I’m no Lindsey Vonn but I’m easily my happiest in the mountains. I love that my family grew up skiing every year, and always look forward to any excuse to escape to the mountains. I’ve skied everywhere from Colorado to the Swiss alps and have acquired a list of favorite ski destinations throughout the years (for all budgets)! As ski season approaches and we all start making Holiday and New Years’ plans, I rounded up some of my favorite destinations, all for various reasons, if you’re looking to hit the slopes and needing some inspiration!
Telluride forever has a special place in my heart. I grew up skiing here with my family over 5+ years and we love it so much we just booked a ski trip to return again this year. It’s less pretentious than Aspen and really has everything a ski town could offer — small town western vibe, modern mountain village, amazing ski runs, snow activities (snow-mobiling, dog sledding, carriage rides etc), plenty of hotel/ house rental options, and amazing restaurants.— it’s an hour + from Montrose airport which keeps a lot of tourists away. Meaning the lift lines are short and the runs aren’t insanely crowded. The altitude is HIGH (12,000ft) so prep ahead if you’re sensitive to altitude. Overall, it’s still my favorite place in the world to ski. I’ll keep returning here for years!
2. Aspen, Colorado
Aspen is always a good time and the skiing is incredible. One of my good friends lives here so I’ve been lucky enough to experience it in both the summer and the winter. It always brings the apres ski crowd, but is for avid skiers as well. As far as terrain goes, you have the luxury of both Aspen mountain and Snowmass. There are amazing hotels (The Little Nell, Hotel Jerome, and The St. Regis to name a few) all the best luxury shops (Dior, Ralph Lauren, Burberry), some of the yummiest restaurants and of course Cloud Nine in the middle of the Highlands Mountain run if that’s what you’re after.
3. Deer Valley, UT
Deer Valley is Skier’s paradise. I went here for a girl’s ski trip and you get a bit of everything – spa scene, resort vibes, old mining town feel, nice shops, great restaurants, and some of the smoothest snow I’ve ever skied. Most Texans migrate to Colorado, while Californians opt for the quick flight to Utah. It’s a bit more mainstream, so expect longer lift lines, but if you want to spend the majority of your time skiing the mountains with the pampering of resort life come here, and look into the Montage Deer Valley or St.Regis.
4. Lake Tahoe, CA
I LOVE Lake Tahoe in the summer and it’s just as beautiful in the winter. I have yet to go skiing here, but this was the runner up this year for my family’s ski vacation. If you’re looking for more of the modern, ski lodge, upscale vibe, head to Northstar — particularly the Ritz Carlton. The Truckee area/California side of Tahoe is a bit more put together, and as far as runs go there’s Northstar and Squaw Valley – home to the 1960 Winter Olympics. For Inpso sake there’s also Heavenly, on the southwest side of the lake – it’s known for its ski conditions, views of the lake, and is also close to casinos if that’s what you’re after.
5. Zermatt, SWITZERLAND
I went here last winter on a romantic ski holiday and it definitely deserves a spot on the winter bucket list. Fair warning — it’s a bit of planes and trains (not automobiles as cars aren’t actually allowed in Zermatt) getting here, but if conditions are clear, the views of the matterhorn are incredible! It’s definitely pricey as is most of Switzerland, but it’s worth considering if you have your ski sights set on this part of Europe. To be totally honest, America really does spoil you when it comes to amazing places to ski. I don’t know at this stage of my life if I would do the long haul flight and spend all the time and money to come here if I weren’t already based out of London. That said, if you’re based in the UK or have it on your bucket list to ski in Switzerland then I would definitely consider booking a trip here. It’s known for it’s incredible ski runs both on the Swiss and Italian side of the alps. Theres nothing like the grandness of the Matterhorn towering about the quaint, mountain town. It has all the charm of European mountain life, is for the fit, as walking is the #1 mode of transportation, and quite romantic especially if you book a private igloo with cheese fondue!
6. Les Deux Alpes, FRANCE
I just booked a trip here with my roommates and 30+ other people so I’ll have more to report come March, but can only imagine it will be a crazy ski trip! I’ve never skied in France before but from what I hear, its one of the largest glaciers in Europe and has plenty of runs to enjoy the apls. To get here you fly into Lyon and rent a car. Otherwise, take the train to Grenoble and bus from there.
7. Whistler, British Columbia
This is another place I’ve never been, but is on my ski bucket list! I’ve heard amazing things about Whistler and was very impressed with my previous trip to Canada. You get more of that chalet-style European feel without trekking all the way to Europe (depending on where you are), plus it was home to the winter olympics in 2010 – a great sign when considering ski conditions and what the town has to offer. My top pick would be the Four Seasons Whistler – that said I haven’t done a TON of research and I’m sure this beautiful ski destination has lots more to offer.
8. Mammoth, California
On the other side of the world is one of the best places to go for no-frills, good time skiing. I grew up going here in college, and it’s always a California favorite. Great for state residents who want a season pass, decent snow conditions, and a really cute modern mountain town. In addition to skiing they also have great hot springs — just be prepared to walk and be seeking warmth next to some potentially interesting strangers. Its really fun with friends at New Years even though bar prices usually have a cover charge.
9. Piesendorf, Austria
I traveled here back in college and went the whole hostel route. While I much prefer air bnbs these days, this was one of my favorite ski trip experiences and I definitely recommend it for anyone studying in abroad in Europe. We had a friend from Slovenia so flew to Germany and road tripped to Austria, but look into flying to Salzburg and it’s a 1.5 hour drive. It’s very “local”, super eastern European, and quaint overall. But the skiing was fun, the apres- ski bars are in a league of their own… great for a college ski trip with friends if you’re on a budget and only want to go somewhere for the weekend.
10. Big Bear, California
Big Bear doesn’t have the best skiing conditions by any means and certainly isn’t anything ultra glamorous, but if you live in California and aren’t up for the long drive to Mammoth, it’s an easy place to get some runs in for a day and feel like you had some sort of mountain getaway! Lift tickets start around $55 and from LA it’s only about 2+ hours— I came here for a day trip with a friend back in college — great for college trips, a weekend date thing, taking a friends that are in town opposed to Disneyland, or renting a cabin a doing a road trip mini vacay.
If you’re a snow bunny and really looking into ALL of your ski options, here are a few others I’d also factor in:
UNITED STATES: Breckenridge, Vail, Steamboat, Sun Valley, Big Sky Montana, Angel fire,
EUROPE: Courchevel, St. Moritz, Kitzbühel, Verbier