Q Guide to Park City

A hip, gay-friendly, and heavily developed ski community just 30 miles east of Salt Lake, the handsome town of Park City attracts the same Range Rover counterculturalists as Aspen, but it’s considerably more laid-back and friendly. In 1993, after many lesbians and gays boycotted Colorado because of its anti-gay-rights initiatives, Park City lured some of the queer market by holding a gay ski week (Jan. 5-9). The charming, historic mining town remains a popular getaway for ski and outdoors aficionados as well as movie buffs who visit each January for the prestigious Sundance Film Festival. Anytime of year, however, Park City offers plenty to keep you busy.

You can stroll along historic Main Street, which contains dozens of upscale restaurants, galleries, and boutiques. At the foot of Main Street a gondola takes skiers (or sightseers) up the hill above town. As a primary winter-sports venue during the 2002 Winter Olympics, Park City saw unprecedented exposure—and growth—during the months leading up to the games.

Park City locals maintain a love-hate relationship with the legions of celeb-watchers, film fanatics, and black-clad scenesters who invade the town during Sundance, which will run Jan. 20–30. The crowds can be extremely intense. On the other hand, there’s virtually no time of year with a greater gay and lesbian presence. Another advantage to visiting during Sundance is that lift lines at the community’s breathtaking ski resorts are relatively short, as many visitors spend their days watching movies.

If you’re in town during the festival, definitely stop by Queer Lounge, which functions as the town’s gay and lesbian hospitality and information center—it’s an excellent place to network, meet other queer moviegoers, and learn about the festival’s queer content. The lounge also sponsors press conferences and discussions featuring actors and directors of some of the festival’s lesbian and gay flicks.

You can attend movies at Sundance either by paying for tickets a la carte or by purchasing a pass, which admits you to numerous films. Go to www.sundance.org for more information. You can also attend screenings at Slamdance, a smaller festival that promotes burgeoning filmmakers not yet ready for Sundance.

Earlier in the month, Park City hosts a relatively modest but still fun Utah Gay & Lesbian Ski Week. To register or learn more call 877-429-6368 or log on to www.gayskiing.org. This modest but festive event consists of several days of great skiing at the town’s three resorts, plus a handful of lunches, dinners, and nightclub outings.

Whether or not there are festivals in town, winter easily qualifies as Park City’s high season, a time when it’s often necessary to book hotels rooms several weeks ahead, and when prices tend to be high. If you’re here primarily to ski and snowboard, book a room at the posh Canyons Resort, one of the best—and largest—full-service ski properties in the nation, with two outstanding hotels (the luxury Grand Summit and the upscale but less pricey Sundial Lodge). The spa at the Grand Summit offers a full slate of fun and healthful treatments, including soothing mud pedicures and muscle-relaxing hot-stone therapy. The Canyons is also home to the excellent Cabin restaurant, known for its cioppino (tomato-based fish stew), mesquite-grilled steaks, and the rich chocolate fondue dessert.

If you’d prefer a more intimate property that’s in the heart of downtown, try the 1904 Imperial Hotel Bed & Breakfast Inn, which was begun as a boardinghouse back in Park City’s mining days. Its rooms offer an intriguing variety of views and configurations—some look up toward the mountains, and others face the bustle of Main Street. Another commendable downtown option is the Silver Queen, a handsome boutique hotel with 12 spacious one- and two-bedroom suites with kitchens, fireplaces, large-screen TVs with DVD players, and high-speed Internet.

A larger downtown property, the gay-friendly Treasure Mountain Inn offers a wide range of accommodations, from studios to two-bedroom suites. It’s also the host during Sundance of most of the Slamdance film screenings, and it’s home to a hip little breakfast restaurant called Morning Ray, which is a hit with locals. If you’re looking for a condo rental, consider All Seasons Resorts, which represents eight different condo compounds; during Sundance, if you mention Queer Lounge when booking your room, you’ll receive a discount.

Park City abounds with great restaurants and bars. For stellar French fare, try East Street Brasserie, known for its braised lamb shanks with mushroom fricassee and Valrhona chocolate souffle. Sip wine and people-watch next door in the restaurant’s swank lounge, Le Bar Boheme. 350 Main serves some of the more creative fare in town, including black-pepper-crusted venison medallions with blackberry-shiitake jus and cranberry-orange marmalade. Head next door to the Spur Bar and Grill if you want to mingle with locals and nosh on simpler food, such as grilled buffalo bratwurst and smoked turkey quesadillas. Another great social option is Plan B Nightclub, which hosts a wide variety of music acts and has three bars, dancing, and pool tables.

Blind Dog Grill is a cool little spot with a trendy ambience and such tasty food as cashew-crusted grouper with charred-tomato vinaigrette. Although the main dining room at Butcher’s Chop House is a bit stuffy, the side bar has a warm and cozy feel. You can order off the main menu (filet mignon, King crab legs) or from a light cafe menu, which still offers sizable portions and delicious food: chicken-and-papaya quesadillas, chop salad, ahi-tuna spring rolls.

Stylish Shabu serves delicious, so-called freestyle Asian cuisine, such as crab cakes and wontons over greens with pickled ginger and ponzu aioli, and sea bass with ginger, chive, and a garlic-black bean paste; there’s live acoustic music on Friday evenings. Chimayo serves creative Southwestern food, including pumpkin-seed-encrusted gulf shrimp stuffed with spinach, and grilled buffalo flank steak with wild mushrooms, corn, and poblano-potato gratin. Health-minded diners flock to Renee’s Bar and Cafe, which specializes in nouvelle vegetarian chow, such as roasted-beet risotto with asparagus, and black bean and sweet potato tacos with chipotle vinaigrette. It’s open late and serves up live jazz and other entertainment most nights.

Plenty of locals favor Burgies for inexpensive and tasty breakfasts, lunches, and dinners—try the French toast in the morning or the chili-cheeseburger later in the day. There’s a sports bar upstairs. Wasatch Brewery Pub is fun and also hosts one of the parties during gay ski week. Fill up on baby back ribs or coconut-and-beer-batter shrimp. Park City’s favorite coffeehouse is Wasatch Bagel Cafe, which serves wraps, panini sandwiches, bagels, and all sorts of espresso drinks.

Although it’s set in a shopping center near the interstate, Loco Cantina is a slick space with above-average Mexican fare, such as chicken-mole enchiladas, poblano-corn chowder, and fish tacos. It’s a good bet if you’re hungry after scouring the nearby Tangier Outlet Shops, which are right off I-40, for bargains. Also on this side of town, in the brand-new Redstone development, is a Wild Oats supermarket, which sells gourmet and healthful prepared foods, sandwiches, soups, salads, and the like—it’s great for take-out and indispensable for groceries if you’re staying someplace with kitchen facilities. Redstone also has a number of shops and restaurants, plus a movie theater.

All Seasons Resorts, allseasonsresorts.us
Canyons Resort, 4000 Canyons Dr., 435-649-5400, thecanyons.com.
1904 Imperial Hotel Bed & Breakfast Inn, 221 Main St., 435-649-1904 or 800-669-8824, 1904imperial.com.
Silver Queen Hotel, 632 Main St., 435-649-5986 or 800-447-6423, silverqueenhotel.com.
Treasure Mountain In, 255 Main St., 435-655-4501 or 800-344-2460, treasuremountaininn.com

Blind Dog Grill, 1781 Sidewinder Dr., 435-655-0800
Burgies, 570 Main St., 435-649-0011
Butcher’s Chop House, 751 Main St., 435-647-0040
Chimayo, 368 Main St., 435-649-6222
East Street Brasserie, 201 Heber Ave., 435-658-2500
Loco Cantina, Kimball Plaza, 435-645-7000
Shabu, 333 Main St., 435-645-7253.
Spur Bar and Grill, 350½ Main St., 435-615-1618
350 Main, 350 Main St., 435-649-3140
Wasatch Bagel Cafe, 1300 Snow Creek Dr., 435-645-7778
Wasatch Brewery Pub , 250 Main St., 435-649-0900
Wild Oats , Kimball Junction, 435-575-0200

More Information
Park City Visitor Information Center, 435-658-4541, 800-453-1360, parkcityinfo.com
Utah Gay & Lesbian Ski Week, 877-429-6368, www.gayskiing.org
Sundance Film Festival, sundance.org
Queer Lounge, queerlounge.org

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