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Watching Olympians whiz down snowy slopes, twirl on skates, race in bobsled, and show off other incredible feats in the Winter Olympics is enough to make anyone want to experience a similar thrill. If you’re feeling inspired, there are multiple winter destinations around the world to consider planning a vacation around. Whether you’re looking for something closer to home, to jet off to the European Alps, head north to the wilds of Canada, or maybe even across the Pacific to Japan, these options are all sure to fit the bill.
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Whistler hosted many of the 2010 Olympic Games, world-famous as North America’s largest ski resort with more than 200 runs with something for everyone from beginners to experts. The two mountains, Blackcomb and Whistler, are linked together by the Peak 2 Peak gondola, with Blackcomb the preferred pick for strong intermediates and experts. There are Olympic-grade venues offering bobsledding, biathlon, and even skeleton, along with an ice skating rink in the heart of the village with views of the surrounding mountains. Plus, you’ll find a fantastic apres-ski scene to take part in afterward, along with a wide range of hotels and resorts.
The 1960 Olympic Winter Games took place in the Lake Tahoe area of Northern California at Squaw Valley and visitors today will find many ways to bring out their inner Olympia. Squaw Valley recently launched its new 1960 Winter Games Heritage Tours which provides skiers and boarders a look at the alpine venues for the 1960 Games. The mountaintop Olympic Museum at High Camp displays a unique collection of memorabilia, news articles, and video presentations focused on the Squaw Valley events and admission is included with the Aerial Tram ride. Of course, you’ll find opportunities to take part in just about every winter sport imaginable too, from skiing and boarding to ice skating, tubing, and snowmobiling.
One of the best places in Europe to ski, Chamonix was the site of the very first Winter Olympics in 1924, nestled in a valley between the Aiguilles Rouges and Mont Blanc massif. It included ice hockey, figure skating, speed skating, bobsledding, curling, cross-country skiing and ski jumping. Although few reminders of those games remain, visitors can see some memorabilia at the Alpine Museum and enjoy all sorts of winter sports. Take the two-stage cable car to the top of Aiguille du Midi to access the world’s most famous off-piste ski run, Vallée Blanche. Backcountry skiing, adventure ski touring, and biathlon (with lessons available), are just a few of the other options here.
St. Moritz has hosted the Winter Olympics twice, in 1928 and 1948 as one of the most famous ski resorts in Switzerland. It’s one of the highest and most reliable for snow at 5,900 feet above sea level and while it caters to all skill levels, it’s a haven for the more advanced skier with lots of expert runs like the six-mile-long King Run, or Königsabfahrt, from Corvatsch via Lake Hahnen, and the Lagalb descent in Diavolezza, considered the most challenging run in the Engadine. This chic winter resort hosts more than 150 winter events, ranging from cricket matches to horse races that all take place on the ice. In addition to gliding down the famous slopes, visitors can also swoosh down the Olympic bobsled run or ski jump.
Aspen is one of the most popular spots for snow sports in the U.S. as well as being a winter playground for plenty of celebrities, models, socialites, and all types of international jet setters. It hosts the annual Winter X Games in January and last year hosted the World Championships for the three ski and snowboard disciplines and the U.S. Grand Prix. The area has four mountains to choose from: Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass, which means there’s plenty of room on the slopes for everyone. Visitors can also try some more unusual winter sports like snow biking and skate skiing, a form of cross country skiing. Save some energy for the buzzing apres-ski scene and nightlife too.
The Italian Dolomites provide some of the most stunning scenery in the Alps and the queen of it all is Cortina, which was selected to host the 2026 Winter Olympics. It’s divided into various ski areas with the two main options, Pomedes, which is the largest, and Tofana, the highest. Both can easily be accessed from the town. Plus, it’s possible to ski around the entire Sella Ronda massif by using the Sellaronda ski lift carousel that brings skiers from mountain to mountain, village to village. Many other activities can be enjoyed too, including ice skating, curling, sledding, snow biking, and even snowkiting. When you need to warm up, take a break to enjoy a bombardino, a mix of eggnog, espresso, and brandy topped with whipped cream.
The northernmost of Japan’s islands, Hokkaido gets plenty of snow in the winter, attracting skiers of all types from across the globe to enjoy its abundance of high-quality powder. Rusutsu offers great off-piste and tree skiing while being suitable for skiers and boarders of most abilities. Plus, the country’s only true heli-skiing can be found on the mountain adjacent to Rusutsu, Shiribetsu Heli Skiing. Snowmobiling and tubing are popular in the area too. And, if you come in February, you’ll enjoy some of the best festivals in Japan, including the Sapporo Snow Festival which takes place over 12 days in Sapporo. It features hundreds of snow statues and ice sculptures along with attractions like snow slides and snow rafting.
Host of the 1988 Olympic Games, Calgary still has five Olympic venues in use, as arguably the best destination for winter sports within city limits. The main arena, Canada Olympic Park, hosts a 500,000-square-foot ice complex with four ice hockey rinks, epic ski runs, and the Olympic Hall of Fame Museum. Visitors can also take a spin on the Winter Bobsleigh Ride, where participants hop a bobsled piloted by a professional, experiencing 5G forces and speeds of up to 75 miles per hour. The Canadian Luge Association offers an intro to the Olympic sport and a heart-pounding luge ride.
Jackson Hole has birthed a number of Olympians, like Betty Woolsey, a member of the first U.S. Women’s Olympic Ski Team, and Tommie Moe, the first American male skier to win two medals in a single winter Olympics. It’s one of the birthplaces for extreme skiing in the country and by taking the winter tram to the top of Rendezvous Mountain, advanced skiers will find an impressive array of bowls, chutes, cliff drops, and glades. Legendary Corbet’s Couloir has been called “America’s Scariest Ski Run,” requiring a 20-foot drop off a cornice and once you’ve jumped, there is no turning back. Visitors can also enjoy snowmobiling, snowkiting, skijoring, ice climbing, and more.
Located at the end of long, flat Ziller Valley is the sprawling village of Mayrhofen. The skiing options are far, far greater than most with the Zillertal lift pass area covering a staggering 174 lifts and 417 miles of pistes. It’s home to the world’s steepest groomed slope, Harakiri, presenting a challenge to anyone’s inner Olympian. The black-rated run is short but the vertical is 78 percent and has led to a number of deaths, leading to its name, a Japanese word that translates to suicide. You might want to join the crowd that gathers around to cheer the experts who dare to tackle it rather than attempting it yourself. There are plenty of less daring opportunities for skiing and boarding, along with tobogganing and tubing.
In Park City, visitors can take part in the Ski with a Champion program where you’ll ski with one of six Olympic snowsport athletes through exclusive half- and full-day adventures at Deer Valley Resort. Plus, while you’re here you can race down a bobsled trek and tube down a Nordic jump at Utah Olympic Park where events were held during the Salt Lake 2002 Winter Games. Visitors can also learn about the history of snow sports and the 2022 Games in the free museum.
The twin German towns of Garmisch-Partenkirchen hosted the 1936 Winter Olympics and continue to welcome top winter athletes around the world at the annual New Year’s Ski Jump. Visitors can take a guided tour of the Mount Gudiberg Olympic ski jump to relive the 1936 events and take in spectacular views of Mount Zugspitze and the gorge below from the AlpspiX viewing platform. Everything from skiing and boarding to snowshoeing can be enjoyed here too.
Lillehammer is where the 1994 Winter Olympics took place and five Olympic venues are open to visitors for activities like tobogganing and downhill skiing. There are also more than 1,242 miles of cross-country ski trails and it’s even possible to zoom down the original run on the Bobsleigh and Luge Track on a four-man bobsled at speeds of 75 miles per hour. The Norwegian Olympic Museum traces the history of the Games from ancient Greece through today.
Lake Placid is a winter wonderland in the Adirondacks that hosted the Olympics in 1932 and 1980. Its Olympic heritage can still be seen today and it remains one of the top training venues for Winter Olympians. Visitors can pick up an Olympic Sites Passport and enjoy a scenic gondola ride to the top of Little Whiteface or ski Olympic mountain Whiteface, which boasts the highest vertical drop east of the Rockies. The Olympic Speed Skating Oval is a must for ice skaters, while the incredible, nearly 400-foot-high ski jump tower and Olympic Museum can be toured too. Intros are provided into biathlon and one can even experience the rush of bobsledding down a chute at speeds of up to 55 miles per hour. The especially daring can try out the skeleton or luge on select days too.