Top 5 Best Eats & Drinks – Park City Adventures (Part 3)

When we weren’t skiing, we were eating our way through some of the best food and drinks Park City has to offer! Here are our top 5 places for food and drinks in Park City:

5. The Spur Bar & Grill – Our first afternoon in Park City, we dropped our stuff at the Airbnb and headed to check out downtown Park City on Main Street. There are so many options for any occasion of the day on Main Street, and we spent about 30 minutes just taking note of some of the restaurants and menus that we wanted to come back to. Once the snow started to pick up, we decided to take a quick break and grab a drink at The Spur Bar & Grill. We said cheers to a great start to our vacation at the upstairs bar, and got a peek of their outdoor patio for the nicer days. While we just had a drink, they looked to have a great menu and have live music several times per week.

4. High West Distillery – We had heard a lot of recommendations for High West and even tried to go our first day in Park City but it was so packed! We finally got a chance to stop by our our last night before dinner to see what all the buzz was about. A local watering hole for locals and skiers to unwind after a cold day on the slopes, High West transforms their outside patio area into the perfect afternoon social hotspot. With the fire going, hot cider and whisky flowing, it was the best spot to still enjoy the beautiful crisp air while staying warm. We tried the American Prairie Bourbon and their signature hot cider. Next time we are here, we definitely want to check our their tour and tastings to really understand the history of High West.

3. Blue Iguana – We love a good Mexican restaurant, and with as funny of a name as Blue Iguana, we couldn’t pass it up! With a vibrantly colorful atmosphere, we reminisced about our wonderful honeymoon in Mexico. The Blue Iguana featured a salsa bar with 6 different all you can eat salsa varieties. TLB tip: Chips refills are not free here (Whattttt??). Blue Iguana charges $2 for a chip refill, so we sparingly ate our chips so we didn’t run out! No additional chips were provided with guacamole either. Despite having to ration our chip supply, we both left full after our delicious dinner. We started off with margaritas (we recommend the frozen over the on-the-rocks version) and the signature guacamole, which was so fresh and a surprisingly a good portion size. Meagan had the chicken quesadilla and Grant had the enchiladas with rice and beans. While it is a Mexican restaurant, it was a bit pricier than our usual La Parilla visits, so be prepared to tack on a few extra dollars for each entree if you stop in.

Tied 1. Buona Vita – As much as we love Mexican, we equally love delicious Italian food! We had an incredible meal at Buona Vita after our first day of skiing. Since we had another day of skiing, we figured why not carbo-load?? The intimate and authentic atmosphere of Buona Vita was surpassed only by the rich, delicious flavors of their food. We had a romantic table for two right by their stone fireplace and started off our meal with a great Italian bottle of wine and the appetizer special of the night – garlic bread. We typically go for a salad appetizer, but we couldn’t resist the bread once we caught a whiff of the garlic! Meagan decided on their mushroom ravioli while Grant went with the tried and true Chicken Parmesan. Both dishes were amazing, and it looked like you couldn’t go wrong based on the empty plates at other tables. We highly recommend Buona Vita for the Italian foodies, couples looking for a romantic evening, or for anyone craving warm, comfort food. Entrees range from about $18-$30+, so plan to take your time and enjoy your meal to get the best experience.

Tied 1. Butcher’s Chophouse – Tied with Buona Vita, Butcher’s Chophouse was a completely different atmosphere and food, but equally as delicious. With it being our final night in Park City, we wanted to relax and enjoy a leisurely dinner. To “cheers” a successful first post-honeymoon trip, we started with some of the signature cocktails – Blackberry Bramble for Grant, and Bubbly Bee’s Knees for Meagan. Now we just need to learn how to make them at home! For our appetizer, we went with the Mazza Plate – a perfect sampler platter of hummus, pita bread, roasted red peppers and tomatoes, goat cheese, and olives, all drizzled with a balsamic glaze. With a huge amount of food, we definitely felt we got the best bang for our buck with this $14 appetizer!

Butcher’s is known for it’s fantastic cuts of meat and fresh seafood options, so it was a difficult choice to decide our entrees. Meagan went with the Butcher’s Signature Chop Chop Salad, and Grant ended up going with the 16 oz. Prime Rib, asparagus, and jalapeno bacon mac. It was the perfect way to cap off our trip!

Bonus: Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory – It wouldn’t be a vacation without a few sweet treats! We found some great chocolates and truffles on Main Street at the Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory. $15 worth of yummy chocolates later, and we were ready to stock up on even more before we left town! TLB Tip: If you don’t get a chance to stop in at the Park City location, RMCF is a national brand that has locations all over the world! 

Curious about other parts of our Park City trip? Check out our tips for snow activities here and our awesome accommodations here.

Follow along on Instagram at www.instagram.com/thelocalbells

Do You Want to Build a Snowman? Or Ski? Or Snowmobile? – Adventures in Park City (Part 2)

When you think Park City, one of the first things that come to mind is their world-class skiing. Park City is home to Deer Valley Resort and Park City Mountain Resort, the annual Sundance Film Festival, and was also the site for the 2002 Winter Olympics. The ski season typically ranges from November until April, though can sometimes extend into June if they have an awesome snow season. This year was a late start for snow – a lot of locals told us if we had come a month prior, there wouldn’t have been much snow at all!

So when you are in a city known for its amazing snow and skiing, you make it a point to see what all the hype is about! We decided that we would ski at Park City Mountain, as it offered the most extensive options for ski lifts and runs, particularly for beginners. Meagan skied growing up, but it had been about 12 years since she had hit the slopes. Grant had never skied before (he had tried snowboarding once), so we knew we needed to start slow. TLB Tip: We did some research online and found we’d get the best deal on lift tickets by purchasing directly through Park City Mountain at least a week in advance. We were a little taken aback by how expensive the tickets were – over $400 for two people skiing on Friday and Saturday, so definitely keep that in mind during your ski trip planning. The tickets were mailed to us before our trip, so we didn’t have to wait in the super long lift ticket line once we arrived, which was a huge plus. The passes ordered ahead of time look a lot like a credit card. You stick it in any of your jacket pockets and the Park City Mountain staff is able to scan it right through your jacket before you get on the lifts.

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Before we could hit the slopes, we stopped by the Ski’N’See rental shop in the Prospector lobby to rent our ski equipment. TLB Tip: We made a reservation for our equipment in advance and ended up saving about 25%! Two days of rentals including boots, skis, poles, and helmets ran us just under $200 total. Luckily, we were able to raid Meagan’s family’s ski bag and borrow some of the other winter weather essentials like goggles, gloves, and hats.

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Friday morning, we hit the road at 8 AM to get to Park City Mountain before it opened at 9 AM. Again, the Park City Transit bus system was a super convenient (and free!) way to get us to the mountain, with the only disadvantage being having to carry all of our ski equipment with us there and back. Once we got there and the lifts officially opened for the day, we popped our skis on and made our way to the aptly named “First Time” lift for our first run of the trip (and first time ever for Grant!). Luckily, we made it on and off the chairlift successfully! We spent the rest of the morning continuing down the “First Time” run to get more comfortable and confident before heading up the “Payday” lift to a longer green run, starting about halfway up the mountain.

This new run, “Homerun,” is a 3.5 mile long green run that takes you down the mountain right back to the resort center. Meagan isn’t a huge fan of the chairlift (thanks, fear of heights), so this was a great long run before having to head back to the lifts. Both Friday and Saturday, we stuck with the green runs, not quite ready to make the jump to blues. It was a little windy out too, but luckily temperatures stayed in the 30’s so we really weren’t that cold. Despite not getting any fresh powder, the runs were groomed beautifully and the ground snow conditions were still pretty good for us novice skiers. The picture below perfectly captures how we navigated the mountain!

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All in all, it was a successful two days of skiing! You do forget how physically demanding it is to ski all day, so it’s likely we would stick to 2 or 3 days in the future (or shorter days). A big success was no injuries on either side (luckily the snow was soft for the few tumbles that happened). Unfortunately, we forgot to have our snowball fight and didn’t build a snowman – but that gives us something to look forward to next time!

If skiing isn’t for you, Park City has a ton of other snow activity options including snowmobiling, snowshoeing, or sleigh rides. Meagan had the chance to go snowmobiling earlier in the week before Grant arrived. If you’ve ridden a Jet-ski before, snowmobiling is very similar. Meagan went to Red Pine Adventures for a 2 hour guided tour that took the group on trails up and down the mountain, getting as high as 10,000 feet. The views were stunning and if you have a need for speed, then this activity is right up your alley!

Stay tuned for our final post on the best eats and drinks in Park City. Follow along with us on Instagram at www.instagram.com/thelocalbells 

Park City Adventures – Travel & Accommodations (Part 1)

After a whirlwind long weekend (and battling a foot of snow!), we are back from our incredible trip to Park City! The snow conditions out there are the best of the season, so we can’t wait to share our favorite parts of our trip in case you are headed there as well.

We’ve had the opportunity to travel together to a variety of different places including New Orleans, Charleston, Playa del Carmen, Orlando, Dallas, West Palm Beach, Washington D.C., and New Smyrna Beach, but we have never ventured anywhere with snow and winter activities. Meagan had a conference in Salt Lake City Monday through Thursday, so we decided it was the perfect opportunity for Grant to fly out for the long weekend. We started looking at flights and accommodations back in late December/early January, to get an idea of what to expect for our budget. Despite Atlanta being a big airline hub, there weren’t a lot of great flight options to Salt Lake City. Direct flights were almost $200 more than flights with connections, so we decided the cheaper cost was worth the minor inconvenience of having to connect through other cities. For our trip, we used Southwest – we highly recommend Southwest for all trips, and especially ski trips where you have a lot of extra baggage since two checked bags fly for free! TLB tip: Southwest often selects one-hour layovers – be sure to check historical data regarding flight on-time records to make sure you are comfortable with such a short time-frame! In our case, it worked perfectly and got us to our destinations almost as quickly as a direct flight, but it could have been disastrous if our first leg had been delayed or canceled.

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We both flew in the the Salt Lake City International Airport before making the trek through the canyon and to the mountains of Park City. We ended up taking an Uber from downtown Salt Lake City instead of renting a car, making the assumption that it would be the cheaper option (little did we know…) and so we had the peace of mind that neither of us would have to drive through any snow. Us Atlantans have a bad history with snow (i.e. Snowpacalypse/Snowmageddon 2014), so we weren’t going to take any chances! The Uber ended up costing around $50 for the 40 minute drive to our Airbnb accommodations in Prospector Square – all in all, not too bad! When we were researching options of where to stay, we looked first at Park City Mountain Resort, but quickly realized that three nights there was going to be way more expensive than we wanted. Our two requirements were a total cost of under $1,000 and walking distance to Park City Mountain for skiing or easy access to public transportation. With that in mind, we decided to take a look at Airbnb options, which turned out to be a great decision. There are so many rental options in the Park City area, but they go fast during the peak February-March ski season.

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We ran across Ted and Heidi’s Silver Snow Wonder condo, which is located in Prospector Square, just a few miles from Downtown Park City and Park City Mountain Resort. For three nights during peak season, we were easily able to stay in our budget. The condo offers two queen beds, a 55 inch flat screen TV, huge shower, bathroom with a double sink, and a small kitchenette area with mini fridge, microwave, and Keurig. One thing to note – there is no washer or drier in the condo (which would probably be preferred if staying closer to a week). The condo looked recently renovated and was tastefully decorated – think Flip or Flop’s style with the white subway tiles and grey floors, reflecting the tranquility and beauty of Park City in the snow. The condo is also located on the first floor, which was a huge plus after a long day of skiing! The condo was just a short walk to two different bus stops as well, all part of the free Park City Transit System.

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Check-in at the Prospector was super easy, and we were even able to check in a few hours early. Ted and Heidi were wonderful hosts – we arrived to a small basket of snacks and water from them, as well as a variety of K-cup options for morning coffee. Before we arrived, they gave us some great recommendations for food and places to go, as well as sharing a discount code for our ski rentals at the Ski’N’See shop located in the Prospector main lobby. The condo was the perfect size for the two of us (though it might have been a tight squeeze with four people and all of the ski equipment) and great location with easy access to everything we wanted to do in Park City. We made great use of the bus system in getting to and from Downtown Park City for dinners and going to Park City Mountain for skiing.

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The only downside of staying in Park City is having to go back through the canyon to get to the airport in Salt Lake City. It’s somewhat of a catch-22 – you want beautiful snow for your ski trip, but if it snows too much, you won’t even be able to get to your resort, or in our case you won’t be able to get to the airport to go home! Our flight was scheduled for 12:30 on Sunday afternoon, and we woke up to over a foot of snow outside our window, with even more coming down! Starting at 8 AM, we started requesting Ubers and Lyfts, in hopes there would be someone willing and able to get us to the airport. After multiple drivers canceled our rides upon learning we were heading to the airport, we tried not to panic and kept our fingers crossed until we finally had confirmation that Jodi was on her way to pick us up! She was one of our best Uber drivers yet, and delivered us safe and sound (despite the horrible road conditions) to the airport. Unlike the $50 Uber trip to Park City, this one to the airport ended up costing nearly $200… We are very grateful we made our flight and arrived safely, but that charge made us cringe with the Uber surge pricing. Definitely keep a little buffer in your budget for unexpected Uber surge charges and any inclement weather!

All in all, the travel and accommodations for our trip went pretty smoothly! As always, build in a little extra time for weather delays and pad your budget for unexpected costs. For anyone thinking about booking a trip to Park City, definitely take a look at the beautiful Silver Snow Wonder condo! New to Airbnb? Use our link here for $40 in travel credit when you sign up here.

Stay tuned for our posts on snow activities and great food from Park City! Follow along through our Instagram at instagram.com/thelocalbells 

Where To Next?

Back in January, we shared our goals for 2018. So far, we’ve been staying on track with exercising and eating at home, and we are making progress on our financial goals after officially combining our accounts (not as hard as we expected!). However, the one area we want to start planning more is our travel and vacation plans for the year. With both of us working traditional 9 to 5 jobs, we have a finite amount of time to escape the work grind and want to use this first year of marriage to visit new places. So where to next?

That appears to be the million dollar question.

Between the two of us, Grant tends to be more spontaneous and ready to try new things while Meagan prefers to plan every last detail and stick with the tried and true. We started brainstorming some ideas for this year and ended up with with too many options and no decisions! So what’s stopping us?

  • Do we take one big vacation or several smaller ones? In 2017, our honeymoon was our big trip of the year (and definitely worth it – see our full review here!). Now that we aren’t planning a wedding, we have more vacation time to spread out throughout the course of the year. In a study cited by the New York Times, research has found that several smaller vacation per year rather than one big one boosts overall happiness more than when taking one long vacation. And even more than that, the actual planning and anticipation of a vacation boosts happiness for up to 8 weeks! With that in mind, we lean more towards planning several smaller trips this year. Ideally, we’d like to plan a few long weekend trips, a short summer trip, an anniversary trip in November, and take some time off around Christmas and New Years. South Africa, Europe, and somewhere in the South Pacific are still on the bucket list for some of those longer trip options in the future though!
  • How much should we budget for our vacation fund? There are mixed options about how much to spend on travel each year. Forbes reports that Americans spend 10% of their annual incomes on vacations. While we aren’t paying for a wedding this year, we are working hard to pay down student and car loans as well as saving for a down payment for a house. Planning domestic trips and ones that are driving distances instead of flying will help us keep our vacation costs lower. For our trip this week, we are staying at a condo through Airbnb, which was over 50% less than staying at a hotel resort. (If you are new to Airbnb, use this link to save $40 on your first stay) We also plan to utilize any of our credit card perks or cash back this year to help with some vacation costs. With Meagan being a planner, we have time to research, save, and hopefully get the best deals!
  • Where should we go? We are all over the place on this one and could definitely use some inspiration and suggestions! We’ve talked about Hilton Head or Destin for a beach trip, as they’re both about 6 hours away driving distance. There are some great Airbnb rental options and we both could use a good dose of “vitamin sea!” We’ve never been to Savannah or Asheville together and would love to explore the historic sites along the river or experience the Biltmore Estate. For our anniversary, we’ve looked into New York City, the Florida Keys, or Disney World – planning to splurge the most on this trip this year. We loved our relaxing honeymoon in paradise, but are looking for adventure in our first anniversary trip. Ultimately, we are looking to plan 4-5 smaller trips this year within the domestic U.S., ideally spending around $1,000-$1,500 per trip.

We are off to Park City, Utah for our first trip of the year this week – stay tuned for our post next week! In the meantime, we welcome any and all suggestions on other places to go this year, as well as any tips for planning and saving money along the way. Be sure to follow along with our Instagram at www.instagram.com/thelocalbells

Paradisus La Perla – Playa del Carmen, Mexico

Happy Valentine’s Day! While we love this special day, it’s been the everyday married life for the past three months that has been so incredibly special. We knew each other for almost 10 years before getting married, but you learn so much about someone when you live together. We’ve learned that it works best when we each do our own laundry, but that we make a pretty good team when cooking and cleaning in the kitchen. While we’re still in this “honeymoon” phase of life, we thought it was only fitting to share some of our favorite things from our phenomenal honeymoon at Paradisus La Perla in Playa del Carmen, Mexico.

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It’s hard to believe that just a year ago, we were knee-deep in wedding planning. There were three things on our list that we were most excited to plan – the food, the band, and the honeymoon! You spend so much time, effort, and money planning the perfect day to celebrate the start of your marriage, so it was important to us that we picked a honeymoon location that we could relax in paradise to truly begin our life together. Originally, we were going to pick three places and Grant would ultimately decide and book the resort, keeping it a surprise for me. But…..once we started looking, we decided it would be more fun to plan things together (and it took some of the pressure off Grant!).

I love planning and organizing, especially when it comes to vacations. I kept a spreadsheet with our options, including notes about number of restaurants, number of pools, included amenities, location, and traveler reviews. We probably had close to a dozen options we were considering. A big factor in our decision-making was finding a location where the weather and water would still be warm in November, a place that had direct flights from Atlanta, and a resort that was all inclusive, so we didn’t have to worry about budgeting when we were supposed to be relaxing.

I had been to Mexico before with my family and loved the resort we had always stayed at, the Moon Palace. But for our honeymoon, Grant and I wanted to experience a place that neither of us had been to. We narrowed down our options to Mexico or the Dominican Republic, and eventually zeroed in on Playa del Carmen in Mexico. Playa del Carmen is outside of the typical, touristy Cancun resort area that most people associate with Mexico. The resort we decided on was Paradisus La Perla and was about a 45 minute drive from the Cancun International Airport.

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We had some concerns from family and friends about traveling to Mexico, but neither of us ever felt unsafe during our visit. The resort arranged complimentary transportation to and from the airport, and the resort was only accessible by visitors staying there. The one thing that would have been a benefit to us was if either of us spoke Spanish. We knew a few words here and there, but not enough to carry on a full conversation. Maybe it’s time we start listening to Rosetta Stone on our commutes to and from the office!

It’s hard to narrow down our favorite parts of our honeymoon, but here are our top 5 favorite things about Paradisus La Perla:

  1. Royal Service – The name itself just sounds magical, and trust us, it was! Royal Service guests have access to a special concierge for booking preferential dining reservations and spa treatments, have their own personal on-call butler, have a private Royal Service only pool and bar, private Royal Service-only a la carte restaurant, and the “Free to Lounge” area with specialty snacks and top shelf beverages. Gilberto was our butler and was fantastic about getting us the dinner reservations we requested and just making sure we had a wonderful stay. We definitely took advantage of the “Free to Lounge” area since many of our reservations were later in the evening and found it the perfect place to have a quick snack and relax before dinner. img_1855img_1914
  2. Incredible Food – There are 14+ incredible restaurants here! So many that we didn’t even make it to all of them. When you think all-inclusive, you sometimes think it is equivalent with buffets or average food. Not the case at all with Paradisus. While we didn’t get a chance to try it this time, their Passion restaurant is run by Seven Star Michelin Chef Martin Berasategui and is supposed to be phenomenal. Our favorite restaurants included Hadar for breakfast, The Market (or a poolside snack!) for lunch, and Fuego and Bana for dinner. You really could not go wrong with any of their restaurants! And they were very accommodating with food allergies. Grant is allergic to tree nuts, and he received a card that noted his allergy in English and in Spanish that we gave to each of our waiters before dining. img_1911img_1921
  3. All-Inclusive – Similar to our comments about food, having an all-inclusive resort was amazing after a year of budgeting and paying for a wedding. The Paradisus staff was truly top-notch with customer service, and were genuinely appreciative when we did tip someone for exceptional service. The all-inclusive aspect really made us excited to try some new foods and drinks while we were there that we might not have spent the money on otherwise. Grant in particular enjoyed all of the frozen drink variations (Mango Tangos every day), and it was a special treat to enjoy so much fresh seafood. One of our favorite pre-dinner spots was the M Bar, a martini bar. It was so fun to try some new variations of the classic martini and take some notes for when we entertain at home. img_1883-1img_1885
  4. Variety of Things to Do – The Paradisus resort is a combination of two properties, La Esmeralda (family side) and La Perla (adults only). Having such a large, combined resort gave us a ton of options when it came to eating, exploring, and activities. While we were there, we got to go to a Mexican wine tasting class (TLB fun fact: per capita consumption of wine in Mexico is only one bottle per year!), went to a sushi making class, and went on a snorkeling tour. The wine tasting class and sushi class were both right on property, and we booked the snorkeling adventure through AquaWorld. The tour boat left right from the Paradisus beach, drove us out to the reef for an hour of snorkling, then brought us back – all without ever leaving our resort! img_1872img_1891img_1896
  5. Property & Views – Having access to two resorts in one was a great feature! We never felt bored and had some many places to explore. The pool areas were amazing, with comfy lounge chairs, easy access to the bar for food and drinks, and the ocean breeze to whisk your mind away to paradise. The beach was beautiful, and we took a few walks along there to feel the sand under our toes and smell the cool ocean breeze. They had an awesome Royal Service only section on the beach as well, which we tried out only once. 37 minutes under the direct sunlight, and we had to make a retreat for our pool chairs and umbrella! These two pale people can’t take too much of the Mexican sun! Our room was amazing as well – we had our own swim-up access to the pool, jacuzzi, and sitting area. The Paradisus team covered every detail you could imagine! img_1878img_1871img_1841

Sound like a place you’d want to go? Take a look at the website here to read more, see pictures, and book your stay! Have more questions? Comment below or send us an email at thelocalbells@gmail.com

TLB tip: join Melia Rewards (it’s free!) to get an even bigger discount when booking.