Grab your gear and step out of your Park City, Utah vacation rental into the beauty of a historic mining town with breathtaking, panoramic views of the Wasatch Mountains. Activities in this pretty city range from Olympic-class alpine skiing in the winter to hiking and river rafting during the summer months. Take in some first-class movies at the Independent and Sundance film festivals, or watch the United States ski team train at the Olympic Park. You are closer to the sun at 7,000 feet altitude, so be sure to wear sunscreen and a hat for protection. Park City sports the largest collection of factory outlet stores in northern Utah so slip your credit card in your back pocket on the way out the door.
1. Utah Olympic Park
Home to the 2002 Winter Olympic games, this beautiful 400-acre park is a great place to spend a day zipping, climbing, sliding, hiking, or exploring the artifacts in the interactive museum. Winter Olympians competed in bobsled, skeleton, and luge events on the snow-packed sliding track, but the track now rolls on a concrete surface. Experienced pilots take you whizzing down the slide at more than 60 miles per hour in less than one minute on the Summer Comet bobsled ride. Catch your breath and head for the Nordic ski jump hill to experience a thrilling 50-mile-an-hour Olympian-inspired journey down the hill — on an inner tube. The younger kids like the entry-level discovery course that lets them duck around obstacles, crawl through small places, and climb to their hearts’ content.
2. Park City Museum
Grab some free lightweight stools to perch on while taking in the historic and interactive displays. Pick up a ‘Park City History Detective’ guide for the kids which walks them through the exhibits and provides a way for the entire family to dig deeper into this mining town’s history. One-hour Historic Park City walking tours begin at the museum, so check in at the front desk for an up-close-and-personal glimpse of Park City in the ‘olden days.’
3. Chuck Wagon Dinner
Hitch a ride in a horse-drawn wagon and take off for a chuck wagon dinner served in true cowboy tradition. As the wagon pulls up to ‘Cooky’s’ chuck wagon, the aroma of savory beef, baked beans, potatoes, and a sweet cobbler dessert, all prepared in a big black Dutch oven, waft through the air, assaulting your nose but in a nice way. Live country music and cowboy campfire storytelling make this a night to remember.
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4. Swaner EcoCenter and Preserve
It’s fun to roam around this ‘green’ EcoCenter and play with the interactive exhibits that teach so much about the surrounding wetland ecosystem. Ten miles of trails wind through this 1,200-acre nature preserve. You can strike out on your own or join one of the weekly guided tours, where there are plenty of wildlife and wildflower sightings for everyone.
5. Park Silly Sunday Market
Relax on Sunday at this pumped-up farmers’ market with a street-festival vibe. From farm-fresh fruits and vegetables to antiques and one-of-a-kind finds, you and the kids can have a blast flitting from one vendor to the next, tasting and shopping. All of the eco-friendly vendors use recyclable utensils, cups, and plates. You can do your part by bringing along canvas bags for your goodies and placing your leftovers at the Zero Waste stations located throughout the market.
6. Scenic Flights
Go up, up, and away in a gorgeous hot air balloon and greet the sunrise as you float above fantastical landscapes of mountains and canyons. Once you return to the ground, celebrate the exhilarating one-hour flight with a cider toast before leaving your hosts behind.
7. Whitewater Rafting
Guides navigate the raft through the rapids as you and the kids team-paddle on the Weber River. The river cuts through a gorgeous canyon of red and orange sandstone with tall rock arches, precariously balanced rocks, and caves. The astounding views are distracting, but try to pay attention to your paddling duties.
8. Mine Bouldering Gym
Challenge your kids to a climbing competition in this amazing space where hand-and-toe-hold climbing is called bouldering. There’s a ton of different routes with varying efficiency levels so everyone has a shot at sharpening their skills while having a good time. There are no ropes, but the floor is very well padded, so don’t worry.
9. Gondola Ride
Grab your ticket to the mountains when you glide 8,000 feet up on the Red Pine Gondola. This scenic ride treats you to panoramic views of the Wasatch Mountains, Park City Mountain, and the town far below. When you reach the top, you can hike along groomed access roads or explore some of the trails that date back to the mining days. If you are fortunate enough to be descending at dusk, keep your eyes peeled for some mountain wildlife.
10. Alpine Slide
Imagine you are in the Family Winter Olympics on Park City Mountain, careening down one of the longest alpine slides in the world on a sled. Open your eyes and breathe a sigh of relief: there’s no sled and while the steep curves and hills are a bit scary, they are exciting as well. You can slide and glide on four different luge-like tracks, making each trip down a unique and thrilling experience.
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