Top Ten Ski Towns for Those That Don’t Ski
As unbelievable as it may seem, there is a large portion of society — they may even be your family members or dear friends — that has absolutely no desire to go skiing or snowboarding.
Yet many of these same folks still love the beauty of mountains covered in snow, and more than several of them think that an outing in a winter wonderland that doesn’t involve careening down a steep hillside with boards strapped to their feet would be a perfectly acceptable way to spend an afternoon or two.
And as it happens there are a multitude of resorts in North America where avid skiers and snowboarders can happily share quality vacation time with their non-sliding loved ones. The following are 10 of our favorite ski resorts for non-skiers:
The original premier destination resort in Colorado, Aspen has plenty more than four mountains for skiing and snowboarding. Check out the Lupine Spa in Snowmass for uninterrupted relaxation. Or hop on the Breathtaker Alpine Coaster, also in Snowmass, for a one-mile tour of the woods on an elevated track. Or stroll through the former mining town of Aspen — where boutiques meld New York fashion with Western sensibilities — for world-class shopping.
This former Colorado gold rush town is a goldmine for history buffs, with 10 museums and old mining sites that showcase the town’s rich past. Breck’s Main Street is also rich in clothing boutiques, book stores and art galleries. You can also head over to neighboring Keystone resort (a half-hour drive) to practice your Solchow’s and Axels at Lakeside Village, which boasts the world’s largest Zamboni-maintained outdoor ice-skating rink.
When you sit just above the shores of Lake Tahoe a non-skier doesn’t need much more enticement to hang out at Heavenly for a day or three. But the bi-state resort (California and Nevada) has many other attractions, including the main draw: the gaming halls and 24/7 entertainment of Stateline, Nev. You can also get a close-up and personal look at Big Blue by driving the 74-mile long highway that circles the lake.
Less than 100 miles north of Montreal is eastern Canada’s most go-to resort; but despite its popularity Tremblant holds a certain charm due to its European-style walkable village with a variety of international eateries and dozens of boutiques. For the adventurous non-skier, there’s ice-climbing, snowmobiling and dog sledding readily available. Or you can simply luxuriate at one of the two spas located in the heart of the village.
This former Utah mining town got world-wide attention when it was the site for many of the events of the 2002 Winter Games, and you can partially re-live some of the excitement by heading over to Utah Olympic Park, where a museum and other features — including a tourist-friendly bobsled track — honor the Games. Also, nearby Heber City is where you can find the one-of-a-kind Homestead Crater, a geothermal spring that sits in a 55-foot tall, beehive-shaped limestone cavern.
The quintessential Vermont village of Stowe lends its name to the nearby ski resort, and you can find loads of off-slope diversions in the vicinity. Try fat biking (mountain bikes with extra-wide tires) the myriad snow-covered trails in and around the village. Or ride the scenic gondola at the ski resort that takes riders to the Cliff House restaurant, which is perched on the upper flanks of 4,395-foot Mt. Mansfield, the highest point in Vermont. Or take a tour of the Trapp Family Lodge.
America’s first true destination ski resort, Sun Valley has had more than 80 years to hone its off-slopes game. Try snowshoeing on the extensive trail network at the Sun Valley Nordic and Snowshoe Center. Or take a ride in a horse-drawn sleigh. Or pamper yourself in the luxurious Spa at Sun Valley Lodge. Or don a pair of ice skates and try to emulate Sonja Henie, the three-time Olympic figure skating champion who made the outdoor ice rink at Sun Valley Lodge world famous.
Another old-time Colorado mining town — seems to be a theme here, eh? —Telluride is a photographer’s dream as it is tucked into the end of a stupendous box canyon, surrounded by the 12,000- and 13,000-foot peaks of the San Juan range. Take a stroll through the town’s old district, where Butch Cassidy and his gang plotted and pulled their first bank heist. Or book a three-hour snowshoe tour with Eco Adventures. Or simply catch an old-fashioned movie at the Nugget Theatre.
The hub of this former Winter Olympics site (2010) in British Columbia is a huge village — someone once said it’s like a small city was plopped down in the mountains — that connects the ski hills of Whistler and Blackcomb mountains and where you’ll all sorts of diversions, like shopping, gallery browsing and cinemas. Make sure you book passage on the PEAK 2 PEAK gondola sightseeing experience, where you can get a 360-degree view of the surrounding peaks and valleys. Also check out Vallea Lumina, a multimedia walking experience in a nearby forest.
Located a little more than 2 hours north of New York City, Windham is the closest resort to Gotham but it retains a quiet north woods charm. Stroll along the 2-mile Windham Path that meanders through meadows and woodlands and over a covered bridge and provides fantastic views of the Great Northern Catskills. Or try snowshoeing or hiking in nearby Elm Ridge Wild Forest. The town of Windham, often referred to as the Gem of the Catskills, is more than 220 years old and its historic Main Street is lined with locally-owned specialty shops and intriguing array of restaurants.