Jackson is Wyoming‘s hidden treasure; surrounded by the Grand Teton and Gros Ventre Wilderness mountains, this lively little town boasts panoramic views of serene forests on all sides. Commonly called ‘Jackson Hole’ for the valley it resides in, Jackson was once an old Native American village until it was discovered c.1807 during the Lewis & Clark expedition; it became a popular area for trappers and many famous mountain explorers during the 19th century but wasn’t officially named until 1894. Despite its remote location, Jackson is an outdoor junkie haven along with a booming downtown of restaurants, shops, spas, museums, and famed ski resorts. Plus, it’s less than 200 miles from Yellowstone, one of the most wondrous national parks in the US.
Nicknamed the ‘Switzerland of America,’ Ouray is Colorado‘s best-kept secret, tucked within the San Juan Mountains ten miles northeast of the more popular Telluride. Surrounding this historic mining town are rugged roads, rushing rivers and waterfalls, deep canyons, historic wagon trails, towering mountain peaks, and picturesque meadows, some of which stand as proof of the glacial erosion and volcanic activity that helped shape the region millions of years ago. Ouray, originally called ‘Uncompahgre’ for its many hot springs, was first stumbled upon by a traveling band of Natives, the Ute – it is their Chief Ouray that established a legacy of diplomacy and intelligence here, and many of the buildings from his time (1880-1900) have been preserved up to today.
Stowe, a small town nestled between Mount Mansfield, the Green Mountains, and the Worchester Range, is already characterized by a state known for its natural landscape, lush forests, and historic 19th-century architecture. What makes this little nook even more special is its iconic white steeple set against vibrant fall colors, eclectic and culturally thriving town center, and tree-filled scenery studded with colorful hot air balloons during the summer. Plus, snow-capped mountains and rustic winter lodges turn this spot into a dreamy vision in the winter, fit for even the most magical of holiday postcards.
Park City, Utah
Park City is more than a popular skiing destination; once a famous silver mining town, this mountain getaway has a history dating back to 1848 when it was founded as ‘Parley’s Park City.’ Surrounded by the rugged Wasatch Range, Deer Valley Resort, and Park City Mountain Resort, Park City makes for a perfect winter wonderland when a blanket of white snow is laid over the town, glimmering at night by the bustling downtown lights. It’s also fit with a colorful Main Street dotted with historic Victorian architecture, vividly green golf courses, deep forests, hot springs, and many hiking and biking trails that traverse through the mountainside. Plus, there are over 1,000 miles of old silver mine tunnels beneath the current-day slopes – now, isn’t that a historic treasure?
Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville, tucked within the Appalachian Mountains, is a charming town surrounded by misty mountains, lush foliage, and serene natural beauty. Not only is Asheville bordered by some of the most stunning views in all of North Carolina, but it’s also a thriving, cultural hub with a vibrant arts and music scene, craft breweries, farm-to-table restaurants, and historic buildings, including the famous Biltmore Estate and River Arts District, a factory-turned-artist district. The history of the town began well before the 16th century, but it wasn’t officially named until 1793 – over two centuries ago.
Lake Placid, NY
Head to the Adirondack Mountains in New York, and find a quaint village nestled along the Tri-Lakes region: Lake Placid. Famed for hosting the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics, Lake Placid is an old mining town from the early 19th century; by the late-19th century, many of the rich and famous had become drawn to the lake and its fashionable Lake Placid Club, turning the has-been mining town into a resort for the wealthy. Lake Placid was officially established as a town in 1900 and became known for its winter recreational activities and fresh mountain air. Today, the town boasts a number of national historic places, including the New York Central Railroad and United States Post Office from 1935, and scenic views of the lake, mountains, and changing fall leaves.
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Coeur d’Alene is a ‘little slice of heaven’ resting along lake waters just east of the Coeur d’Alene National Forest in Idaho‘s northern panhandle. A beautiful lake resort in the summer, ‘CDA’ turns into a popular skiing destination and the ultimate holiday town during winter, holding one of the largest Christmas lighting ceremonies in the States. Named after a tribe of Native Americans that inhabited the area before the 19th century (the land was given to the US by the British in the Oregon Treaty of 1846), CDA became the second-largest silver mining area in the nation before it was converted into a resort town many decades later. With its glistening lakes, breathtaking sunsets, and mountainous peaks serving as an earthy backdrop, Coeur d’Alene is a dream of a mountain town.
Crested Butte, Colorado
Crested Butte, tucked in a little nook in the Colorado mountains, is surrounded by national forests and mountain ranges. Characterized by summer scenery of green forest lands, glimmering lakes, and winding rivers, and a picturesque blanket of white snow during winter, Crested Butte is a charming setting, to say the least. A former coal mining town, Crested Butte began as a summer destination for the Ute people; shortly after, many trappers explored the area, and by the mid-1800s, the town mines were open for use. The town didn’t receive its reputation as a popular skiing destination, however, until the 1960s – today, it’s famous for cross-country skiing, extreme skiing, mountain biking, hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, kayaking and white water rafting, and its many unique annual festivals.