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Get Out Of Town -- Or Just Explore It

January 03, 2008|Kathy A. McDonald

PARK CITY, UTAH

A post-Civil War mining town with a rough and rowdy past, Park City ( www.parkcityinfo.com) has become increasingly upscale and precious -- not that that's a bad thing. Historic Main Street is framed by 1880s facades, charmingly outlined in white lights at night, with numerous steep public staircases joining the town to its narrow, hillside residential streets. Place names such as Prospector Square, the Claim Jumper and, pardon the pun, the Grub Steak recall those distant mining days. In winter, more than 1.9 million visitors vacation in the 12-square-mile resort town, attracted by the avalanche of mountain sports on feather-light powder snow. And of course, Hollywood descends each January for the Sundance Film Festival, marking its 24th year in Park City from Jan. 17 to 27.

On the Slopes

WINTER SPORTS WONDERLAND

Your choice of snowy activities is practically endless. Three mountain resorts -- Deer Valley Resort, for skiers only ( www.deervalley.com, [800] 424-3337); Park City Mountain Resort, which is snowboarder-friendly, pictured below ( www.parkcitymountain.com, [800] 222-7275); and the Canyons Resort (www.thecanyons .com, [435] 649-5400) -- offer a combined 360 trails and 9,026 acres of piney Wasatch Mountains terrain. You can rent equipment (and a cozy yurt) at White Pine Touring (1790 Bonanza Drive, [435] 649-8710), then cross-country ski or snowshoe on the local golf course. Snowmobile rentals, tubing, sleigh rides and heli skiing are all close.

OLYMPIC-SIZE MEMORIES

Park City hosted 14 medal events and 343,000 visitors during the 2002 Winter Olympics. The most visible reminder is the Utah Olympic Park (3419 Olympic Parkway, www.oly parks.com), where you can tour to the top of the K120 jump, ride the bobsled ($200, driver included), watch future Olympians or reminisce at the Eccles Winter Games Museum.

On the Town

RESTAURANTS, CELEBS . . . SOUNDS LIKE L.A.!

Park City's 100-plus dining choices include a celeb-owned eatery, Robert Redford's Zoom (660 Main St., [435] 649-9108); a family-friendly stalwart, Main Street Pizza & Noodle (530 Main St., [435] 645-8878); the Asian-influenced 350 Main ([435] 649-3140); and even the pub-grub buffalo burgers at No Name Saloon, pictured (447 Main St., [435] 649-6667). Best views: Drive or ski into Deer Valley's Empire Canyon Grill for the ultimate soup-and-salad bar accompanied by gorgeous canyon vistas. Or, atop Park City Mountain Resort, the Summit House overlooks all of Park City and well beyond, but you'll have to earn the panorama by skiing or boarding in.

WHERE TO HIBERNATE

Hotels range from the super-budget Chateau Apres Lodge (1299 Norfolk Ave., [435] 649-9372) to the new ultra-posh, loftily priced Sky Lodge at the foot of Main Street (201 Heber Ave., [435] 658-2500). The Yarrow (1800 Park Ave., [435] 649-7000) is no-frills but Albertsons-adjacent. Another option: Craigslist Salt Lake City overflows with condo rental offers. Prices triple during Sundance; Presidents Day is the next biggie, with multi-night reservations required.

On the Screen

HOW TO SUNDANCE

Lauded as the festival for independently made fiction films and the most coveted showcase for documentaries, the Sundance Film Festival ( www.sundance.org/festival) jams Park City, pictured, with a smorgasbord of movies, music and, at the New Frontier on Main (333 Main St.), digital art. Many events and lounges, like the Queer Lounge (608 Main St.), are open to the public; the bountiful pop-up swag suites are not. Individual-ticket sales begin Jan. 14 at the Gateway Center (136 Heber Ave.) Day-of-show wait-list ticket lines at theaters form early for the hottest films. If you're desperate, hang out on the free city buses or trolley and ask if anyone has extras. The second weekend is the best-kept secret, as the industry, or PIB -- "people in black," to locals -- clears out.

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theguide@latimes.com

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