Living in a winter-sports oriented mountain town has some great perks — clean air, quick access to the outdoors, a generally healthy lifestyle — and some downer drawbacks — high prices, crowded weekends and holidays, a bit stifling on the social front.
Living in a big city has some great perks — diversity, quick and easy access to arts and culture, better job opportunities — and some downer drawbacks — overcrowding, lousy air quality, a long distance from the ski hill.
However, there is a happy medium: Smallish cities, fewer than 250,000 people, that combine the benefits of both the big metro centers and the little alpine communities and they are fairly close, say less than 90 minutes, from fabulous skiing and snowboard. Call them “Goldilocks” cities because they’re not too big and not too small but just right for the winter sports enthusiast who would like the best of both worlds.
Here are five North American cities that fit the Goldilocks criteria:
The capital of the Green Mountain State is the home of the main University of Vermont campus and the state’s largest hospital and is the headquarters for both Ben & Jerry’s and Burton snowboards. Among the major resorts that are a quick drive from Burlington are Stowe, Mad River Glen, Sugarbush, Jay Peak, Smugglers’ Notch, Killington and Burke Mountain.
The erstwhile “Biggest Little City in the World” has a thriving tech community and the sprawling University of Nevada campus as well as the headquarters of Smokin snowboards and Moment skis. Among the major resorts nearby are Mount Rose, Squaw Valley, Northstar, Diamond Peak, Alpine Meadows, Sugar Bowl and Boreal.
Salt Lake City, Utah
Host site of the 2002 Winter Olympics, Salt Lake, as the home of the University of Utah is commonly called, has a service-oriented economy and is the industrial banking center of the United States as well as being headquarters to DPS skis and Black Diamond mountaineering gear. Among the major resorts nearby are Park City, Deer Valley, Alta, Snowbird, Brighton, Solitude, Snowbasin and Sundance.
The economic, educational and cultural center of the region, the Queen of the Eastern Townships, as the city was once called, has a service- and knowledge-base economy, all with a French flair. Among the major resorts nearby are Owl’s Head, Ski Bromont, Mont Sutton, Mont Orford, Jay Peak and Sugarloaf.
In the Lilac City, mining, manufacturing, forestry and agriculture are the primary economic drivers, but it’s becoming a medical and biotechnology center. Among the major resorts nearby are Mt. Spokane, Lookout Pass, Silver Mountain, 49 Degrees North and Schweitzer.