Maya Silver

Local Luxuries: Park City-Made Treats

I’m always searching for well-crafted, delightful products for any number of occasions, from birthday presents for friends to unique “little somethings” for client gift baskets. And with Valentine’s Day looming, I’m also searching for modest indulgences to give to the people I love. Luckily for me, the maxim “Shop Local” is easy to abide here in Park City. There are so many talented makers of everything from spirits and chocolate to beef jerky. Here’s a round-up of edible and/or drinkable Park City-made products that I love to treat myself and others to when gift o’clock strikes.

Ritual chocolate

Photo Credit: Ritual Chocolate

Ritual Chocolate

Owned by native Robbie Stout and his partner Annie Davies, Ritual Chocolate is aptly named. Once you buy a bar and take a bite, I dare you to resist buying another within a day or two. This award-winning chocolate leans on selective sourcing that goes above and beyond Fair Trade, as well as nuanced flavors like dark cherry chile. They also produce drinking chocolate that will have you re-evaluating whether coffee is indeed your hot beverage of choice. Find bars at their café in the Iron Mountain district, at their hub inside Whole Foods, or online. A bar of Ritual is, of course, a Valentine’s Day no-brainer.

Mountain Town Olive Oil

A fabulous olive oil can make all the difference between a mediocre dish and one that shines. Plus, everyone loves receiving a bottle of good oil or vinegar. Unlike chocolate or booze, which might not be for everyone, the variety of olive oils and vinegars Mountain Town produces can be put to use by just about anyone. Conveniently, you can buy ready-made gift baskets at Mountain Town Olive Oil Col. on Main Street–while sampling diligently, of course—or pull together your own unique mix of product. Caprese salad, anyone?

Old Town Cellars Wine

In case you hadn’t heard the good news, Old Town Cellars (OTC) wines recently obtained a license to sell its bottles on SUNDAY. So, if you’re reading this on Sunday, and forgot to buy a bottle of wine for the dinner you’re going to tonight, fret not. Head to OTC on Main Street and consider the Mountain Town Red or Townie Rosè. Self-dubbed the official wine of après, OTC makes locally tailored, affordable bottles that I love to gift to fellow locals and newcomers alike, particularly to congratulate them on an exciting close.

Photo Credit: Park City Brewery

Park City Brewery Ales

I’ve sung the praises of Park City Brewery many times before on the blog, but I’ll namedrop them again here. Got a beer lover in the mix? Bestow them with a fine six-pack of the good stuff: Imperial Pilsner or the Hooker Blonde Ale. These beers scream Park City, from flavor profiles pure as snow and colorful can design reminiscent of the local outdoor brands we sport, to the name itself. You can find the brewery off Rasmussen Road in between Park City and Jeremy Ranch, or pick up a six-pack at just about any beer store in town.

Samak Smoke House Jerky

This one’s a little off the beaten path, but is open daily and year-round. Drive through Kamas and head toward the Uintas on Mirror Lake Highway. Just a few miles out of town on your left, you’ll see an adorable little log cabin: behold, the Samak Smoke House. The building itself was originally a cantina for miners. After our local mining operations drew to a close, the building was relocated from the Deer Valley area to the town of Samak. Today, it operates as an adorable general store selling specialty food items (including those smoked in house) and souvenirs. Don’t leave without some cherrywood-smoked jerky for you and yours. Samak Smoke House has been been making jerky for a quarter of a century from hand-cut beef, turkey, and even trout, and it shows. Don’t feel like making the trip? You can also buy online or at The Market at Park City.

High West

Photo Credit: High West Distillery

High West Whiskey, Candles, and Barware

Few who live in Park City or have even been here once are unfamiliar with the name High West. Setting the record straight on the relationship between Utah and booze since 2006, Park City’s favorite distillery is just as good for dinner as it is for at-home sipping. What you may not know is that both the High West Saloon off Main Street and the distillery in Wanship have gift shops stocked with not only bottles of its whiskey and vodka, but also bourbon-scented candles, and beautiful hand-blown glass barware. You can rest assured that if you gift anything with the High West name on it, your recipient will be immensely grateful.

Windy Ridge Granola

I should start by saying that when I need food for an open house, my absolute first pick is Windy Ridge Bakery. Sister concept to Windy Ridge Café and part of Bill White’s locally loved restaurant group, this bakery churns out quiches that I swear sell houses, as well as pies that make memories and cookies that satisfy cravings. But one of my favorite things available at Windy Ridge Bakery is its bags of granola. Enjoy it with Greek yogurt and fruit for breakfast, or make dessert out of it with a little dark chocolate and a few spoonfuls of coconut Noosa. This makes a great gift to pair with coffee or local fruit from the farmers’ market come summer for a breakfast-themed basket.

Pink Elephant

Photo Credit: Pink Elephant

Pink Elephant Coffee Roasters

Park City is lucky to be blessed with many fine coffee roasters and purveyors. Yet one of my favorites is Pink Elephant, which like many good things, is a little hard to find. The roastery is located on Main Street upstairs from Billy’s Barbershop. Step inside with confidence, head up the stairs, and the strong coffee aromas will let you know you’re in the right place. In your cup (or bag) will be single-origin coffee beans of the utmost quality, lovingly roasted in small batches. I assure you, you and your recipient will taste the difference. And it’s what they are serving up at my favorite caffeine-fix drive-through, Silver King Coffee.

Deer Valley Turkey Chili and Cookie Mix

One of the underdogs of the local restaurant scene? Deer Valley Grocery Café. Nope, it’s not on Main Street, and it ain’t ski-in/ski-out either. But it’s soooo worth it. One taste of their turkey chili (also famous at Deer Valley Resort ski lodges) on a chilly day and I’m sure you’ll agree. In the meantime, if you’ve got a friend who likes to cook and bake—but only sort of, then I’ve got the perfect gift for them. You know, the pal who’s dipped their toes in one of those meal prep delivery services, and likes to assemble, but not to go through the hassle of from-scratch cooking. Enter the Turkey Chili mix, a bag of beans and seasoning with a recipe, that makes preparing a big batch of the good stuff at home a cinch. Oh, and if you’re a fan of the café’s jumbo cookies, the cookie mix produces similar results from the comfort of home.

Oil & Vinegar Junction Salt

I know, I know—we already talked about olive oil and balsamic vinegar that makes tomatoes next-level. But there’s another outpost of oil and vinegar in town, and they offer something you and all the foodies in your life need: salt. A good salt is worth its weight in gold and Oil & Vinegar Junction, located right by Smith’s in Kimball Junction offers several different varieties. From lemon sea salt to Himalayan lava salt—as well as pepper—all of O&V’s goods make great gifts. Use as a finishing salt on roasted meats or veggies, or sprinkle some on chocolate chip cookies before baking for the win.

postscript: a shout out to locally-owned grocer, The Market at Park City, where they carry an abundance of the products mentioned above plus many more.

Business Spotlight: Oak + Willow Yoga + Wellness Studio

Photo Credit: Oak + Willow

Photo Credit: Oak + Willow

Did you know that 36 million Americans practice yoga? Indeed, yoga is more popular than ever. From 2012-2016, the number of yogis in the U.S. doubled, and there are some 6,000 studios across the U.S. Here in Park City, we have several different yoga studios, plus yoga classes offered at numerous gyms.

I think it’s safe to say, however, that yoga isn’t just about working out. It’s a way to psych yourself up for the day, or unwind after a long one. It’s how many of us keep our bodies healthy and our muscles happy after big ski days or mountain bike rides. And yoga also gives us a little peace of mind—exercise and meditation in one fell swoop.

Oak + Willow is one of the newest places in the Park City area to practice yoga, and it’s also one of my favorite. Why? Because O+W keenly understands that when people seek out yoga, they’re probably also seeking out physical and mental health. This is why O+W doesn’t just offer your standard flow, but also locally tailored classes (pair a yoga class with a Park City beer after skiing), workshops (like prenatal yoga) and programs oriented around goals like a better diet or pesky injuries.

We chatted with founder and owner Nikki Glandon to learn more about O+W, which is also offering Choose Park City subscribers a special promo this month. It’s worth mentioning that Nikki is a true fitness maven, with more certifications than you can list in one breath.

Note: While O+W’s address is in Kamas (1200 W. Lori Lane, Kamas), this studio is really only about a mile past Hwy 40 on 248, well before you even reach the Jordanelle Reservoir (meaning, it’s a super short drive from Park City).

Choose Park City: When exactly did you open Oak + Willow?

Nikki Glandon: I opened July 1, 2018.

Was your background before O+W yoga/wellness-related?

Yes. I have been teaching and studying the mind and body for the last 10 years. I love learning about the mind and body, and I love being able to provide this knowledge and passion for others. These are the trainings I’ve done: Level 1 and 2 Baptiste Yoga Institute (200 hours), Art of Assisting Hatha Vinyasa Training (200 hours), The Yoga Farm, ISSA – Personal Trainer, Schwinn Bike-Certified Instructor, TRX Certified, Institute for Integrative Nutrition, Yoga Medicine Trainings + Hip Module (200 hours), Chinese Medicine, and Myofascial Release – Spine Module.

Nikki Glandon has a lot to smile about (Photo Credit: Oak + Willow)

What was your path to deciding to open your own studio?

I wanted to follow my passion for healing and helping others. I felt like it was time to take the leap and provide a space where people could grow, learn, and enhance their daily lives and activities.

Tell me the story behind the name. Favorite trees?

I am from Knoxville in East Tennessee and wanted something from my Southern roots like the Southern Oak Tree. I also think nature is healing and magical, so I got stuck on tree names. The Oak is strong and powerful; the roots grow deep and they weather the storm. The Willow tree is more malleable; it moves with the storm so it doesn’t break. You need both to be able to stand tall and firm, as well as move with the storm. It’s the Yin and the Yang. The masculine and feminine. As they say, “strong roots make it easier to bend.”

When and why did you move to Park City?

I have been here for a little over 10 years now. I went to college in Colorado, then came to Utah on a family vacation and loved it. I moved here about a month later. I love the mountains and the country and this area provides both.

What O+W offering are you most excited about right now?

This summer, we will be offering Yoga and Horse Trail Rides and I am so excited to bring those two together. More information will be on our website soon!

Photo Credit: Oak + Willow

What sets you apart from other area yoga studios?

We are smaller and I love that! I cap the classes at 10 so that students always feel comfortable and we can give more personalized instruction. We are like Cheers—everyone knows your name. I believe keeping it small makes it feel comfy, cozy, and personal.

The Uplift Series—themed educational opportunities—is a really unique offering. How does Uplift work?

The Uplift Series is a new series I am launching online. It includes online yoga videos, guided meditation, recipes, how to shop for groceries, tips for your kiddos, and soul food. It is a monthly or yearly membership. The Uplift Series will also provide one-on-one or group coaching sessions. Having a mind and body coach is the best thing I have ever done for myself, and I love that now I get to coach others.

Nikki would love to know what sort of yoga and wellness offerings people are looking for in a studio. If you have questions or desired classes, please email her at [email protected].

If you subscribe to my newsletter, you can take advantage of a special promo that I partnered with Oak + Willow to offer in February. Not a subscriber? Contact me and I’ll be happy to send you the promo code.

Update: New Developments at the Canyons base of Park City Mountain

In a few years, the Canyons base as we know it may be unrecognizable—hopefully, in a good way. The amount of new residential and commercial developments are dizzying, not to mention a facelift underway for the whole base area. We’ve done some detective work to find out what’s going up and what changes you can expect. Unfortunately, mum’s sort of the word as far as projected completion dates for some of these projects, thought it is a little refreshing to have honesty in this regard, rather than unrealistic horizons we all know won’t be met.

The theme of many of these developments is ski-in/ski-out (obviously), or proximity to the Frostwood Gondola, plus easy access to the Canyons Golf Course. The name of the game is convenience with a touch of mountain luxury. The Hotel Ascent, for example, innovates with condo-style rooms—a smart move in the AirBnb age. Meanwhile, many of the other townhomes and condos are destined to become investment properties and short-term rentals. Below are some highlights of all the new builds in the Canyons area.



Canyons Residential Developments


We’ve covered this playful space-efficient residential development on the blog before. These modestly sized condos, inspired by European living, are affordable, chic, and the perfect skiing pied-à-terre. They’ll go up right next to the red ski patrol shack and clinic, in the apron of the Westgate hotel. Construction should begin in the spring of 2019 and wrap up by next winter.

Apex Residences

Think of this development as the Colony’s very little sister. And since the former development is pretty much maxed out, Apex is great for those who want to live in the midst of skiing, and be able to hop on a run right from home. These high-elevation homes range from three to four bedrooms and include posh amenities at a Clubhouse, including a lounge, sauna, and firepit.


Lift Park City

These 61 residences, ranging from one to five bedrooms, are already under construction. Located right in Canyons Village, Lift units will come fully furnished and move-in ready. After a day of skiing, residents will be able to take a dip in the hot tub or enjoy a warm drink in the outdoor living room. Only a few units remain, so if you’re interested, act now.

Canyons Village Workforce Housing

Of course, we need places for tourists to stay and second homeowners to perch when they come to ski Park City. But we also need homes for all the people who make Park City Mountain, our fabulous restaurants, and even our amazing transportation system happen. Enter Canyons Village Workforce Housing, located in between the Cabriolet lift and the transit center. This project is set to begin later this year (2019), and has a sunset of end-2023 (everyone’s crossing their fingers for sooner). The residences will be able to house over 1,100 employees. If you’re a local employee who might be interested in the housing, take the developer’s survey to help inform better design.

Juniper Landing

The lay of Juniper Landing

Frostwood Area Projects

Juniper Landing: This townhome development is almost complete and will include easy ski and golf access. Townhomes range from two to five bedrooms and also include a suite of amenities.

Viridian: This contemporary golf-oriented townhome development will consist of 24 two-five bedroom residences. Golf course views will delight in the summer and make for great fairway spectating.

Fairway Springs: For those who want to be a little less in the thick of it all, this luxury ski/golf development is a bit more secluded than Viridian and Juniper Landing. All 46 units are as cozy as they are conveniently located.

Frostwood Ski & Golf Villas: This multi-phase project is already partially complete and located at the Canyons base. The first phase has already sold out, and only three units remain in Phase II, so carpe diem if Frostwood appeals to you. Want to check out one of these homey units? You can any day of the week between noon and 4pm. Might as well stop in on your way to the Orange Bubble to see what it’s all about.

Pendry Park City

Rendering of the future Pendry Park City

Canyons Hotels

Pendry Park City

The ski-in/ski-out Pendry Hotel will break ground in spring, and should be complete and in action by the winter of 2021. The gist is modern meets alpine, with epic views and pristine design. Want a better hint? Pendry comes from the same folks behind the Montage in Deer Valley, so expect the same caliber of service and design. Floorplans and pricing have yet to be finalized and reservations are not yet available. The Pendry also includes residential space, designed for part-time residents, including those with kids. Amenities for both lodging and residences will include a spa and a rooftop bar and pool.

Hotel Ascent

Like Pendry, much of the details about Hotel Ascent remain to be worked out, with a redesign underway that will yield new renderings and pricing. We do know that this is a condo hotel, meaning that the units are equipped with kitchenettes, washer/dryer, and pull-out beds, and range in size from studios to four-bedrooms. This Hilton hotel will be located on the Canyons Golf Course (golf-in/golf-out, anyone?) and a short stroll from the Frostwood Gondola. Construction is expected to begin in spring.

Other Canyons Amenities

  • New Bunny Area: Oriented around the new High Meadow lift, this family fun zone makes a ski outing with kids (or beginners!) that much more doable and enjoyable for all involved.
  • Aquatic Center: Sometimes our legs need a break. Enter the new Aquatic Center, which will operate year-round.
  • Conference Center: A new hub for meetings and conferences is also on its way to the Canyons base.
  • Free On-Demand Rides: Need a lift? Canyons Village Connect offers free ride services as needed around the Canyons area. This service is currently in pilot mode.

You may notice other small upgrades as well, from shorter lines at the Frostwood Gondola (thanks to a few extra cars) to renovated parking lots that make ski transit a little less hectic. We’re excited to see the changes big and small as they manifest in the Canyons.

Want to check out some of the happenings yourself? If you don’t normally ski Park City Mountain from Canyons base, head there on the evenings of February 1-10 to check out the 2019 FIS Snowboard, Freestyle & Freeski World Championships. The events are open to public viewing, and will kick off with the Opening Ceremony and Big Air Skiing on Saturday, February 2, followed by and Big Air Snowboarding on Tuesday, February 5. Look for Anika and Lila Grenney as flag bearers in the Opening Ceremonies!

Business Spotlight: Storm Cycles

About five years ago, Storm Cycles became the first year-round bike shop in Kimball Junction. The locals behind the shop include Todd Henneman, fresh off a 25-year tenure at JANS, and husband-and-wife team Juan Patterson and Lauri Bilawa. Juan also comes from a lifelong career working with bikes, and originally moved to Park City with Lauri for the skiing.

Storm Cycles is known for its friendly, approachable service techs, and carrying Pivot, Yeti, and Trek bikes. Since 2014, it’s also been voted one of the top three bike shops in Park City by Park City’s Best. And this spring (the owners are aiming for end-March), Storm Cycles will move to a bigger retail space in Newpark by the new Hearth & Hill restaurant. We chatted with co-owner Lauri to learn more about Storm Cycles.

The Storm Cycles Service Department gearing up for a ride (Photo Credit: Storm Cycles)

Choose Park City: Which bikes are you most excited about right now?

Lauri Bilawa: You know, the electric bikes are really taking off right now. Trek makes every kind of electric bike you can think of—even electric townies. We alo offer electric bike demos.

What are your favorite trails to ride in Park City?

We love Wasatch Crest Trail. Other shop favorites include Flying Dog, Jenni’s on Park City Mountain, and Flagstaff Loop.

Photo Credit: Storm Cycles

What’s one thing about Storm Cycles that people might not know?

We rent fat bikes in the winter. Every year, fat biking gets a little more popular. Also, we’ll apply two days worth of demos toward your purchase of the bike.

What about this summer? Anything happening besides the big move?

We do vendor bike demos. You get to ride the bikes free! Check in with us at the shop, online, or on Facebook to find out when we’ll be doing these demos.

If you subscribe to my newsletter, you can take advantage of a special promo that I partnered with Storm Cycles to offer in January and February. Not a subscriber? Contact me and I’ll be happy to send you the promo code.

5 Weekend Ski Getaways from Park City

There are so many reasons to take a weekend ski trip. One is that many of our passes—from the Epic to the Ikon—include days at other resorts, and sometimes even lodging discounts. Another is that sometimes, we need to get out of town when insanity (aka Sundance) strikes our grocery stores and roads. And doesn’t the powder always seem deeper on the other side? I don’t know about you, but I get serious FOMO when I learn that Breckenridge, for example, has gotten 178 inches this year, while Jackson has pulled down nearly 200.

2018/2019 Winter Snowfall Totals to Date (from Jackson Hole)

So, where to go? Here are 5 weekend ski getaways from Park City that are doable as long weekend road trips. Of course, you could also fly to maximize your turn time.

crested butte

Photo Credit: CBMR

1. Crested Butte, CO

Crested, what? There’s a reason this little outpost in the West Elk Mountains is known colloquially as the last great ski town and is unfamiliar to many. It’s so far away from everything, that it’s still an authentic little town and a well-kept secret—think the opposite of Vail, as ironic as that now is.
Why go: Crested Butte is a family-friendly town with big personality. The community jumps at every chance to stage a festival or hold a party. Surrounded by not much of anything besides mountains, the views are truly sublime. The resort itself offers terrain for everyone, but is an expert skier’s dream, with tons of steep bowls and gullies only accessible through some upward travel.
Pass compatibility: Epic Pass (unlimited days)
Drive time from Park City: 7.5 hours
Stay at: The Ruby B&B if you can score a room, or the Elevation on the mountain
Eat at: The Last Steep for its weekend Bloody Mary bar, and The Secret Stash for pizzas like the Notorious F.I.G. (hello, figs and bacon)

sun valley

Photo Credit: Sun Valley

2. Sun Valley, ID

Idaho is not known for being—how shall we say it—very luxurious. But Sun Valley is as posh a ski destination as it gets. It also has a great arts community for those who like a side of culture with their snow.
Why go: Put on the map by none other than Ernest Hemingway, the Sun Valley/Ketchum area is a relatively close destination and a beautiful drive. The mountain is well-rounded and a great fit for all skier types, meaning it’s family-friendly.
Pass compatibility: 2 days with the Mountain Collective Pass
Drive time: 5 hours
Stay at: Sun Valley Lodge
Eat at: Pioneer Saloon and Trail Creek Cabin win with their Wild West-chic ambience

big sky

Photo Credit: Big Sky

3. Big Sky, MT

If you think bigger is better, than this Montana skiing spot is the way to go. They claim to be home to the biggest skiing in America. While we all know that the biggest ski resort is right here at home, the Montanans are most likely referring to the sky, not the acreage. Montana’s notoriously large sky makes for panoramic views and a choice backdrop for on-mountain selfies.
Why go: Swap crowds for views. Plus, it’s just a short drive to the charming town of Bozeman. Big Sky also borders Yellowstone National Park, which is uncrowded and serene when explored in winter.
Pass compatibility: The Ikon Pass offers 7 days at Big Sky
Drive time: 6 hours
Stay at: One of Big Sky’s Cowboy Heaven Cabins
Eat at: The Montana Dinner Yurt (if yurts are your thing). If you’re staying in Bozeman, grab a delicious sandwich from the Community Food Co-op and head to Plonk for dinner.


The mighty Tetons

4. Jackson Hole, WY

I’m goin’ to Jackson, and that’s a fact. Yeah, I’m goin’ to Jackson, ain’t never comin’ back. While I believe Johnny Cash was referring to Jackson in Tennessee not Wyoming, we definitely agree with the sentiment when it comes to Jackson Hole. Bonus? An hour’s drive through Teton Pass is Grand Targhee… I got engaged on the Dreamcatcher chairlift there and love their throwback slogan “Snow made from heaven, not hoses.”
Why go: With over 16 feet of snow piling up, a lively downtown, and the jagged Teton Range to ogle, there’s a lot to love about this ski destination. And of course, you’ll want to queue up the song “Jackson” for your road trip playlist.
Pass compatibility: 7 days with the Ikon Pass; 2 days with Mountain Collective
Drive time: 4.5 hours
Stay at: The Lodge at Jackson Hole
Eat at: Snake River Brewing; be sure to grab pastries at the buzzy Persephone Bakery to stuff into your ski jacket pockets for chairlift snacks

5. Solitude, UT

For those who want to get away without the hassle, there are plenty of ski staycation options right here in Utah. Head up to one of the resorts in the Cottonwood Canyons, book a room, schedule on-mountain childcare, and click into full vaca mode.
Why go: While Snowbird and Alta also make great options, I’m recommending Solitude because it’s so aptly named. Peace and quiet abound not only on the slopes, but also at the Solitude Mountain Spa.
Pass compatibility: Deer Valley passholders get 2 days at Solitude; Ikon passholders have unlimited days at Solitude
Drive time: 54 minutes 🙂
Stay at: The Inn at Solitude
Eat at: Silver Fork Lodge and Restaurant (a historic spot just a couple minutes from Solitude)

10 Ways Locals Can Sundance in 2019

Egyptian Marquee during Sundance

Photo Credit: Historic Park City Alliance

The annual Sundance Film Festival can be a love-it-or-hate-it event. Originally called the Utah/US Film Festival, Sundance first struck Park City in August of 1978 and was in part spearheaded by Robert Redford. Today, it’s one of the biggest events in Utah and draws film industry members and filmgoers from all over the world—well over 100,000 of them to be exact.

If you count yourself among the Sundance haters, my advice to you is simple: stock up and lay low—or, get out of town altogether. But if you’re a Sundance fan or Sundance-curious, there are many ways to experience the festival as a local that don’t involve dropping a couple grand on a pass and spending every waking moment of the fest with your eyes glued to a screen. I’ve rounded up 10 ways locals can get a taste of Sundance 2019 (January 24-February 3) without dropping everything.

1. Catch a screening during the second half of the festival

Sundance is not just one weekend. While most of the action does happen during the first few days (January 24-27), the fun continues for a full 10. Planning to go to a screening during the latter half of the festival means fewer crowds and shorter lines.

2. See a show outside of Park City

Another common Sundance myth is that it only takes place in Park City. While the Sundance HQ is, of course, Historic Main Street and the Egyptian Theatre, screenings are also held in Kimball Junction, Salt Lake City, and Sundance Resort as well. Attending screenings off Main Street means the same thing as Sundancing after the first weekend: fewer crowds, shorter lines.

person watching movie

3. Catch a matinee

Inevitably, matinees are less popular than evening and nighttime shows. Screenings start as early as 8:30am, meaning you can catch a riveting documentary while you sip your morning coffee, then spend the rest of the day skiing. While matinees are always less popular, keep in mind that during the first weekend, they will still sell out.

4. Get a Grand Theatre Pass

If your primary goal is purely to see a lot of high-quality premieres, I suggest springing for the Grand Theatre Pass. It’s only valid during Sundance weekends (Friday through Sunday) and for screenings held at the Grand Theatre in Salt Lake. However, you’ll beat the hubbub and get to see a lot of great movies. Make a staycation out of it and stay at the Grand America Hotel for the weekend so you’re not driving back and forth.

sundance box offices

5. Be a Box Office opportunist

Don’t want to deal with the crazy online queues? Don’t really care what movie you see, but just want to catch a show? Head to the box office at 8 AM to see what’s available. Hours for the Park City box office are pictured above, but there are also box offices in Salt Lake City and at Sundance Resort itself.

6. Head to the Best of Fest (February 4)

If you’d like to see Sundance films, but don’t want to deal with the insanity, consider Best of Fest. This annual event is put on for locals only and, better yet, is totally free! The screening consists of a couple solid hours of award-winning films. This year, Best of Fest will take place on the Monday after Sundance (2/4) with showtimes at 6pm and 9pm in Park City, at Sundance Resort, and in Salt Lake. The catch: the only way to get in is to join an online waitlist two hours before the screening, so Best of Fest-goers must be agile.

Robert Redford

The handsome man behind the madness (Photo Credit: BJ Alias)

7. Townie Tuesdays (January 29)

The other free screening opportunity for locals (Park City, only) is the Townie Tuesday. The screenings will air at 7pm at the Redstone Cinemas and at 9pm at the PC Library. Like the Best of Fest, tickets may only be procured via an online waitlist that doesn’t open up until two hours before the screening time. (Dear Sundance, is this really the only way??) Patience and dedication will pay off.

Photo Credit: Sundance Film Fest

8. Head to the New Frontier

If you’re a technology fiend and an art hound, the New Frontier is for you. This annual exhibition showcases New Frontier Sundance residents, who are artists working with cutting-edge media and tech. You do need an actual pass to get in, however, so no specific tickets are available.

9. Partake in the Sundance Off Season

If all this talk of eWaitlists and crowds has you rethinking your interest in Sundance, consider Sundancing in the off season. The Sundance off season runs from February 4 until the first day of Sundance in 2020 (sometime in late-January!). What does it consist of? Screenings throughout the Wasatch Back and Front of Sundance movies at places like the Park City Library theatre and Red Butte Garden. All the great movies, none of the hustle.

10. People-watch on Main Street

If the hustle is what you’re looking for during Sundance, take the bus or a Lyft to Main Street (do not drive) on Friday or Saturday night of opening weekend. Dress warmly and wear waterproof boots with tread if it’s snowy out. Then, pace up and down Main Street, camera phone at the ready, observing the chaos. Who knows? You may spy Dennis from It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia hanging out at the entrance to The Spur, or 1 of the 2 Dope Queens drinking a glass of red wine at a Main Street eatery. And if you happen to find a bar without a long line, pop in for a drink.

Want more beta on Sundance? Here’s some of my past coverage:

12 Things to Do in Park City Over the Holidays (Besides Skiing)

School’s out for the holidays! And some parents have time off work. How do we fill the time? Of course, there’s skiing. But this time of year, the slopes can be crowded, and some of us with the Epic Local Pass may have blackout dates from December 26-31. But fear not! There are plenty of things to do besides skiing during the holidays in Park City. Here are a dozen activities for the 12 days of Christmas to keep your days full and festive, and make sure your holiday guests are sufficiently entertained.


1. Snowshoeing in the Uintas

Skis are not the only way to travel through majestic snowy landscapes come winter. While snowshoes may not be as sexy or thrilling as skis, per se, they do offer a peaceful way to explore in the snow. The Uinta Mountains are a great snowshoeing destination, with several packed cross-country trails and abundant serenity. Stop at the Kamas Ranger Station office to get a free map; Yellow Pine and Beaver Creek trails are both only about 15 minutes from Kamas and easily accessible. If you don’t own snowshoes, most ski rental shops, like White Pine Touring or JANS, stock them.

2. Take a dogsledding tour

Love dogs? Love snow? Then mushing is a must-try bucket list experience in the winter. Imagine bounding through powder in a cozy sled pulled by adorable blue-eyed huskies. Sounds like the stuff of dreams, doesn’t it? Luna Lobos up Browns Canyon and All Seasons Adventures both guide dogsledding tours in the Park City area. You do not need any technical knowledge or equipment to go. If you’re taking your kids, I promise they will be riding a dogsledding high for at least a week to come.

3. Discover the Midway Ice Castles

If you’ve got a Frozen-obsessed aspiring Elsa in your household, then the Midway Ice Castles are a key destination for holiday fun. These artificial waterfalls glow with colorful lighting and demand to be photographed and Instagrammed. While you’re in that part of the Wasatch, stay for dinner: enjoy tasty thin-crust pizza at Café Galleria or the hearth-to-table cuisine at Midway Mercantile.  The castles are open in the evening from Monday through Saturday (hours vary from day to day). Check out the Facebook page for the most up to date info and to buy tickets.

North Pole Express

Photo Credit: Heber Valley Railroad

4. Ride a train to the North Pole

Another fun Wasatch Back activity is the Heber Valley Railroad. During the holidays, the rail runs a special 90-minute North Pole Express ride that includes Christmas songs, hot cocoa, chocolate chip cookies, and a gift from Mrs. Claus herself. While the North Pole Express isn’t open on Christmas Eve or Christmas itself, it does chug along through the 22nd, resuming on the 26th. There are usually a few rides available everyday. All aboard!

5. Take an arts class at Kimball Art Center

Always wanted to try making a clay mug or painting the view from your backyard? The Kimball Art Center offers a variety of classes for all ages. From figure drawing to a free class that blends reading and an art project for 3-5 year-olds, there’s something for everyone with a creative bone in their body. A particular class of interest this time of year: Artful Thank You Cards! This is a great way to cultivate the art of gratitude in your kids at an early age.

The Mine bouldering

Photo Credit: The Mine

6. Go bouldering at The Mine

On the coldest of days, sometimes recreating indoors is the best bet. But sometimes motivation to run on the treadmill in a sweaty gym during the holiday season can be rather low. Enter bouldering! A fun way to get in some exercise and an upper body workout, all while getting stoked on climbing. Kids will love The Mine, too, and it’s an affordable daytime activity. The Mine even offers winter camps for kids and yoga classes for adults who’d rather stretch it out than pump it up.

7. Go for the gold at Utah Olympic Park

Speaking of adrenaline rushes, how about hurdling down a bobsledding track at 80mph? The Winter Bobsled Experience at Utah Olympic Park may only last about a minute, but it will revolutionize your frame of mind for the whole day. Bobsledding is available throughout the holiday season, except on Christmas itself. The slightly less daring might consider brushing up on Olympic History at the museum or figure skating.

8. Tubing at Soldier Hollow

Lift-serviced tubing? Yes please. The tubing hills at Soldier Hollow Nordic Center in Midway are basically like more exciting winter versions of lazy rivers. As if barreling down a groomed run in an inflatable object isn’t exciting enough, you can also go tubing at night since Soldier Hollow stays open until 8pm. And this is not a kids-only situation! For those who have friends or family visiting who don’t ski, tubing is a great, no-skills-required alternative to get out, go fast, and have fun.

9. Sledding—pick your PC hill

If you prefer a more ungroomed sledding/tubing experience, pack up your toboggans and head to one of several different hills amenable to sledding in the Park City area. Park City Magazine has rounded up a few suggestions, including the Iron Mountain Trail off Hwy 224, Mountain Dell by the cross country skiing area, and the FCD Hill behind the Tanger Outlets. Pro tip: Bring hot cocoa in thermoses to keep everyone in merry spirits.

horse drawn carriage ride

Photo Credit: Boulder Mountain Ranch

10. Horse-drawn sleigh ride at Deer Valley

Throw it back to the 1800s this Christmas with a sleigh ride pulled by two handsome horses through snow-covered Deer Valley. Boulder Mountain Ranch, a year-long local outfitter, offers this service every winter. This activity is perfect for hosting grandparents or older relatives in town who want to take in the Park City holiday milieu at a more leisurely pace. The sleigh rides run nightly and are available by private booking only. The rides can depart from Stein Eriksen Lodge or Silver Lake Lodge in Deer Valley.

11. S’mores at the Montage Deer Valley

Who says s’mores have to be a summer thing? A treat as ooey-gooey and fun to eat as s’mores ought to be enjoyed year-round. The Montage at Deer Valley totally agrees, which is why they serve s’mores of the year. Did we mention we love the Montage? During the winter, it’s s’mores o’clock from 4-5pm at the fire pit just outside the Vista Lounge. Adults may want to get in on the fun, too, considering the Montage serves a medley of marshmallow flavors and offers milk and dark chocolate.

torchlight parade

Photo Credit: Deer Valley Ski Resort

12. Deer Valley’s Annual Torchlight Parade

Once a year, Deer Valley is lit—like, literally lit. The annual Torchlight Parade takes place on December 30 around 6pm. The show descends Bald Eagle Mountain via the Big Stick run. To watch, gather at the Snow Park Plaza, where free hot cider and cookies will be waiting for you. Arrive a few minutes early to secure a choice viewing spot.

Business Spotlight: Element Park City

Old Town Cellars, OTC, wine dinner, Element Park City
Photo : Dan Campbell Photography
Instagram: @dancampbellphoto
[email protected]

Where’s all the healthy, gluten-free, organic food in Park City? That’s the question Lucy Block asked herself when she moved to Utah from California eight years ago. In her former home of Encinitas, she says there were at least five gluten-free and organic restaurants she could frequent, plus a highly selective grocery store. “I could close my eyes and know that nothing had Red 40, Yellow 20, or hydrogenated oils,” Block recalls. “There were no GMOs in the entire grocery store.” While she found what she liked at Fair Weather Natural Foods, she felt the concept was limited by its space.

Then, through a mutual friend, she met Sebastian Silbereis, who had been operating a private chef service for about a year. Sebastian had a globetrotting resume and a preference for local, sustainably produced food, like Lucy. They soon formed a business partnership and expanded to become what Lucy describes as a “culinary concierge.” Meaning, “you need it, we can make it happen,” as she puts it.

Pan-Roasted Sirloin Bavette with Cauliflower Rice and Brussels Sprouts (Photo by Element)

Just over a year ago, Sebastian and Lucy opened up a brick-and-mortar shop in Snow Creek Plaza. Element Kitchen & Bakery serves gourmet dishes in a relaxed café setting, from baked goods to soups. Customers can enjoy food at one of the dozen tables onsite, or take their food home to-go. Yet Element also serves as the hub for chef services wherein the sky (or perhaps something like a wedding cake) is just about the limit. Element Park City can throw together gluten-free baked goods for a baby shower, cater a large event, or deliver an organic and gluten-free holiday meal.

The backbone of Element is, of course, the discerning criteria that all menu items must meet—after all, this is the raison d’être for the business. Everything is gluten-free, but, Lucy jokes, “If it tastes gluten-free, we can’t sell it!” Chef Sebastian also avoids GMOs and never uses refined sugars, hydrogenated oils, artificial colors or flavorings, preservatives, and several other taboo ingredients. Element also caters to other dietary preferences such as vegan, dairy-free, paleo, and keto. The menu items are all marked with the diet they adhere to, and Chef Sebastian is always willing to work with customers on their needs.

Mallard Duck Confit with Roasted Broccolini and Sweet Potatoes (Photo by Element)

A dream service? Stock your fridge, wherein Element fills up your kitchen with a variety of take-and-bake items, from barbecue ribs to soup and baked goods. This is perfect for tourists staying for a week and busy families who don’t want to resort to pizza delivery every night.

Right now, Lucy’s favorite item is the keto-friendly lasagna with local grass-finished beef and eggplant. She’s also digging the coconut almond gooey butter cake, with caramelized coconut on the bottom. My not-to-be-missed? Their brussel sprouts with bacon or pumpkin donut with spiced maple cream cheese frosting. Get one (or two) of the latter to share. As the season of holiday eating winds down, Element is an excellent place to turn to reset healthy eating habits this winter.

If you subscribe to my newsletter, you can take advantage of a special promo that I partnered with Element to offer this December. Not a subscriber? Contact me and I’ll be happy to send you the promo code.

Winter is Coming: Get Your Home Ready for the Cold

Ski passes? Check. Snow tires? Quadruple check. Winterizing your home? We often forget that our houses also require some pre-winter love. A few simple steps can make your home safer, more durable, and warmer as the cold approaches. Nobody wants to head into 10-degree overnight lows with a heating system that’s on the fritz!

I checked in with Todd R. Marsh, my neighbor who happens to be the co-founder of property management company Property Alliance, to find out what he recommends we all do to winterize our home. Here’s what’s on his list, plus some helpful links as needed:

Photo by Alex Perz

Check & Prep Your Heating System

  • If you have an older furnace, consider scheduling a tune-up.
  • Change out or clean your filters if needed. Generally, filters last anywhere from a couple months to a year depending on how big they are and whether you have pets (I have a recurring reminder in my calendar).
  • If you have an A/C system or a swamp cooler, winterize it and install covers.
  • Check that floor heating vents are open to allow for proper air flow.

Prep the Exterior

  • Remove leaves and debris from gutters and ensure downspouts are draining away from the home.
  • Check that tree branches are not rubbing roofs, siding or windows. If needed, trim branches.
  • Visually inspect roof and eves for damage.

Photo by Kirsten Marie Ebbesen

Prevent Frozen Pipes

  • Winterize your irrigation system (you’ll probably want to hire someone to do this).
  • Detach garden hoses from spigots.
  • During cold snaps, leave cabinet doors open in problem spots (think below your sink) to encourage warm air flow in the vicinity of water lines.
  • Install insulation around pipes in problem areas (like utility closets or crawlspaces).

Fire Safety

  • Schedule servicing for gas, wood, and/or pellet stoves.
  • Get your chimney inspected and cleaned to prevent chimney fires.
  • Replace the batteries for your CO2 and smoke detectors and clean off any dust that has accumulated on them.

Snowblower Maintenance

  • Take your snowblower in to Park City Power Products and get it serviced. Rod has been taking care of snowblowers and other such useful tools for over two decades.
  • Stock up on ethanol-free gas, which is better for your snowblower. Here’s a list of ethanol-free gas stations in Utah, the nearest of which to Park City might be in Heber or Kamas.

Leaving Town

  • Keep thermostats set to at least 55 degrees Fahrenheit. If your vacation property is for sale, ask your Realtor to check the heat.
  • Consider turning off the main water line.
  • If it will be more than a few days, make sure someone will stop by and check on your property.

Last box to check? Do your snow dance and hope to hear the familiar sound of avalanche bombs going off in the morning.

Questions on the tips above? Don’t want to take on winterization solo? Reach out to Todd with Property Alliance at 435.631.2527 or [email protected]

How to Make Thanksgiving a Teachable Moment in Park City

Thanksgiving is what you make it. Turn it into a stuff-your-face-fest. Make it about family. Live for the afternoon football games on a weekday or celebrate a day off of work. Yet another way to interpret the holiday is to focus on gratitude. If you’re feeling thankful this year, this is a great time to show it. And I don’t just mean by writing a check.

This year, make the expression of thanks an event and a lesson (if you have kids or a willing adult in your life!). I’ve rounded up a few ways to seize Thanksgiving as an opportunity to instill gratitude, service, and community-building into your family’s repertoire (alongside mashed potatoes and gravy, of course).

Photo by Nuzzles & Co.

1. Volunteer to walk dogs or play with cats at Nuzzles & Co.

As the adorable puppies and kittens await loving homes at Nuzzles & Co., bring a little joy to their lives! I promise, they’ll introduce just as much (if not more) happiness into your lives. Hello, puppy snuggles. You’ll also get a little fresh air and light exercise to balance all the feasting. And who knows? You might fall in love with a pooch like six-month-old Bashful (pictured above) and take him home. To start, fill out a form with your availability and interests. My daughters, aged 7 and 10, have loved this opportunity.

2. Add a homeless or refugee child to your Xmas gift list.

Every year, Catholic Community Services hosts Gift of the Drummer, pairing volunteers with homeless or refugee children to ensure everyone feels the holiday love. You can adopt just one kid or several. If you’re a Black Friday shopper, you can stock up on gifts for your adoptive gift recipient then, and spend the weekend making cards and wrapping with your family.

3. Bake a pie for a fireman or paramedic.

While many of us expect a long weekend off work over holidays, emergency workers can’t go out of service just because it’s Thanksgiving. Many of our local firemen and paramedics/EMTs work long shifts, and some volunteer, to boot. Show your gratitude with some sweets or other baked goods. You can swing by any of the seven Park City Fire Department Stations. Chances are good that you get to climb into the fire truck. Lila still remembers us doing this as a child and hey – firemen are nice eye candy for us moms, too. Everyone wins.

4. Create “necessity kits” and drop off at a homeless shelter.

Food, money, and clothing are often the first things that come to mind when we think about what a homeless person might need. But what about the necessities we depend upon, from chapstick and toothbrushes, to thick socks? Round up a bunch of travel-size items and assemble kits in Ziploc bags, then deliver to a homeless shelter. You might reach out first to your shelter of choice to ensure they can accept the items in question and confirm the best way to deliver your goods.

5. Call your favorite nonprofit and ask what it needs.

Dollars, man hours, a phone call to an influential someone, a sprinter van … you never know what your go-to nonprofit organization in Park City could use until you ask. While some might just need cash, others might ask for random items or in-kind expertise for their clients or upcoming events. Instead of assuming, just call, tell the staff how much you appreciate their work, then ask what you can do to help. Looking for a list of local nonprofits to jog your memory? The Live PC Give PC database is a great place to start.