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 top priority, these ski vacation spots also boast charming towns and lively après-ski scenes to explore. Considering factors like resort variety, scenic beauty, annual snowfall and overall atmosphere, U.S. News ranked the world's best places to ski. Wondering where to go? Take a peek at the destinations listed below, and don't forget to vote for your favorites.
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Zermatt#1 in Best Ski Vacations
With the jaw-dropping Matterhorn Mountain as its crown jewel, it's no wonder visitors can't stop gawking at the scenery surrounding this Swiss town. In addition to a massive interlinked ski area that includes Breuil-Cervinia over the border in Italy, this town has an old-world charm, a wide range of accommodations and cozy restaurants for your enjoyment.
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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. What's more, the mountain boasts one of the best après-ski scenes in the world. After a long day on the slopes, don't forget to check out the charming Whistler Village, home to shops, restaurants and the Olympic Plaza.
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With nearly 3,000 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 175 inches of snow annually, meaning there will be plenty of powder to shred on your ski vacation. Plus, Breckenridge boasts a quaint Main Street and a park that's great for sledding.
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Park City, Utah, is home to two top-notch ski resorts: Park City Mountain and Deer Valley Resort. These winter wonderlands are blanketed with 300 to 400 inches of snowfall annually, which makes for excellent 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.
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St. Moritz#5 in Best Ski Vacations
Home of the Olympic Winter Games in 1928 and 1948, and flush with shopping and fine dining options, St. Moritz has been a standard for elegance, class and sporting excellence for decades. St. Moritz Ski Resort's 24 lifts and gondolas give travelers access to trails of varying difficulties and the accompanying town is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
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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 and featuring 2,500 acres of in-bounds skiable terrain. The nearby town of Jackson has a number of excellent restaurants and shops to explore after you've worn yourself out on the slopes.
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The smooth, dry "Champagne powder" snow in this Colorado town woos skiers year after year. In addition to having excellent conditions across almost 3,000 skiable acres, Steamboat Springs is less crowded than other popular ski spots. Plus, you'll find other fun activities like ice skating, ice hockey and ice bumper cars at the Howelsen Ice Arena.
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Vail lures thousands of skiers and snowboarders annually, and it's easy to see why: Vail Ski Resort contains about 5,300 skiable acres, making it one of the USA's largest single-mountain resorts. Additionally, the village's small-town atmosphere and bountiful cultural opportunities make you yearn to return again. 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 and beginner-friendly Buttermilk are all worth a visit. But the alluring slopes are only part of Aspen, Colorado's indulgence. When the lifts close, visitors can curl up in the area's luxurious lodges and hotels. And if you love craft beer, locals say you have to try the brews at Aspen Brewing Company.
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Skiing in Europe is unparalleled, and Salzburg, Austria's mix of history, architecture and mountain fun makes for a great ski getaway. Travelers have their pick numerous ski areas, which you can easily reach from central Salzburg via car or the Salzburg Snow Shuttle. When off the slopes, the medieval town and its Baroque cathedral are worth a visit.
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