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Winter wonderland vacations don’t always have to be about skiing. If you’d like to enjoy a wintertime adventure but you aren’t into skiing, or if you’re part of a family that includes skiers and non-skiers alike, you’ll find a number of resorts across the globe that cater to all types of travelers. At these resorts, there are a host of activities that are sure to please just about everyone.
Keystone is one of the most popular ski resorts for families. Not only does it offer plenty of great skiing, but there is also practically an endless number of other things to do. The resort’s Lakeside Village is home to the largest outdoor ice skating rink in America and the largest Zamboni-maintained outdoor rink anywhere in the world. You can enjoy gliding across the ice while gazing at the soaring snowcapped mountains as well as taking part in a host of other winter activities like horse-drawn sleigh rides, tubing, and even snow biking. Yoga, group exercise classes, and outdoor tennis courts are available year-round, not to mention the numerous options for shopping as well as great spa services too.
Whistler Blackcomb is often ranked among the best ski resorts in the world, but that doesn’t mean non-skiers will be left twiddling their thumbs either. The resort’s village has so much to do, it almost feels like a big city that’s been dropped right into the mountains. There are practically endless shopping opportunities as well as outstanding restaurants and plenty of fun activities too. The park has its own cinema, an outdoor skating rink, and a tube park. You can hop on a snowmobile and take a tour of the breathtaking winter wonderland, be entertained by performers with their electric mix of music, dance, and spinning fire, or experience a high-flying adventure with the network of zip-lines and suspension bridges at Ziptrek. One thing that’s a definite must-do for enjoying some of the most epic views on the planet is to take a ride on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola.
Jackson Hole may be renowned for its extreme slopes for experts, but it really offers something for everyone with a family-friendly side too. For a once-in-a-lifetime experience at this Grand Teton National Park Mountain, you can let a team of Iditarod-inspired dogs pull you on a fast-paced tour around the nearby forests, or if you want to explore it at a slower pace, try snowshoeing. Snowmobiling, coach tours, paragliding, and tubing are just some of the other options. No matter what you do, be sure to take time to check out the national park for the chance to see moose grazing in frozen meadows, bison roaming snow-filled plains, and geysers spouting – all minus the big summer crowds. The resort is also home to five different spas, and the village is famous for its happening nightlife scene. Here you’ll find all types of eateries, bars, and pubs that are sure to please.
You definitely don’t have to ski or board to enjoy Park City – in fact, you can still ride down the mountain too thanks to the Alpine Coaster. The elevated track winds through over a mile of loops and curves at speeds of up to 30 miles per hour. It’s just like a roller coaster, but you’ll get to enjoy the gorgeous, snowy mountain scenery of Park City. There are many other fun non-skiing options too, like the Flying Eagle zipline that will allow you to soar above the trees while propelled 110 feet over the resort’s ski runs at speeds of up to 45 miles per hour. For more tame activities, try cozying up on an old-fashioned horse-drawn sleigh or take a Viking Yurt adventure – a snowcat-pulled sleigh ride that will bring you up to your very own yurt nestled among a nighttime winter wonderland.
At Montage Deer Valley, you can experience the thrill of snow tubing at Powder Park or test your bowling skills at the resort’s four-lane regulation bowling alley. After a long day of play, head to Spa Montage to indulge in some relaxation in its redwood saunas and copper-soaking tubs.
One of the best places to ski in the U.S., Jay Peak has the distinction of getting the most snow in the Northeast region, but it also offers a whole lot more than great powder for skiing. You can snowshoe, sled, take a sleigh ride, ice fish, go snowmobiling, ice skate, and play ice hockey too. The charming, lodge-like resort also offers its own live music series in the Foeger Ballroom and even hosts ice skating shows in its theater. When you want to treat yourself to some fabulous stress relief, enjoy massage and all types of other treatments at the full-service spa. The resort also boasts a rustic Nordic center for outdoor explorers, a multitude of outstanding dining options – and it even has its very own indoor water park. A favorite place to be for non-skiers, it offers an oasis of year-round water fun, including its highlight, the 65-foot drop, La Chute, a frightening plunge where the floor disappears beneath riders just before sending them plummeting at an almost free-fall rate and then scaling a large 360-degree turn.
Crystal Mountain is a renowned ski resort known for its alpine skiing, but it offers all sorts of other ways to enjoy the great outdoors and the fresh, frosty air. You don’t have to be a skier to ride the Mt. Rainier Gondola, which will whisk you by beautiful evergreen trees as you take in a bird’s eye view of the surrounding snow-covered mountain peaks. Just make sure you secure your day pass ahead of time on their website. You’ll travel nearly 2,500 vertical feet to the summit, where you’ll enjoy even more breathtaking views of Mt. Rainier and the Cascade Mountain Range. At the top, you can dine alfresco at the Summit House, the state’s highest elevation restaurant. Another option is to snowshoe through the alpine forest of the Bullion Basin area. The trails are self-guided and vary in difficulty, making it the perfect activity for the entire family.
One of the best ski resorts in Europe for non-skiers isn’t a great choice for hard-core skiing enthusiasts, but it is a very picturesque village with opportunities for Nordic walking, tobogganing, paragliding, ice skating, and swimming. It also has a number of wellness activities. If you’d like to try cross-country skiing, this is one of the best places in the world for the sport. Seefeld is also renowned as a winter walker’s paradise with over 88 miles of cleared and salted walking paths as well as plenty of traditional huts for refreshments. Just pick up a map with descriptions of all of its winter hiking paths and trails at the Seefeld Tourist Information Office. With picturesque Innsbruck less than 15 miles away, the city makes for an ideal and easily accessible day trip too.
Named for its bright blue skies and frequently sunny weather, Sun Valley is ideal for slope-seekers as well as anyone else in search of an adventurous resort escape. This top winter area in Idaho offers activities for just about everyone, including Dollar Mountain’s popular tubing hill. A lift whisks tubers to the top of the run, where circular tubes spin down the slope at lightning speeds. Sun Valley is famous for its year-round ice shows, and you can even skate on the same ice that’s hosted countless Olympians, or if swimming is your thing, Sun Valley Resort hosts three pools, including its legendary Lodge Pool, which offers après ski cocktail service. Another fun option is the chance to soar like an eagle by flying off Mount Baldy with a Fly Sun Valley Paragliding guide, where you’ll experience the exhilarating sensation of free flight.
Skiers know St. Moritz as one of the best ski destinations in Switzerland and as a two-time host of the Winter Olympics, but the possibilities for non-skiers are pretty amazing too. The active can take advantage of all of the usual off-piste options like snowshoeing, and adrenaline seekers won’t want to miss the heart-pounding ride on the Olympic bob run that comes complete with a professional pilot and brakeman – it reaches speeds of 80 miles per hour. Other activities include taking a stroll through Europe’s highest shopping street, “Via Serlas,” which hosts all of the top brands and boutiques, enjoying spectator sports like cricket on ice and the Cartier Polo World Cup. If you’d like to ride the rails, you may want to take the railway to the top of Muottas Muragi and watch the sunset or join an evening excursion to the Alp Grum, where fondue is served. This destination is also considered a “foodie heaven,” with five Michelin star restaurants, and it also receives an incredible 300+ days of sunshine each year.
Another fantastic Switzerland resort for non-skiers, Zermatt is not as pricey or flashy as St. Moritz, but it’s just as fun. Its streets are car-free for a more peaceful atmosphere and are lined with many upscale nightclubs and shops, while the larger-than-life Matterhorn looms in the background. During the day, non-ski options include shopping the many chic boutiques, tandem paragliding, hiking, and snowshoeing. There are also lots of great options for sledding – the toboggan run on the Gornergrat is known as one of the finest in the Alps. The thrilling 10-minute run includes the mountain panorama with the Matterhorn. There is also ice climbing, ice skating, ice hockey, and mountain excursions. When you’re done, be sure to stop in for mulled red wine at Igloo Bar, made almost entirely out of ice.
A popular escape for east-coast dwellers, Stowe is a rustic compound that excels at catering to everyone’s idea of the perfect winter vacation. Experience being on a sled pulled by Alaskan huskies with a sledding excursion or hop aboard one of Gentle Giants’ sleigh rides driven by gentle Percheron and Belgian draft horses with beautifully lit Santa-style sleighs gliding among the breathtaking New England scenery. You can head across covered bridges, along winding brooks, and through the snowy forest. You’ll also be treated to views of Vermont’s highest peak, Mt. Mansfield along the way. The very best views and cuisine in the region can be found at the Cliff House Restaurant, which sits atop Mt. Mansfield. Don’t miss taking a stroll through charming downtown Stowe either, with its preserved historic structures and fun attractions, like tours of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory.
Ideal for families who want to split their time between the slopes and non-skiing activities, Avoriaz was previously awarded the “Best Family Resort” at the World Ski Awards. This car-free resort, the only one of its kind in France, offers a relaxed, safe village with lots of restaurants, cafes, and shops that are all accessed by foot or horse-drawn sleigh. It’s also home to the sub-tropical Aquariaz water park, which features a waterfall, a series of pools, slides, and water jets with currents at various speeds. The resort even offers a few unique activities like sumo wrestling in the snow and organized snowball fights.
Active adventure lovers who don’t want to strap on a pair of skis will find lots to do at Copper Mountain. Head to the tubing hill to enjoy everything from a gentle ride to more heart-pounding thrills. At the skating rink, you can rent skates and glide around or make use of the hockey nets, curling and broomball equipment for free. Other options include alpine zip-line tours, dog sledding, snowmobiling, and sleigh rides. When you’re ready to relax, the resort offers a full-service spa, a full-size lap pool, sauna, and steam rooms. It also has a top-notch dining scene that’s often acclaimed for its wide variety of international cuisine.
If you want an ideal destination that’s great for families with non-skiing and skiing members, Cervinia is a great choice. Plus, it’s a lot more affordable than Zermatt, which sits just across the Swiss border. Ski passes, ski rentals, and even coffee are much less expensive here. It also offers kids’ playgrounds and snowparks as well as a natural ice rink that features a bar and sun terrace. Another reason it ranks high for non-skiers is its close proximity to some incredible attractions like the ancient village of Chamois and Europe’s highest ice caves. You can even enjoy lunch at the traditional Riguio Guide del Cervinia on the Plateau Rosa glacier.
Located in the Catskills Mountains, this resort offers a variety of non-skiing activities like ice skating, snow tubing, and snowshoeing. You’ll also have the chance to take part in movie nights, watch blacksmith demonstrations, swim in the indoor pool, or join in on daily group exercise sessions. During many winter weekends, a host of other entertainment options are often available too, including tastings, demonstrations, and music. You’ll also find workshops focused on themes like the art of chocolate and ballroom dancing. If you do want to spend a bit of time on skis, Minnewaska State Preserve, just west of New Paltz, includes 19 miles of carriageways that, with the right amount of snowfall, provide some of the state’s best cross-country terrain for skiers.
Beautiful Mont Tremblant is situated 80 miles north of Montreal and is frequently named the top resort in eastern North America. While skiers appreciate its wide runs that are occasionally dotted with moguls, it’s the town that earns honors as much as the mountain itself. Not only does this walkable village offer a rich array of international eateries and one of the most vibrant après-ski scenes in the region, but visitors will also have access to all sorts of activities like ice climbing, snowmobiling, dog sledding, and more. In fact, there is so much to do here that you’ll probably run out of time way before you run out of ways to spend it.
Skiers who want outstanding skiing near an urban destination love the Snowy Range in southern Spain as well as the remarkable city of Granada that sits in its foothills. Skiers can easily access the ski village of Pradollano by bus or car an hour away, while non-skiers can enjoy spending their days walking the whitewashed alleys of the Albaicin and exploring Alhambra, a hilltop fortress-palace known as one of the most exquisite landmarks in the world. Or, head to the resort and embark on a snowshoe excursion, ice skate, go tubing, ski biking or even try the snowy rollercoaster known as Rollersledge. Thanks to the region’s southerly location, you’re likely to enjoy it all in the sunshine too, as over 80 percent of the days here are blizzard free and sunny.
The Resort at Squaw Creek is just 10 minutes from the stunning shores of Lake Tahoe. It boasts a full-service spa, a hot tub, and pool complex, as well as a shopping promenade and multiple restaurants which focus on regionally-sourced ingredients. Those who don’t want to hit the slopes can glide around on ice skates, go snowshoeing, sledding, or snowmobiling as well as take part in horse-drawn sleigh rides and dog sled tours. Take the short ride into Tahoe and enjoy a host of entertainment, including live music, casino gambling, and more.
Fairmont Banff Springs is a 125-year-old castle-like resort nestled in the Canadian Rockies, renowned for its beautiful surrounding scenery, and in the winter, it’s a veritable wonderland. It plays host to the Banff Springs Bowling and Entertainment Center and the Willow Stream Spa. Among its multiple eateries and lounges, you’ll find the Waldhaus Restaurant, set within a 1927 Bavarian-style cottage serving up fondues and excellent Canadian wines. Just a few of the activities for non-skiers include ice skating, canyon ice walks, sleigh rides, dog sledding, ice fishing, gondola rides, and helicopter tours.
Picturesque Breckenridge has been called one of America’s most beautiful Christmas towns. Just strolling the streets in the winter makes for a fun experience, though it’s also renowned for its skiing and a host of other activities. Non-skiers can sled for free at Carter Park, enjoy 30 miles of perfectly-manicured trails for snowshoeing or go winter biking on some of the country’s best mountain biking terrain. One Ski Hill sits at the base of Peak 8 and is a luxury ski-in, ski-out experience with a private aquatics center, two indoor pools, two hot tubs, and a fire pit, as well as a Rejuvenation Center with signature facials and deep-conditioning treatments. It’s also next door to one of the best Apres Ski bars in America, The T-Bar.