If you’re a skier looking for the perfect resort that suits your non-skiing entourage then take a sigh of relief because we’ve done the hard work for you. While some die hard powder hounds might disagree, ski vacations aren’t just about the skiing, in fact, you’d be surprised at what some resorts have to offer.
From dog-sledding and yoga classes to award winning restaurants, vibrant nightlife, and everything in between, ski resorts offer an exhilarating atmosphere for everyone from skiers to skiers who need an break from the mountain and most importantly, non-skiers. No matter what you’re into, here are our favourite North American resorts for non-skiers that will offer an unforgettable experience for anyone and everyone!
Besides its world-class skiing, Park City serves up an endless array of attractions for anyone fortunate enough to visit as well as a rich history just waiting to be explored. Best of all, it’s located just east of Salt Lake City; Utah’s high-elevation capital, host to the 2002 Winter Olympics and home to endless entertainment including dinosaur museums, art galleries and shopping malls.
Explore Main Street
Park City’s rich heritage sculpted the infamous ski haven into the city it is today. Weave through the historic buildings on Main Street in the Old Town District, where you’ll find popular art galleries, boutiques, and restaurants, serving up inspiration for an evening on the down. The Park City Museum on Main Street gives an interactive insight into the city’s history including the good ole mining days, transcontinental railroad, and so much more. Get to know the town a bit more by going on a ghost tour through Main Street and other parts of Park City. Who said learning isn’t fun?
Tour to Olympic Park
The Olympic Park in Salt Lake City is only a 15 minute drive from Park City, giving visitors a chance to experience history up close. Daredevils can ride down the Winter Comet Bobsled track which was used for the 2002 Olympic bobsled, skeleton and luge events! There are also a range of fun adventure courses, extreme zip-line, and much more to explore.
If you can’t make it over to Olympic Park, then hop onboard the resort’s Alpine Coaster. Shoot through the trees and down the mountain on this toboggan style ride and enjoy the stunning views of the resort without having to put on a pair of skis. Fun for big kids, small kids and those young at heart, the Alpine Coaster is a sure crowd pleaser!
Operating year round, Jay Peak is a popular resort for skiers, snowboarders, and other ambitious touristslooking to experience the gorgeous Green Mountains. The resort is located roughly 129 km from Burlington International Airport, making it an accessible getaway for skiers and non-skiers alike. Packed with exciting attractions like an indoor ice rink, water park, and so much more, Jay Peak is the perfect destination for families, friends, or even solo trips.
Pump House Indoor Water Park
Pump House might be Jay Peak’s most popular attraction, and it’s no surprise why. The park offers visitors a chance to relax or splash it all out, the choice is yours. Spend the day exploring the park’s various slides, surf the Double Barrel Flowrider, float along the Big River or just chill in one of the indoor and outdoor hot tubs. The park is perfect for visitors of all ages and tastes, and opens late on weekends.
Health and Wellbeing
For those looking for a more laid back atmosphere, Jay Peak offers an assortment of activities focused on relaxation and well being. The Taiga Spa is rated highly rated amongst skiers and non-skiers for their good service and atmosphere. Non-skiers can enjoy a private treatment during the day or stop by with their ski entourage at night for pain relief after a day on the slopes. The resort also recently opened the Clips and Reel Recreational Centre, which features an indoor climbing gym as well as a 142-seat cinema draught house; yep, sit back, relax, grab a beer and enjoy an afternoon or evening movie!
Explore over 19 km of beautiful Nordic and Snowshoe trails through the West Bowl Nordic Trail System. Fat biking is great for all ages and riders of any skill level, as the fat tires and low pressure will ensure you stay afloat through the trails. Hourly, half day, and full day bike rentals and trail passes are available from the Nordic centre, making it easy to work an adventure into your schedule.
Home to the highest distillery in the world and a notoriously bustling nightlife scene, Breckenridge sure knows how to entertain non-skiers. Compared to other fancy Colorado resorts, Breck has an easy going atmosphere and offers a wide range of attractions on and off the slopes, day and night! If you’re a non-skier looking to tag along with your family of skiers, Breckenridge has it all.
Party til the wee hours
With the seal of approval from party-goers, Breck has some of the best nightlife that draws in the non-skiers who are more than happy to have a sleep-in while their skiing counterparts are out to catch some freshies. From pub crawls to karaoke nights, there’s a bar and club to suit everyone. Head over to Breckenridge Brewery to taste a Breckenridge blend of whiskey with snowmelt from the Rocky Mountains or get behind the scenes at their distillery during the day and sample a range of their award winning spirits.
Snowmobiling & Dog Sledding
For a fast-paced adventure, snowmobiling and dog sledding are available from Good Time Adventures in Breckenridge. Take in the breathtaking views of the beautiful Rocky Mountains from the back of a snowmobile or glide through the forest behind a group of well-trained sled dogs. You can even play with the dogs after!
See the International Snow Sculpture Championships
If you’re lucky enough to be in Breckenridge towards the end of January, then you won’t want to miss seeing the Annual Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championships. Watch as snow sculpture artists from far and wide spend five days transforming 4 m tall, 25 ton blocks of snow into masterpieces!
One of the largest ski resorts in the US serving up some of the best slopes, Vail has also outdone itself when it comes to fun things to do other than skiing. While it’s a purpose-built ski resort, Vail does a stellar job of accommodating non-skiers with plenty of world-class dining, shopping, nightlife and winter activities! While you might need to dig a little deeper into your pockets at Vail, the exceptional service and activities are well worth it!
Shop Til you Drop
With hundreds of stores in Lionshead and Vail Village from high end boutiques to specialty stores, shoppers won’t be disappointed with the diverse selection Vail has to offer. There are popular stores such as Patagonia and Oakley, while at Gorsuch, Vail’s own version of a department store, you’ll find everything from household goods to gourmet snacks. Best of all, Vail’s pedestrian friendly villages have heated walkways, making it easy for any shopaholic to get their fix.
Spend the day at a Spa
You don’t need to be sore from skiing to enjoy all the exquisite massage and spa facilities at Vail. With a range of high end hotels here, there’s bound to be a spa for you to escape the hustle and bustle. Places to look out for include Spa at The Arrabelle, The RockResorts Spa at the Lodge at Vail, which has a fireside tub for two in its couple’s room and the Golden Leaf Spa at the Marriott.
On the slopes, Adventure Ridge is jam-packed with fun winter activities for the whole family that will keep everyone happy. Young ones will love the kid’s snowmobile and the multi-lane tubing hill with a covered carpet to keep them lapping. For a thrilling experience, twist and turn down the mountain from 1,036 m on the Forest Fly Mountain Coaster! Here you’ll also find the Nature Discovery Centre where there are guided snowshoe tours that will take you to see a different side of Vail.
Whistler is one of the most popular ski resorts in North America, attracting visitors from all around the world; and all for good reason. Home to over 3,307 ha of skiable terrain, Whistler is known for the heaps of powder and one of the best ski resort villages in the world. A wide selection of après-ski venues, multiple world class restaurants, and a seemingly endless supply of winter activities are bound to keep non-skiers entertained at Whistler.
Go Ice Fishing
Ice fishing is a quintessential Canadian experience that isn’t to be missed if you’re in British Columbia. Go on an authentic Canadian fishing adventure with Pemberton Fish Finder and catch anything from Bull Trout to Pike Minnows in winter. The guides will provide all the fishing gear as well as transport from Whistler, just be sure to wear extra warm clothing!
Bungee Jump over a River
For a heart racing experience, adrenalin junkies can take on the highest bungee jump in British Columbia! Only 15 minutes drive from Whistler Village, the Whistler Bungee Jump is an exhilarating 49 m drop over the Cheakamus River. Surrounded by forest and basalt column cliffs, it’s one of the most picturesque bungee jumps in the world and is open during winter, so there are no excuses to miss this one!
Snow adventures at Whistler are light and easy activities for visitors of all ages, regardless of whether you’re a skier or not. The centrally located Olympic Plaza offers a wide range of activities that require little to no previous experience and are bound to keep you entertained for days. Visit the plaza for ice skating, snowshoeing tours, tubing, tree adventures and dogsled tours, or consider a snowmobile tour for a more hands-on sightseeing experience.
There’s only one Aspen, Colorado, but fortunately for the thousands of eager visitors, there are four incredible ski areas jointly known as Aspen Snowmass. Every year, droves of eager skiers flock to the Aspen area for its famous terrain and nightlife. Fortunately for our less alpine- inclined audience, Aspen Snowmass has an endless selection of attractions both on and off the mountain.
Skier or not, visitors to Aspen Snowmass can enjoy the abundance of après-ski that’s unlike any other resort, with options ranging from lively pubs and bars to raging nightclubs. Aspen is notorious for its vibrant nightlife on and off resort, most of which are easily accessible by the free shuttle between the resorts and downtown.
Cross Country Skiing/ Snowshoeing
Catering to outdoor enthusiasts, Aspen Snowmass offers a massive 97 km of cross-country and snowshoe trails with varying skill levels between Aspen, Snowmass and Basalt. Whether you’re looking to experience the scenic views of the Rocky Mountains or just looking for some fresh air, the options are endless. The Rio Grande Trail will take you from Aspen to Basalt while Nordic tracks along the Maroon Bells Road (closed to vehicles in winter) will lead you to iconic views of Maroon Lake and the Maroon Bells. Those feeling a bit more adventurous can take a snowmobile tour to the infamous Maroon Bells.
Yoga classes make for a great pre-ski exercise and are a good excuse to join your friends before a long day of exploring. Re-energize and relax by taking a bikram yoga or Vinyasa flow class at one of the many studios throughout Aspen or even on top of a mountain. For personalised classes, our very own writer Alan Murakami recommends yoga and meditation teacher Arielle Shipe. She offers private classes that are tailored to you but be prepared to sweat, smile and relax in the session.
Hot Air Ballooning
For a truly unique experience and refreshing start to the day, float across the Elk Mountain range in a hot air balloon and watch the sun rise over the Snowmass Mountains. Above It All Ballooning can fly you up to an altitude of 762 m, weaving through the mountain range and offering breathtaking views of the snow-blanketed landscape. Finish off this memorable hour-long experience with a champagne breakfast upon landing (mimosas, chocolate covered strawberries, and the list goes on)!