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Salt Lake City   |  Jason Laegever

4 Days   •   130 Miles

Traveling Fandom

Enjoy the game in the one and only Ski City.
western desertslc > zionslc > monument valleyslc > moabSALT LAKE CITYWASATCH FRONT1570701580215158015

Explore the itinerary, then start planning your Utah ski vacation.

Have a passion for NBA basketball? Use your team's away game in Salt Lake City to show your support, while experiencing the only Ski City.

It's no secret Utah is a basketball state. The Utah Jazz were the state's first professional sports franchise, and locals show up big time to support them — making for a great arena experience, a spacious modern venue with 30 dining options, many of them local favorites.

Despite its boisterous bayou origins, the Jazz’ name and franchise shine a spotlight on the excitement and energy arising from its present lakeside home. Salt Lake City provides all the landmark establishments, high-rated dining and nightlife (yes, Steph Curry — you heard right), mass transit, creative culture, urban edginess and local events you expect to find in a thriving metro area, with the convenience and affordability of a place that hasn’t been discovered by the masses. In fact, Golden State Warriors head coach (and fine wine connoisseur) Steve Kerr admitted his favorite NBA road restaurant is none other than Salt Lake City's Valter's Osteria.

The city's official elevation is 4,330 feet and looking to the east, the foothills quickly give way to the airy 11,000+ feet peaks of the Wasatch Mountains, home to the world-renowned ski areas of Alta, Snowbird, Brighton and Solitude, just 30 minutes from downtown on a weekday (weekends and Utah’s epic powder days can mean a bit more traffic). Although each resort offers slopeside accommodations running the full spectrum of amenities and budget, you can also ski like a local and make the easy run back down the mountain for the game paired with dinner, a drink, a concert, a show or whatever suits your mood.

In this itinerary, we've given you enough ideas to fill at least four days, whether or not you ski everyday and whether you choose to apply your skills at a single resort or try sampling all four. (For the latter choice, we recommend the Ski City Super Pass.)

How to use this itinerary:

  • Day 1, take care of what you came for. Cheer your team on and experience the atmosphere of Vivint Arena. In addition, experience the city's culture and urban vibe.
  • Days 2 and 3 offer up ideas for two days of skiing the backyard Wasatch Mountains that can easily expand to four or more days.
  • Day 4 rounds out the itinerary's options with an overview of Salt Lake City's dining, drinks and live music. In other words, the essentials.

Day 1

Game Day

5 Miles

Start your day getting to know the city's caffeinated brew scene. Then take a fantasy journey through a day's worth of indulgence. Visitors to Salt Lake could certainly spend a day exploring the best in craft coffee, cuisine and cocktails alongside a chocolate and cheese tasting or a trip to one of multiple local breweries or brewpubs.

Before the big game, first-time visitors might enjoy a trip to Temple Square. The spiritual center for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Temple Square offers free walking tours of the Temple grounds available in forty languages. The area also provides access to one of the most extensive collections of genealogical records in the world and frequent performances by The Tabernacle Choir.

Pro tip: To the city (walk, bike share, taxi, Uber, Lyft, public transit or car), remember that Temple Square is (0,0) on the grid, each street heading north or south adds 100 and each street heading east or west adds 100. Thus, nine blocks south and nine blocks east you'll be at 900 South and 900 East, locally known as 9th and 9th. (Read about more Salt Lake City neighborhoods here.)

Vivint Arena isn't lacking when it comes to experiencing the local food scene. More than 30 restaurants and vendors (many of them local) occupy the arena, with the four corners of the arena each featuring a specialty menu, including barbecue from R&R, philly cheesesteaks and hand-tossed pizzas from Maxwell’s, famed Polish-style dogs from J.Dawgs, and gourmet hamburgers and signature beef sandwiches from Cubby’s. Check out local favorites Cup Bop, Hires Big H (try the root beer freeze!) and dessert from Iceberg or Farr's. 

Day 2

Downhill to Downtown

60 Miles

Big Cottonwood Canyon’s not-so-little sibling to the south, Little Cottonwood Canyon, also offers quick metro-to-mountain access and the same option to pick a single resort, or purchase a combined pass. You’ll also find plenty of gear retail or rental outfitters if you don’t have your own equipment.

Both resorts are included on Ikon and Ski City Super Pass. Similarly, the Alta-BirdPass (sold at either resort) enables skiers to access both resorts' terrain via a connection gate at the saddle separating Alta's Albion Basin and Snowbird's Mineral Basin. The result is a combined 4,700 acres, over 283 runs and greatest snowfalls annually. Although both resorts provide a good balance of beginner, intermediate and advanced trails, they are famous for their blue to double black diamond runs, bowls, traverses and chutes, offering offer some of Utah’s best steep and deep terrain.

Alta Ski Area is a skier's paradise and snowboarder’s Hades (no snowboards allowed) that receives 550 inches of the fluffy white stuff per year on average and features a vertical drop of more than 2,000 feet and some of Utah’s most storied ski runs, like the infamous High Rustler.

While there’s great terrain for beginners at Snowbird Ski and Summer Resort, expert skiers and riders can carve first tracks in wide-open bowls, fly down steep chutes, and make their way through the mountain itself on North America's only ski tunnel. Be sure to hit the 1,200 vertical feet and 40-degree pitch of North Baldy when the gate is open. Stop for lunch and a hot cocoa or beer at the 23,000-square-foot Summit Lodge next to the tram on Snowbird's Hidden Peak, which offers a local-inspired menu with an 11,000-foot view.

After two days of skiing, relax in the rooftop hot tub at The Cliff Spa, grab cocktails and “appy hour” snacks at The Aerie and loosen up for an evening out on the town. Salt Lake City boasts the metropolitan culture and nightlife of a world-class city.

Lodging: Salt Lake City or slopeside at Alta or Snowbird. Both resorts offer extensive lodging options and amenities, ranging from inexpensive dorm-style rooms at Alta, condos at Snowbird’s Iron Blossom Inn to the luxe accommodations at Snowpine Lodge nestled between the two resorts.

The Drive: Return to Salt Lake base camp after skiing Big Cottonwood Canyon or head straight to a lodge or hotel up Little Cottonwood. It’s about 35 minutes back downtown, or 45 minutes to the top of the neighboring canyon. Add a few minutes for winter weather or canyon ski traffic on the weekend.

Day 3

On Repeat: Downhill to Downtown

60 Miles

Take your pick from the Big Cottonwood Canyon resorts: Solitude Mountain Resort and Brighton Ski Resort. The amenities, accessibility and affordability of both resorts make Brighton and Solitude a great deal — it’s no stretch to say they’re some of the best family ski resorts out there. While you can enjoy an incredible day at either resort (and both are included on the Ikon or Ski City Super Pass), these resorts also offer the combined SolBright Pass, which enables skiers to access your choice of 15 lifts and over the resorts’ combined 2,250 skiable acres and 130 named runs. The blue/intermediate SolBright run is accessed from the Milly lift at Brighton or Summit lift at Solitude, though less-experienced skiers may opt for the short bus trip to the other resort.

Brighton Ski Resort has one of Utah’s longest ski school traditions, multiple terrain parks for riders and excellent night skiing. Milly Bowl is a powdery playground that can keep you yelling, “Wahoo!” all day.

Solitude Mountain Resort is a sister resort to Deer Valley, a legend in service and dining. Solitude boasts a European-style village that features a full-service (Nordic center, outdoor ice skating) and mid-mountain patio dining. Don't miss skiing and snowboarding the powder magnet, Honeycomb Canyon.

If your legs can take it, try out night skiing at Brighton Resort, offering 200 acres of lighted runs. Otherwise, make a reservation for a prix-fixe luxury meal at the Yurt at Solitude, which only requires a short snowshoe walk under the stars.

Lodging: Choose from numerous resort or canyon lodging options (from slopeside condos to canyonside rentals at or near Brighton or Solitude if you're looking for the shortest path to the earliest chair. Otherwise, check into over 150 hotels if your base camp is Salt Lake City, which offers the best access to the city’s culture, nightlife and 1,000+ restaurants (taste some of the best in The Perfect Meal)...often at the area’s best rates. 

The Drive: SLC to downtown is less than 10 minutes; Solitude and Brighton are 40 minutes depending on ski traffic and weather. 

Pro Tip: Save money on rental cars, and help keep Utah roads and skies clear. Take Trax light rail from the airport to downtown. There are numerous private and group shuttles from downtown (there’s even Uber Ski), or take UTA to the Ski Bus at the mouth of the canyon.

The après-ski feature below highlights a number of popular spots for unwinding, including choices near the mouth of the Cottonwood Canyons or in downtown Ski City. From there, the town is yours. Book a second show, check out some live music, sneak in some shopping or just explore the city. You'll find more inspiration on Day 4 of this itinerary.

Day 4

More Salt Lake City

5 Miles

Below are a few more stories and ideas to flesh out your itinerary:

Take a fantasy journey through a day's worth of indulgence in The Perfect Meal, a story that might help you narrow down your choices — in 2014, Wine Enthusiast Magazine named Salt Lake City one of America's 5 New Foodie Cities and things have only gotten bigger and better!

Finish things up with a distillery tour for a behind-the-scenes look at craft distillation in Utah or drop into one of downtown Salt Lake's popular cocktail bars to see these libations put to work.

If you've got one more evening activity in you, check out Salt Lake's music scene, including headliners and almost famous acts at The State Room and The Depot. While you're downtown, use this map to hunt down some of Salt Lake's unique murals and street art. Each location offers a great photo op as well as a story to pass on.

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