Sundance Film Festival Travel Tips

There are about 100 bars and restaurants in Park City (population 7,000), but during Sundance many of them are leased to corporate sponsors, which use the space for marketing functions and hospitality events. Still, you can find a place to eat and drink in Park City during the festival.

Contrary to popular belief, it's easy to get an alcoholic drink in this otherwise strait-laced corner of the Southwest. Many local bars are designated "private clubs." That means you are required to buy a membership for $5. That's it: You're good to go. No doubles are served but a "side car" with an extra shot of liquor on the side can be purchased.

There are some pubs that serve only beer lower in alcohol, known as 3.2 beer. In those establishments, no membership is required. Three state liquor stores are located in Park City. One is out by Interstate 80, another is located on Main Street and the third is in a part of town called Prospector. Grocery stores sell 3.2 beer.

While many restaurants are privately booked during Sundance, there are some notable eating joints that are open to the public, and they are excellent. Prime Steak House, the Blind Dog, the Eating Establishment and the Brew Pub are local favorites.

By now, it is virtually impossible to find a hotel or condominium to rent. Many have been booked since last summer. But there is hope. Try the Internet sites of Deer Valley Lodging for high-end rentals, the Marriott for middle of the road hotel accommodations, and various chains (Radisson, Holiday Inn, etc.) for less-expensive lodging.

Salt Lake City is only a half-hour drive down the freeway and usually has hotel rooms when Park City is sold out. Among the better places to stay in Salt Lake are the Marriott, Little America, Grand America and the Monaco.

Forget about driving around Park City during the festival. You will not find a parking space. Take the bus. It's free and goes everywhere. There's also a free cable car trolley that runs up and down Main Street.

If You Go …

One final tip. If you're a skier or snowboarder, conditions are excellent. Base totals range from 70 to 100 inches, depending on which resort you visit.

Deer Valley was voted the No. 1 ski resort this year by the readers of Ski magazine. It has excellent day lodge facilities, the best on-mountain dining and beautifully groomed runs. Snowboards are not allowed.

If you're a rider, head over to Park City Mountain Resort or the Canyons. Best of all, the resorts aren't crowded. It's between holidays, and most of the Sundance film crowd is downtown, not up on the mountain.