Whether you like to visit the most top-rated ski resorts in the country or under-the-radar spots, you're bound to crave some adventure other than skiing—especially if you're just there for the party and/or you have absolutely no interest in plummeting down mountains at high speeds.
So: If exhausting your quads, glutes, and hamstrings on the slopes doesn't really seem like your thing, try your hand at these 20 ski resort diversions instead—from fat-burning workouts to more leisurely pursuits.
One benefit of heading toward a major ski destination is the events calendar. If you want to vacation in Park City, UT, go around Jan. 18-28, 2018, so you can catch some of the Sundance Film Festival. If you're pining for an Aspen getaway, pretty much any time in January is a golden—the Wintersköl community festival runs from Jan. 11-14, 2018, followed by the Winter X Games Jan. 25-28, 2018, interspersed with historic pub crawls and astronomy nights. (Check out Aspen's full calendar of events here.)
These aren't the gimmicky sleigh rides you come across in major cities. In Montana's Lone Mountain Ranch your horse-drawn sleigh ride will bring you to a lantern-lit cabin for a prime rib dinner served family style. Head over to Lake Louise in Alberta, Canada, to enjoy Brewster Adventures' winter sleigh ride. You'll glide over a lakeside trail that weaves through frosted pines and icy waterfalls with a cushioned seat and a heavy blanket to stay snug. And if you're a nature buff, drop by the National Elk Refuge sleigh ride operated by Double H Bar, Inc. in Jackson Hole, WY. You'll travel through a 25,000-acre refuge that thousands of elk call home. (If you're lucky, you'll spot eagles too.)
Ski resorts big and small have snowmobile tours where first timers and veteran speed demons can cruise over pristine valleys, zip through forests, and get some air on hills. Just book a tour.
Sometimes you've got to let loose and shoot down a mountain without being on skis. But don't overlook tubing as a kids-only attraction—grab some buddies or your significant other, because people of all ages go tubing.
For more than just a glass of vino to unwind with at dinner, stop by the Mines & Wines Tour at Park City, UT. The three-hour bus tour begins at Montage Deer Valley with a celebratory champagne toast, after which stops are made along Park City's mining relics. If you're hitting the slopes in Washington, Leavenworth Ski Hill is a five-minute walk to a bevy of tasting rooms, like Goose Ridge Vineyards and Swakane Winery. You can also book an actual tour of nearby wineries.
Cozy ski towns and bigger cities will always have some sort of walking tour, whether it's based on food, nature, or history. Jackson Hole, WY, boasts Eco Tour Wildlife Adventures with killer views of Jackson Hole, Grand Teton, and Yellowstone National Park, available in full- or half-day trips. You can go by van, snowcoach, or snowmobile. (The choice is obvious, if you ask us.)
From Sun Valley to Squaw Valley, and Breckenridge to Beaver Creek, pretty much every ski town has snowshoeing. It's a great way to see a landscape, and burn some extra calories, when you want to do something other than hit the slopes.
Skip the gym and get a lung-busting, leg-thrashing workout on two wheels. Fat biking is one hell of a way to explore the snow-covered slopes and boost your endurance. Tours are available all across the country, but Telluride, CO, is one for the books. You can pedal with mountain ranges in the background, then head to Telluride Brewing Company.
Brisk winter days yield clear conditions for a flight over the Tetons with Teton Aviation Scenic Flights. Give your legs a break and cruise for an hour in a Cessna HawkXP, fit for three, or take a seven-passenger Quest Kodiak.
What doesn't kill you only scares you stupid—and, yes, makes you stronger. Try your hand at a new skill, like ice climbing, the next time you head to a ski resort. Hotspots like Telluride, CO, have expert guides to help you strap on some crampons and scale a frozen waterfall, risk-free. See if your resort offers ice climbing as part of its available activities.
You don't have to drop a ton of cash or have any skills, really, to enjoy sledding. Sure, it was probably a pastime from your youth, but it's a fun way to blow off steam.
Pile on your layers, and head out on an excursion with a walking tour or just with your friends and family. Hiking is an amazing way to explore a new place. Ask the resort for a map of local trails.
Check out your resort's events calendar so you don't miss out on any unique shows. For example: In British Columbia, Whistler Blackcomb features a Fire and Ice Show, in which world-class snowboarders and skiers flip through burning rings of fire, with a fireworks display for the finale. And every Friday night during the peak of winter, Aspen Snowmass in Aspen, CO, hosts Ullr Nights—a party at Elk Camp on Snowmass meant to honor the Norse God of Snow (Ullr)—featuring music, s'mores, and hot chocolate by a bonfire.
Keystone, CO; Squaw Valley, CA; Stowe Mountain Lodge, VT—all of these resorts have yoga classes to help prep your muscles and joints for the slopes. (Of course, you can also just as easily head outdoors and do your own flow in the snow.)
Pretty much every resort has a luxurious spa with indoor heat lodges, outdoor hot tubs, and professional massage therapists who can melt the knots from your muscles. Take the time to reap the benefits. Here are some of our favorites:
- Ritz-Carlton at Lake Tahoe, CA
- Sundance Mountain Resort at Sundance, UT
- Hotel Talisa Spa at Vail, CO
- Montage Deer Valley Spa at Park City, UT
You don't need to get high-octane thrills on two feet. Take a ride on a mountain coaster and give your glutes, quads, and hamstrings a break from the slopes. Devote time to these top locations:
What's a winter trip without some après-ski brews and cocktails? Ski towns are loaded with hidden gems: rustic tasting rooms, boozy tours, and top-rated libations. Make sure you stop at these western hot spots: