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.
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.
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.
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 every.single.day 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.
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.