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What to do at Sundance besides see films

A view of snow-covered Park City, Utah A view of snow-covered Park City, Utah. | Photo by Jason /

Festival-goers who need a break from movies only need to step outside to enjoy the glorious Utah landscape.

What to do

During the Sundance Film Festival in January, lift lines are short and the slopes are relatively empty, so skiers in the know have the deep powder snow of Utah’s Wasatch Range largely to themselves. 

Go ride the ski lift at the Sundance Mountain Resort. Hop off at 8,200 feet and take a moment to marvel at the snow-capped Wasatch Mountains and a 50-mile view on clear days. Then cozy up with a plate of nachos with melted cheese and pico de gallo at Bearclaw Cabin. 8841 N. Alpine Loop Road, Sundance. 801-223-4157 or 800-892-1600;

If downhill and cross-country skiing aren’t challenging enough, try snowshoeing through evergreen forests and across deep powder meadows. You’ll work up a sweat and be up close with the winter wonderland, where you can expect an encounter with the mountain’s wild denizens. 844-947-8687;

For a hotter experience, drive 30 minutes from Park City to Midway and go swimming in the geothermic waters of Homestead Crater. Formed over centuries by warm water interacting with limestone, the Crater is a natural wonder. You can walk around and marvel at the rock formation with an opening to the clear blue sky. Or you can take the plunge and lose yourself in the pleasures of a natural hot spring. You can swim, snorkel, scuba, or just soak in the 90-degree, therapeutic waters as you do your yoga routine on a paddleboard. 435-657-3840;

Where to eat

Good food and celebrity-watching go hand in hand at the festival. Tucked away at the top of Park City’s Main Street, Grappa is an upscale rustic Italian restaurant favored by actors, directors, and producers. Begin with a plate of antipasti and a glass of wine from the well-stocked cellar before committing yourself to the pleasure of melt-in-your-mouth slow-braised osso bucco with creamy polenta. Definitely leave room for dessert. While you keep an eye out for celebrities, you can share the refreshing hazelnut panna cotta and the pistachio gelato affogato with a bracing shot of espresso. 151 Main Street, Park City. 435-645-0636.

Across the street from the Park City Town Ski Lift, High West Distillery is the only ski-in restaurant in Utah. That creates a casual vibe in a high-quality watering hole that serves excellent food. Choose one of High West’s blended whiskeys in a cocktail or neat to take the chill off. Then go light with a Caesar salad or go full hog and order the deliciously engaging pork chop served tomahawk style. Relive a childhood camping experience and finish the meal with a plate of hot-off-the-grill s’mores. 703 Park Avenue, Park City. 435-649-8300;

Where to stay

Accommodations in the Park City area sell out well in advance—sometimes at double the normal rates—so book rooms in nearby towns, such as Provo or Heber, or in Salt Lake City, and book early.

On the forested slopes of Mount Timpanogos, Robert Redford’s Sundance Mountain Resort is home to the Sundance Institute Labs, and festivalgoers watch movies here in the intimate Screening Room. Packages that include accommodations, breakfast, festival credentials, and a ticket packet start at $3,070. (801) 225-4107;

For a special occasion, the Washington School House Hotel in Park City offers 12 rooms in a cozy, intimate setting. The stone building began life in 1889 as a school. But nothing about the hotel will remind you of boring lesson plans. The building was remodeled with comfort and stylishness in mind. Arrive hungry and cold after skiing or a movie; appetizers will be waiting in the dining area. 543 Park Avenue, Park City. 800-824-1672;

Half an hour’s drive from Park City, next door to the Homestead Crater, the Homestead Resort has comfortable rooms in a rural setting. 700 N. Homestead Drive, Midway. 800-327-7220;

[Attending the Sundance Film Festival? These insider tips will help you make the most of your experience.]

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