Park City Named Best Town Ever

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Outside Magazine names Park City the best town to live.

Read how the picked us here

The goal was simple: find America’s best place to be healthy. We wanted a town with ample trailheads, nearby adventure, great farmers’ markets, and, hopefully, a competitive gear-shop scene. To pick it we turned to you. In our third-annual crowdsourced contest, readers cast more than 21,000 votes online and raved about these 18 towns. All are amazing places, but one stood above the rest: Park City, Utah…

The Article

Population: 7,873
Median Household Income: $61,383
Median Home Price: $765,600
Unemployment (countywide): 5.3 percent

“Know how I can tell that’s a local?” asks Dana Williams, the 58-year-old mayor of Park City, Utah, nodding toward a fit thirty-something guy in a flat-brimmed baseball hat. “The bandaged wrist.”

We’re sitting on couches at the open-air Silver Star Café, a mining-themed restaurant that serves spectacular halibut. A 2013 Porsche 911 with a pair of titanium mountain bikes strapped to the roof sits in the parking lot. Every few minutes, little knots of bikers pedal past. This being a small town, Williams, who looks a bit like Jack Nicholson, can barely complete a thought without getting a hug from a constituent.

But he does manage this: “You guys should have put us in the fight a long time ago.” Williams is referring to the drubbing Park City gave the other active-towns finalists, from Bozeman to San Diego, in this year’s Best Town Ever contest. The mayor is accustomed to winning big. He was elected to his third term in 2009 with 78 percent of the vote. But he won’t be running for reelection in November.

“I can’t afford it anymore,” Williams says. He supplements his $1,700 monthly salary by working as a barista at a local coffee shop and playing gigs with his rock group, Motherlode Canyon. His position empowers him to perform weddings, so if you hire his band to play yours, he’ll officiate for free, which he has done more than 300 times in the past decade. In other words, the mayor is doing what many locals are: everything he can to stay in the West’s most booming adventure locale.

Park City feels like a Colorado ski town dropped into Utah’s 12,000-foot Wasatch Range, with one significant difference. Unlike Telluride or Aspen, it has a major city, Salt Lake, and an international airport 30 minutes away. Local love for Park City can feel a little over the top—it got two-thirds as many votes in our contest (5,179) as it has residents. To see if that affection was justified, I parachuted in for a 72-hour, Chamber of Commerce–led recon tour. What I found was a town that breeds the active lifestyle.

In winter, Parkites can access three world-class ski areas from town: Deer Valley, Park City, and the Canyons. Then there’s climbing, hiking, and camping in 500,000 acres of wilderness in the nearby Uinta Mountains, 370-plus miles of trails, a blue-ribbon trout stream (the Provo River), and an Olympic training center built for the 2002 Salt Lake Games. More than 100 Olympians still live here. There are also lax(er) liquor laws than elsewhere in the Beehive State—and Utah’s first distillery since Prohibition, High West.

I went to a mountain-bike camp where city employees taught eight-year-olds to ride a pump track. In a nearby soccer field, 70 women—many pregnant, most already moms—were charging through a CrossFit workout. The high school even has an Adventure PE class, where students get credit for leaving campus to mountain-bike, trail-run, or ski or snowboard with friends…. FULL ARTICLE