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8 Best Off-Season Ski Towns in the US and Where to Stay

Ski resorts have become year-round traveling destinations. Check out some of our favorite off-season ski towns in the US and where to stay the night.

I’ve just spent a picture-perfect day boating on the lake under cloudless blue skies, my face still warm from the bright California sun and my head still full of images of the snow-capped mountains and sandy beaches that our eyes had gorged on throughout the day. We dock the boat at our hotel and I stumble onto the pier, where I discover a friendly bar pouring drinks, filled with gregarious travelers perched in deck chairs waiting for the sunset. I sit down and join them with a freshly poured vodka lemonade in hand. It’s September in Lake Tahoe, and I couldn’t be happier that I’m not here during peak ski season.

While most travelers elect to spend their winters chasing fresh powder in pricey ski resorts from Maine to California, the rest of the year visitors can enjoy the same gorgeous mountain scenery while taking advantage of off-season deals at premier ski resorts across the United States.

Enjoy the gorgeous peaks without the crowds or the peak-season pricing as ski runs melt into hiking trails in these off-season ski towns.

Big Bear Lake, California | Stay in a Hip Oasis Surrounded by Forest

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Servicing the twin ski resorts of Bear Mountain and Snow Summit in the San Bernardino Mountains about 100 miles east of Los Angeles, the popular Southern California ski resort community of Big Bear Lake is also an excellent place to beat the heat in the off-season with some cool mountain air on a hot summer day. Surrounded by the San Bernardino National Forest, this hiker and cyclist paradise also provide a classic small lake town feel with ample fishing and boating opportunities in the warmer months.

One of the coolest newer entrants to the local lodging scene is Noon Lodge at Mallard Bay, opened in 2015 in a prime lakeside location about a five-minute drive from the town of Big Bear Lake. Here you’ll find a cozy boutique lodge on a quiet residential street that combines smart modern design with an old-school summer camp vibe. The hipster-approved property offers stylish studio, loft, and A-frame cabin rentals that are both cool and campy with fire pits, BBQs, and plenty of games including shuffleboard and bocce ball. Chic yet approachable, many rooms at the collection of properties (formerly the Mallard Bay Resort) showcase tasteful paint colors and brick fireplaces to cultivate that classic “home away from home” feel.

You’ll want to get on the lake for boating and swimming in the warmer months, while additional off-season adventures at the local ski resorts include scenic chair lift rides, ziplines, a nine-hole golf course, and a popular lift-serviced mountain bike park. During your stay, hit the diner-style Teddy Bear Restaurant for breakfast and the old-school Captains Anchorage Restaurant for dinner before closing your night at the local dive bar, Murray’s Saloon & Eatery.

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Noon Lodge at Mallard Bay

8.4 Very good (257 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 8.7 / 10
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Noon Lodge at Mallard Bay

8.4 Very good (257 reviews)

Big Sky, Montana | Kick back at a Former Cattle Ranch

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With all the attention paid to states like Colorado and Utah when it comes to skiing, Montana somehow gets overlooked. And that’s just the way the locals like it. Situated about halfway between Bozeman and the northwest border of Yellowstone National Park in southwest Montana, Big Sky is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream offering all of the amenities of the more famous Colorado resorts, but with just a sliver of the crowds.

Located in a peaceful valley along the banks of the Gallatin River about 14 miles from the Big Sky Resort ski area, Rainbow Ranch Lodge offers guests that classic Montana experience on a former cattle ranch built in 1919. Today the classy yet unpretentious property makes an ideal base to explore all the year-round opportunities on offer in the area from world-class fly fishing and whitewater rafting to just chilling out on the resort lawn and watching movies on a projection screen in the warmer months.

Relax in a riverside room with handcrafted lodgepole queen beds or a pond-side luxury king room before heading to the Rainbow Dining Room for authentic Montana ranch-to-table cuisine. Pair your entree with wines from their award-winning Bacchus Room, which houses one of the finest collections of wine in the state and can also be reserved for private dinners and tastings. But their barrel-aged craft cocktails, particularly the Montana Sky signature Manhattan, are not to be overlooked either.

From the resort, head south about 15 miles into Yellowstone to spend the day immersed in nature or head north to Big Sky Resort for a variety of off-season adventures including ziplines, golf, archery, and year-round tram access to Montana’s highest scenic overlook at Lone Peak from an elevation of 11,166 feet.

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Rainbow Ranch Lodge

Top rated
8.6 Excellent (219 reviews)
Excellent Service 9 / 10
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Rainbow Ranch Lodge

Top rated
8.6 Excellent (219 reviews)

Breckenridge, Colorado | Spend the Night at 10,200 Feet

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As one of the most legendary ski towns in the United States, Breckenridge’s long-standing association with skiing is impossible to overstate. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t more than worthy of a visit in the off-season, with a thriving historic downtown offering a choose-your-own-adventure menu of activities from the booze-fueled madness of the Breckenridge Summer Beer Festival to quiet strolls in nature alongside the peaceful Blue River.

Despite Breckenridge’s enduring popularity, The Lodge at Breckenridge somehow manages to fly under the radar as one of the most underrated resorts in Colorado. Nestled in a forested cliff in a quiet residential area about a five-minute drive from downtown, it is also one of the highest elevation hotels in America. Perched above it all at 10,200 feet, the cozy 45-room lodge combines million-dollar mountain views with comfortable lodge-style rooms and a pair of three-bedroom private luxury homes available for rent. The lodge’s Traverse Restaurant & Bar serves up local and seasonal fare like artisan Colorado sausages and house-smoked ruby red trout while its Alpine Spa offers a variety of treatments and therapeutic massages.

The lodge’s free shuttle service into town runs during the summer and winter months. But if you have a car, an exploration of the nearby Boreas Pass area is highly recommended, particularly during fall foliage season. Hike or drive along the scenic high-elevation pass for stunning views of golden aspen trees shimmering in the Colorado sunshine against a panoramic mountain backdrop straddling the Continental Divide.

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The Lodge at Breckenridge

8.2 Very good (2611 reviews)
Excellent Service 8.9 / 10
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The Lodge at Breckenridge

8.2 Very good (2611 reviews)

Incline Village, Nevada | Dance with Lady Luck

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Boasting one of the largest concentrations of ski resorts in North America (including the world-famous Squaw Valley Resort which hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics), Lake Tahoe is well known as a skier’s paradise combining fresh powder with eye-popping views of the deep blue Lake Tahoe. But Tahoe’s rugged mountain landscape and near-perfect California climate make it a top off-season destination as well. Here, you can trade your winter skis for water skis while enjoying the magnificent natural vistas surrounding North America’s largest alpine lake.

A great base for exploring the small towns and beaches that line Tahoe’s shore is the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa & Casino in Incline Village, Nevada, located on the quieter north side of the lake. The 422-room AAA Four Diamond resort offers a variety of rooms including suites and private lakeside cottages equipped with plush Hyatt Grand Beds, with many rooms overlooking the lake and surrounding Sierra Nevada mountain range. Grab a drink on their private beach and watch the sunset over the lake on a 275-foot floating pier at their outdoor bar Pier 111 before heading indoors to the lodge-style Lone Eagle Grille for upscale eats overlooking the lake through large picture windows. Due to the hotel’s location on the Nevada side of the lake, gambling is also legal here, so be sure to play a few hands of blackjack at the 24-hour on-site Grand Lodge Casino and spend your winnings on another night’s stay. You’re not going to want to leave anyway.

Boat rentals and tours can be arranged at the hotel, which is located just a few minutes drive from one of the most picturesque spots in Tahoe: Lake Tahoe Nevada State Park, also known as Sand Harbor. A few minutes drive in the other direction from the hotel will land you at Crystal Bay Casino Steakhouse, where you can get a taste of old Lake Tahoe at this former favorite of Frank Sinatra.

 

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Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino

Top rated
9.0 Excellent (2722 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.2 / 10
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Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino

Top rated
9.0 Excellent (2722 reviews)

Park City, Utah | Be in the Center of the Action

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Even if you’re not a movie star in town for the annual Sundance Film Festival or an Olympic athlete training for the next winter games, there’s still plenty to like about Park City any time of year.

Situated at the base of Canyons Village at Park City Mountain Resort (one of the largest ski resorts in America), the AAA Four-Diamond Westgate Park City Resort & Spa will have you in the center of the action via a variety of rooms ranging from cozy suites and villas to luxurious four-bedroom lofts for you and 13 of your closest friends. In the off-season, you’ll feel like a local waking up in your apartment-style room before walking out of the resort to the base of the mountain where you can hike or ride the gondola to the top of the peaks. After your excursion into nature, kick back with a burger at the Westgate’s laid-back Drafts Burger Bar or carve into some expertly cooked chops at Edge Steakhouse, both of which won 2019 “Best of State” awards.

Following dinner, ride the resort’s free trolley into downtown Park City where you can sample some of the finest craft whiskey in America at High West Saloon, drink beer out of massive schooners at local dive O’Shucks, or hang out with a friendly crowd of revelers on the rooftop of the historic No Name Saloon.

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Westgate Park City Resort & Spa

8.2 Very good (583 reviews)
Excellent Location 8.8 / 10
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Westgate Park City Resort & Spa

8.2 Very good (583 reviews)

Snoqualmie, Washington | Go Chasing Waterfalls

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Those outside of the Pacific Northwest may not have heard of Snoqualmie, but the small town perched on the shores of the Snoqualmie River about 25 miles east of Seattle is a popular regional winter ski destination thanks to The Summit at Snoqualmie, which bills itself as “Seattle’s Home Mountain” and offers four distinct ski areas for all types of skiers. But the town is perhaps even more famous as a filming location in the David Lynch classic Twin Peaks including the iconic Snoqualmie Falls, one of the most popular tourist destinations in the state.

While many skiers and waterfall visitors day trip to Snoqualmie from Seattle, it’s possible to stay at a stunning resort immediately overlooking the falls at the jaw-dropping Salish Lodge & Spa. The popular wedding location makes for a romantic getaway any time of year with 86 rooms that are quite serious about comfort with memory foam mattresses, plush feather bedding, and your choice of pillows from their six-item “pillow menu.”

The unique touches in this calm and contemplative environment don’t end there. Book spa treatments that use honey from their on-site apiary or enjoy their famous jars of honey poured onto buttery house-made biscuits during their must-have four-course country breakfast. The lodge also hosts a number of events including winemaker dinners and educational culinary events in addition to golf and babymoon packages.

For some nearby exploration outside the hotel, head into the town of Snoqualmie to stroll along the river at the leafy Three Forks Natural Area set against rocky forested mountain backdrops or visit the quirky Northwest Railway Museum located inside of a restored 1890 depot.

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Salish Lodge & Spa

Top rated
8.6 Excellent (1300 reviews)
Excellent Location 9.2 / 10
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Salish Lodge & Spa

Top rated
8.6 Excellent (1300 reviews)

Stowe, Vermont | Leaf Peeping and Horseback Riding

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Not only does the quintessential New England resort town of Stowe (sometimes referred to as “The Ski Capital of the East”) offer one of the best ski resorts in the Northeast, it also features prominently on many Vermont fall foliage leaf peeping itineraries. Nestled in a wooded area near the base of Mount Mansfield (Vermont’s highest peak), Stowe is a well-known four-season resort whose historic buildings and quaint small town charms continue to enthrall visitors throughout the year.

One of the most famous spots in town is the AAA Four Diamond Topnotch Resort, located about halfway between the town and the ski area of Stowe Mountain Resort (which was purchased by Colorado-based Vail Resorts in 2017). Blending the charms of an old-school ski lodge with the amenities of a modern resort, the property offers 68 rooms and suites paired with 22 vacation homes dotted throughout 120 acres of peaceful woodland. Chow down on locally sourced fare at bistro-style restaurant Flannel or upscale dining lodge The Roost and, when you get thirsty, arrange with the resort a guided brewery tour in town to explore some of the top craft breweries in the Northeast. Topnotch also hosts one of the premier tennis centers in the region in addition to its own equestrian center, where horseback riding lessons and trail rides can be arranged.

Walk from just outside the resort to downtown Stowe amidst scenic mountain vistas and across placid pedestrian bridges meandering along the path of the Little River via the popular Stowe Recreation Path. While hiking and mountain biking opportunities abound, the more exercise-averse can also drive to the top of Mount Mansfield via the winding Auto Toll Road to enjoy views of the surrounding mountain ranges extending all the way to Canada on a clear day.

 

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Topnotch Resort

Top rated
9.0 Excellent (673 reviews)
Excellent Cleanliness 9.1 / 10
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Topnotch Resort

Top rated
9.0 Excellent (673 reviews)

Telluride, Colorado | Sheer Natural Beauty

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Aspen and Vail may get most of the attention (and the crowds) when it comes to skiing in Colorado, but no destination can match the sheer natural beauty of Telluride. Tucked away in a stunningly scenic box canyon in the southwest corner of the state, Telluride embraces its reputation as a year-round resort with a packed lineup of festivals to keep you entertained all off-season including the world-famous Telluride Bluegrass Festival in June and Telluride Blues & Brews Festival in September.

One of the most unique aspects of this historic mining town is its free year-round gondola public transportation system, which rises from downtown Telluride to the ski community of Mountain Village most months of the year. Here in Mountain Village, you’ll find The Peaks Resort & Spa offering panoramic vistas of the mountains from its large outdoor deck area as well as many of its rooms.

Accommodations range from basic hotel rooms and apartment-style suites to fancy vacation rental condos and penthouses, in addition to a private enclave of cabins known as “See Forever Village.” Sip drinks at the lower-level pool bar nestled alongside the adjacent Telluride Golf Club course before heading up to the excellent Altezza at the Peaks restaurant for upscale cuisine paired with one of the best views in town overlooking the golf course and mountains.

The hotel is a short walk to the gondola station, where you can enjoy more all-encompassing scenic vistas during the 20-minute ride down the mountain into downtown Telluride. While there, catch a concert surrounded by fresh mountain air at Town Park before heading back into town for a cocktail on the rooftop at the historic New Sheridan Hotel or a Colorado beer at infamous locals-friendly dive bar Last Dollar Saloon.

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The Peaks Resort and Spa

8.2 Very good (906 reviews)
Excellent Location 8.8 / 10
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The Peaks Resort and Spa

8.2 Very good (906 reviews)