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Autumn is coming to a close and the cold weather rolling in is a reminder that winter is right around the corner. Now is a great time to start planning your family’s winter adventure vacation. Just because there are loads of great winter destinations for downhill skiers doesn’t mean the non-skiers should feel left out. Families looking for a great family winter vacation off the slopes or who want to try something different this year must check out our list of nine spectacular winter destinations across North America where non-skiing families can enjoy amazing winter fun.
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Jackson Hole – Wyoming
Jackson Hole is such a beautiful place to visit in the winter. Fresh snow blankets the entire mountainous region, turning it into a wonderland of outdoor fun and adventure. One exciting activity that shouldn’t be missed is dog sledding. On a Jackson Hole Iditarod Sled Dog Tour, guests embark on an expertly guided tour through that fresh blanket of snow, for views of icy mountains and wildlife like moose and bald eagles. The full-day tour includes a delicious lunch and an unforgettable trip to enjoy a relaxing soak in the natural hot springs. Another one of the best ways for a family to enjoy the wildlife is to visit the nearby National Elk Refuge, a sanctuary designed to protect migrating elk. When planning your visit to the refuge, book a cozy horse-drawn sleigh ride. This is a fun way to travel across the snowy landscape and see close-up views of elk, moose, and native birds. Other area activities include cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, and guided tours of Yellowstone, one of the most incredible national parks in the country.
Where to stay in Jackson Hole
The Rustic Inn Creekside Resort and Spa in the town of Jackson is one of the best places for families to stay in the area. The resort is close to town and offers a variety of lodging options. Kids will have fun swimming in the heated pool and enjoy sipping hot cocoa and eating yummy smores at the outdoor fire pit. Adults will appreciate the full-service spa, on-site dining, and complimentary shuttle service to and from Teton Village.
Northern New Hampshire
Families will find plenty of fun winter activities throughout the gorgeous White Mountains of New Hampshire. A perfect day trip is a visit to the frozen Ice Castles, a magical ice kingdom full of ice slides, frozen tunnels, and amazing ice formations. Another wonderful winter activity is a ride up majestic Mt. Washington on the Mt. Washington Snow Coach. From the 4000-foot elevation, you are sure to get amazing views of the gorgeous winter scenery.
Where to Stay in the Northern New Hampshire
Families will find plenty of family-friendly lodging at Waterville Valley. There are several hotels in the area including the Golden Eagle Lodge. The lodge has many amenities for children, including a game room, indoor pool, and playground. The nearby Waterville Valley Resort is one of the best ski resorts for families in New England. In addition to some of the area’s best downhill skiing, the resort offers ice skating, a tubing hill, alpine skiing, and a ski school. Kids will love visiting the adventure arcade and indoor rock climbing wall. The resort also offers many fun activities like boating and biking during the summer months.
Beaver Creek, Colorado
Beaver Creek may be best known for its fantastic skiing, but it is also home to some of the best ice skating in the United States. A great place for the whole family to ice skate is Beaver Creek Village Resort. This outdoor rink is the perfect place for both beginners and those who have perfected the sport of skating. Ice skates and helmet rentals are available nearby, and the firepits surrounding the ice rink are perfect for warming up after a few spins around the rink. For another cool experience (haha), adults and older kids may also want to try gliding across the ice on one of the rink’s ice bikes. Beaver Creek offers many activities for non-skiers, including dog sledding, art galleries, and shopping. More winter fun can also be found in the nearby towns of Vail and Copper Mountain.
DON’T MISS! Three Adventurous Days With Kids In Vail
Where to Stay in Beaver Creek, Colorado
Beaver Creek Village Resort is one of the largest ski resorts in the area and an ideal place to stay in the winter months because there is so much to do on-site. Besides great ice skating, the ski town resort offers great dining options, childcare, and a performing arts center that often features family-friendly shows and live music.
Salt Lake City, Utah
You don’t need to ski to have a great winter getaway in Salt Lake City. From snow tubing to snowshoeing to ice skating, there is something to keep families busy every day of their vacation. Adventurous family members may want to try their hand at ice climbing. Utah Mountain Adventures offers instruction and all the equipment you need to safely ice climb over frozen waterfalls. If you are looking for something a little different, be sure to make a visit to Utah Olympic Park, in nearby Park City. Your family members can take a guided tour of the facilities, which were built for the 2002 winter Olympic games, and even experience bobsledding on the Olympic Track.
Where to Stay in Salt Lake City, Utah
The Grand America Hotel offers family-friendly accommodations located close to many area attractions. The hotel includes an indoor pool and suites with kitchenettes. Hotel staff will assist guests with babysitting referrals and provide free children’s amenities.
Lake Tahoe, California
Lake Tahoe is a perfect place for Californians to experience some incredible winter fun without having to travel far. A great activity that the whole family will enjoy is snow tubing. Palisades Tahoe (formerly Squaw Valley) offers exciting daytime tubing sessions that run 55 minutes long. For a high-energy, nighttime experience, sign up for one of their Disco Tubing sessions and enjoy night tubing down the slopes under LED lights. Kids will also have a blast at Thunder Mountain Kids Snowmobile Park in nearby Kirkwood where children under 125 pounds can ride on their own mini snowmobile. You will also find great cross-country skiing, sledding, and snowmobile tours in the Lake Tahoe area.
Where to stay in Lake Tahoe, California
The Village at Palisades Tahoe is close to winter activities and great shopping and dining. There are several outdoor hot tubs on-site and large rooms with full kitchens and fireplaces. Free parking is another bonus feature.
Sun Valley, Idaho
There are so many opportunities for endless winter fun in Sun Valley that your family will want to make a return trip next winter. A fun way to explore the mountains while getting great exercise is by spending the day nordic skiing or snowshoeing. Whether you’re new to the sport or have years of experience, you should make a stop at the Sun Valley Nordic and Snowshoe Center. There are miles of beautifully manicured trails on the property, and expert guides will provide skiers of all levels with instruction and equipment assistance. Another up-and-coming seasonal sport is winter fat biking, where riders set out in the snow on special bikes with four-inch tires that safely keep them stable over fat bike trails. Fat bikes can be rented at the Sun Valley Nordic and Snowshoe Center and there are various other trails to enjoy around the Sun Valley area.
Where to Stay in Sun Valley, Idaho
To make the most of your winter vacation, The Sun Valley Resort is the place to be. This resort has everything from nordic skiing to ice skating to sleigh rides. For indoor fun, there is also a pool, bowling alley, and a nearby movie theater that will keep the family entertained for hours.
Looking to join your skiers for a winter holiday but want to find things to do for non-skiers? Here are 9 great alternatives!
Taos Ski Village, New Mexico
Don’t let the name Taos Ski Village fool you; there are many great ways for non-skiers to enjoy this gorgeous area in the winter. One popular activity among families is snowmobiling. Guides at Big Al’s Snowmobile Adventure Tours will take your family on a thrilling two-hour snowmobile tour across the beautiful winter wonderland. To view the stunning landscape from a different perspective, you might also want to consider taking a gondola ride up Bald Mountain to the Roundhouse restaurant which offers guests delicious food and panoramic views. Other popular Taos Ski Valley activities include snowshoeing, snow tubing, and ice skating.
Where to Stay in Taos, New Mexico
The Alpine Village Suites offers both vacation homes and hotel suites. The suites include family-friendly amenities including rooms with kitchenettes and free cribs for little ones. After a busy day of outdoor fun, adults can pamper themselves by soaking in the outdoor hot tub or taking advantage of the property’s massage services. Alpine Village is also pet friendly, so feel free to bring your four-legged friends along for the trip.
Northern New England is packed with dozens of small towns that are perfect spots for fabulous ski vacations. Many of these places also offer other great non-ski winter activities. At Spruce Peak (formerly Stowe Mountain Resort), a popular activity is snowshoeing. Spruce Peak offers several snowshoe tours of various lengths and skill levels. There are even special kids snowshoe tours where little ones can embark on a fun scavenger hunt around the forest. Ice fishing is another great winter option for non-skiers. Guides at The Fly Rod Shop will take your family out on the frozen lake and show you all you need to know about catching fish in the dead of winter. Other popular area activities include horse-drawn sleigh rides, ice climbing, and dog sledding.
Where to stay in Vermont
If your family is a fan of waterparks, Jay Peak Resort is where you want to be. The resort’s Pump House WaterPark is a full-size indoor park where children (and adults) will have hours of fun enjoying the lazy river, water slides, and splash pad. The kids will also enjoy the arcade, rock climbing wall, and ice arena on-site.
Whistler, British Columbia
Whistler Blackcomb is a great spot for one of the best winter vacations around. The 2010 winter Olympics took place here and there are so many exciting outdoor activities to enjoy. A trip to Ziptrek Ecotours is sure to give you an unbelievable adrenaline rush as you soar on your zipline against the mountain backdrop above snow-covered treetops. The teens in your group may also want to give bobsledding a try. At Whistler Sliding Center, no experience is necessary to experience this amazing winter sport. Other opportunities for winter fun in Whistler include hiking, cave exploration, and sightseeing.
Where to Stay in Whistler, British Columbia
There are lots of great options for lodging in the Whistler Blackcomb area, including VRBOs and resorts. The Crystal Lodge Hotel is popular with families because the hotel offers interconnecting rooms and several suite options. The Crystal Lodge is located close to the slopes and offers many great amenities, including a game room and pool.
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