By Taylor Aube
There is a constant battle over which side of the United States is best. Whether it’s the Atlantic vs. Pacific argument when deciding where to take a beach vacation or trying to figure out what mountains to visit for the annual ski trip, there are many differences between the two sides of the country.
When it comes to winter sports, New England takes the cake on family-friendly resorts, but if you’re looking for big air and big altitude then look to the mountainous Colorado Rockies. Each coast has its own cultural and lifestyle differences when it comes to skiing and snowboarding and we made it easy to plan your next trip by breaking down 13 resorts from around the country.
Vail – Vail, Colorado
Coveted as one of the largest ski resorts in the world with more than 5,200 acres of developed ski and snowboard terrain, seven legendary back bowls spanning seven miles and the most groomed terrain on the planet, Vail has been an extraordinary winter vacation destination for passionate skiers and snowboarders for more than 50 years. Located on the base of the ski mountain, the Vail village experience is both vibrant and memorable. After you hit the slopes, looking for a fun place to unwind and indulge in some après ski is easy in this lively village. We guarantee you will have a difficult time choosing which family-friendly activities to partake in, such as: ice skating rinks, a high-end movie theater, ritzy bowling, sweet shops and concert venues… all within a few minutes walk from the heart of the village.
Highlight: Seven bowls of backcountry, knee-deep powder!
Steamboat – Steamboat Springs, Colorado
The area has a rich western heritage and is one of the largest ski resorts in Colorado. Steamboat Springs has been dubbed Ski Town, U.S.A. due to the fact that more Olympians call Steamboat home than any other ski resort. The ski area has 165 named trails spread over 2,965 acres. This resort caters toward experienced skiers considering nearly half of the trails are advanced. Here is a breakdown of the trails: Fourteen percent are classified as beginner level, forty-two percent as intermediate, and forty-four percent as advanced. It also contains one of the premier superpipes in North America.
Highlight: Olympic heritage!
Breckenridge Ski Resort – Breckenridge, Colorado
With 34 lifts and a whopping 3.5-mile trail, Breckenridge, otherwise known as simply “Breck” is a resort located at the base of The Rockies. At Breck, they measure snowfall in feet, not inches. The resort’s annual reports give snowfall figures in inches, however, when you convert the average snowfall each year into feet, you get over 25 feet of snow! A Breckenridge vacation is a seamless and unforgettable experience for the entire family or group of friends. The town has a rich history in mining (some buildings in the town have been there for over 100 years!) and the friendly local vibe will make you want to take up a permanent residence.
Highlight: ENDLESS POWDER!
Aspen Snowmass – Aspen, Colorado
The most upscale skiing and snowboarding experience this country has to offer, Aspen is truly the gem of the Rockies. Indulge in après ski at the Louis Vuitton store or dine in some of Colorado’s most decedent restaurants. Its no wonder this resort is a top choice vacation spot for A-list celebrities. Aspen is a ski resort town and a year-round destination for outdoor recreation. It’s known for its high-end restaurants, boutiques, and landmarks. At Aspen Mountain you can ski down the same runs that hosted World Cup races and ride through bountiful piles of powder. This resort is best for intermediate skiers, seeing as 48 percent of its terrain is a blue square level.
Highlight: Luxurious skiing experience!
TEAM NEW ENGLAND
Sunday River - Newry, Maine
Eight peaks infinite snow is the tagline for this ski resort located in the heart of Maine. There is plenty to do whether it be a couple’s getaway, a college reunion or for a family vacation. The resort lives up to its tagline considering Sunday River typically has more or equivalent terrain to every other resort in the United States. Ski backcountry over at the Jordan Bowl or take the lift overlooking the superpipe for some adventurous moguls. Or simply take the “chondola,” a chair and gondola combination for some cruising down the mountain. Trying to find an adventure for the little ones? Look no further than Sunday River Resort. Over the December holidays, Sunday River offers weekly entertainment including fireworks, musicians and more: all with the kids in mind.
Highlight: Family-friendly environment and the Jimmy Buffet spoof: Parrot Head Festival!
Sugarloaf - Carrabassett Valley, Maine
Sugarloaf is the home and original stomping grounds of Olympic Boardercross champion, Seth Wescott. It is the largest resort east of the Mississippi with the second highest vertical drop. This resort is a great place to learn the fundamentals of skiing or to take the chairlift to the top of the mountain and adventure your way down. Additionally, the resort offers many winter activities including skiing, snowboarding, tubing, Nordic skiing, snowshoeing, concerts, slopeside lodging and terrain parks. Summer offerings include golf, hiking, mountain biking, moose view tours plus facilities to host conferences and weddings. Sugarloaf’s ‘Anti Gravity Center’ is a 20,000 square foot facility located at the base of the mountain. The complex includes a rock-climbing wall, skate park, work out area, and set of Olympic-sized trampolines. It is home to Maine’s largest indoor skate bowl.
Highlight: Fireworks, the ultimate kid-friendly experience and the Anti Gravity Center!
Killington – Killington, Vermont
Killington has Sugarloaf beat for the highest vertical drop on the east coast. If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, definitely check out this resort tucked away in the woods of Vermont. The access road is something out of a storybook. Imagine thousands of evergreens sprinkled with snow and cascading mountains in the background. Killington is known for its diversity of terrain and grooming expertise, providing skiers and riders of all ability levels a choice of wide-open groomed cruisers, narrow classic New England runs, moguls, steeps and gladed skiing areas. Killington also offers multiple terrain features for snowboarders and freeskiers, including Bear Mountain’s signature terrain parks. Off-mountain activities include cross country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and ice skating, combined with more than 100 restaurants and bars and shopping options throughout the region, making Killington the top resort in the Northeast for après ski and lively evening entertainment.
Highlight: Vertical drops and quintessential winter scenery!
All of these resorts have so much fun to offer – no matter which side of the country they are on. From taking lessons as a beginner, to double black diamonds, to opting to watch people ski while enjoying a martini at the base lodge, there are so many memories to make during a family or friend vacation to a ski resort. Amp up your holiday season by checking out these fabulous resorts and planning a week’s vacation of laughs, smiles and adventure!