When you’re planning your next winter vacation, don’t write off a ski destination if you’re not a skier, says Nancy Cutter, the president of Court Travel, a travel consultancy in Charlotte, N.C.
“The best kept secret is that winter ski spots aren’t just for skiers,” she said. “Many have lots of fun activities for all kinds of travelers.” Ms. Cutter offered a few reasons non-skiers should consider ski resorts, and tips on how to make the most of the trip.
Famous winter ski resorts like Vail, Colo., and Park City, Utah, offer a variety of physical activities in addition to skiing. Snowshoeing, for one, is a great way to hike through a winter wonderland and doubles as a low-impact workout for people of all ages. Many resorts offer guided snowshoe treks. Cross-country skiing and mountain biking in the snow are two other possibilities, both common at many ski resorts.
Tap into Your Creative Side
Ms. Cutter also suggested you can use your winter vacation to learn a new skill. If you’re interested in photography, many hotels in ski locales (as well as local tour companies) offer daylong and even weeklong photo safari excursions where students snap pictures of wildlife like buffaloes and wolves. Cooking classes are another option, although you’ll have to look and book in advance. Also, art abounds in the mountains. “You’ll will find top-notch galleries in ski resorts all over the world,” Ms. Cutter said. Some hotels even offer gallery tours.
Check Out the Culinary Scene
One of the highlights of Ms. Cutter’s trips to popular ski destinations is the cuisine. “You’ll find no shortage of great restaurants to suit all tastes and budgets,” she said. She recommends travelers seek out eateries known for tasty versions of wintertime favorites, like fondue.
And for a particularly memorable evening out, book a sleigh ride through the woods or a meal in a mountain cabin where you can sit by a roaring fire, be serenaded with live music, and feast on grilled meats such as bison and elk. Also, don’t forget about après-ski bars. Many feature creative cocktails, local brews and live music.
The mountains make for an ideal getaway if you’re seeking solace and relaxation. “The air is pristine and the atmosphere is peaceful,” Ms. Cutter said. Take long walks on snow-covered paths or try a yoga class at a local studio or your hotel. Also, spas tend to be a big amenity at ski resorts, and there’s no better way to unwind than by booking a massage or enjoying the resort hot tub, sauna and steam room.
Take a Snowmobile Ride
Traveling through closed snowy roads in a snowmobile is one of Ms. Cutter’s favorite ways to spend a day in the mountains and a great way to check out local sights. In Big Sky, Mont. and Jackson Hole, Wyo., for example, many resorts and tour companies offer snowmobile tours of Yellowstone National Park. In fact, many domestic and international ski spots have numerous options for snowmobile tours in parks or private ranches. Some of these excursions include a stop at a cozy lodge for a warm-you-up lunch of hot soup or chili.