If you love nature and winter activities that Aspen, Colorado is famous for, here are 21 alternative towns that offer a multitude of outdoor recreation with scenic views.
First inhabited by the Ute Indians, Aspen became a booming silver-mining town during the late-nineteenth century. However, this quaint mining town experienced a cultural revival with the arrival of Walter and Elizabeth Paepcke in the 1940s. The Paepckes presented “The Aspen Idea,” a vision for the town centered on the mind, body, and soul. Aspen’s character is motivated by this philosophy.
Aspen lives up to its reputation as a winter wonderland. The world-famous Aspen Snowmass resort’s landscape consists of four ski summits. Aspen Mountain, often known locally as Ajax, rises right from downtown, giving ski-in/ski-out a whole new meaning. Buttermilk Mountain, the site of the Aspen X Games, is a skier’s and snowboarder’s dream.
Aspen’s picturesque landscape offers a multitude of winter activities, such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, fly-fishing, and even hot-air ballooning. After a long day of skiing, experience Aspen’s famed après ski scene or dine at one of the world-class restaurants.
Dance the night away at Belly Up, Aspen’s 500-person live music club featuring famous musicians. Aspen’s big-city cultural institutions, well-known for their summer programming, feature plenty of activities during the winter months that will excite you.
Summer has even more outdoor recreation possibilities than winter. Whatever your obsession, you will find something to pique your interest. The rafting, hiking, bicycling, rock-climbing, fishing, golf, horseback riding, hot-air ballooning, and paragliding, all within walking distance of downtown, make it the ideal spot to get outside and explore.
Park City, Utah
A mere half an hour from Salt Lake City, this scenic mountain hamlet offers a quaint downtown scene, plentiful retail opportunities, and gorgeous eateries. Park City offers adrenaline junkies a variety of exciting activities, such as zip line tours and an alpine roller coaster.
This historic mining town stands in the shadow of the rocky Wasatch Mountain Range, sandwiched between two top resorts, Deer Valley and Park City Mountain. The Utah Olympic Park is currently a significant training center for winter athletes, including the US Ski Team. Whether you’re a pro skier or only just learning to buckle your skis, you will find a ski route appropriate for your skill level.
There are several ways to enjoy Park City, ranging from art and culinary lessons to at-home cocktail kits, virtual cinema screenings, and festive gatherings. Furthermore, the town is home to numerous prestigious events, like the Sundance Film Festival and the Kimball Arts Festival.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Visitors to this rugged mountain town are in an ideal location to see Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. The stunning countryside has a lot of character and provides a variety of activities.
Choose from a variety of guided activities, including horseback riding at the A-OK Corral, white-water rafting on the Snake River, and stunning wildlife tours. Alternatively, you may make your own adventure by hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, fishing, and other activities in the nearby mountains and Bridger-Teton National Forest.
Skiing is the most popular winter activity in this area, with top-notch slopes available at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, Snow King, and Grand Targhee. Try dog sledding at Jackson Hole or visit the National Elk Refuge for a truly unique winter adventure.
At the well-known Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, you may sip cocktails seated on horse saddles while sampling bison burgers. In addition, there are various luxury hotels and spas in the region where you can unwind and pamper yourself after a day of skiing at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort.
Telluride was named a National Historic Landmark District in 1964 due to its significance in the history of the American West. Today, the town’s vibrant Victorian-era houses, clapboard stores, and historic structures coexist alongside shops, art galleries, gourmet restaurants, and other amenities.
You will not regret visiting this Colorado mountain hamlet, no matter the season. Telluride offers several activities in the spring, including fishing in the San Miguel River or a stroll around the arts district. Summer is ideal for visitors who want to soak up the rays while hiking popular trails like the Jud Wiebe and the Bridal Veil Trail. You can also enjoy rafting, off-roading, horseback riding, and mountain biking.
Don’t let the chillier seasons keep you from visiting! Autumn is ideal for strolls in the vibrant leaves. And, of course, winter is the perfect time to hit the slopes at Telluride Ski Resort. Kick back at one of the neighboring hot springs for some rest and relaxation.
In the High Sierras just north of Lake Tahoe, Truckee is a quaint but bustling mountain town with plenty of hidden gems and outdoor sports.
The sight of towering pine trees and the breathtaking peaks of the Sierra Nevada mountains that surround Truckee, as well as the tranquil waters of adjacent Donner Lake, may turn anybody into an outdoor enthusiast. Fishing, kayaking, hiking, and other outdoor activities abound in the Truckee area for adventurers of all ages.
After a day in the sun, refuel and quench your thirst at one of Truckee’s many great eateries. Truckee restaurants and breweries provide everything you need to fulfill your hunger, from breweries to contemporary foods.
Crested Butte, Colorado
Crested Butte promises to entertain you no matter the season, from singletrack to Nordic track, big trout to big air. The abundance of recreational possibilities in this region is one of the reasons so many people make Crested Butte their choice of a holiday spot.
In the winter, you can do whatever you can do on snow. If you enjoy skiing, the region has lift-served alpine and snowboarding, cross-country skiing, and an abundance of backcountry terrain for ski enthusiasts. You may still enjoy sleigh and horseback trips, snowshoeing, ice skating, and other activities if you don’t ski.
Crested Butte offers all of the summer activities you’d expect from a mountain paradise. You may go mountain biking, hiking, fishing, climbing, horseback riding, river rafting, and kayaking during the warmer months.
Bend is located on the eastern side of the Cascades Mountains range, beneath the volcanic peaks of the Three Sisters and Mount Bachelor, and is drained by the Deschutes River. The area is known for its sunny weather and access to mountain bike trails, parks, climbing routes, and acres of skiing and snowboarding terrain on Mount Bachelor.
Bend’s volcanic geology gives it an ideal location for exploring a variety of caverns and lava tubes, which can be discovered in almost every direction from the city. Skylight Cave to the Northwest, Redmond Caverns to the northeast, Lava River Cave to the south, and a vast network of caves in the lava fields east of town are all worth a visit.
There is much to do in Bend other than adventuring, from the 1950s flair of the Tower Theatre, with its concerts and movies, to outdoor bands and events at Drake Park and the Les Schwab Amphitheater. The Capitol is a new addition to the city’s music culture, although the Volcanic Theatre Pub, McMenamins Old St Francis School, and the Astro Lounge are still must-sees for both new and veteran artists.
Sun Valley, Idaho
People travel from all around to ski at this picturesque mountain resort in central Idaho. Sun Valley was the site of the world’s first chairlift installation in 1936, which helped to solidify its reputation as a contemporary ski resort destination.
If you don’t like schussing down the slopes, there are plenty more winter activities to enjoy, such as sleigh rides and ice skating. Sun Valley also has hiking paths, gorgeous golf courses, horseback riding spots, rivers for fly-fishing, and lakes for swimming, making it an equally enticing summer holiday destination.
The area is home to The Sun Valley Film Festival, which promotes independent film and the power of narrative. Its purpose is to highlight and recognize established and upcoming filmmakers who have garnered festival acclaim from the film business, film festival visitors, film fans, and filmmakers.
Asheville, North Carolina
This flourishing mountain community has a colorful and diverse downtown, hundreds of studios and art galleries, a world-class culinary and craft beer culture, a booming live music scene, and, of course, the breathtaking Blue Ridge Mountains. This must-see site is within a few hours’ drive from Charlotte and Atlanta.
This is the ideal playground for adrenaline junkies, with a wide range of outdoor activities. Asheville’s untouched wilderness, mountain ecosystems, and local waterfalls, as well as zip lines, white-water rafting, superb hiking and mountain biking, and a stunning autumn leaf show, serve as a base camp for adventure. The Blue Ridge Parkway, the most frequented picturesque roadway in the United States, goes straight through Asheville.
Taos, New Mexico
Hundreds of years of rich cultural exchange among Taoseos, Spanish explorers, Native Americans, and American immigrants have created a diversified environment of understanding. The pace is leisurely, the air is pure, and the water is clear, all of which contribute to a welcoming, small-town atmosphere. Taos welcomes newcomers and guests with a warm and welcoming community.
Taos not only has a great ski resort, but it also has a lively arts culture, abundance of natural beauty, and rich history. Fill your days with visits to downtown art galleries and museums to learn about the influence of Mexican and Native American culture on Taos.
Hikes through the Sangre de Cristo Mountains are another option for exploring the area. If you want to prioritize relaxation, visit Taos’ relaxing mineral springs and wellness facilities before settling into a spa resort.
Stowe, Vermont, is a must-see regardless of the time of year. The town’s lush greenery and breathtaking views draw many visitors during the spring and summer months, while its vivid foliage consistently astounds those who travel to Stowe in the fall.
Hiking to waterfalls, harvesting fruit at neighboring farms, golfing at the Stowe Country Club, and meandering around the historic downtown area are some of the most extraordinary things to do during the warmer months.
However, Stowe is also famed for its ski slopes, so a winter visit is not out of the question. When visitors aren’t racing down the slopes at Stowe Mountain Resort, they may go ice skating, try snowshoeing, or ride the property’s gondola.
Bozeman has a reputation for offering a wholesome lifestyle and is the ideal location for a mountain retreat. Enjoy world-class fly fishing, breathtaking mountains for hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, skiing, hunting, and backcountry exploration, Yellowstone National Park, and abundant wildlife.
When you’re ready for a more urban experience, explore Bozeman’s rich arts and culture communities, which include everything from main street festivals to farmers markets, cultural centers, and museums to symphonies, theaters, and art galleries.
Estes Park, Colorado
Estes Park, Colorado, about 65 miles northwest of Denver, is an excellent home base for those visiting Rocky Mountain National Park. While you should hike picturesque trails such as the Glacier Gorge Trail, don’t forget to spend time in the attractive downtown area.
The Estes Park Riverwalk, which runs beside the Big Thompson and Fall rivers, is a popular destination for visitors. It is surrounded by boutiques, cafés, confectionery shops, and art galleries and is a pleasant area to spend a day. There are also other excursions that leave from Estes Park, like Jeep tours and white-water rafting trips.
This little mountain town offers a unique blend of Northwest friendliness and Bavarian charm. With charming specialty stores, diverse eating, spas, and welcome lodgings, this gorgeous Alpine-style hamlet gives a taste of Bavaria.
With 800 miles of hiking, bicycling, and equestrian routes, world-class climbing, and fantastic white-water rafting, this recreational wonderland is guaranteed to keep you entertained. Leavenworth is a superb downhill basecamp with two major resorts within 45 minutes and its own historic ski slope only minutes away.
The Leavenworth Valley Wine Country is one of the Northwest’s hottest up-and-coming wine hotspots. The terrain lends depth and complexity to Leavenworth wines that are not often found in younger wine areas. Stroll through hundreds of wine tasting rooms and vineyards, visit some of the hard cider tasting rooms, go on a guided limo wine tour, or sample local wines at one of our wine festivals.
Lake Placid, New York
Close your eyes and visualize lovely, calm nature – snow-covered rolling hills, lofty peaks, and clean, fresh air. Lake Placid, New York, a traditional, iconic alpine hamlet, is in the midst of all that splendor. It’s the ideal site to create your ideal day, as it’s both modern and historically significant.
Lake Placid is a great place to get some fresh mountain air and take in the scenery. The landscape shines in the snow and invites all kinds of outdoor activities. For the perfect mountain-town evening, meander along Main Street or attend a one-of-a-kind event!
Lake Placid is legendary for its extensive views, incredible scenery, and long history, but with a charming, small-town twist. From more minor summits to ziplining over ski jumps to a mountain coaster on a historic Olympic mountainside, Lake Placid is legendary for outdoor activities.
Gatlinburg, Tennessee, is an excellent choice for a mountain escape. This town is an ideal destination for family vacations as it boasts an aquarium, a mountain coaster, and a plethora of charming eateries. Not to mention that Gatlinburg is just next to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, so outdoor activities are plenty.
Hiking paths, such as Grotto Falls and Laurel Falls, are recommended for visitors to access picturesque waterfalls around the area. If you are not a hiker, there are various ways to enjoy the scenery. The 2-mile Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway is a thrilling way to gain a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains.
This gorgeous ski town, located around 80 miles southwest of Denver, feels like its own alpine refuge. Breckenridge Ski Resort attracts many people who come to experience its 187 slopes. There are several chances for non-skiers to engage in hiking and other outdoor activities.
Chilly mountain breezes and long, sun-drenched afternoons make it easy to find adventure in every moment, whether you make an early start on the river casting dries in a particularly magnetic eddy, crashing through rapids on a Class V run down Arkansas, or taking to the single track on two wheels or horseback — compliments of the expert wranglers and equine guides for a genuine, authentic Western adventure.
You may even take a free gondola trip to the top of the mountain to enjoy the après-ski atmosphere without ever stepping foot on the slopes. You should also go to downtown Breckenridge’s picturesque Main Street, which has restaurants, pubs, souvenir shops, and retail stores, among other things.
Hot Springs, Arkansas
The major reason visitors visit Hot Springs, Arkansas, is, of course, its breathtaking national park. Hot Springs National Park is renowned for its bathhouses, where visitors may soak and relax in the park’s famed spring water.
Soak up the greenery on one of the several hiking paths dispersed over the park’s North and West Mountain sections. While most of the routes are suitable for families, more challenging choices are accessible further west in the Ouachita Mountains, such as Eagle Rock Loop.
After a long day of exploring the great outdoors, grab a meal and a drink at one of the quaint restaurants or pubs.
Mammoth Lakes, California
This picturesque California town is located inside the Sierra Nevada Mountain range and provides a variety of exciting activities for people of all ages. Mammoth Mountain’s 150 ski routes, cross-country skiing paths, tubing park, and snowmobile adventures draw visitors from all over the world.
Mammoth Lakes is also a popular holiday location for individuals who want to visit Yosemite National Park because it is only a short drive from the park’s east gate. In addition, there will be much to do this summer. Visitors may do rock climbing and hiking in the warmer months, as well as swimming, boating, and kayaking in the town’s magnificent lakes.
Mammoth Lakes offers a wide selection of amenities, including four-star hotels, condominiums, charming cabins, motels, and campgrounds. Sushi, wine bars, and family pizza parlors are among the dining alternatives.
Big Sky, Montana
Big Sky, Montana, is a classic mountain vacation and home to one of the country’s major ski resorts. Take your skiing or riding to the next level with one of America’s best Mountain Sports Schools. Whether you want to improve your technique, acquire a new lifetime sport, or understand the ins and outs of our mountain, their qualified teachers offer a lot of information and fun to your Big Sky experience.
There are lots of other winter activities available to non-skiers. Ice skating and snowmobiling are among the activities available, as are dog sledding and sleigh excursions. Visitors may enjoy the milder temperatures in the summer while horseback riding, white-water rafting, or golfing. Alternatively, Big Sky may be used as a gateway to Yellowstone National Park, which is roughly 50 miles south.
The little town of Homer, Alaska, is located on the southern shore of the state’s Kenai Peninsula. The charming downtown area is home to art galleries, a museum, restaurants, and several cozy accommodation choices.
In addition, travelers may visit the Homer Spit, a roughly 5-mile-long region extending into Kachemak Bay, observe the snowcapped Kenai Mountains, investigate tidal pools, and participate in fishing charters and kayaking trips. A journey here would be incomplete without a day excursion to adjacent Kenai Fjords National Park, which is rich in glaciers and animals.
Book a vacation to Helen, Georgia, to embrace the atmosphere of Germany’s picturesque mountains without stepping out of the country. Classic Bavarian architecture and restaurants selling German classics like schnitzel, soft pretzels, and, of course, beer can be found in this tiny mountain hamlet.
With approximately 600 residents, you and your family will immediately feel at home in Helen. The town’s mountain coaster, water park, and riverside beaches are guaranteed to appeal to young children. On the other hand, adults will enjoy trekking in nature-focused areas such as Raven Cliffs Wilderness Area and Smithgall Woods State Park.
22. Whistler, British Columbia
Whistler Blackcomb is a premier ski resort village in British Columbia, Canada. With over 200 ski runs, three village areas (upper, lower which is the main village and Creekside), dozens of hotels, hundreds of townhomes and condos for rent it’s a resort magnet for skiers (and mountain bikers) from around the world.
The main village is a pedestrian village which means it’s closed off to cars. I love this about Whistler because it makes for such a walkable town. The village offers everything you need and is right next to the main gondola that takes you up into the slopes. Any hotel you stay at in the village is walking distance to the gondola. It’s a planned village but it looks great and is a ton of fun. Skiing isn’t the only thing Whistler has to offer; there are so many things to do in Whistler in winter. Whistler is also a summer destination with a world-class mountain biking park, lakes, hiking and so much more.
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