Dining mountainside no longer has to mean soggy pizza and stale French fries; thanks to talented chefs and a flourishing American food scene, ski resorts across the nation are stepping up their dining game.
Visitors can get their hands on nearly every type of cuisine in Vail; this includes several Michelin-starred restaurants. Game Creek, nestled high within the mountains, offers French-inspired seasonal plates – elk tenderloin with smoked mushrooms, trout chowder – while Chef Nobu Matsuhisa dishes out impeccable sushi at his acclaimed Matsuhisa (also in Denver and Aspen). In Aspen, find bistro-inspired comfort food at Ajax Tavern – crusted tuna bay sandwich, truffle fries – a seasonal menu at element 47, and upscale local eats at celebrity hot spot, Piñons.
Park City‘s dining scene, elevated to new heights after the opening of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s J&G Grill, boasts endless top-notch eateries. Handle is serving up a seasonal, locally sourced menu and craft cocktails; Burgers and Bourbon – which has created quite the buzz – offers 24 rotating craft beers and over 30 burgers. Chef Viet Pham, who defeated Bobby Flay in Iron Chef, is set to open his famous Salt Lake City establishment, Ember + Ash, this year.
Telluride has also seen a bit of dining revival in the past few years with the addition of swanky wine bars and upscale restaurants. Palmyra features sweeping views of the San Juan Mountains and an epic, seasonally driven menu. Allred’s, a local favorite for Colorado flavors, is situated at the top of San Sophie station. And Alpino Vino, the go-to spot for Italian fare, is the highest restaurant in North America at 12,000 feet (3,658 meters) above sea level.
There’s no beating the Great White North when it comes to snowfall. Whistler and Revelstoke both receive nearly 40 feet (12 meters) of snow annually; bowls and chutes near the top of Whistler are almost always filled with powder, while runs at Revelstoke are usually packed with deep snow. Fernie and Big White are both marked by regular snowfalls, with Fernie’s average snowfall reaching over 30 feet (nine meters) annually.
Lake Tahoe‘s Northstar is especially known for being kid-friendly; après-ski activities include tubing, a bungee trampoline, ice skating, evening star tours, and arts and crafts. Sun Valley in Idaho offers bowling, movies, swimming and fitness centers, virtual golf, ice skating, sleigh rides, and ice shows. And Jackson Hole, Wyoming is the ultimate winter vacation that both parents and kids will enjoy, complete with tubing, snowmobiling, wildlife viewing, ice skating, sledding, sleigh rides, dog sledding, and a children’s museum (plus kids ski for free).
Keystone Resort in Colorado has a kid-dedicated center called “Kidtopia” filled with daily events such as fireworks, tubing, snowball fights, and ice cream parties; there are also sleigh rides, family adventure tours, and yoga classes. Also in Colorado: Crested Butte Mountain Resort features mini golf, a climbing wall, a bungee trampoline, sleigh rides, and a “Kids’ Night Out.” Every Friday night on Aspen Snowmass, families can take the gondola to Ullr Nights at Elk Camp where they’ll find tubing, ice skating, snowbiking, live music, plus hot chocolate and s’mores by the bonfire.
When it comes to terrain, all hail Canada. Whistler Blackcomb, the largest ski resort in North America, boasts over 8,000 acres of terrain with 200 marked runs, 16 alpine bowls, three glaciers, and world-class terrain parks. The two mountains – Whistler and Blackcomb – are connected by a peak-to-peak gondola, with plenty of backcountry terrain for the experts and a mile-high vertical that offers more steep terrain than anywhere else on the continent.
Revelstoke is known for its steep and deep terrain, offering the highest vertical in North America at 5,620 feet (1,713 meters). The mountain features 3,000 acres of slopes, massive bowls, and a recently expanded 11-acre terrain park. There’s also snowcat-skiing and heli-skiing for the experienced. Fernie is one for the adventurous as most of its terrain is steep, ungroomed, or requires traversing; slopes average 3,500 to 7,000 feet high (1,067 to 2,134 meters).
Red Mountain has been a longtime favorite amongst experts, with most runs steep or traveling through tree lines. An expansion a few years ago opened up 1,000 more acres of terrain, featuring more intermediate runs.
Mountain resorts have been revolutionizing the skiing experience for decades. And the U.S. has excelled in developing some of the most stunning lodgings in North America. Jackson Hole’s Teton Village, a quaint base filled with shops and restaurants, is difficult to match when it comes to accommodations; Four Seasons, Amangani, Rustic Inn, and Snake River Lodge and Spa offer a luxurious stay surrounded by the snow-capped peaks of the Grand Tetons.
Park City’s bustling downtown features sleek hotels and spas such as Main & SKY, St. Regis Deer Valley, and Washington School House Hotel, a boutique hotel on a historic property from 1889. And Aspen’s posh atmosphere is accompanied by stellar hotels – Hyatt Grand Aspen, The Little Nell, and Limelight Hotel – all boasting luxe amenities and sweeping views.