Growing up as a New Yorker that never skied, my knowledge of the state of Utah was limited at best. Sure, I watched the 2002 Olympics, knew that Robert Redford’s Sundance Film Festival is where a lot of great movies premiered, I had seen plenty of Utah Jazz games on television, and eventually, I caught The Book Of Mormon on Broadway; later research would teach me that music videos I had seen many times by Jon Bon Jovi, Metallica, Katy Perry, and Tiffany were all filmed in the state. However, I didn’t knowingly have any friends or family that had been there.
When the opportunity recently came to travel to Park City, Utah — thanks, in large part, to the support of the promotional teams of Deer Valley Resort, UGG, NordicTrack, Montage Deer Valley, Marmot, High West, iFit, CeraVe, Clif Bar, Hearth And Hill, Smith, Swiftwick, the St. Regis Deer Valley and the Stein Eriksen Lodge — I jumped at the chance. Thirty-five minutes by car from Salt Lake City International Airport (a hub of Delta Airlines, with direct flights to New York, London, Paris, and Amsterdam), Park City’s population is well under 10,000 residents. However, the Sundance Film Festival alone regularly brings tens of thousands of people into the city. Forbes Traveler Magazine has it voted as one of the 20 “prettiest towns,” also voting it one of its “16 Top Destinations.”
As one of the world’s premier skiing destinations, Park City had its first ski lift installed in 1946. Combined with what many call “the Greatest Snow On Earth,” Park City has two major ski resorts in the Deer Valley area. While ski season generally lasts from November through April, there is plenty to do outdoors year-round in Park City. Hiking and mountain biking are two of the more popular activities, which Deer Valley Resort and Park City both cater to. And as it turns out, aside from California, more visitors come to Park City from New York than anywhere else in the U.S.
During the few days in February 2020 I stayed at the Stein Eriksen Lodge, I met a lot of interesting people. In the course of speaking with many of those people, some of them locals, I inquired about their favorite spots in and around Park City where it comes to hanging, eating, and drinking. So should you visit Park City anytime soon, below are not only some “must-visit” spots, but also why it is that they love Park City so much.
Thanks to the following people for their great contributions to this article:
– Ty Taylor – Ginger Adventurez
– Austin Hamilton – Chef De Cuisine at The St. Regis Deer Valley’s RIME Seafood & Steak, St. Regis Bar and Brasserie 7452
– Brooks Kirchheimer – Co-Owner of Hearth And Hill
– Kelley Ellett – Store Manager at West Valley City Walmart
Are you originally from Utah? If not, who or what brought you here?
Ty Taylor: I am a Utah transplant and hope to keep the newly-planted roots here. I moved to the area for work. I was born in Virginia and, after having moved 16 times, am now found in the beautiful state of Utah.
Austin Hamilton: I’m originally from the Bay Area right across the Golden Gate Bridge in Marin Country. I was lucky enough to grow up right on the cusp of the greatest city to explore food and different cultures. I moved to Utah about 1 and a 1/2 years ago to help raise my daughter in a better family environment then a big city. Since moving to Utah I’ve been blessed with being able to help grow the food scene first at the Sundance Mountain Resort, now at the beautiful St. Regis on the top of the mountain in Park City.
Brooks Kirchheimer: I am originally from La Canada, California, where I was born and raised. After going to the University Of Denver for Hotel, Restaurant & Tourism Management, I opened the Montage Beverly Hills in 2008. I grew up coming skiing with my family every year for a week at a time to Park City. When I found out that there was a Montage opening in Deer Valley in 2010, I jumped at the chance to transfer and open the property. I have been in Park City ever since, with a two-year break from 2015 to 2017 in Maui.
Todd Passey: I am originally from Utah, but I have not lived here my whole life. I lived in Washington State for a decade, but moved back to Utah because of the mountains and the snow!
Caroline Gleich: I am originally from Minnesota. I moved to Salt Lake City, Utah with my family when I was in high school and I moved to Park City, Utah in 2017 with my partner, Rob Lea.
Kelley Ellett: I am a born and raised Utahn! Though I did live in California for a few years I ultimately returned to Utah because that is where most of my family is. Utah has so much to offer for any age whether you’re raising a family or single. There is so much to do!!
What is it that keeps you in the Park City area?
Ty Taylor: The immediate access to all things outdoors, dining, entertainment, and all-around memory-making is something I haven’t found anywhere else in the nation.
Austin Hamilton: I have always wanted to push myself to work for the best chefs, in the best kitchens, in the hardest cities I could. Moving to Utah and being a father I thought that I wouldn’t still have that same drive. While living in Utah country I found myself restless and unsatisfied. I wanted to make my mark on the best food scene in the state. There is no other city in Utah that gives you that possibility besides Park City. Every day I’m trying to push my staff into becoming the premium food destination in Park City. I just got to Park City but I know this is the start of big things.
Brooks Kirchheimer: Park City is the perfect mountain community. It is only a 30-minute drive away from a major international airport, and a fun and growing metro city via Salt Lake City. Park City has miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, amazing skiing, fun outdoor summer concerts, white water rafting, and many more outdoor activities which we all love to partake in. The school system is top-notch, the air is fresh, the views are beautiful, and the dining scene has something for everyone!
Todd Passey: I love my home here in Utah for many reasons, but access to world-class skiing and rock climbing is at the top of the list. I also travel a lot and the Salt Lake International Airport is so convenient and easy, so that’s a big plus. The cost of living, relative to other places I would consider living, is quite cheap. It’s also a great place to raise a family.
Caroline Gleich: I love the mountain views, the fresh air, the access to trails and outdoor recreation. I’m grateful to live in a place where I can feel connected to nature.
Kelley Ellett: As someone who lives in SLC, I make it a point to venture a bit east to Park City as much as I can because it is such a great vacation destination — or even for a quick weekend getaway. My family enjoys hiking, shopping, biking, and all the great restaurants.
What do you wish more people knew about Park City?
Ty Taylor: There is something for everyone in Park City and the opportunity to discover something new you never knew you liked is around every corner.
Austin Hamilton: It’s more than just a ski town. Growing up in San Francisco, I went to Tahoe all the time as a kid. Still one of my favorite towns. I thought coming into Park City it would have the same feeling. But it is closer to a big city feel than anywhere else in Utah. Beyond the growing food scene, the nightlife is something else. I find myself in big city clubs everywhere I turn on Main Street.
Brooks Kirchheimer: That it is so easy to get to! Compared to other mountain towns throughout North America, Park City is one of the quickest and easiest to get to from just about anywhere in the country. Also, a fun and proud fact, is that Park City has over 140 non-profits, that benefit many in the community from health care to ability assistance, healthy-eating education and a lot more.
Todd Passey: To be honest, I don’t want any more people to hear about our secret — life here is good! (laughs) My favorite mountains in the world are right here, and I have been to enough mountain ranges across the world to know. But more than just the mountains, it’s a great lifestyle. We have some great music venues and excellent restaurants. There is literally no place in the country with an international airport so close to the mountains.
Caroline Gleich: It’s a wonderful place to visit year-round, and you most certainly can get a drink.
Kelley Ellett: The scenery is incredible in both the summer and winter seasons. Most people know Park City as a major winter resort but the summertime can be just as fun!
What are some of your favorite restaurants in town?
Ty Taylor: High West Distillery, try the shishito peppers and you can never go wrong with the local fresh trout. Yuki Yama Sushi, authentic Japanese cuisine in the mountains of Utah. Twisted Fern, A locals-only-know-about-it type of spot, well-crafted American Bistro with some Park City flair.
Austin Hamilton: My first place I love to eat is Tupelo. One of the things that attracted me to this job was being able to work with such an amazing talent and leader, as Matt Harris. Beyond the beautiful feel of the restaurant, the food is second to done. Five Seeds is also one of the best brunch places in town. I’ve always been surprised Utah doesn’t have a larger brunch scene. Nothing beats going to Five Seeds getting a killer benedict and coffee. It’s a true treat.
Brooks Kirchheimer: Obviously, besides Hearth And Hill! I am a big fan of Shabu on Main Street, owned by two brothers in a small atmosphere, with an eclectic Asian menu, that always promises a fun time! Cortona Italian Restaurant is located near us in Kimball Junction, also a family-owned quaint spot that serves up homemade Italian fare. Finally, Fireside Dining at Deer Valley Resort — open in the winter only — is a unique experience you will not find anywhere else. It showcases four stations of food, all four located in front of fireplaces, where there is something being cooked in front of the fire, from a lamb leg twirling or raclette.
Todd Passey: I mentioned restaurants, but I am really not one to ask. I keep it pretty close to home, my wife is an excellent cook. But when I do go out I look for healthy options, like Element Kitchen & Cafe or Ellie’s Cafe. Nothing fancy, just good food.
Caroline Gleich: Rodrigo Y Gabriela at Deer Valley.
Kelley Ellett: The last concert I went to was when Green Day was first starting to tour. But the Egyptian Theater always has a line up of shows and music events perfect for either a date night or the kids.
What was the last concert you attended in town?
Ty Taylor: I have not attended any concerts in Park City. I would love to at some point.
Austin Hamilton: I was luckily able to go see The Chainsmokers over sundance at Park City Live. It was a blast! Some of the amazing regular customers had a table on the top floor. Couldn’t have had a better time. They really went all out.
Brooks Kirchheimer: Good question! I have a six-month-old, so it has been a minute! This past summer I enjoyed listening to Ben Harper and Trombone Shorty outside at Deer Valley Resort — what a fun show!
Todd Passey: I do love live music, my wife and six-year-old son and I love the Deer Valley Summer concert series. Outdoor music, on the lawn and you can bring your own food!
Caroline Gleich: Five Seeds, Hearth And Hill, Handle, and Yuki Yama.
Kelley Ellett: Wasatch Brew Pub is definitely my favorite. They have a great menu with lots of options and have an open-concept space great for events. Chimayo is a close second.
What are you currently working on?
Austin Hamilton: Besides opening a brand new restaurant, I’m constantly working on devolving new recipes and finding new local ingredients to work with for my next menu flip. On the side I writing a cookbook for a bunch of former clients and friends who want to be able to recreate some of my dishes at home.
Brooks Kirchheimer: In the restaurant industry there is always something! Our goal is to have multiple restaurants, so we are working on a couple of other concepts right now, that we hope to open in the next year or two. We also love to create and host unique events at Hearth And Hill. One that we will be putting on for the third time, April 6th, is our Hip-Hop Brunch, where we have a local DJ spin hip-hop classics and have a specially curated Hip Hop menu by Chef Jordan Harvey that all enjoy. Also, this summer, we are going to do a fun Mongolian-themed dinner out under the stars, where we will have a University Of Utah astrologist teaching all about the wonders of the sky.
Todd Passey: I have made Utah my home, in part, because it’s a great place to run my business. In The Company Of Guides is my guide service, and the Wasatch Mountains are the perfect place to train people for bigger trips I offer around the world, as well as a destination for skiing and rock climbing. I work with lots of companies around the world that send guests to me here in Utah. 57hours is one of these companies. They have an international reach and choose to send people seeking adventure to me here in Utah.
Caroline Gleich: As a pro ski mountaineer, I’m excited about the work I’m doing with the brands that support me, including Clif Bar. I’m really excited to help them launch their new Clif Coffee collection, crafted with sustainably-sourced, organic coffee beans from Colombia. I’m also excited about my work as a climate change activist. Next week, I’m going to D.C. to testify about an important climate change bill that would reduce emissions on public lands to zero by 2040.
Kelley Ellett: Perfecting my 7-layer dip recipe! Here’s some backstory: as the Manager at the West Valley City Walmart, no day is the same — I like to find new ways to keep my store fun and innovative. A recent campaign we have been involved in is #WalmartCooks in Utah. Associates from my store and surrounding store locations shared family recipes that are now made shoppable via walmartcooks.com and available for pick up at our Grocery Pick Up & Delivery Locations. And you guessed it, my recipe is a 7-layer dip.
Finally, any last words for the kids?
Ty Taylor: Come for the snow and come back for everything you never thought you’d find. Follow Ginger Adventurez on YouTube for Park City, Utah, and other adventures!
Austin Hamilton: “Work until your idols become your rivals.” I’m going to push myself until Rime is the best restaurant in Utah.
Brooks Kirchheimer: Come visit us at Hearth And Hill soon! We have live music every Friday and Saturday, have a large patio for summer dining, and feature a fun, modern atmosphere to dine in. We look forward to welcoming you!
Caroline Gleich: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead
Kelley Ellett: Ask your parents if they need an extra set of hands in the kitchen and help them prepare your next meal. Here’s some local inspiration: www.walmartcooks.com/associate-recipes.
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