Salt Lake City vs. Park City Vacation: Which Is Better?

You’re longing to get away after too many months spent cooped up indoors, away from sun, fun, and friends. You’re dreaming of spectacular scenery, world-class accommodations, and lots to see and do. Would a vacation in Salt Lake City or Park City be a better way to scratch that travel itch?

Salt Lake City is better if you’re looking for a modern city with plenty of restaurants, businesses, and attractions situated at the foot of stunning mountains. Park City is better if you’re looking for a ski resort nestled in a charming, historic town.

CategorySalt Lake CityPark City
Cost Range for 1 Week$99-275 per room$150-1,000 per room
TransportationInternational Airport,  FrontRunner (commuter train), bus, and TRAX (light-rail)Bus, Town Lift (ski lift), and ski (ski-in, ski-out access)
Notable AttractionsRed Butte Garden, Thanksgiving Point, Great Salt Lake State Park, Tracy Aviary, Utah’s Hogle Zoo, Loveland Living Planet Aquarium, Lagoon amusement park, Antelope Island, Seven Peaks, Dave & Busters, Boondocks, Olympics venues, Temple Square, This is the Place Heritage Park, The Tower, Broadway Center CinemaPark City Mountain Resort, High Meadow Park Ski and Snowboard School, Sundance Film Festival (January), Summer Concert Series, Flying Eagle Zipline, Mountain Coaster, Historic Mountain Tours, Cecret Lake Hiking Trail, Donut Falls Hiking Trail, Lake Blanche Hiking Trail, Sugarloaf and Devil’s Castle, Dog Lake and Desolation Lake Hiking Trail, Stillwell Spa, Canyons Golf
WeatherSummer (Jun-Sep) warm/hot daytime and mild nighttime, Dec-Mar cool to coldSki season (Dec-Mar) cold and snowy, summer (Jun-Sep) warm
Food and DrinkTable X, BTG Wine Bar, 5th Street Grill, Cucina Toscana, Billy Blanco’s, Current Fish & Oyster, Apollo Burger Downtown, Les Madeleines, Lucky H Bar and Grill, Market Street Grill, Market Street Oyster Bar, The Garden CafeJupiter Java, Legends, Red Pine Lodge, The Farm, Umbrella Bar, Mid Mountain Lodge, Tombstone BBQ, Red Tail Grill, Murdock’s Cafe and Pizzeria, 
Activities for KidsSnowbird, Utah’s Hogle Zoo, The Natural History Museum of Utah, This is the Place Heritage Park, The Gateway Mall, Liberty Park, Millcreek Canyon, Lagoon, Thanksgiving PointKimball Art Center, Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter, Park City Apres Ski Outing (older kids), Park City Mountain Kids’ Ropes Courses & Zip Line, Rockport State Park, Woodward Camps, Park City Museum
Nature AttractionsRed Butte Garden, Thanksgiving Point, Great Salt Lake, Tracy Aviary, Loveland Living Planet Aquarium, Antelope Island, Seven Peaks, Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce, Zion, and Capitol Reef, Coral Pink Sand Dunes, Goblin Valley, Jordanelle, Wheeler Farm, Hiking, Biking, Fishing, BirdwatchingSwaner Preserve and EcoCenter, Skiing, High Meadow Park, Union Pacific Rail Trail, Guardsman Pass Scenic Backway, Cecret Lake Hiking Trail, Donut Falls Hiking Trail, Lake Blanche Hiking Trail, Sugarloaf and Devil’s Castle, Dog Lake and Desolation Lake Hiking Trail, Horseback Riding

Cost of Stay

If you’re traveling on a limited budget, Salt Lake City is the better option. Accommodations range from below $100 per room per night to $250 or $300 per room. Dining options are similarly available at a range of prices that most holidayers would consider reasonable.

There are numerous entertainment options that can be enjoyed for a low cost, and many completely free of charge. The mountain, lake, and forest scenes are a major part of Salt Lake City’s charms, and activities like birdwatching on the Great Salt Lake draw travelers from all over the country every year.

Park City is the destination favored by travelers for whom expense is less of a concern. The ski resort is so central to the life of the city that it is possible to ski in and out of town from the slopes, and with a major industry event like the Sundance Film Festival, the town is a magnet for the rich and famous.

Activities in Park City targeting this upscale clientele include skiing, golf, spas, and wining and dining. Both winter and summer are peak seasons in Park City, reflected in the cost of accommodations. 

Main Attractions

The main attractions in Salt Lake City center around nature. The Great Salt Lake that gives the city its name, is the largest saltwater lake in the Western Hemisphere. The lake and its islands are accessible in The Great Salt Lake State Park, with sandy beaches for swimming or sunbathing blue waters for sailing, and rugged outcroppings for hiking. The Red Butte Garden, a vibrant botanical garden built into a hillside, offers hiking trails with outstanding views.

The area is also known for its film culture. The Salt Lake City Film Society is a community art house cinema that screens independent film, documentaries, and international film. The Tower cinema and Broadway are the two main venues in Salt Lake City for these screenings. 

A holiday in Park City is all about activities on the mountain. Skiing is the heartbeat of life in Park City, with passes, rentals, and ski and snowboarding lessons all available on the mountain. Ski season is usually from late November through March. The mountain hosts a whole different set of delights in the summer, with hiking, biking, horseback riding, and mountain zip line courses taking center stage.

The Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter, a 1,200-acre nature preserve, includes a 10,000 square foot building with interactive exhibits about the region’s environment. It is the perfect spot for viewing wildlife or taking a nature tour. The Canyons Golf Club, designed by award-winning golf architect Gene Bates and co-architect Casey Bates, offers a unique challenge for golfers, built right on the ski runs of the ski resort.

One of the highlights of the year in Park City is the internationally acclaimed Sundance Film Festival, held in January each year. Filmmakers, actors, and other prominent figures in the industry descend on Park City from all over the world, bringing a level of glitz and glamor to the scene that rivals the amazing natural scenery that surrounds the festival.

Food and Drink

A wide range of dining options are available in Salt Lake City. Table X offers modern seasonal American dishes in the rustic setting of a wood barrel roof building constructed in 1929. The menu includes vegetarian options. Ruth’s Diner is another popular spot, grilling some of the best burgers in town since 1930.

In Park City, favorite eateries include the Red Tail Grill, which is popular for lunch and dinner, and its late-night bar menu. Tombstone BBQ is another spot where you’ll find skiers relaxing after a long day on the slopes. Its menu of brisket, pulled pork, and smoked wings are always a huge hit between runs.

Billy Blanco’s Motor City Mexican Burger & Taco Garage is a unique dining experience, with decor designed by a real metalhead. Cars and motorcycles fill the dining area, and stools are made of toolboxes and other items that look like they were lifted from your local garage. The menu includes tacos, enchiladas, and other items typically found on the menu at your favorite Mexican restaurant.


Salt Lake City and Park City are both cold in winter and warm or hot in summer, with mild temperatures in the evening. Both seasons are peak travel periods in Salt Lake City and Park City. The summer travel season lasts from June through September and the winter peak season from December through March


Safety on the slopes is the topmost concern when traveling to Park City. The Park City Mountain site offers safety tips that should be observed by everyone using the slopes.


Public transportation is readily available in Salt Lake City, via its commuter train network FrontRunner, bus service, and its light-rail service TRAX. In Park City, bus service is available, but most people travel by chair lift or ski from the slopes into town.

Conclusion: Salt Lake City vs. Park City

Salt Lake City and Park City both have lots of appeal as a holiday destination. Your needs and your budget will determine which is the best fit for you. If you’re looking to hit the slopes, then Park City is the place for you. If you’re looking for a more modern city vibe set amidst breathtaking natural splendor, then you can’t miss a trip to Salt Lake City. Either way, you’ll find plenty to keep you entertained.

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