Best U.S. resorts for non-skiers

By Anna Bernard

For some, there is nothing better than enjoying Mother Nature’s fresh powder or crisp, man-made corduroy runs. As skiers or riders, it’s easy to forget what else these mountain towns have to offer.

For others, it’s what is around the actual mountain that makes the destination so enjoyable. At most ski resorts, you can count on standard resort amenities and experiences, like spas, restaurants, and shopping, but there’s also plenty topnotch, non-skiing winter activities to enjoy at these top resorts.

Top Vail non-skiing activities

vail non skiing activitiesFamily fun at Adventure Ridge in Vail. Photo courtesy of Vail Resorts, 2016.

As one of the largest and most popular ski resorts in the country, Vail offers several activities and excursions for those looking for some fun off of the slopes. For thrill-seekers, the Forest Flyer Mountain Coaster might just be the ticket. It is one of the newest additions to Vail’s Adventure Ridge and is one of the many outdoor activities the resort offers. The coaster flies 3,400 feet down the mountain and is arguably the most exciting way to see Vail’s natural landscapes.

For those looking for a slower pace, the horse-drawn sleigh ride in Vail Valley is the perfect option. Sleigh rides are available with either 4 Eagle Ranch or Beano’s Cabin. The ride is the epitome of an authentic and relaxed Western experience. Not to mention the sleigh ride ends in a Colorado-style dinner and bonfire for roasting marshmallows!

Top Aspen non-skiing activities

aspen non skiing activities
Snowmobiling in the Maroon Bells area, Photo courtesy of aspenchamber.org, 2016.
Home of the X-Games and surrounded by a high concentration of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks, Aspen never fails to disappoint. One of the most unique options available is any one of the T-Lazy 7 snowmobile tours. These winter rides go far beyond simply riding a snowmobile. One of the most popular T-Lazy 7 tours takes visitors to the most photographed peaks in all of North America: the Maroon Bells. After this winter excursion, riders get to warm up with some hot cocoa and fresh food as they get to witness one of Colorado’s most beautiful landscape.

If staying warm and relaxed is more ideal, the Aspen Art Museum is a great (and free!) option. This contemporary art museum has adaptive and creative exhibits year-round.

Top Breckenridge non-skiing activities

breckenridge non skiing activitiesA glimpse of one of the many Breckenridge snowshoeing trails to explore. Photo courtesy of Breckenridge, 2016.

Breckenridge is home to many exhilarating activities besides excellent skiing. One of the most favored excursions that Breck has to offer is the Iowa Hill Gold Miner’s Snowshoe Tour and Hike. A fun, laid-back activity for children and adults alike, this guided snowshoe hike meanders through the historical Iowa Hill mine while guides inform participants of the history behind the site.

Looking for something a little more fast paced? The Gold Runner Alpine Coaster has always been a fan favorite. Riders have complete control over their speed as they ride down Breckenridge’s terrain and through the forest. Located at the base of Peak 8, this roller coaster is open during summer and winter seasons and never fails to provide a good time.

Top Beaver Creek non-skiing activities

Near Avon, CO, lies Beaver Creek, another Colorado favorite, especially among families and luxury-vacation seekers. From their daily, complimentary Chocolate Cookie time (3 p.m. at the base area) and New Year's Eve Family Bash, Beaver Creek always has a list of family-oriented activities. While the resort has fun events nearly every weekend, such as concerts and festivals, they also have several activities to do, no matter what day it may be.

In the summers (June-September), Beaver Creek offers a unique day of gem panning, where kids, adults and people of all ages can enjoy learning about rocks, fool's gold and even arrowheads. Day tickets for gem panning can also be purchased in a bundle that has a variety of activities, such as a climbing wall, ropes course and much more! A more adventurous option is Beaver Creek’s Hot Air Balloon Tours. These scenic rides take a breathtaking route between the clouds and overlook some of Colorado’s best mountains. 

Top Telluride non-skiing activities

telluride non-skiing activities
Dog sledding with energetic Huskies through fresh snow. Photo courtesy of Telluride, 2016.

Telluride never fails to provide character and spectacular views. Though most come for the skiing, many find themselves staying for much more. Activities like dog sledding, ice climbing and fat-tire biking are only a few of the adventurous activities Telluride has to offer. The resort is close to many hot springs, including the Dunton Hot Springs, which provide the perfect end to a day in the snow, all while surrounded by natural beauty. Nugget Theatre is one of the most historical landmarks in Telluride. Built in 1892, Nugget Theatre exudes Old-Timey atmosphere while showing current Hollywood movies.

Park City non-skiing activities

park city non skiing activities
Enjoy the Zipline and Adventure Ropes course in the Olympic Park…even in the winter! Photo courtesy of Utah Olympic Park, 2014.

The Olympic Park is an option unique to Park City and hosts tours, competitions and even bobsled and zipline rides that are thrilling for all ages. Located nearby is Gorgoza Park, which offers world-class tubing, mini snowmobiles and a winter wonderland play area for the youngsters. The park is incredibly family-friendly, but undoubtedly a fun time for anyone. Whether you’re recreating or simply strolling down historic Main Street enjoying the views, Park City is anything but boring.