I grew up on the rocky, often icy slopes of Vermont so skiing was naturally a big part of my winter life. I now live in Santa Monica, where I’ve traded my ski boots for flip flops, and I find my snowy escapades fewer and far between. As the temperatures start to drop (to a chilly 65 degrees) I find my mind wandering to higher elevations. I crave the sound of skis carving down a slope, the frosty air rushing against my face as I zip by snow covered trees and dozing off to the tune of a crackling fire. It is time to head to the mountains.
With my sights set on Northern adventures, I’ve come up with a bucket list of my top winter experiences for 2017. The catch? They are all experiences that I’ve never done before. To make this list, I’ve perused some of the most well known resorts out West, looking closely mountain resorts within a short flight from LAX. My standards are high–the mountain needs to have great food, awesome slopes, noteworthy hotels and a charming village, in addition to offering me something unexpected and new. Take a look at this list and let me know if you’d like to do any of these too!
Learn to Snowboard (& get a massage after!)
I tried snowboarding when I was around 14 years old. My teacher was my friend Sonia, a naturally athletic girl, who made it look so easy. To my surprise, I wasn’t all that bad for the first few runs. Then… I fell. And after falling once, I continued to fall, over and over again. I was so sore after that first day, I decided that I’d prefer my own two skis. Now, after all these years, I’m ready to tackle it again. I think I’d like to learn at Vail, mostly because I’ll be in need of the Après-Sport Therapeutic Massage from The Lodge at Vail immediately after.
Ski at Night
First tracks on trail in the morning, the afternoon sun glinting off the snow, the mandatory hot chocolate breaks to warm up by a fire–these are a few of my favorite things–about skiing during the day. Night will bring a whole new atmosphere. I’m curious to see how the trails change, the mountain changes and my experience changes by skiing under a dark sky. Keystone offers skiing until 9pm and with sun setting around 5pm now, that’s a solid 4 hours of trail time. Bonus: watching sunset while up on mountain must be magical.
Snowshoe under the Stars
Another evening event on my list, but this slower paced activity will have my eyes turned up instead of down. A Stargazing Snowshoe tour at Northstar sounds like my ideal way to appreciate nature. It combines a bit of exercise with majestic woodland trails –something most people don’t usually do at night. And all of this is under a blanket of winter stars.
Take a Sleigh to a Yurt
Park City, Utah
I’ve never been in a yurt, let alone one at 8700 feet, so clearly I am adding this Park City dinner experience my bucket list. The Viking Yurt, heated only by a woodstove, serves up a gourmet meal to 40 people each night at wooden tables holding pewter tableware. And just getting there sounds like half the fun! You hop in a heated sleigh and a snowcat pulls groups up the 1800 feet elevation. Of course, being greeted with Glogg, live piano tunes and a serious menu of alpine specialities, (braised short ribs with lingonberry sauce!) is the kirsch on top of this memorable night.
Fat Bike on Snow
Biking is one of my favorite activities–mountain biking, road biking, beach biking–I love them all. However, I’ve never attempted hurtling down a snow-packed trail on a bike! The ‘fat bike’ trend is exploding all over the globe–it is popular in the Swiss alps, where I had a blast on a similar monster scooter during the summer. The literally fat-wheeled bikes make it possible for even beginners like myself to trek down mountain trails, over rocks, holes and other terrain that would make you wary on a regular bike. In Breckenridge, several outfitters like Breck Bike Guides, offer full and half day fat bike tours in winter. From my brief experience, I can say that fat biking is adrenaline pumping to say the list. Now I have to get to Breckenridge to try it on snow!
Aprés Ski like a Rockstar
I love a good après ski but apparently Heavenly takes it to a whole new elevation. The Unbuckle Après party at 9150 feet is more Vegas club party than your typical post ski hot toddy. High intensity beats, half priced drinks and the Heavenly Angels all kick this party up a notch–but don’t worry, this party ends at 5:30pm so you won’t be here all night. What I particularly love is the idea of taking the gondola back down to town after sunset.
Brunch with Champagne at 11,000 feet
Nothing says decadence like champagne for breakfast. At Alpenglow Stube, a AAA Four Diamond restaurant on the top of Keystone, you can sip that champagne while looking out on breathtaking views of North Peak. Dinner is pricier but brunch will run you $56, but it includes a mimosa, extravagant buffet spread as well as soup and indulgent main course.
This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of Vail Resorts. The opinions and text are all mine.