Utah’s ski capital just got cooler. Now open: A 7,200-acre mega resort—just a hair smaller than Whistler Blackcomb—with a sleek gondola and après-ski bites that go beyond the standard chalet fare.  And, with plenty of shuttles from the SLC airport and a beloved free bus that circles Park City and its resorts, you can skip the car rental and just chill.

Flight time: A full schedule of nonstop flights from the East Coast touch down in about four and a half hours (and in a much zippier hour and a half from the West Coast) making Park City a potentially easier trip than a slog through Friday traffic to your local mountain.

What gets you on the plane: Neighboring ski mountains, Canyons and Park City Mountain Resort, have just joined to become the biggest ski resort in the country, called simply Park City. (British Columbia’s Whistler has it beat by a hair.) With 7,200 acres to roam, you could carve all week and not run out of fresh stashes.

Happy surprise: There’s no skate-skiing or poling required to get between the resorts. The centerpiece of the $50 million merger is a gondola that will whisk you from one mountain to the other in under nine minutes. Hop off at the midpoint on Pinecone Ridge and you can drop down into either. Attention Vail and Tahoe skiers: If you have an Epic season pass, you’re covered here too.

Best time to go: The town hits a 10 on the energy scale during the Sundance Film Festival, January 21–31 this year. If you can find a room, it can actually be a pretty chill time to ski, since many fly in just for the parties, the celeb-spotting, and…you know…the movies. To catch the town at its mellowest, hold off till March.

The eats: Truffled mac and cheese with a glass of Chard at Lookout Cabin is your best bet for a civilized sit-down slopeside lunch. The million-dollar mountaintop view will make you forget for the moment that you’re wearing your ski boots. Down in the historic district of Main Street, the buzzy rez to get is at HandleDon’t miss the sketchy-sounding, but delicious, cauliflower given the Buffalo hot wing treatment. Better yet if it’s alongside a Rattlesnake cocktail, their take on a bourbon sour, made with a local rye and a touch of absinthe and topped with a froth of egg white that's branded with an H. 

Where to sleep: Most luxury properties cluster around Deer Valley, across town, but the Waldorf Astoria, with a grown-up look and civilized spa, has its own gondola up to the Canyons-side slopes.

Experience to have: No need to kill time in the airport before your flight—downtown Salt Lake City, right on the way, has seen a boomlet of legit restaurant and bar openings. Under Current, in a century-old brick car dealership, is known for its spot-on cocktails, and its next-door sibling, Current, for its sparking seafood, like Hamachi crudo and octopus a la plancha. 

Next>> Weekend Guide: Feed Your Soul in New Orleans

See our full list of Where to Go in 2016