Think the snowy mountains are only for skiers and snowboarders? That couldn’t be further from the truth! At these 10 best winter vacations for non-skiers, you can dash through the snow in an open sleigh, sled, or tube. Sip hot cocoa by the fire or try a little back-country snowshoeing. Some of these gems are located near ski resorts, while others are in vibrant cities (and you just may find a few destinations in quiet, tucked-away locations). When you book your vacation rental, make sure to check for extra amenities like hot tubs or roaring gas fireplaces in order to make your chilly outdoor adventures even cozier.
1. Beaver Creek, Colorado
Beaver Creek is one of the premier ski resorts in Colorado. Check out the intimate alpine village for fun family-friendly activities and entertainment. Signature events include the World Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Competition, Annual Tree Lighting, and Beaver Creek’s Winter Culinary Weekend that offers interactive cooking demonstrations, innovative wine and spirits events, and gourmet wine pairing dinners. While others will be enjoying over 1,800 acres of skiable terrain, you’ll have all the shops and restaurants in the village to yourself.
2. Big Sky, Montana
Big Sky, Montana, is an iconic Rocky Mountain town that looks like a postcard come to life. Of course, there’s great skiing, but Big Sky Resort is also the Basecamp to Yellowstone and the perfect headquarters for mountain adventures. Soar over the mountain on a zipline tour, meander peacefully through the Moose Tracks Gully on a snowshoe tour, or check out Yellowstone Park in a climate-controlled snow coach. You can also drive a team of huskies on a dog sled, relax on a sleigh ride, or zip by on a snowmobile.
3. Sisters, Oregon
Sisters is close to Portland and Eugene making it easily accessible, but it’s just secluded enough to feel like a true getaway. It’s the perfect destination if you just want to unplug and relax. If you’re looking for more adventure, you can take a snowmobile tour or a guided cross-country ski trip through the breathtaking forested wilderness. Both Hoodoo Ski Area and Mount Bachelor also offer tubing facilities for fun and safe family outings.
4. Wenatchee, Washington
Wenatchee is another great, family-friendly winter vacation destination. It’s also easy to find an affordable and spacious vacation rental to accommodate the entire family. Spend some time snowmobiling or snowshoeing in the Cascade Mountains or visit the Wenatchee Confluence State Park or Ohme Gardens County Park.
5. Missoula, Montana
Missoula has milder winters than the rest of Montana, but there’s still plenty of snow to go around to make it a beautiful winter wonderland. Plus, since you’re not skiing, the snow surface conditions won’t be your biggest priority. For more winter fun, there’s ice skating at Glacier Ice Rink and ice fishing at Flathead Lake.
6. Wilmington, New York
This gem of a town northeast of Lake Placid turns into a winter playground once the temperatures drop. What once were waterfalls are now ice climbing spots, and the intricate system of trails would make any snowmobiler or cross-country skier happy. If you’re traveling with young ones, spend the day at Santa’s Workshop, the country’s oldest theme park.
7. Boyne Falls, Michigan
Boyne Falls is yet another great place you can enjoy without skis or a snowboard. Enjoy the snowy wonderland by going tubing or ziplining. Once you’re sick of the cold, thaw out at the state’s largest indoor water park, the Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark. It’s centrally located in the heart of Boyne Mountain Resort and is open year-round. While it’s a great place to cool off during the summer months, that 84-degree water sounds especially welcoming on a cold winter’s day.
8. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Jackson Hole has some mammoth mountains and impossibly steep slopes, making it one of the country’s premier destinations for extreme skiers, but there’s also plenty to do off the slopes. Snowshoe across Grand Teton or take a wildlife tour through Yellowstone. Jackson Hole has also been named one of the Best Family-Friendly Cities in the country, so it’s a great place to bring your kids. Take a ride on the Cowboy Coaster, a year-round roller coaster that winds its way up and down Snow King Mountain, hop on a sleigh ride on the National Elk Refuge, or see more amazing wildlife on a Sunrise Safari Wildlife Tour.
9. Banner Elk, North Carolina
Ski enthusiasts come to Banner Elk to hit the slopes at Beech or Sugar Mountain, but non-skiers can also rejoice at this perfect snow season destination. Take a High Country hike or sample stouts at Flat Top Brewing Company. Plus, if you love gallery-hopping and antique-hunting as much as snowshoeing and ice skating, then you’ll love Banner Elk. Here, you can experience the great outdoors, fabulous dining, theater and the arts, and family attractions, along with the two largest ski resorts in the South.
10. Minocqua, Wisconsin
Whether you want to cozy up with a cup of coffee and a nice book or enjoy some snowy wilderness snowmobiling, Minocqua makes the perfect scenic winter vacation destination. Nicknamed the “Island City,” it’s the home to the nation’s densest concentration of frozen lakes making ice fishing one of the most popular activities here. To get the best view, stay in a vacation rental by the water.
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