Winter Wonderland: Escape to Park City

Skiing down a perfectly groomed run at Park City's Deer Valley Resort, there's that magical moment when it's just you, the snow and the scenery. The run, framed by snow-capped Alpines on both sides, is picture-perfect as your skis glide effortlessly across Utah's famous powder, the sound of light friction like a rhythmic lullaby, whisper-soft in the otherwise ambient stillness.


A former mining town nestled against the majestic Wasatch Back portion of Utah's Rocky Mountain range, Park City has become a popular destination for Houstonians lately, thanks to a number of factors, the most compelling of which is ease of access. Whereas winter destinations like Lake Tahoe or Whistler require a two-hour trip by car in addition to flight time, Park City is just a 40-minute drive from Salt Lake City (SLC) airport. And this year, thanks to the debut of an expanded international airport, getting there has never been easier, with direct service from Houston by three airlines: Southwest, United and Delta.

But the allure of Park City goes well beyond accessibility. Home to two world-class ski resorts — Deer Valley, a ski-only resort famed for its pristine, capacity-controlled runs; and Park City Mountain Resort, which merged with Canyons Ski Resort under the Vail Resorts umbrella in 2015 — Park City is a veritable winter sports wonderland, a fact bolstered by the number of Olympic athletes that call this 17.56-square-mile town home.

For ski-goers, Deer Valley Resort is a must. In the way of lodging, Montage Deer Valley, St. Regis Deer Valley and Stein Eriksen Lodge all provide ski-in, ski-out access to the mountain's 21 lifts and 100 trails.

At Montage, rent equipment on-site at Compass Sports. A ski concierge will carry your gear out into the snow without you having to lift a finger. And the property's Ski With a Champion program pairs up to six people for lessons with an Olympic skier.

When it's time to quit the slopes, check out the largest spa in Utah: a 35,000-square-foot facility with a full range of services like Tata Harper facials and deep-tissue massage. Or hit the on-mountain, Veuve Clicquot-branded Après Lounge, where guests can indulge in gourmet bites of caviar while sipping on bubbles.

Speaking of Champagne, Park City's food scene continues to grow. For a family-friendly meal, nothing beats the lobster rolls at Freshies Lobster, the sandwiches at local fave Backdoor Deli, the burgers at No Name Saloon, or the French onion soup at High West Saloon.

On the fine dining side, Courchevel Bistro, named for Park City's sister city in the French Alps and one of Utah's best new restaurants of 2020, provides a Rhone-inspired experience by executive chef Clement Gelas. Meanwhile, the new Rime Seafood + Steak offers the best of fresh, locally sourced ingredients. And Deer Valley's Fireside Lounge offers an all-you-can eat, intimate dining experience in a mid-mountain lodge setting — booking a sleigh ride to get there is half the fun! — featuring Alpine faves like fireside-melted raclette cheese served with potatoes and cornichons.

There are other diversions, of course — dog-sledding, snowmobiling, Nordic skiing, fat-tire biking and ice skating. The Comet Bobsled at Utah Olympic Park is a unique experience. And Woodward Park City, an action sports park and the best spot in Park City for snow tubing, will enjoy its first full winter of operations this year.

And then there is historic Main Street, where vestiges of the city's mining heritage are still preserved. Get in some boutique shopping at high-end retailer Gorsuch, and browse the boot selection at Burns Cowboy Shop, a landmark since 1876. Take the Historic Park City Snow Globe Stroll, on display until Jan. 3, and marvel at nine life-sized, interactive snow globes stationed along the main drag. Or, plan your trip to coincide with the annual Sundance Film Festival, when A-list sightings along Main are a daily occurrence.

Due to Covid, Park City is enforcing mask-wearing in public spaces; hotels and restaurants are capacity-controlled; and lift tickets must be purchased online prior to arrival. The mantra here is "Let's All Stay Safe to Stay Open," ensuring your visit to the City of Champions is a safe and memorable one.

People + Places

SOUTH FLORIDA-BASED Italian shoe line Concetto Limone will make its Texas debut at a cocktail reception at Valobra Master Jewelers (2150 Westheimer Rd.) on Thursday, April 29 from 5-7pm. The evening of "All Things Italian" will transport guests immediately to the coast of southern Italian as they sip on Italian wines, Aperol Spritzes, Negronis and Limoncellos while feasting on an assortment of Italian hors d'oeuvres from Houston's beloved Tony's. Invited guests will have the first glance in Texas on the Concetto Limone line and the opportunity to purchase unisex styles on Thursday evening and all day Friday at a trunk show at Valobra.

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Pastries at Cafe Leonelli

CAFE LEONELLI IS now open inside the MFAH's Nancy and Rich Kinder Building, the stunning new wing that first opened in November.

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Food

Abbie Preston Edmonson gives a special presentation this weekend

DESPITE SOME APRIL showers, there's still plenty of fun to be had! From art-centric and Earth Day activities to family-friendly fests, check out a rundown of the weekend's best bets.

LEARN FROM AN ARTIST Tune in tonight for an hour-long talk by ceramicist and Houston Center for Contemporary Craft resident artist Abbie Preston Edmonson about her creative process. She'll give a virtual presentation about her work and a special demonstration in her studio space.

Brennen's exec chef Joey Chavez (photo by Kimberly Park)

TAKE A VIRTUAL PAINTING LESSON OR COOKING CLASS Be inspired by the great state of Texas during a virtual painting lesson hosted by Honey Art Cafe on Friday night. For only $20, stream a two-hour virtual lesson and make a series of stylized mini paintings inspired by West Texas and Big Bend National Park. Honey Art Cafe also has supply kits available for purchase for beginners or artists low on supplies.

And if painting isn't quite your speed, see what you can cook up in the kitchen! Brennen's exec chef Joey Chavez leads a "date night" cooking lesson for couples on Friday at 6:30pm. Hosted at the restaurant, the socially distanced demonstration, which costs $150, includes a reception, followed by an interactive demonstration and seated dinner.

CELEBRATE EARTH DAY! Join the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center from 10am-4pm on Saturday for a fun- and information-filled day! Explore informative booths, nature hikes, fun displays in the Discovery Room, and Earth-friendly take-home activities. Or join Discovery Green on Sunday from 12-5pm, when the park will screen a series of short films about Houston's environment, host a panel about February's freeze, and showcase a live painting demo by local artists working on murals to decorate the park.

GO ON AN OUT-OF-THIS WORLD ADVENTURE Fifty-one years ago, the Apollo 13 crew splashed down safely back on Earth after their famously harrowing mission to the moon and back. Space Center Houston is celebrating that anniversary on Saturday, hosting two livestreamed panel discussions with current NASA experts as well as Apollo-era legends.And now through May 2, local NASA and Apollo 13 fans can check out the center's new spring exhibition, titled "Apollo: When We Went to the Moon," that looks at the legacy of the Apollo era through the lens of the engineers and astronauts who actually lived the experience.

FIND FUN AT THE INTERNATIONAL KIDS FEST Traders Village hosts Kids Fest on Sunday, with games, activities, interactive shows, live music, acrobats, magicians, clowns and more. Parking is $5, but the event itself is free, sure to keep the whole family entertained from 12-4pm.

People + Places