Sundancing. It’s a verb. Don’t look it up as it hasn’t made it to Webster’s Dictionary…yet! We locals created it because it’s what we tell our kids we are doing the last two weeks of January every year. “We are Sundancing!” This means, we are navigating the traffic and the extra 100,000 plus people who have taken over our normally 25,000 person town to go see films in a very unique way. Often times hearing from the director and actors before and after the screening and engaging in a question and answer session. After embracing Sundance about 5 years ago (I have lived in Park City for 14 years), I felt it was time to share with you some of our tricks, favorite spots, and awesome activities to consider during Sundance.
First of all, it is important to note that Sundance is in Park City, UT, not, Sundance, UT. Although Sundance, UT does exist, is amazing and you should go there… but NOT during Sundance. It’s very small and although it is the original venue and still holds screenings you should really come back and soak up the town when you can eat at the Tree Room and fill your bellies with the deliciousness of their weekend brunch.
I have my Sundance professional, her name is Janice and she guides me like a Sherpa navigating Everest. I am NO GOOD with crowds. And most of my Sundance tips are from her. Thank You, Janice.
Sundancing like a Local.
What to wear:
Reasonable shoes. Trust me, nobody at Sundance is looking at your feet. Don’t be the idiot that is wearing heels when it’s snowing or icy out. Get some warm, not too ridiculously big boots and work it. Smart is the new sexy!
If it’s cold outside, and most times it is, it will be super toasty inside. So, layer. And if you are in your mid-40’s like me, don’t be afraid to wear a cute short sleeved shirt as the final layer. Hot flashes suck!
You can wear a cute hat and not have hat head. So make sure to add gloves, hats and scarves to your wardrobe. (When you take them off, stuff them all into your jacket sleeve. That way you won’t lose them!)
Mountain Chic. This is a term used to describe fancier attire here in Park City. Its definition is, jeans and a cute blouse or sweater and some make-up. Boom! Done!
How to get around:
Uber. Do not rent a car for many reasons; we don’t have enough room for more cars, the rental cars don’t have snow tires and there isn’t any parking.
Karaoke Cab. This is a fun night out and a ride to your event all in one. I may have rented their bus for my 45th birthday party!!!
Buses. Take our awesome local buses to all of your screenings and events. They are free and they are rarely used during the off-season. But please keep in mind that many locals are using them as well because we can’t get anywhere either.(and we are trying to get our kids to ski team, activities and school) Be kind. Be patient. And remember you’re visiting a small town. (And the main venue, The Eccles Center, is our only local high school)
Share your ride. Squeeze in. Geographically, the area of Park City, UT where most of the screenings take place is about 15 square miles. Get to know your fellow Sundancers and share your rides!
Where to eat:
Many places on Main Street have changed their name for Sundance but these favorites are always winners. Riverhorse, Riverhorse Provisions, Café Terigo, Handle, Zoom, Grappa, Chimayo, Vinto, Wahso and Cows for ice cream (and every random kid trinket).
Off of the main street area but close to the area. Blind Dog, Sammy’s Bistro, Adolph’s(true Austrian ski racing restaurant), Reef’s Restaurant, Grub Steak (great lunch), El Chubasco (fantastic quick Mexican), Burgers and Bourbon at the Montage in Deer Valley.
Out near I-80 which is called Kimball Junction. Sushi Blue, Café Trio, Ghidotti’s and Vessel (super yummy quick service)
Where to caffeinate (we have 3 Starbucks but try something new):
Ritual Chocolate. They even make their own chocolate. And, yes, you MUST have chocolate with your coffee. Remember, you are at altitude so your body needs it.
Silver King. It’s a drive-thru. Our only drive-thru. They put a chocolate covered espresso bean on the lid.
Campos. Just off the hill at Park City Mountain Resort. Aussie owned which, to me, is the home of the flat white!
Hugo. Out at Kimball Junction inside the visitor center. It is NOT the quickest but still has a nice setting where you can sit on a couch and enjoy.
Park City Coffee Roasters. It’s not just about the coffee here (although they do roast their own beans). They have ridiculously yummy treats like white chocolate/berry muffins and one of my favorite smoothies, P, B &A.
When you don’t have a movie:
1. SKI. Sundance is the BEST time to go skiing because the rest of the town is Sundancing. Pick a day and hit the slopes. My resort is Deer Valley because of it's amazing layout, easy groomers and less of a crowd (they max ticket sales every day) But if you snowboard, Park City is your place.
2. The Crater in Midway, UT. This is the strangest and deepest natural hot spring and it is a brilliant green! Take your camera and soak up the minerals. After all your Sundancing, you will need this.
3. Hike up and sled down. Bring a friend for this one. I am going to tell you about our trail, but don’t tell everyone, OK?! It’s called Iron Mountain and it is a ridiculously steep climb up but a super fun sled down. Wear a helmet and put on yaktraks on your shoes for the hike up. Also, when you get to the top, the view looks like this!
4. Just hike. One of the amazing things about Park City is our trail system. Talk to your concierge and pick a route close to you but get out, hike and be one with nature. Remember, nature is out there with you so be loud to scare off/not startle wild animals. Here is a link to what to do if you see a moose, just in case.
5. Night snowshoe adventure. Jan 16 is a full moon and a supermoon so the sky will be bright if it is clear.
6. Try cross-country skiing. If you love a good sweat and a good laugh, this is something you need to put on your list. So many people have told me I would be great at this sport and I AM NOT, but it is a fantastic workout and leads to hilarious stories…we all need more of both of those!
Snowmobiling can be amazing. I have never done it but my buddy Holly Robinson-Peete just came out with her family and she said it was awesome! Here is where she went!
To close things out, let me give you a few bit tips.
Bring a water bottle. We love people who fill up and reuse because you have to drink lots of water when you are here. Pack your best lip balm and face and hand cream as it is beyond dry out here.
We serve alcohol but we do have a few funky rules.
Everyone is carded, seriously, even my 76 year old dad. So, carry your ID everywhere and don’t be alarmed.
We don’t sell liquor or wine at the grocery store and the beer sold at the store is 3/2 beer. (less alcohol) If you want all the real stuff, go to our state liquor stores, there are 3!
You don’t need to belong to a “club” anymore to drink at restaurants. But you can’t have two drinks at once and our wine pour is small, it is state regulated.
That’s it! HAVE FUN and, most importantly, enjoy our awesome city. We love having you out here but we encourage you to slow yourself down a bit and remember we all are surviving and thriving in this journey together. Celebrities are fun and exciting but the most important people in Park City are our kids! Spread kindness this Sundance season.