Just because a city’s main attraction is skiing doesn’t mean it’s a complete ghost town when the snow melts away. In fact, a ski-centric destination offers just as much – if not, more – things to do in the summer. Better yet, these hot spots tend to always be less crowded during their “off-seasons.” Whether you’re into hiking, biking or taking in the majestic beauty of the alpines, these eight ski towns make a perfect summer vacation.
Nestled in the heart of the Rocky Mountains and home to North America’s biggest and most popular ski resort, Vail, Colorado undoubtedly attracts its fair share of skiers and snowboarders during the winter. However, that doesn’t mean this alpine village isn’t a hot spot during the off-season. For one, there’s no shortage of outdoor adventures. From mountain biking to whitewater rafting to hot air ballooning to even hiking with a llama, these rousing activities are sure to bring a lifetime of memories. If you’re craving a sliver of wintertime fun, the closest thing you’ll get are the snow-free tubing hills at the family-friendly Epic Discovery, which also offers ziplining courses and a 3,400-foot alpine coaster. Need to press pause on the outdoor recreation? You can easily relax and rejuvenate with a hot stone massage or float tank session at one of Vail’s many luxurious spas.
The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch
Vail Marriott Mountain Resort
In the 90s comedy classic Dumb and Dumber, Lloyd Christmas affectionally describes Aspen as “a place that’s warm, where the beer flows like wine and beautiful women instinctively flock like the salmon of Capistrano.” Okay, there are a few errors in that statement, but you get Lloyd’s overall sentiment: Aspen is a gorgeous paradise. Most people know Aspen as a premier winter resort town, but it’s also an undeniable summer destination. Start with a hike to the Maroon Bells, regarded as the most photographed place in Colorado due to its stunning red rock formations reaching over 14,000 feet in the air. If you’re more of a daredevil, you can fuel your adrenaline with exhilarating paragliding, rock climbing and hot air balloon ventures. Summer brings Aspen’s arts and culture scene to life, considering the town offers three music festivals during this time including the Aspen Music Festival and School, JAS June Experience and the three-day JAS Labor Day Experience.
The St. Regis Aspen Resort
Breckenridge, Colorado, situated at the base of the Tenmile Range, offers plenty of four-season alpine activities just like many other winter resort towns. What separates Breckenridge from other ski destinations, though, is its rich history. Founded by a group of gold prospectors in 1859, Breckenridge became a mining hub during the Gold Rush era. Its history is still preserved along Main Street, the vibrant downtown area brimming with Western charm and Victorian architecture. There are also numerous historic tours available that allow you to dive deeper into Breckenridge’s past. From 4th of July celebrations to gold panning championships, local festivals abound during the summertime in Breckenridge, so you can easily plan your stay around one of the city's many events. And if you’re looking for a truly unique experience, make room on your agenda for summer dog sledding, which trades the snow and winter sleds with dirt trails and scooters.
Marriott’s Mountain Valley Lodge at Breckenridge
Residence Inn Breckenridge
Straddling the border between California and Nevada along the Sierra Nevada mountains, Lake Tahoe is divided into two sides: North Lake Tahoe and Tahoe South. For a more laid-back, family-friendly atmosphere, set your sights on North Lake Tahoe. The crowds are smaller and more subdued, but you’ll still have tons of fun. The north side is home to some of the area’s most beautiful hiking spots including the State Lookout Trail and Shirley Canyon. After an action-packed hiking excursion, head to Tahoe City for a wide variety of fine dining options sure to please any palate. When it comes it Tahoe South, this is where you’ll find a bustling nightlife featuring a good mix of trendy clubs and dive bars. Tahoe South also offers a flourishing arts scene, so be sure to schedule your trip around the popular Valhalla Arts, Music and Theatre Festival in mid-June. And of course, you’ll have a myriad of outdoor activities to sink your teeth into including hiking, waterfall hopping and horseback riding.
Marriott’s Timber Lodge
The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe
While many travelers flock to Park City during the winter for world-class skiing and the Sundance Film Festival, this mountain town is just as exciting when the weather warms up. One thing that shouldn’t be missed is the Utah Olympic Park. This facility was built for the 2002 Winter Olympics, but now serves as a playground where kids and adults alike can have a blast experiencing summer bobsledding, tubing, zip lining, rope courses and more. To further your outdoor adventures, you have a plethora of thrilling options, from rafting the rapids of Weber River to paddle boarding the calm waters at Pebble Beach to reconnecting with nature at Uinta National Forest and Rockport State Park. After an action-packed day, savor an award-winning meal paired with a handcrafted cocktail in Historic Main Street, the heartbeat of Park City chock-full of premier restaurants, bars and shops.
Marriott's Summit Watch
Hotel Park City, Autograph Collection
The population of Boulder might be around 100,000, but this beautiful college city provides a small-town vibe along with its thriving food scene, excellent local music and year-round sunshine. Since Boulder offers 300 miles worth of hiking trails, you’ll have no problem getting your outdoor fix. If you only have time for one hiking excursion, make sure it’s at the stunning Chautauqua Park, where they offer several trails designed for all skill levels. Additionally, the park hosts a summer concert series in the evenings showcasing both local and national acts. When the sun’s out and the temperature’s rising, cool off with a tranquil tube ride down Boulder Creek or let the kids go splash around at the pop-jet fountain in downtown’s Pearl Street. You can also plan your visit around one of the many festival happening during the summer including the Boulder Craft Beer Festival, Boulder Taco Fest and Pearl Street Arts Fest.
Steamboat Springs may be known for its snowy slopes, but you’d be surprised what this high-altitude city offers beyond the ski lift. The first thing you might notice is that the Old West is alive and well, as the town is surrounded by working ranches and Main Street is designed to be extra-wide for cattle drives. You can also liberate your inner cowboy or cowgirl and attend the Pro Rodeo Series held every Friday and Saturday during the summer. When it comes to nature, be sure to pack your hiking gear and head to Fish Creek Falls, featuring a 280-foot cascading waterfall reminiscent of a painting. If you’re looking to unwind from your adventure-filled day, there’s no better place for a relaxing swim than Old Town Hot Springs, offering hot springs-fed pools, two waterslides, a party deck and more.
Fairfield Inn & Suites Steamboat Springs
Sheraton Steamboat Resort Villas
Situated in the eastern side of Sierra Nevada mountains, Mammoth Lakes, California is a dazzling haven for outdoor enthusiasts. This quaint mountain town offers countless trails for hikers of all skill levels. Embark a brief but challenging excursion to witness the beautiful alpine lake at Crystal Lake Trail, or soak up mountain and valley views when hiking the Mammoth Rock Trail. Two-wheel demons will fall in love with the Mammoth Mountain Bike Park, which provides more 80 miles of biking trails filled with jumps and drops. For a more laid-back outdoor outing, head to Lake Mary Marina and enjoy a day of kayaking, fishing or stand-up paddleboarding while taking in breathtaking sights.
The Westin Monache Resort, Mammoth
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