When asked to plan a vacation in the mountains, chances are the first thing that comes to mind is skiing. Of course skiing is a fun and exciting activity to do during a mountain vacation, however, that does not mean you will not be able to find something else to do in the area. There are so many things to do while taking a vacation in the mountains that will have you wondering why haven’t done this before. Let’s take a look at some of the best mountain destinations in the U.S.
Those looking for a small town feel but with the benefits of a big mountain resort should look into visiting Aspen, Colorado. This small mountain town is best known for skiing, but also has many other attractions and offers plenty of things to do, especially if skiing is not something you want to do.
Those looking to go skiing will be amazed by the four monumental ski areas – Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk and Snowmass ski resorts. These areas are just as beautiful when covered in snow as they are after the snow has melted. Non-skiers will be able to enjoy the magic of the mountains by visiting popular hiking spots, such as Maroon Bells peaks. Or enjoy a relaxing soak in the Glenwood Springs, a natural hot springs. Other attractions found in Aspen include Independence Pass, Silver Queen Gondola, John Denver Sanctuary and the Wheeler Opera House.
Top hotels in the area include The Little Nell, Hotel Jerome and The St. Regis Aspen Resort. All of these hotels will put you in the center of the mountain scene and offer many reasons to stay in your room and many more reasons to adventure out into the mountains.
Just one visit to the Aspen area will give you an understanding of why so many love visiting this mountainous area and return year after year. You will be amazed at the scenic mountain views that are visible from just about anywhere in the city.
Lake Placid, New York
There are many reasons why the families return year after year to experience the casual and cozy vibe found in the Lake Placid area of New York. During the summer, you can start your morning with a canoe ride across Mirror Lake, followed by a picnic lunch and hiking through the mountains in the afternoon. During the winter, you can spend the day skiing or visiting the nearby Lake Placid Olympic site.
Lake Placid is tucked away in the Adirondacks of upstate New York and is home to many activities for visitors to experience no matter what time of the year it is. Some of the top things to do in the area include watching or participating in skiing and snowboarding competitions, enjoying the amazing restaurants nestled within this small mountain town, skiing, relaxing at the lodge, attending festivals that are held throughout the year or just exploring the mountainside. Must-see museums while in Lake Placid include Hyde Collection, Adirondack Museum and Boldt Castle.
Everything about your visit to Darby, Montana will take you back in time, especially when you explore this small community that is filled with small-town shops, historic locations and traditional mountain community activities. While in Darby, visitors have everything they would want to do while escaping from day-to-day life. No matter if you visit in the summer or winter, you are sure to find something exciting to experience during your mountainside getaway.
Just because Darby is located at the southern tip of Bitterroot Valley doesn’t mean the area is lacking things to do. Popular activities in this area include skiing, sailing, camping, historic bus tours, horseback riding, golfing and boat tours. The list goes on and on. Must-do activities include experiencing the American Indian culture up close and taking tours of the Glacier County Historical Museum.
Located at the southern tip of the Bitterroot Valley is Darby, a small, quaint community whose downtown takes visitors back to years past, when the locals panned for gold and prospered in the logging industry. Take a walk back in time and explore the small-town shops. To pay tribute to “its founding fathers, Darby hosts Logger Days each summer, with festivities taking place at the southern edge of town.”
Accommodations in Darby include everything from hotels to resorts and campgrounds to bed and breakfasts. Top places to stay in the area include Mountain Spirit Inn, Triple Creek Ranch, The Darby and Bitterroot River Ranch Bed and Breakfast.
Yosemite National Park, California
A visit to the Yosemite National Park area of California offers plenty of opportunities to explore the great outdoors while seeing some of the country’s most breathtaking landscapes and scenic mountain views. Yosemite National Park is home to nearly 1,200 square miles of mountainous scenery that is filled with high cliffs, tall waterfalls, deep valleys, a large wilderness and ancient giant sequoias. This is definitely a mountain retreat that is made for the entire family to enjoy.
The activities available in the Yosemite area depend greatly upon the time of year visiting and the current weather conditions. Popular activities and attractions available throughout the park and some surrounding areas include hiking, horseback riding, museums, galleries, backpacking, biking, rock climbing, birdwatching, tours, fishing, camping, winter sports and lots of water activities.
Discover and see America’s true beauty with a visit to Yosemite National Park. Make plans to explore the area for several days so you are guaranteed to see everything this mountainous area has to offer.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Jackson Hole not only has an amazing mountain backdrop that offers plenty of winter sports opportunities, but it is also home to many wildlife refuges. This area has quickly become the go-to destination for millions of tourists wanting to experience a skiing destination, but also have other things to do besides hitting the slopes.
Nearby Jackson Hole, you will find Grand Teton National Park, Yellowstone National Park and National Elk Refuge. The parks offer plenty of opportunity for visitors to explore, see local wildlife and experience Mother Nature up close and personal. This area is also home to many cultural attractions and events, including the National Museum of Wildlife Art and the Grand Teton Music Festival. Summer fun in Jackson Hole includes camping, hiking, whitewater rafting, golfing and horseback riding. Winter activities include skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, ice skating, wildlife safaris and dog sledding.
Located in the centered town square, visitors will find plenty of eating and shopping venues offering something for everyone. Popular hotels in the area include Four Seasons Resort, Amangani, Hotel Terra, The Rusty Parrot Lodge and The Wort Hotel.
You will definitely enjoy your time in Jackson Hole and will probably find yourself making plans to come back and visit during another season. A visit in a different season will give you an entirely different vacation experience in Jackson Hole.
Asheville, North Carolina
During your visit to Asheville, you will experience the mountain vibe first-hand and will have the time of your life exploring everything this quaint community has to offer. Visitors can indulge their curiosities by being able to try something new and unique to this region. There are plenty of culinary delights and the beer scene is one of the best in the south. Plus, being in the south, the winter months are a little bit more bearable, making it possible to explore the outdoors without having to bundle up too much.
Outdoor activities in the Asheville area include whitewater rafting, mountain biking, tours, hiking and swimming. There is even a natural waterslide that will give you more of a trill than any theme park attraction can. In addition to exploring the great outdoors, this area is home to many locally-owned shops, clubs and other businesses. Plus, there are many galleries to visit and opportunities to listen to live music throughout the city.
In addition to the many things to do outside, Asheville is home to many attractions and historic sites. Top attractions in the area include Asheville Art Museum, Riverside Cemetery, Biltmore House and the Thomas Wolfe Memorial. Top hotels in the area include The Omni Grove Park Inn, the Grand Bohemian Hotel and the Brookstone Lodge.
You will definitely feel like you are one of the family the moment you arrive in Asheville. This small mountain community knows how to treat visitors and will have you wanting to come back year after year.
Instead of making plans to go to the Bahamas, the Caribbean or some other tropical destination, make plans to experience the mountains of America. Across the country there are many small communities that are perfect for vacation getaways. Just because it is in the mountains does not mean you have to enjoy skiing. These areas offer so much more that will have you asking why you never thought about visiting before.
Heather Landon is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has combined two of her passions – writing and travel – to share her experiences with others. You can read more of her articles at Examiner.com.