Of course, snow mountain vacations make ideal getaways when every family member loves to ski or snowboard. But what if some in your party don't like doing either?
Ski resorts are built with hardcore skiers in mind but, fortunately, they also offer many other ways to have fun on and off the mountain. Each year, ski resorts and ski towns are adding more and more indoor activities, including luxury spas, arcades, trampoline activity centers, and award-winning restaurants. The number of outdoor options also continues to grow, including these fun activities.
These days most ski resorts offer this easy and fun activity both day and night. This is a perfect outing for everyone, since absolutely no skills are required. Just hop on an inflatable rubber tube and enjoy the ride down. Typically there are several runs available that vary in speed and thrills and a conveyor lift to get up the hill.
Many ski resorts offer dog-sledding outings, which can consist of a quick loop around a frozen lake or a half-day excursion through wooded trails. The sledding is exciting, but just as memorable is the chance to get close to these amazing sled dogs who literally cannot contain their enthusiasm to just get going and run. When it's your turn to control the sled and mush, your main job will be to put a brakes on the dogs.
If you can walk, you can snowshoe. That's why this activity is great for the whole family, even if you have little kids or grandparents along. Think of it as hiking with a little extra effort required. It's great exercise and many resorts offer guided treks on nature trails for wildlife viewing or just to take in the area's scenic beauty.
Even young kids can ride the alpine coasters now offered at a growing number of ski resorts, while teens will also enjoy the novelty of these mountain coasters and have fun trying to go at top speed. Riders can control the speed of the sled-like cars, and typically it's okay if two passengers--such as a small child and parent--ride together if they wish.
The tough and mighty mountain caterpillars offer an excellent way for visitors who don't ski or board to get onto the mountain and enjoy amazing scenery. Often, a mountain snowcat tour will go higher above the treeline than any of the ski lifts and into more remote territory.
It's fun to try something new on a getaway, especially with older kids and teens who might be looking for more thrills. Ski biking (sometimes called snowbiking) is a cool--and surprisingly easy!-- way to enjoy the slopes at many ski resorts, including Keystone and Vail in Colorado.
Ski biking is easier than it looks, since stability and control are easier than downhill skiing. A rider's boots are attached to two short skis, side by side, that control speed. Meanwhile the bike itself also has a front and rear ski, and steering is accomplished by shifting weight.
Whether your whole family wants to try ski biking together, or if a non-skiing family member prefers to take a lesson or two, it's a fun mountain sport that's gaining in popularity. Ski bikers ride up the same lifts as everyone else, so it's possible to stick together if your group wants to mix it up.
You don't need to be a world-class athlete to try an Olympic sport. Head to one of the former host cities--Lake Placid, Salt Lake City, Squaw Valley, Calgary, or Whistler--and give a new activity a try. Olympic parks offer the chance to take a ride on a bobsled, luge, or skeleton, go skating or skiing, or even test your biathlon skills.
Some resorts now offer ice climbing, which is similar to rock climbing but you scale a frozen waterfall or other ice face instead of a wall. Climbers wear a mountaineering harness connected to a tether controlled by a spotter, so it's safe. Intro-to-ice classes, as well as half-day and full-day climbs for different skill levels are typically available. Kids as young as 5 can try.
- Edited by Suzanne Rowan Kelleher