Forget après ski. These mountain towns are even better après winter — perfect for travelers who are over the beach and prefer to vacation at a higher altitude than sea level. From hiking in Aspen to fly fishing in Jackson Hole, horseback riding in Vail to backpacking in Park City, we’ve rounded up the most idyllic ski towns to visit in the warmer months. We’ve also included international destinations — who says the Swiss Alps are best enjoyed on skis?
1. Aspen, Colorado: This endlessly chic town in Colorado is a famed celebrity hangout come Christmastime: Kate Hudson and Mariah Carey stroll the streets in oversize furs holding even more oversize lattes. But the popularity means things can get packed; skip the scene and head to Aspen in the summer to experience the town while it’s less crowded. Hike the mountain trails, explore the iconic saloons, and luxuriate in the best of the West.
2. Banff, Calgary, Canada: Forget the Caribbean — have you ever seen the teal blue waters of the mountain lakes in the Canadian Rockies? There’s so much to explore; we recommend backpacking with a friend or two to capture the most breathtaking selfies nature has to offer.
3. Zermatt, Switzerland: The Swiss Alps should already be on your mountain vacation bucket list, so why wait until winter to witness the iconic Matterhorn? If you’re looking for five-star indulgence (and top-notch culture), stay in the Dolder Grand: This art-filled hotel is almost better than visiting a museum. Peruse the Warhols and contemplate how forward-thinking he was: In today’s reality TV- and social media-obsessed culture, everyone is famous for at least 15 minutes.
4. St. Moritz, Switzerland: Maximize your overseas trip by hopping on the Glacier Express from Zermatt to St. Moritz. Remember to show up on time: Unlike the endless delays at Penn Station, the Swiss are exceedingly prompt. If the train leaves without you, you won’t get to ski on the glaciers (yes, even in the summer) and sail upon the perfectly blue mountain lakes of this gorgeous town.
5. Woodstock, Vermont: While the name of this town immediately conjures images of its famous music festival decades ago, the present-day incarnation of Woodstock is more charmingly quaint than debauched. In fact, Woodstock is nearly the platonic ideal of small-town New England: In December, the Christmas lights are something straight out of a Gilmore Girls episode. Book a trip this summer to explore the Green Mountains in full bloom.
6.Sugarloaf, Maine: Though this Carrabassett Valley resort is best-known for its winter festivities, Sugarloaf’s Summer Après Series — featuring live music and local brewers — is just as intoxicating as a hot toddy after a day on the slopes. Afterward, head to Maine Huts and Trails in nearby Kingfield to experience the rarest of all luxuries: a complete digital detox. The lack of screens and WiFi forces you to become fully immersed in the gorgeous backcountry of western Maine. Capitalize on all that free time not wasted refreshing your feed by hiking the Appalachian Trail and canoeing on Flagstaff Lake (don’t worry, you can Instagram everything once you get home). Your detox doesn’t have to extend to alcohol, of course, so reserve a spot at the Brews & Views pairing dinner if you’re visiting in July. Drink in the scenery and toast to the way life should be.
7. Lake Placid, New York: This unexpected bachelorette destination in upstate New York may be renowned for its ski terrain — Whiteface has the greatest vertical drop in the East — but most will find its hiking trails and mountain lakes are best enjoyed when the temperature is above freezing. Relish the rustic charm of Lake Placid Lodge and kick back in an Adirondack chair to enjoy the very scenery that inspired the design.
8. Jackson Hole, Wyoming: The opportunities for summertime adventure in this Wyoming town are endless: Come for the rodeos, the fly fishing, and — of course — the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar. Take the aerial tram to the top of the mountain for a panoramic view of the Snake River winding through the buttes below.
9. Lake Tahoe, California: This stunning destination in the Pacific Northwest was practically made for summertime adventure. The best way to experience the lake? Aboard a 55′ catamaran, of course, on a Sierra Cloud Cruise. If you’re visiting on July 4, reserve the firework sunset sail and celebrate our nation’s independence by toasting your own independence from predictable beachside summer weekends.
10.Park City, Utah: Explore the Swaner Preserve and EcoCenter and hike the trails winding their way through the expansive wilderness. If you really want to find yourself, set out at sunrise for a solo adventure to reenact your own version of Cheryl Strayed’s Wild (but hopefully without the divorce and debilitating life anxiety).
11.Windham, New York: Windham may be known for its skiing in the winter and its leaf peeping in the fall, but there’s no off-season when it comes to Instagram-worthy activities in this mountain town in the Northern Catskills. We recommend a weekend glamping with the squad — the perfect mix of the great outdoors and the oh-so-luxurious indoors as well.
12.Vail, Colorado: Last, but certainly not least: Vail, Colorado, is eternally popular in the winter but underrated in the summer. Go horseback riding at Vail Stables, and even do some yoga with goats. Yes, goat yoga is the new cat yoga, and you know you’re curious to at least witness what it’s all about.
Where’s your favorite ski town to visit in the summer? Tag us in your vacation destinations onInstagram.
(Photos via Getty)