If the snow hasn’t fallen by your Christmas holiday vacation, or you’re honestly just not that into skiing, it’s okay. Fear not, because Colorado’s ski towns offer plenty of other winter activities. From snowmobiling to ice skating, hot springs to horse-drawn sleigh rides, there’s an endless array of other ways to enjoy the winter season. Here are 12 of the best family-friendly activity alternatives in eight of Colorado’s most iconic ski towns.
1. Things to Do in Aspen, Colorado
The four ski areas that make up Aspen-Snowmass have 41 lifts accessing 5,500 acres of terrain. But even when there’s not much snow, this stunning Roaring Fork Valley still has plenty to do. The historic Glenwood Hot Springs boasts the largest hot springs pool in the world, which will feel delicious whether you’re sore from skiing or just tight from too many hours in the car.
Aspen also has two fantastic recreation centers that are open to the public. For $19 ($16.50 for ages 2-17) you get access to swimming pools, climbing walls, workout rooms, and two ice-skating arenas.
2. Things to Do in Breckenridge, Colorado
Just a few minutes from downtown is the Breckenridge Nordic Center, a 1,400-acre playground of groomed trails for cross-country skiing or snow-shoeing. There are great mountain views, trails for all abilities and, perhaps most importantly for mom and dad, happy hour that starts at 4 p.m.
3. Things to Do in Crested Butte, Colorado
Crested Butte Mountain Resort offers some of the finest skiing in North America, especially if you like the steeps. But you can’t ski the double-diamonds when they’re all rocks, so why not strap on a pair of snowshoes and enjoy some of the prettiest mountain views in Colorado. Try the Snodgrass Mountain trail network for untracked serenity or Gothic Road for trails that are probably groomed by snowmobiles. If you’re looking for a more controlled setting, stop by the Crested Butte Nordic Center, where $20 gets you access to 31 miles of trails and kids 17 and under are free.
4. Things to Do in Salida, Colorado
This town along the Arkansas River is just 20 miles from Monarch Mountain, which doesn’t make snow because they typically get plenty of the natural stuff. When you’re tired of skiing, the mountains around here offer some of the finest snowmobiling in Colorado. On Cottonwood Pass west of Buena Vista you can ride all the way up to the Continental Divide, with plenty of powder-filled bowls for exploring. Don’t have a snowmobile? Take a guided tour with All Season Adventures or Cottonwood Country Tours.
5. Things to Do in Steamboat Springs, Colorado
This is the town where the phrase “champagne powder” was coined, but when the snow isn’t bubbly the hot springs are. There are two to choose from, the Old Town Hot Springs in the center of town, with water slides and spring-fed pools, and Strawberry Park Hot Springs, a remote and stunning rustic resort 7 miles outside of town. To visit the latter in winter usually requires a four-wheel-drive vehicle and/or snow tires, but you can also take a shuttle from town for a fee.
6. Things to Do in Telluride, Colorado
It’s hard to imagine a more beautiful mountain town that Telluride, tucked in a massive box canyon dominated by the San Juan Mountains. The ski area has some of the most intense terrain in the world, but it takes plenty of snow to make such terrain safe. So on your off-day from skiing spend some time exploring this historic town and its many upscale shops and restaurants. And then hop on the Telluride-Mountain Village Gondola, which connects the town and ski area and represents a unique transportation system that is free to the public.
7. Things to Do in Vail, Colorado
When Vail Mountain, the third-largest ski resort in the U.S., is hurting for snow, take the kids – or the fun-minded adults – to Adventure Ridge, at the top of the Eagle Bahn gondola. This winter play park is larger than a football stadium, with a ski bike course, tubing hill, mountain coaster, nature center and restaurants, all of which is open into the evening.
8. Things to Do in Winter Park, Colorado
This mountain town west of Denver is all about skiing snowboarding, but the region offers much more. What could be more holiday appropriate for the holidays than dashing through the snow on an open sleigh? Sombrero Stables at Snow Mountain Ranch offers hot cocoa sleigh rides and dinner sleigh rides for the full experience. Did anyone bring the chestnuts to roast?