Best Ski Vacations
Admiring the dramatic mountain landscape from atop the ski lift, feeling the cold air nipping at your cheeks, experiencing the rush of adrenaline as you carve the snow – there's nothing quite like a day on the slopes. And while the mountain conditions are a top priority, these ski vacation spots also boast charming towns and lively après-ski scenes to explore. Considering factors like resort variety, natural beauty, annual snowfall and overall atmosphere, U.S. News ranked the world's best ski vacations. Wondering where to go? Take a peek at the destinations listed below, and don't forget to vote for your favorites to have a say in next year's list. (Note: Some of the below destinations may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Check with the CDC and the U.S. Department of State before traveling.)
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Open to skiers and boarders nearly half the year, Whistler, British Columbia, provides seemingly endless terrain for winter enthusiasts of all skill levels. Whistler Blackcomb, the town's ski resort, boasts 8,171 acres of terrain and more than 200 marked runs. What's more, the town of Whistler offers one of the best après-ski scenes in the world. After a long day on the slopes, head to charming Whistler Village, home to shops, restaurants and the Olympic Plaza.
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Zermatt#2 in Best Ski Vacations
With the jaw-dropping Matterhorn mountain and other stunning peaks towering over this Swiss town, it's no wonder why visitors can't stop gawking at the scenery surrounding Zermatt. In addition to offering access to a massive interlinked ski area composed of Zermatt-Matterhorn in Switzerland and Breuil-Cervinia in Italy, this town features old-world charm, a wide range of accommodations and numerous cozy restaurants for your enjoyment.
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There are three ski resorts in this photogenic area of the Teton Mountains, but Jackson Hole Mountain Resort is the largest, receiving about 450 inches of snowfall each year on its 2,500 acres of in-bounds skiable terrain. When you've worn yourself out on the slopes, head to the nearby town of Jackson, where you'll find a number of excellent restaurants and shops, as well as many of Wyoming's best hotels.
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Vail lures thousands of skiers and snowboarders annually. It's easy to see why the area garners such appeal: Vail Ski Resort contains about 5,300 skiable acres, making it one of America's largest single-mountain resorts. Additionally, the Colorado village's small-town atmosphere and plethora of art-, jewelry- and food-focused venues make you yearn to return. But make your plans well in advance – you're not the only one itching to hit these slopes.
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Historic Aspen Mountain, ultra-popular Snowmass, uncrowded Aspen Highlands and beginner-friendly Buttermilk are all worth a visit. But the alluring slopes of the Colorado Rockies are only part of Aspen's indulgence. When the lifts close, visitors can curl up in the area's ranches and hotels, which rank among the West's most luxurious lodging options. And if you love craft beer, locals say you have to try the brews at Aspen Brewing Company.
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With nearly 2,400 skiable acres and a summit at around 13,000 feet, Breckenridge, Colorado, is Western skiing at its best. This mountain town sees an average of roughly 350 inches of snow annually, meaning there will be plenty of powder to shred on your ski vacation. Plus, Breckenridge boasts a quaint Main Street that's home to an eclectic collection of restaurants and stores, as well as a park with a wide hill that's great for sledding.
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Like many towns in the West, Telluride began as a mining operation. The southwestern Colorado town carries its rustic charm into the modern era, enchanting travelers who visit primarily to experience its more than 2,000 skiable acres. Telluride Ski Resort is the main place to shred powder. At this top-notch winter sports destination, you can take advantage of Telluride's rare combination of 300 days of sunshine and 300-plus inches of snow each year while zipping down its 148 ski trails.
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Park City, Utah, is home to two top-notch ski resorts: Park City Mountain and Deer Valley Resort. Between 300 to 400 inches of snowfall blanket these winter wonderlands annually, making for excellent skiing and snowboarding conditions. Visitors can also explore Utah Olympic Park, where several 2002 Winter Olympics competitions took place, as well as shop and eat in the area's chic central village. Another perk: Park City's location about 40 miles southeast of Salt Lake City International Airport makes its slopes relatively accessible for out-of-state tourists.
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While most ski runs boast views of a lodge and more mountains, many of Lake Tahoe's green circles, blue squares and black diamonds plunge toward the area's namesake blue lake. Roughly 15 miles away from northwest Lake Tahoe sits Squaw Valley, host of the 1960 Winter Olympics and home to 3,600 skiable acres. But with several other resorts surrounding the lake, including Heavenly and Homewood Mountain, don't limit yourself to just one. At the end of the day, meet up with fellow skiers for an après-ski drink.
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Mont-Tremblant#10 in Best Ski Vacations
Located within Mont-Tremblant National Park in Canada's Quebec province, Mont-Tremblant Resort attracts powder hounds with 100-plus runs spread across 755 acres. While Mont-Tremblant Resort is the only notable ski destination in the area, its four distinct slopes – which feature powder made with more than 1,200 snow-making machines – are sure to keep most skiers and snowboarders entertained. When winter sports enthusiasts need a break from the slopes, they can explore Mount-Tremblant's small Centre-Ville area, which offers a variety of places to eat, drink and shop.
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St. Moritz#11 in Best Ski Vacations
Host of the 1928 and 1948 Winter Olympics, and flush with shopping and fine dining options, St. Moritz has been a standard for elegance, class and sporting excellence for decades. Given the Alpine town's enviable location in the Swiss Alps, it's easy to discern why its winter offerings garner such acclaim. St. Moritz Ski Resort's 56 lifts give travelers access to five ski areas and numerous trails of varying difficulties. What's more, the resort offers 115 miles of cross-country trails around the accompanying town.
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Aside from hosting the Winter Olympics in both 1964 and 1976, this snowy Austrian town harbors 13 ski resorts with slopes appropriate for skiers of all levels, all of which you can access with a SKI plus CITY Pass. Nine resorts combine to form Olympia SkiWorld Innsbruck, an impressive complex that features everything from glacier ski areas to cross-country trails. When you're not shredding powder, take a stroll along Innsbruck's historic streets or warm up with some hearty local cuisine.
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