresh croissants next to the tram on Christmas Eve to village bus drivers-turned-DJ’s cranking holiday tunes on their routes, the festive nature of Jackson Hole runs wide. Teton Village lights up with live music and annual torchlight parade, while downtown Jackson’s shops and restaurants pull out all the stops for the official kick-off of the tourist season. Oh yeah: Jackson Hole also boasts some of the best in-bounds terrain in North America, and the best dancing cowboys you’ll find in a mountain town.

Cheat Sheet 

Stay…at Teton Mountain Lodge for slopeside access and suites with in-room gas fireplaces.

Fine Dining…Indulge in contemporary western fare with international twists at the Snake River Grill in downtown Jackson.

Cheap Eats...Don’t miss the Teton Thai lunch special, which includes the best curries in the valley for under $12.

Après...at the Spur inside Teton Mountain Lodge with local craft beers and jalapeño margaritas.

Shopping…Men should drop into Wool & Whiskey in Teton Village for high-end wool clothing and a taste of local whiskey

Holiday Cheer...Don’t miss Santa’s descent from the aerial tram just after lifts close on Christmas Eve.

Off The Slopes…Head just east of downtown Jackson to the National Elk Refuge; tour guides offer sleigh rides throughout the season for up close and personal encounters with one of the largest elk herds in the world.

Terrain

Ski 2,500 acres in bounds terrain – much of which you can lap in a 4,000 vertical foot tram run. The resort recently installed the Teton Lift and cut more intermediate trails connecting Après Vous and Casper lifts. The resort designates 10% terrain “beginner” – a good incentive to sign up for some lessons. If you’re interested in backcountry skiing, Jackson is your place: the Mountain Sports School offers guiding services to take you outside resort boundaries.

Lodging

Jackson Hole always has a white Christmas, and hotels deck their halls with enough festive flair you’d think Santa’s elves had rolled through on their way to get first tram; stay slopeside in Teton Village for easiest skiing access, or in downtown Jackson for shopping and more nightlife.

Luxury

Bask in rustic elegance at the Four Seasons, which boasts a slopeside outdoor pool, 2 popular restaurants, high-end spa, and ski valet; your ski instructor will even meet you inside to help you boot up.

Mid-Range

For ski-in/ski-out access and spacious rooms with gas fireplaces, book at Teton Mountain Lodge; you’ll be stumbling distance from the tram, and one of the coolest après bars in Teton Village is right downstairs.

Value

Owners Hans and Nancy Johnstone have created a little Euro-style oasis in downtown Jackson with Alpine House; perks include tidy rooms 2 blocks from town and complementary gourmet breakfast.

Dining

Holiday season books up quickly at popular fine dining establishments; we recommend making reservations now and sticking to them – here are a few local and tourist favorites.

The Snake River Grill is in a culinary league of its own – a fine dining mainstay on the Jackson town square; start with Southern-style veal sweatbreads smothered in sherry and creole mustard, then follow with creative entrée choices like the wild game Korean hot bowl.

Local favorite Trio is perfect for splitting an oven-fired pizza and bottle of red wine at the open-kitchen bar; tables require reservations, so book ahead (and whatever you do, don’t miss the blood orange margarita and oven-baked s’more – they’ve both been on the menu since the restaurant’s opening).

In Teton Village, opt for fine Italian fare at Osteria; enjoy creative twists on classic favorites, like pear and spaghetti squash ravioli or fusilli with smoked trout in butter beer sauce.

Shopping

Teton Village has a few gems and specializes in outerwear and ski gear; head into downtown Jackson for fine art galleries, chic boutiques, and quirky gift stores.

For your western wear and cowboy boot needs, stop by the Jackson Bootlegger on the town square.

Men can shop for high-end casual wear while sampling local spirits at Wool & Whiskey, a relatively new addition to Teton Village.

Shop for handcrafted goods and gifts at local favorite MADE; the downtown Jackson location was recently expanded, while a smaller branch inside Hotel Terra at Teton Village stocks holiday bests.

 

Holiday Events

Leave time for informal holiday activities like strolling the icicle-lit town square, but be sure to catch these ones as well – all part of the Jackson Hole Holiday Roundup:

At Jackson Hole, Santa doesn’t just arrive via plain old sleigh; on Christmas Eve, be at the base of the tram at 4:30 to watch Santa “drop in” to the holiday scene.

Raptor Night on December 29th is a favorite for families and wildlife buffs; Teton Raptor Center brings its birds of prey for a visit to Hotel Terra at the resort base from 4-5 pm.

New Year’s Eve brings the classic torchlight parade, preceded by the glow worm parade, where little ones cruise down Teewinot with glow sticks – a must for your younger skiers who don’t mind loading the lift after hours!

 

Activities

Jackson Hole is a mecca for outdoor adventure pursuits, but there are plenty of low key leisure activities as well; take your pick.

Venture into the depths of Yellowstone National Park with a guided snowmobile tour; yes, this includes a visit to famous Old Faithful – as well as breakfast, lunch, and hotel pickup/dropoff.

Take a tandem paragliding flight from the top of the gondola at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, and enjoy stunning views of the Gros Ventres, Tetons, and Teton Valley.

The National Elk Refuge hosts tours via sleigh ride throughout the season; this is a fan favorite, with the opportunity to get up close and personal with one of the largest elk herds on Earth.

Tips

Book a babysitter with reputable Jackson Hole Babysitting if you’d like to get a night out; note that New Year’s Eve books up quickly.

Skip the lift ticket window and reload day passes online through the resort’s RFID site.

Park City

Best For: Families looking for the last minute getaway; foodie fans and couples.

Similar to Whistler in its extensive resort and downtown offerings, Park City is a top destination for those seeking an all-inclusive ski vacation with fantastic accessibility (it’s a mere 40 minute drive from the Salt Lake City airport). The historic downtown is dripping in icicle lights throughout the holiday season, and premier chefs of local eateries pull out all the stops for festive dinners. Park City very much has the resort town feel, making it a top pick for families, foodies, and couples. The annual Snowfest starts the week before Christmas and lasts through New Year’s.

Cheat Sheet

Stay…at the Sunrise Lodge for spacious suites and balconies with mountain views at decent prices.

Fine Dining…Head to Handle, Park City’s newest hip restaurant with creative plates sourced from simple, fresh ingredients.

Cheap Eats...Don’t miss fan-favorite Davanza’s for the best pizza in town – locals approve!

Après...at High West Distillery & Saloon for locally distilled spirits and a lively crowd – saddle up to the bar for a chat with locals about PC prohibition history.

Shopping…Treat yourself to fine quality cowboy boots at Burns Cowboy Shop, a Park City mainstay.

Holiday Cheer...The annual Snowfest festival starts December 17th, and includes visits from Santa, a torchlight parade, and family-friendly fun.

Off The Slopes…Take a break with an afternoon at the Alf Engen Ski Museum, which offers interactive exhibits and an impressive showing of Utah ski history.

 

Terrain

With 17 peaks and 14 back bowls spread across 7,300 acres skiable terrain, Park City reigns as the largest ski resort in the U.S. While we highly recommend the resort to families for its extensive activities and top notch ski school, advanced skiers looking for serious terrain won’t be disappointed. The split is 9% beginner/51% intermediate/40% expert. Many of the intermediate and advanced trails intersect or meet at the same base areas, so skiers of varying levels can still ski “together.”

 

Lodging

Prices are at their peak during Christmas week, but anything just outside downtown Park City offers value; if you’re looking for 5-star luxury, there are plenty of options.

Luxury

For the picture perfect holiday digs, book the Washington School House; the renovated 1889 schoolhouse is luxe, quaint, and 1 mile from the resort.

Mid-Range

At the resort base area you’ll find a (large) cluster of condo hotels, ice rink, and shops – the area is called Mountain Village; families can’t beat the 1-4 bedroom condominiums at the Lodge at Mountain Village – they’re spacious, slopeside, and in the heart of all major resort activities.

Value

The Sunrise Lodge boasts studios, suites, and fully-decked out features like gas fireplaces and balconies with mountain views; set on The Canyons side, prices are lower than hotels in downtown Park City.

Dining

Park City knows food, and the area is renowned for its contemporary western fare; these are the best old, new, and semi-secret spots that mustn’t be missed.

The classic go-to for locals and tourists alike is Riverhorse on Main, which has been serving up contemporary western bistro fare since 1987; the macademia nut crusted halibut is a favorite, as is the trio of wild game with scalloped potatoes and huckleberry.

Book at award-winning Handle for a taste of Park City’s newest American fare; simple and sophisticated, the menu boasts entrees like lamb T-bone with grilled frisse and tarragon peach jam – don’t miss the brown sugar pavlova for desert.

5-star luxury meets farm-to-table fare and classic ‘60s shakes at Burgers & Bourbon inside the Montage Deer Valley; the bar also boasts over 200 bourbons and whiskeys – well worth the (short) trip to DV for a day.

Shopping

Park City is super posh when it comes to clothing boutiques and high-end goods; stroll Main Street for variety, and don’t miss these gems:

Head to Burns Cowboy Shop for authentic leather wear and the best cowboy boots in town; the store’s original owner started by making saddles for customers in the 1800’s, so it gets extra points for authenticity.

Between T-shirt shops and ritzy boutiques you’ll find Dolly’s Bookstore, a Park City mainstay since 1975; browse books, find unique stationary, and indulge in Rocky Mountain Chocolate next door.

Root’d boasts quite the mix of home décor – from antique inspired chairs to rustic handmade furnishings; they’ve also got lotions, candles, and other small takeaways that make great gifts.

 

Holiday Events

Park City Mountain Resort’s holiday events take place within their 16 day Snowfest festival: catch live music nightly around the resort, as well as these special holiday happenings.

If you’re vacationing the week before Christmas, don’t miss Santa’s official entrance to Park City via the Town Lift on Dec 17th; holiday celebrations precede and follow his 5:30 pm arrival.

This Christmas Eve marks Park City’s 54th annual Torchlight Parade, a tradition as old as the resort itself; be at the base by 5:30, or earlier for caroling and holiday cheer.

Head to the Canyons Village for New Year’s Eve celebration that includes live music, family entertainment, and a fireworks show to kick off the evening.

 

Activities

Park City is chock full of outdoor activities (especially of the kid-friendly variety), and cultural attractions as well – downtown food tour, anyone?

Tour the Alf Engen Ski Museum for an interactive peak into skiing’s history; be sure to check the museum’s calendar for special events and presentations.

Consider a trip to Gorgoza Park: a one-stop-show for mini-snowmobiling, lift-serviced tubing, and snow structure play for little tykes.

The Flying Eagle Zip Line is super user-friendly, and a favorite for kids (they can ride alone, or next to parents); the line starts and ends at PCMR base.

Tips

Vail Resorts purchased Park City in 2014, so you can now access PCMR, Vail, Beaver Creek, and other Vail Resorts properties on the Epic Pass.

Utah’s liquor laws can be confusing, but rest assured Park City bartenders know how to shake a cocktail; beer up to 4% ABV can be purchased in grocery stores 7 days a week.