Many people would scoff at the idea of visiting a ski resort during any time of the year other than winter. What could there possibly be to do then? Well, the answer is tons! From shopping, to dining, to entertainment and even summer sports, there are countless ski resorts that deserve your time and attention before the snow even falls. Many will even offer special deals during their ‘off peak’ season meaning you can score a great deal for less. Here are 7 of our favorites to visit in Canada and the United States:
7. Whiteface Mountain, New York
The site of the 1980 Winter Olympics is undoubtedly a hot ski destination, but by no means shuts down outside of ski season. In fact, Whiteface is a veritable outdoor playground all year round. In addition to touring the Winter Olympic Museum, visitors can take in and experience a number of winter Olympic sports firsthand- even in the heat of July. Careen down the bobsled track (from the midpoint of the track, complete with driver and brakeman). Become a biathlete (minus skiing on the snow, of course). Instructors simulate the experience of biathlon racing by substituting other cardio-intensive, more seasonally appropriate activities. Take a glass elevator to the top of the ski jump. You can take a ride up the Gondola ski lift to get a panoramic view of the surrounding areas. There is, of course mountain biking (27 different trails) and hiking as well.
6. Mont Tremblant, Quebec
Towering Mt. Tremblant is the geographical anchor of the Laurentians, and transitions seamlessly through the seasons as a multi-sport, multi-season destination. There is nothing quite as refreshing as a spring-fed mountain lake, and Mt. Tremblant’s beach and tennis club take good advantage of this. Families can thrill together, riding down the luge run on three-wheeled cars. Mt. Tremblant is a major golf destination in Quebec, with private clubs and two of the best-designed public courses in the entire province. Pint-sized golfers (and their parents) will enjoy the challenging mini-golf course. This mountain too offers rides up the gondola ski lift, which provides a unique view overlooking the Laurentian mountain chain below.
5. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Adventure seekers need not limit themselves to the winter season at this adrenaline pumping all-season destination. The Grand Adventure Park is full of fun activities. The Ropes course will test your balance (and not just work-life balance) with bridges, zip lines, balance beams and cargo nets, all while being suspended 25 ft. off of the ground. A well-designed bike park has ramps, jumps and challenges that meet a variety of skill and fitness. Always wanted to try bungee jumping, but weren’t quite ready to jump off of a bridge? You can try a slightly more tame experience with trampoline bungee jumping, where you’ll still experience some great height, but not as extreme. Jackson Hole is located right on the edge of the famous Grand Teton National Park, where picnicking and hiking are popular.
4. Calabogie Peaks, Ontario
Calabogie is one of those best-kept destination secrets. With a clean, crisp mountain lake, a lovely sandy beach, a beach club and a 9-hole golf course that is great for families (or those learning to play) together, this small (761 ft. vertical drop) mountain offers nice, easy skiing in the winter, but lots of vacation opportunity in the summer months. The mountain has a challenging Adventure Bike course, and offers good hiking trails. The small inn located at the base of the mountain has an excellent restaurant with a small menu that changes frequently to reflect the season. Calabogie is a great festival destination, with a well-known Rib and Bluesfest that rocks the mountain every August.
3. Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia
While the village of Whistler is bustling year-round, the mountain doesn’t sleep in the off-season either. Outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy biking and hiking, along with a gondola ride that offers unparalleled views of the village below, and of the surrounding mountainsides. There are other, unique experiences at the mountain during the off-season, like bear watching tours and local craft beer brewery tours. And at the base of Blackcomb- for the family that plays together- the family adventure zone. Visitors get to ride a 315 m luge track at top speed and then slow it down with a little mini golf. There is a bevy of other family fun activities, like mazes, trampolines, bouncy castles, bungee trampoline and ropes courses.
2. Smugglers’ Notch, Vermont
This family friendly ski resort kept up its niche marketing through the off-season, tailoring a number of packages and promotions that cater to family summer vacations. Smugglers’ Notch is a one-stop activity shop, with a full outdoor water playground with eight pools, four waterslides and an inflatable water playground on Morse Mountain, where kids can jump to their hearts content on aqua trampolines. There is also zip lining, hiking, biking, tennis, geocaching, kayaking and canoeing just to name a few. A unique activity offered at Smugglers’ Notch: llama trekking, where you hike around the neighboring mountain trails with a cuddly llama.
1. Aspen Snowmass, Colorado
After doing your sun salutations at 11,212 ft., returning to your local studio for yoga class is going to seem rather pedestrian after taking in the views at yoga classes on this mountaintop. This area is also home to a group of mountains called the Maroon Bells, which are reportedly some of the most photographed peaks in North America. They tower up 14,000 ft. and are framed by river streams and unusual sedimentary formations, which make for prime photo ops. The best spot to take in this vista? At Maroon Lake, which sits below the group of mountains. You can drive yourself, or there are shuttle buses from nearby Aspen Highlands Village. Is there a more scenic place to float in a hot air balloon? Probably not- which is why they run hot air balloon rides and paragliders frequently. If you’re feeling more active, there is paddle boarding, kayaking, horseback riding and even a rock climbing wall.