Powder Hounds Aside, Ski Vacations Aren't Just About Skiing
Skiing remains on top of the to-do list, but the list is a lot longer these days.
There are two types of people in the world: those who downhill ski, and those who haven’t caught the bug yet. Fortunately, ski resorts are increasingly catering to both groups. So if you like to enjoy a rest day during your ski holiday or if your group includes skiers and non-skiers, you’ll be surprised at the range of activities that resorts are offering to please just about everyone.
Whether you want to soar about the mountains in a hot-air balloon, snowshoe through a quiet wilderness following animal tracks in the snow or just relax with a frosty mug at a local brewery, resorts are ready for you. Here’s a selection, in no particular order, of some of the activities that will keep you busy when you want to give your legs a rest.
Consider this mountain biking on steroids. Fat bikes (or snow bikes) feature cartoonishly huge tires—often 4-5 inches wide—that will roll over just about everything. The wide tires provide remarkably good traction in the snow, and allow riders to venture out onto bike trails previously only open during the warm months. This is one of those you-have-to-try-it-to-believe activities. Fat biking through a mountain meadow is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud.
Call it a coaster craze. Perhaps the most popular new attractions at major resorts are mountain—or alpine—coasters. Unlike traditional amusement park behemoths, these low-profile coasters hug the mountain, yet still hit speeds, curves and descents that will have you squeezing on the brake (riders control their own speed). Most of the coasters run both summer and winter, providing a new perspective of the mountain. Ski parents: Don’t be disappointed if young kids consider this the highlight of their trip.
There is something to be said for getting away from the hustle and buzz of the ski slopes. Snowshoeing transports you into the quiet elegance of the wilderness. Resorts offer moonlight walks, guided tours, evening rambles to a hut dinner, environmental treks, uphill workouts, first-time lessons, and more. Snowshoeing is a relaxing new way to explore a resort.
Brewery and Distillery Tours
The benefits are obvious, as is the motivation to head indoors to warm up a bit. Many ski towns are now home to craft beer and distillery operations that produce award-winning microbrews and spirits. Added bonus: Tours are a quick and insightful education into the production of your favorite beverage.
This is a natural extension of the sport for downhill skiers. You don’t need a huge gear bag of equipment, the experience is serene and the cardio workout is hard to beat. Many skiers hit Nordic trails on their workout days. Many cross-country skiers head to the lifts on their off-days. It works both ways.
In the winter, the “town green” or natural rendezvous point at many resorts is a centralized ice rink. First, it’s hard to miss. Second, ice skating is fun for all members of the family. And, third, is the steaming hot cocoa after you unlace your skates.
Hot Air Ballooning
This is one way to get the ultimate view of your favorite resort. Hot Air Balloon trips take off every season in the early morning at many resorts. Take your ski trip to new heights.
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