Park City Mountain Resort

The Small Moments


Author, Let’s Lasso the Moon blog
Photos By: Zina Harrington


My usually chatty daughter stood silent, staring blankly at the metallic elevator doors, waiting for them to open. She pushed the already-lit button again—twice—hoping to speed its arrival.
After a full day on the slopes at Park City Mountain, we were both exhausted and eager to get back to our hotel room. She began to fidget with the zipper on her jacket, then suddenly turned on her heel, looked me straight in the eye, and said dreamily, "That was the best day ever."
Her gaze returned to her zipper, a smile spreading across her face as she reflected on the day we'd just spent together.
As parents, we put immense amounts of time and energy into planning family vacations. And while my two girls are always grateful when we're traveling, there was something about the way my daughter blurted out this particular statement that made it stand out as especially genuine.
I looked out from the window of the newly renovated Grand Summit Hotel at the mountain in the distance and my heart smiled.
Admittedly, I was a bit nervous when I started planning our family ski trip to Utah.
If you've done your research, you likely already know that Park City is the largest resort in the U.S. That's a win for skiers of all levels and NOT what I was stressing about. What made me anxious were all the "tiny" vacation details that we as parents know are anything but small:
  • Where would we eat when we arrived (ravished after traveling)?
  • How are we going to get our gear back to our hotel?
  • Which runs will the kids have the most fun going down?
I'm here to give you the Mom 4-1-1 about some of the family perks of traveling to Park City.


You truly start your vacation the minute you leave the airport


Many other prominent ski locations require considerable amounts of travel time once your plane hits the ground.This is not the case here, though, as pristine slopes are a mere 35 minutes from the airport.

With a prescheduled airport shuttle, we were able to simply sit back, let someone else drive, and savor our kids' excitement during the short ride. I gladly embraced the chance to slow down and catch my breath after our flight.

Our airport shuttle brought us directly to the Grand Summit Hotel in Canyons Village. As I checked in at the front desk, I learned that everything we needed to start our vacation off on the right foot was literally within a 3-minute walk from the lobby.

It was a pleasant surprise to realize that our family's points of interest were so nearby. 

We headed out the back entrance of the Grand Summit and grabbed a quick to-go cup of fresh fruit for the kids at Murdock's Café.
In our family, ain't nobody happy on an empty stomach. We strolled out of the café and into the courtyard. It was the perfect opportunity for some one-on-one time.
My husband looked at our youngest and declared, "I challenge you to a game of air hockey." Meanwhile, my oldest daughter and I picked up a new pair of gloves and shopped at a few stores that caught our eye. We all walked over together to get our rental equipment, no Uber required (as I had initially feared).
When we carried our skis to the Grand Summit equipment valet, the aroma from Red Tail Grill across the hotel lobby was irresistible.

Over a lovely, sit-down dinner, our family chatted about the terrain we intended to conquer, my two daughters excitedly pointing at the Park City Mountain trail map.

The only real debate was whether we should hop on the Red Pine Gondola or the heated Orange Bubble Express (right outside the restaurant doors) when we hit the slopes. It was the perfect way to close out our first of many relaxing nights in Park City. See what I mean? Everything we needed to kick-start a stress-free family vacation was available in Canyons Village.



Park City offers families a "choose your own adventure" style of vacation



When making vacation plans, sometimes you’re seeking quality time together on the slopes.

Other times, parents need to be a little selfish. There. I said it. The truth is: Your kids are happiest when you are happy, too. So turn your "mom worry" off for a bit, leave the kiddos in good hands to learn ski skills and safety tips from trained Park City instructors, and go take some well-deserved time to yourself.

Or focus on family time and take a lesson together!

The point is to determine what experience will bring you the most joy.

Take a family private lesson

In our case, we prescheduled one for the morning after we arrived. We met our designated Park City Ski and Snowboard School instructor at 9 a.m. in Canyons Village behind the Grand Summit Hotel.
I could tell our attentive ski instructor was truly top-notch as I watched him introduce himself to our girls. The way he made eye contact, spoke to them directly, asked questions, and assessed each one's confidence levels—I knew immediately that our family lesson was going to be a success.
Private ski lessons offer parents the opportunity to get comfortable with the terrain. During our lesson, our instructor made the mountain feel like home. From the get-go, our lesson felt like meeting up with an old family friend who just happened to know Park City Mountain like the back of his hand.
As I mentioned earlier, there's something truly powerful about not having to "think" on your first day together on the mountain. Our instructor took away all the pressure of being a parent:
  • We didn't have to look at a map.
  • We didn't have to figure out which runs matched our kids' experience levels.
  • We didn't have to watch the directional signs as we skied down the mountain.

Our only job was to have fun together.

To be perfectly honest, I thought a private family lesson would be a "fun activity" to do with the kids. What I didn't realize was that one day with an instructor would enhance our entire vacation. Our ability to connect and enjoy Park City Mountain together on our first day changed the whole vibe of our trip (no exaggeration). Taking a private lesson will make you feel comfortable and at home on the mountain the remainder of your visit. I highly recommend it!


The opportunities to connect with your family off the slopes are endless


Now, imagine you've just enjoyed a full day of skiing with your family on Park City Mountain and it's time to trade in your clunky ski boots (ahh... a little slice of heaven).

Pop over to Historic Park City on a convenient shuttle for a bite to eat or some shopping.

If you're utterly exhausted, the kids can enjoy the Grand Summit Hotel's outdoor pool while you relax in the hot tub. After the recharge, Canyons Village offers a family-friendly courtyard featuring an outdoor pool table, air hockey, and snow-friendly "beach" chairs for the kids to enjoy.

Canyons Village also offers parents the opportunity to spend some quality one-on-one time together yet still be within minutes of the kids. Enjoy an evening of fine dining at the award-winning Farm Restaurant, which debuts seasonal menus that celebrate locally-sourced, sustainable cuisine, steps from The Grand Summit.

I remember it like it was yesterday. I opened The Farm menu, paused, and frowned. My mind frantically jumped from entree to entree.

My husband took a sip of his imported German beer and asked, "What's the matter? Can't find anything you like?" I shook my head quietly. As I looked over the appetizers, I replied, "No, the opposite. Everything sounds so amazing, I'm not sure what to pick."
We continued to discuss what to order while enjoying a small plate of farm cheese (it comes with pumpkin jam, candied walnuts, blistered grapes, and grilled bread). Our instructor had recommended the brined pork chop as a once-in-a-lifetime experience so I had to try it.
Just thinking about the pork chop makes me hungry—pretzel and apple bread pudding, white cabbage salad, heirloom carrots, and grainy mustard. It was stellar.


After dinner, we checked in with our girls, who were enjoying a movie night up in the hotel room together, with a short text message. I slowly finished a glass of wine as we waited for the to-go desserts we ordered as a surprise for the kids.
As we walked back to our room, I knew that the quiet, unhurried evening my husband and I had shared at The Farm would be one of my most cherished memories from of our trip. We'd flown across the nation to ski with our kids so a romantic evening of fine dining was quite a wonderful surprise.
But the best part of all of this? Getting to do it all over again the next day.
Park City not only ROCKS when it comes to trails and terrain, but it also offers so much more for families to enjoy together. The food. The adventure. The family-friendly details. The opportunities for shared smiles and family connections are truly endless.
Yes, your kids will remember heading down the half-pipe, but it's the beautiful, small moments that truly make a family ski vacation memorable:


  • The chats you have riding up the mountain side-by-side in a funky, orange, heated bubble.
  • The relaxing evening winding down together at the hotel's pool and hot tub.
  • A child's heartwarming gratitude, spontaneously uttered in front of the elevator doors.


Sometimes, it's these simple family moments that take up the most room in our hearts.

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