You don't need to be a black diamond skier to have an amazing
mountain getaway this winter. These domestic destinations offer a
collection of easy slopes, cozy lodges, and relaxing spas (to sooth
your body after you inevitably fall once or twice).
The shorter days and cooler temperatures of winter welcome in one of
the all-time greatest outdoor activities: skiing. A sport as
exhilarating as it is gorgeous, skiing
can also be a bit daunting for those new to the slopes.
(You are propelling down a mountain, after all.)
Thankfully, at the right mountain resort, skiing can be as easy as
the pros make it seem. Whether you’re a newbie looking to develop your
skill in a controlled environment, or are more interested in the après
aspect of the sport, here are the four perfect U.S. winter retreats
for beginner skiers. Pack your
bags—the mountains are calling, and you must go.
Home of the 2002 Winter Olympics, Park City, Utah (just 28 miles
east of Salt Lake City) is the ultimate place to learn to ski. If you
end up taking a tumble or two, it’ll hardly hurt, as the powdery snow
is as soft as a cloud.
Where to ski: Park
City Mountain Resort and Deer Valley Resort both boast
incredible skiing, and as they are only minutes down the road from
each other, it’s easy to clock in runs at each.
Where to eat and drink: Fireside
Dining at the Empire Canyon Lodge offers a quintessential
mountainside experience: Enjoy a four course meal served directly from
stone fireplaces (featuring raclette, of course), then end the night
with a horse-drawn sleigh ride outside.
Where to relax: Serenity
Spa at Westgate Park City is one of the best spas in town. Rest
your weary muscles in their waterfall-adorned indoor hot tub, which
looks straight out of an episode of The Bachelor.
Where to play: Load your daypack with
a few necessities and spend an afternoon adventuring at Utah
Olympic Park. Try your hand at the ropes courses, or zoom down
the official bobsled track from the 2002 Olympics—a professional
driver will help you achieve speeds up to 60 mph.
North Lake Tahoe
Sitting along the California/Nevada border is Lake Tahoe, the
largest alpine lake in North America. Due to its sheer size, Lake
Tahoe is actually split into two regions: North and South. Tahoe South
(primarily Nevada) tends to get more attention, but as a result
quite crowded. North Lake Tahoe (primarily California) has
the same great quality of skiing, and far fewer folks to bump into on
the bunny hill.
Where to ski: North Lake Tahoe boasts 11 ski resorts, with the
largest (and arguably best) being Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows.
Home to the 1960 Winter Olympics, Squaw Valley’s ski school is held at
the top of the mountain (rather than at the base), so skiers of all
abilities can take in the stunning views of the lake as they glide around.
Where to eat and drink: In addition to great dining, PlumpJack Café has a wine list
to rival the best sommelier’s. Order a flight so you can taste as many
Where to relax: The Spa at
Squaw Creek has incredible options for all ages. While adults
enjoy a massage or facial, kids ages seven to 17 can unwind with one
of the spa’s “Chillax Sessions.”
Where to play: For an evening of fun, head to nearby Reno. Try your
hand at the craps table and check out the local street art scene
before dancing the night away at the Peppermill’s
While East Coast mountains tend to be icier than those in the West,
this actually makes it a great place to learn to ski because it
prepares you for all the elements. Vermont is well known to have some
of the best skiing in this part of the country.
Where to ski: Jay Peak
Resort in Jay, Vermont is one of only a few ski areas in the U.S.
to offer “Terrain Based Learning,” which uses specially shaped terrain
to help control a new skier’s speed and fight the fear of falling.
Meanwhile, Cochran’s Ski
Area in Richmond features former Olympians giving lessons.
Where to eat and drink: Head to the quaint town of Manchester
to enjoy a classic New England dining experience. Built in 1769, Marsh
Tavern counts many U.S. presidents among its past diners.
Where to relax: For true Vermont rejuvenation, have a Maple
Scrub at the Spa at the
Equinox in Manchester. Lumberjack or not, you’ll smell as good as
Where to play: The Timber
Ripper Mountain Coaster at Okemo Mountain Resort in Ludlow
offers an alternative—and equally epic—way to cruise down the
mountain. Riders can control the acceleration of their sled-like cars,
which are able to hit pretty considerable speeds.
Colorado Rockies set the standard for American ski
destinations, and Vail, home to Olympians such as Lindsey Vonn, is no exception.
Where to ski: Though Vail Resorts now owns mountain resorts
across the globe, there’s nothing like skiing the OG, Vail Mountain.
With 5,289 acres of skiable terrain, it’s one of the largest in the world.
Where to eat and drink: There is no better way to start your
day than with breakfast at Ludwig’s. Order a la
carte or indulge in its critically acclaimed buffet to nom on every
morning treat imaginable.
Where to relax: The Sonnenalp Spa is next level.
In addition to its treatments, the spa has a cozy fireplace, heated
indoor and outdoor pools, and an oxygen bar to combat any altitude sickness.
Where to play: The twinkling lights of Vail
Village are home to a lovely ice skating rink, spots to sip tasty
beer and whiskey, and many shops, some of which sell t-shirts poking
fun at Vail’s rivalry with nearby Aspen.
Whether you’re new to skiing or not, don’t forget to use packing
cubes and dry sacks to tidily separate souvenirs from worn ski
gear before your journey home.
Active Essential Set
Related Links (from Eagle Creek blog):
to Survive the Crowds During a Holiday Ski Trip
to Get Over Your Fear of Skiing
Pre-Ski Exercises That Will Keep You Limber