As soon as school lets out and the temperature gauge starts moving to where 100 actually starts feeling cool, there’s a mad dash to the I-8 and I-10 west in search of cool ocean breezes and double digit weather. I, like my fellow “zonies” as San Diegans affectionately refer to us, spent a number of delightful summers with my little girl making sandcastles under the shadow of the red awning of the Del Coronado. To this day, it remains one of my favorite places to visit. Since then, I’ve discovered yet another getaway not too far from the desert that also tops my list of summer escapes. A place where no air conditioning is required and being outdoors is the only place you want to be. 

When my daughter was five, we did a short winter jaunt to a place I had never been, Park City, Utah. The quaint, picturesque mountain town covered with snow stole my heart, and I’ll never forget the words of a local who said, “people come for the winters but they stay for the summers.” So a few summers later when I needed a reprieve from the heat, instead of escaping to the beach, I remembered the words of my Park City friend, and I headed to a higher elevation. 

I quickly understood why ski towns are just as alluring if not more when the snow melts. Surrounded by countless Aspen trees, the big blue skies and crisp clean air beckon you to forego those electronics and grab a bike, take a hike or ride a chairlift up an emerald green mountain that still may have a few traces of snow. That’s right, in the summer, those green, blue and black diamond ski runs turn into endless hiking and biking trails that wind you all the way to the top. No face or hand warmers needed. Another way to experience the thrill of winter in the summer without the rush of cold air in your face and at the same time enabling you to channel your inner Olympian is the Olympic Park, home of the 2002 winter Olympics. There’s extreme tubing, zip lining and not for the faint of heart, a high-speed bobsled ride. If, however, you’d rather be a spectator than a participant, you can sit back and watch the real Olympians and National ski team perform acrobatic feats some 60 feet in the air before plunging into the Olympic pool below. 

When you’ve got your fill of outdoor fun, check out Main Street where there’s a plethora of fun restaurants—everything from burgers and pizza, to unique shops like Dolly’s bookstore and Java Cow. Not to mention, as you’re strolling and window shopping, local musicians are entertaining you on the street. It’s a cool, small town vibe that’s hip, casual and feels like the idyllic, quintessential summer. 

One of my favorite summertime activities in Park City are the concerts held on the bunny hill at the Deer Valley resort. Imagine sitting on a blanket enjoying a bottle of wine and a picnic watching the acclaimed Utah Symphony and various well-known artists from rock, to country to Broadway perform for you under the stars. You can just kick back and enjoy the music or kick off your shoes and dance. In fact, we were more like dancing queens a few weeks ago when an “ABBA” tribute band in concert with the Symphony performed everything from “Mama Mia,” to all their greatest hits. The concerts take place throughout the summer and frankly sometimes I don’t even care who is performing, there’s just something about the music and the mountains that gives me that same warm feeling as hot cocoa after a cold day on the slopes. People have asked me if I would choose the beach over the mountains or vice versa and my answer is simple.

I choose both.

— Robin Sewell is the host and executive producer of the Emmy Award winning Arizona Highways Television.