How to enjoy a ski resort vacation as a non-skier

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When I first moved to Colorado, I thought my family and I would somehow magically pick up skiing, hitting the slopes every winter. But as it turns out, skiing is not an easy thing to start up on your own in your 30s.

Between the cost of gear and ski passes, plus a few chronic pain issues, it never really became a hobby for us. Over the years, though, weve learned to love our getaways in the snow-capped Rockies. In fact, weve even stayed at ski resorts and had a splendid time no skis required.

Try Alternative Ways To Pump Adrenaline

Many resorts around the country feature adventure parks with fast-paced rides like mountain coasters, which are often open year-round. Hop aboard the Sky Flyer Mountain Coaster in New Yorks Holiday Valley, or the Breathtaker Alpine Coaster in Aspen Snowmass (which is open for nighttime rides).

The Breathtaker Alpine Coaster. (Photo courtesy of
Take a night ride on the Breathtaker Alpine Coaster at Aspen Snowmass. (Photo courtesy of

Though many places only offer snowmobiling to adults and teens, family-friendly Soldier Hollow Nordic Center in Midway, Utah, features mini-snowmobiles for children as young as 4.

Tubing is another family-friendly activity. Head to Oregons Mt. Hood Skibowl (where youll also find a separate kiddie tube for youngsters plus Cosmic Tubing in the evenings).

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Opt For Something With Less Intensity

For those who prefer less of an adrenaline rush, places like Triple Creek Ranch in Montanas Bitterroot Mountain Range offer fun, but slower paced, activities like hatchet throwing excellent for a quirky date experience. Triple Creek also offers activities like fishing, fat-bike riding, or even snowga (an outdoor, snowy yoga experience). If youd rather stay warm, though, theyve got regular indoor yoga as well.

I struggle with anything that requires as much balance as skating or skiing, but Im happy to try activities like snowshoeing. Resorts such as Telluride Ski Resort offer 3.5-hour guided snowshoe tours thatll show you areas you cant reach by hiking or skiing. Another activity that has sparked my interest is ski biking a more accessible alternative to regular skiing (for individuals with mobility or balance issues, or those who want to try something different). Test it yourself at Durangos Purgatory Resort in Colorado.

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Explore the Local Culture

Perhaps you prefer arts and culture to snowboarding down a mountain. You could visit the Barney Ford House Museum, in Breckenridge, Colorado, which celebrates the life of the slave-turned-entrepreneur and civil rights leader. There is also the Audain Art Museum which promotes Canadas First Nations culture in Whistler Blackcomb, or the philosophers house, Nietzsche-Haus, in Sils Maria, Switzerland. If youre in Taos, you can book a culture tour with Heritage Inspirations to visit the Taos Pueblo to learn about the native people of New Mexico.

Audaain Art Museum in Whistler. (Photo courtesy of
Audain Art Museum in Whistler. (Photo courtesy of

Many resorts are home to some notable festivals. Park City, Utah, hosts the extremely popular Sundance Film Festival every January-February. In Canada, you can head to the always hip Whistler Film Festival in December. Theres plenty of music at Tomorrowland Winter festival at Alpe dHuez in France.

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Wine, Dine and Everything Else Aprs Ski

Just because you didnt hit the slopes, doesnt mean you cant enjoy the food, drink, and occasional debauchery of aprs ski. Treat yourself (or your significant other) to delightful Austrian-inspired bites at Konditorei in Sun Valley, Idaho. Dining-obsessed couples can go the extra (few thousand) miles to dine in the Michelin-starred establishments found in Courchevel, in the French Alps, at Le Chabichou.

Drinks are part of aprs ski. Enjoy cocktails at high-end bars like the posh Amangani Resort in Jackson Hole, Wyoming; craft beer at resort area breweries like Breckenridge Brewery in Colorado, and Lone Peak Brewery in Big Sky, Montana, and a great wine selection at Alta Badia Resort in the Dolomites, of course (its in Italy, after all). There is also the wine cellar at The Little Nell in Aspen, Colorado, which holds well over 20,000 bottles.

(Photo by Blain Harrington III/Getty Images)
Breckenridge Brewery is one of the top local breweries in Colorado. (Photo by Blain Harrington III/Getty Images)

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Learn Something New

Youd be surprised at the variety of classes you can take in and around ski resorts. When I stayed at the Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa in Avon, Colorado, some years ago, I took my first aerial yoga class a surprisingly soothing class that left me wanting more. At Smugglers Notch in Vermont, you can find classes in making candles and medicinal tonics, as well as paint and sips, and even glass-etching lessons.

Or Simply Get Pampered

Check into a resort with a spa. Places like the Fairmont Tremblant Hotel in Quebec offer signature facials, manicures and pedicures, an elixir ice cider exfoliation treatment, and a warm and cold basalt rock massage that will leave you feeling right as rain. Theres also plenty to be said about unwinding outdoors at Steamboat Springs Strawberry Hot Springs, or Grover Hot Springs near Lake Tahoe.

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Featured photo by Lasting Image by Pedro Lastra/Getty Images.