You know how it goes: work piles up, someone backs into your car, the dog’s vomiting in the corner. “Tragedy happens in threes,” they say; “when it rains, it pours”; and so on.
Sometimes you just need a vacation. But maybe your urge to get away is larger than your resources to do so. You’re sick of being here, but you’re strapped for funds, time or energy it would take to go there. What to do?
Don’t vacate. Staycate! Instead of just resigning yourself to your growing email inbox and doggie vomit, block out three days for a staycation. With tight funds and not enough PTO, you can still have a smashing time in a town near you. Pretend you’re from Elsewhere and see Park City or Salt Lake like a tourist. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Park City Staycation
If you’re bipedal, decently active, and have ridden a bike before, you’ve gotta try mountain biking. Park City has over 450 miles of some of the country’s best of the best trails — and the International Mountain Biking Association agrees. Beginners can enjoy Round Valley, while more advanced riders can tear up PCMR and Jeremy Ranch. Pros: if you’ve got a free day and a willing partner to shuttle you around, try riding the Wasatch Crest, which runs the ridge between Big Cottonwood Canyon and Park City, then drops into Millcreek Canyon.
Utah Olympic Park
Originally built as a playground for the 2002 Winter Olympics, it’s been subsequently decked out with toys for the adventurous non-Olympian. Fly down the steepest zipline in the world, get a taste of what it feels like to be in the back of a professional bobsled, or test your strength and tactical skills on the Summer Adventure ropes course.
Park Silly Sunday Market
If you’ve got the kids in tow, check out this fun market for kids, all day every Sunday until mid-September. There’s food, concerts and good activities to keep the little guys occupied.
I know, I know. It’s cliche. But seriously, if you like shopping, Park City has beautiful local boutiques that make for a perfect evening of strolling and window shopping. Also, if you want to drop less cash on the brands you love, head to the Outlets Park City for discounts on brands like Banana Republic, J. Crew, Oakley, Vans, and Pearl Izumi.
Park City in the fall is better than Cache Valley’s Squeaky cheese. (Barely.) Make sure you take a few minutes to get out and enjoy one of the myriad of hiking trails while the fall leaves red and yellow.
Last Friday Gallery Stroll
If you’re in town on the last Friday of the month, be sure to take advantage of the monthly Gallery Stroll that happens around town. Get a good look at some of the best local art housed in several walkable Park City locations.
Where to eat in Park City:
Finding food options will not be a problem in Park City, but choosing one will. If you’re going in the fall, try the delicious spots owned by the Bill White Restaurant Group: not only do they serve incredible food, but they offer 2:1 entrees for most of the fall. Top picks are Chimayo, Grappa, and Sushi Blue, but you really can’t go wrong with any of them.
If you’d like your food free range, local, organic, fresh from the grower, without GMOs and served fresh from a happy hippie, check out the gorgeous Park City Farmer’s Market. It pops up every Wednesday from 12:00 – 6:00 p.m.
Also, because a good day of riding or hiking ends best stuffed with guacamole, check out El Chubasco for a local order-at-the-counter Mexican restaurant with a mouthwatering salsa bar.
Where to stay in Park City:
Salt Lake Staycation
Salt Lake Public Library
The public library, you ask? O ye of little faith. The Salt Lake Public Library not only has an absolutely stunning downtown campus, but it offers dozens of cool free activities every week, including rooftop yoga classes, concerts, documentary screenings, rotating art galleries, coding classes and kids art activities.
Lions and tigers and free-roaming leopards! Oh my! But really, the Hogle Zoo has got a lot going for it — interesting exhibits, lots of walking space and cool daily programs (like the Elephant Encounter Pachyderm Program, or the EEPP, as we call it around here).
If you’re living in Utah and you still haven’t done much hiking around Salt Lake City, then it’s high time you staycate for a few days and get out there. Salt Lake has dozens of excellent hiking trails both in the mountains and more locally.
If frolfing makes you drool and you stay up late shopping for frisbees with names like “Stingray,” “Albatross,” or “Destructor,” then head up to Solitude Mountain Resort for a lively game of disc golf. The high alpine course is physical and challenging, and boasts holes between 300 and 500 feet in length. Even noobs to the frolf scene can enjoy themselves here, as long as you lend them your mid-range Mantis.
If the September heat has you panting in the valley, drive up Mirror Lake highway in the Uintas for a cooler climate and a few lakes. Rent SUPs, kayaks or canoes, or bring your fishing tackle (don’t forget your permit!) for a lovely afternoon on the water. Also, stop by the little-known but extremely delicious homemade donut shop in Kamas. Hint: it’s at the Chevron gas station, but really, it’s better than it sounds.
Where to eat in Salt Lake City:
Salt Lake is just bustling with the best of the best. There’s approximately 1 million places to get a good brunch: Try Les Madeleines bakery (the kouign amann is incredible), Hub & Spoke Diner, and Pig and a Jelly Jar to start. For Thai that will knock your socks off, try Sawadee. R&R BBQ and Taqueria 27 are also worth the mention as excellent post-hike/bike destinations.
If no one in your family can decide what to eat, head to a food truck roundup, where everyone can sample the truck of their choice. There are several of these nearby, including on every Monday from 5:00 – 9:00 p.m. in Sugarhouse at Sugarmont Park, and on Thursdays from 11:00 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Gallivan Center.
If you want dinner with Thoreau-esque ambiance, head up Millcreek canyon and roast hot dogs or make tinfoil dinners over the fire. The entrance fee is just a few bucks, and the canyon is beautiful and close to town.
Where to stay in Salt Lake City:
Downtown and Sugarhouse are great places to stay, both having food, entertainment and public transit within easy walking distance. Find hotels at all price ranges.
Enjoy your weekend seeing your home with new eyes! And really, ask one of the kids to clean up the dog vomit. It’s time they started pulling their weight around here.