9 ways to enjoy a ski resort vacation without hitting the slopes

Dec 27, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Many people will assume that, if you’re visiting ski country, you must be a skier.

But packing up your skis and hitting the slopes every winter might not always be in the cards, especially when you consider the cost of gear and ski passes. And, if skiing and snowboarding simply aren’t for you, that’s OK too.

Although my family loves to ski, we always look for other ways to enjoy the snow-capped mountains when we visit ski towns. During a recent trip to Stowe, Vermont, the mountain conditions weren’t great one day, so we hung up our skis and still found plenty of fun activities at the resort.

If you want to spend winter in the mountains but skiing isn’t your jam, know that there are so many other reasons to book a ski-resort getaway. Just keep in mind that, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, some activities and services aren’t open or running this year.

Related: Ski season has begun — here’s what it’s like to hit the slopes in a pandemic

Go tubing

Tubing at Keystone, Colorado (Photo by Summer Hull/The Points Guy)

Even if you aren’t strapping on ski boots, you can still have fun in the snow by tubing down the mountain. Some tubing hills even require you to take a lift (or magic carpet ride) up to the top of the slope.

And tubing isn’t just for children, either. Whether you’re 6 or 60, you can always feel like a kid when you’re tubing down the mountain.

Well-known tubing mountains include Camelback Mountain Resort in Pennsylvania; Keystone Resort in Colorado; Cranmore Mountain in New Hampshire; and Killington Mountain in Vermont. Some places even offer Cosmic Tubing in the evenings, such as Oregon’s Mount Hood Skibowl.

Take a sleigh ride

sleigh ride Stockbridge, Massachusetts Berkshires
(Photo by James Kirkikis/Shutterstock)

Sleigh rides are also a great way to enjoy the winter — especially with a cup of hot chocolate in hand. In Stowe, Vermont — just down the street from the base of the mountain — you can have your pick of sleigh or carriage rides. And with COVID-19 restrictions in place, your family can count on a private ride.

Strap on the snowshoes

Snowshoeing in Banff comes with snowy views all around (Photo by Noel Hendrickson/Getty Images)

If you want more exercise without any vertical drop, strap on snowshoes and start exploring. You might even find a resort or hotel that offers snowshoe tours, which are the perfect way to get comfortable with the sport. Spruce Peak — the village at the base of Stowe Mountain Resort — offers tours throughout the week right from the village.

Related: What’s new for this year’s ski season

Spend the day snowmobiling

(Photo by Per Breiehagen/Getty Images)

Consider a day spent snowmobiling. In Stowe, you can experience a 25-mile adventurous journey through Mount Mansfield State Forest. You have the option to ride on a single or double snowmobile, or even with a guide if you’re feeling a little nervous.

And though many places only offer snowmobiling to adults and teens, the family-friendly Soldier Hollow Nordic Center in Midway, Utah, has mini snowmobiles for young children, too.

Related: Best credit cards to use on ski trips

Explore the ice

The Kids Climbing Park in Ouray, CO is a good place for little ones to put their ice pick skills to work on a wall just for them (Ouray Tourism Office)

Get your ice axe, harness, rope and crampons and you’re ready to try ice climbing. While experienced climbers might be able to simply venture into the mountains, many ski towns offer an “Ice Climbing 101” course to guide you along the way with all equipment provided. Best of all, you don’t need any climbing expertise to try this sport.

You can even find a climbing park for kids in Ouray, Colorado which is about an hour from both Telluride and Silverton Mountain.

Bike on the snow

fat biking Alaska
Fat biking on Tony Knowles Coastal Trail. (Photo by Jody O. / Salmon Berry Tours)

While Stowe Mountain Resort might be well known for its ski slopes, it also offer some of the best mountain biking trails in the country. Rent a fat tire bike, which will allow you to enjoy some of the same trails, but on the snow. Take the bikes around the mountain and even into the village.

Explore the village

Ice skating at Spruce Peak — the village at the bottom of Stowe Resort Mountain. (Photo by Jennifer Yellin for The Points Guy)

With mountain towns getting more and more popular these days, you’ll find that formerly rugged mountains are now built up with amazing villages filled with restaurants and shops. But others really go above and beyond, with everything from ice skating to fireworks and even live performances.

At Stowe Mountain Resort, you’ll find that, in the middle of the Spruce Peak Village, there’s a fun ice skating rink that offers complimentary ice skating, a candy store for the kids (and, of course, adults) and a huge adventure center with rock climbing.

Of course, Stowe isn’t the only ski resort to offer these amenities. You’ll find other great villages at Beaver Creek and Keystone, in Colorado, and Whistler Blackcomb in British Columbia, among others.

Head into town

Ben and Jerry’s Ice Cream factory. (Photo by John Greim/LightRocket/Getty Images)

While Spruce Peak Village at Stowe has a ton to offer, not too far down the road you can visit the Ben & Jerry’s Factory, The Vermont Teddy Bear Factory and numerous Maple Sugaring Farms. Here, you can arrange a tour based on your interests and, let’s be honest, what’s a trip to Vermont without bringing home some local syrup?

At Smugglers’ Notch also in Vermont, you can find classes where you make your own candles, medicinal tonics and you can even learn to etch glass.

These charming mountain towns are filled with activities and cultural attractions you might not find at home, so be sure to explore beyond the mountain if you’re traveling to a ski town.

Related: How to plan your ski trip with points and miles

Indulge in après ski

Après skiing at Spruce Peak Village (Photo by Jennifer Yellin for The Points Guy)

You can indulge in the food, drinks and camaraderie of après ski even if you didn’t hit the slopes.

With the ongoing pandemic, things look different this year, but you can still enjoy the après ski experience. Many mountains have set up great outdoor options with more seating, heat lamps and even fire pits. During our trip to Stowe, we were able to sit outside in Spruce Peak Village with heat lamps to keep us cozy. This was the perfect spot for lunch and a late afternoon hot chocolate break.

Related: 6 mistakes to avoid when planning a ski trip

Bottom Line

No matter where your interest lies, ski resorts offer something for everyone — both on and off the mountain. So, if you’re not a skier, you can still enjoy the ambiance of the mountains with amazing ski resorts and alpine activities to keep you busy without ever hitting the slopes.

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

Additional reporting by Priscilla Blossom. 

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
Balance Transfer Fee
Recommended Credit
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.