By Jorie Larsen, Travel Correspondent
In the early 20th century, skiing in Park City, Utah, was often a utilitarian enterprise. Silver miners glided from worksite to worksite, and telephone-line repairman Emmett Bud Wright kept the area connected by swooshing around its powdery slopes on handmade, mismatched wooden skis. Today, a statue of Wright stands tall on historic Main Street, and he's still clutching those makeshift skis, immortalized in bronze. His children would live to see the mountain mining village blossom into a world-class ski destination and renowned outdoor playground whose natural abundance unfurls just steps from the doors of the Silver King Hotel.
Named for the largest of the old Park City silver mines, the Silver King tips its hat to the city's past with rustic mining tools accenting the lobby decor. Its one-bedroom and studio condominiums are individually decorated, ranging in size from 600 to 800 square feet. In some units, the home-like feel imparted by the full kitchen and wood-burning fireplace is augmented by framed family portraits hanging above the mantle and rustic bric-a-brac dotting the end tables. All rooms feature in-unit washers and dryers and jetted bathtubs.
Beyond the living-room windows of certain condos, ski trails can be seen snaking their way skyward. The Silver King sits among the lively lodges and private homes huddled at the base of the Park City Mountain Resort. The hotel's hot tub and the indoor portion of its indoor/outdoor heated pool shimmer beneath a glass ceiling, beckoning to overnighters for a soak, a splash, or a bare-knuckle Marco Polo tournament. A modest fitness center with floor-to-ceiling glass windows overlooks the pool deck. Inside, exercisers spark caloric bonfires using a handful of cardio machines and free weights.
The boomtown saloons and boarding houses of Park City's past have given way to more than 100 independent boutiques, 30 art galleries, and 50 restaurants along historical Main Street. But the town still holds a few hidden gems for travelers to unearth, including Uptown Fare, a cozy cafe that shuts its doors to anyone but locals during the mania of the Sundance Film Festival each January. At other times of the year, owner Karleen chats freely with her guests from behind the lunch counter as she crafts hearty sandwiches and serves up her legendary cream-of-tomato and cheese-tortellini soup.
Steps away from the Silver King, Park City Mountain Resorta venue for the 2002 Winter Olympic half-pipe and alpine giant-slalom eventsoffers year-round outdoor recreation. In the warmer months, children race down the parallel tracks of the Alpine Slide, shrieking with delight. Farther up, mountain bikers and hikers dart in and out of view, weaving through groves of trees dotting hundreds of miles of trails. In the late afternoon, a line forms in front of the year-round Alpine Coaster, where eager riders climb into go-karts before hurtling down the mountain. Come winter, the mountain's eight peaks and nine bowls allow skiers and snowboarders to test alternative theories of gravity on more than 114 trails and three terrain parks.
In Park City's historical downtown, the three-level, 12,000-square-foot Park City Museum chronicles the towns history with artifacts and interactive exhibits. In the eerie museum basement, visitors can traipse through the former territorial jailnicknamed the dungeon for its dim lighting, stone walls, and rusted leg irons. In the space between the cells, Wanted posters come to life via embedded videos showcasing the outlaws, murderers, and thieves who passed through the subterranean slammer.
A three-level museum houses a plethora of interactive exhibits chronicling the town's colorful history as a silver-mining boomtown and its transformation into a skiing mecca.
This canine-friendly coffee shop is as well-known for its massive selection of premium coffees and teas as it is for its collection of used and new books.
In the warmer months, guests race down the mountain via zipline or alpine slide; in cold weather, 114 trails and three terrain parks create a skiing and snowboarding paradise.
The beer wizards at this local microbrewery craft suds in varieties such as apricot hefeweizen and the tongue-in-cheek Polygamy porter.
Built in 1926 to capitalize on the all-things-Egypt craze sweeping the nation, this historical venue plays host to plays and musicals as well as film premieres during Sundance.
This charming local eatery is small on space but big on character; owner Karleen handcrafts each order, including her special cream-of-tomato with cheese-tortellini soup.
Located about a half mile from the Silver King, this microbrewery and restaurant dishes up hearty American fare three meals a day.
This nearby year-round training venue hosted several events during the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games, including the bobsled, Nordic ski jumping, and luge.
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