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How to enjoy a ski resort vacation as a non-skier

The Points Guy logo The Points Guy 2/23/2020 Priscilla Blossom
a group of people standing on top of a snow covered mountain © Provided by The Points Guy
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When I first moved to Colorado, I thought my family and I would somehow magically pick up skiing, hitting the slopes every winter. But as it turns out, skiing is not an easy thing to start up on your own in your 30s.

Between the cost of gear and ski passes, plus a few chronic pain issues, it never really became a hobby for us. Over the years, though, we’ve learned to love our getaways in the snow-capped Rockies. In fact, we’ve even stayed at ski resorts and had a splendid time — no skis required.

Try Alternative Ways To Pump Adrenaline

Many resorts around the country feature adventure parks with fast-paced rides like mountain coasters, which are often open year-round. Hop aboard the Sky Flyer Mountain Coaster in New York’s Holiday Valley, or the Breathtaker Alpine Coaster in Aspen Snowmass (which is open for nighttime rides).

Take a night ride on the Breathtaker Alpine Coaster at Aspen Snowmass. (Photo courtesy of © The Points Guy Take a night ride on the Breathtaker Alpine Coaster at Aspen Snowmass. (Photo courtesy of

Though many places only offer snowmobiling to adults and teens, family-friendly Soldier Hollow Nordic Center in Midway, Utah, features mini-snowmobiles for children as young as 4.

Tubing is another family-friendly activity. Head to Oregon’s Mt. Hood Skibowl (where you’ll also find a separate kiddie tube for youngsters plus Cosmic Tubing in the evenings).

… Opt For Something With Less Intensity

For those who prefer less of an adrenaline rush, places like Triple Creek Ranch in Montana’s Bitterroot Mountain Range offer fun, but slower paced, activities like hatchet throwing — excellent for a quirky date experience. Triple Creek also offers activities like fishing, fat-bike riding, or even snowga (an outdoor, snowy yoga experience). If you’d rather stay warm, though, they’ve got regular indoor yoga as well.

I struggle with anything that requires as much balance as skating or skiing, but I’m happy to try activities like snowshoeing. Resorts such as Telluride Ski Resort offer 3.5-hour guided snowshoe tours that’ll show you areas you can’t reach by hiking or skiing. Another activity that has sparked my interest is ski biking — a more accessible alternative to regular skiing (for individuals with mobility or balance issues, or those who want to try something different). Test it yourself at Durango’s Purgatory Resort in Colorado.

Explore the Local Culture

Perhaps you prefer arts and culture to snowboarding down a mountain. You could visit the Barney Ford House Museum, in Breckenridge, Colorado, which celebrates the life of the slave-turned-entrepreneur and civil rights leader. There is also the Audain Art Museum which promotes Canada’s First Nations culture in Whistler Blackcomb, or the philosopher’s house, Nietzsche-Haus, in Sils Maria, Switzerland. If you’re in Taos, you can book a culture tour with Heritage Inspirations to visit the Taos Pueblo to learn about the native people of New Mexico.

a group of people in a room: Audain Art Museum in Whistler. (Photo courtesy of © The Points Guy Audain Art Museum in Whistler. (Photo courtesy of

Many resorts are home to some notable festivals. Park City, Utah, hosts the extremely popular Sundance Film Festival every January-February. In Canada, you can head to the always hip Whistler Film Festival in December. There’s plenty of music at Tomorrowland Winter festival at Alpe d’Huez in France.

Wine, Dine and Everything Else Après Ski

Just because you didn’t hit the slopes, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the food, drink, and occasional debauchery of après ski. Treat yourself (or your significant other) to delightful Austrian-inspired bites at Konditorei in Sun Valley, Idaho. Dining-obsessed couples can go the extra (few thousand) miles to dine in the Michelin-starred establishments found in Courchevel, in the French Alps, at Le Chabichou.

Drinks are part of après ski. Enjoy cocktails at high-end bars like the posh Amangani Resort in Jackson Hole, Wyoming; craft beer at resort area breweries like Breckenridge Brewery in Colorado, and Lone Peak Brewery in Big Sky, Montana, and a great wine selection at Alta Badia Resort in the Dolomites, of course (it’s in Italy, after all). There is also the wine cellar at The Little Nell in Aspen, Colorado, which holds well over 20,000 bottles.

a group of people in a restaurant: Breckenridge Brewery is one of the top local breweries in Colorado. (Photo by Blain Harrington III/Getty Images) © The Points Guy Breckenridge Brewery is one of the top local breweries in Colorado. (Photo by Blain Harrington III/Getty Images)

Learn Something New

You’d be surprised at the variety of classes you can take in and around ski resorts. When I stayed at the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa in Avon, Colorado, some years ago, I took my first aerial yoga class — a surprisingly soothing class that left me wanting more. At Smugglers’ Notch in Vermont, you can find classes in making candles and medicinal tonics, as well as paint and sips, and even glass-etching lessons.

… Or Simply Get Pampered

Check into a resort with a spa. Places like the Fairmont Tremblant Hotel in Quebec offer signature facials, manicures and pedicures, an elixir ice cider exfoliation treatment, and a warm and cold basalt rock massage that will leave you feeling right as rain. There’s also plenty to be said about unwinding outdoors at Steamboat Springs’ Strawberry Hot Springs, or Grover Hot Springs near Lake Tahoe.

Featured photo by Lasting Image by Pedro Lastra/Getty Images.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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