The Frugal Traveler: Get an affordable taste of Olympic adventure in Utah's Park City
Downtown Park City, Utah boasts charming shops and restaurants. (Courtesy Myscha Theriault/MCT / March 15, 2012)
Activities: Ready to relax? Align Spa's atmosphere is part Zen garden, part Bohemian loft. Their $35 Ski Boot Revenge treatment includes a foot soak, paraffin dip and muscle-relieving leg massage. Family adventure options include Park City Mountain Resort's Alpine coaster and the 2,111-foot zip tour adventure at Canyons, each available for $20. Canyons Resort also offers free Saturday afternoon concerts all spring, which are fun to enjoy with a casual beverage. More than 400 miles of public trails provide free fun to those preferring snowshoeing or Nordic skiing to a downhill experience.
Food: Stay on budget by hitting the appetizer menus. At High West, a ski-in distillery and restaurant housed in an antique livery stable, you and a friend can sample a selection of in-house whiskeys for the price of roughly one cocktail each. Fun snacks include the $5 bourbon-caramel popcorn and $6 giant soft pretzels with rye-infused dipping sauce. Silver, a slightly more sophisticated venue, offers several hearty starters for less than $15, including mushroom crostini and potato pancakes with smoked salmon. Don't want to leave the mountain? The Royal Street Cafe at Deer Valley serves noteworthy turkey chili and chive hummus with homemade pita chips for less than $10.
Savings: Ski free your first day! Out-of-state visitors can convert same-day boarding passes into complimentary lift tickets at any of the town's three major resorts with the destination's quick start program. Those with direct morning flights can be on the slopes by early afternoon. Park City Mountain Resort lets children six and younger ski free, and the area's transit bus provides no-cost transportation to ski resorts, recreational areas and the historic downtown district.
Splurges: Got extra dough? Summit Mountain Adventures offers 7,000 acres of snowmobiling with spectacular mountain vistas and a large meadow to indulge the need for speed. Prices start at $100. Utah Olympic Park's $200 bobsled ride is the real deal, reaching five G's in 55 seconds. Typically, astronauts experience only three G's during a shuttle launch, albeit for a longer period of time. Children will remember a real-life dogsled ride through the forest for a lifetime. At $350 through All Seasons Adventures it's a bit spendy, but the rate allows for multiple little ones in the sled. Sacrificing a day's lift tickets will help defray the cost and make a magnificent family memory.
Theriault is the best-selling co-author of the book "10,001 Ways to Live Large on a Small Budget," and founder of TrekHound.com, a website for independent travelers. She also founded TheLessonMachine.com, a website for teachers.