Top Ski Towns for Nonskiers
Best Ski Towns for Nonskiers
The best ski towns for nonskiers are any of the Colorado ski resorts that have a town at or very nearby the resort itself. This is true for the big-name resorts in Colorado such as Aspen, Vail, Breckenridge, Steamboat, and Telluride. Depending on the interests of the non-skiers in your group and the resort requirements for the skiers, will determine the best ski towns to vacation in.
That doesn’t rule out Colorado’s lesser-known resorts. Although these “Gem” resorts usually don’t have much at their base area, towns are close by. These nearby towns can frequently have the most extensive selection of things to do for the nonskiers and offer more affordable attractions.
Aspen - Luxury
Aspen, Colorado, is a beautiful town any time of year. Acquiring its name from the abundance of Aspen groves in the area, you can expect a shimmering mountain landscape and an eclectic mix of intellectual people to welcome you. During the 20th century, it became a popular retreat for celebrities and maintains its “rich and famous” reputation today. Visiting Aspen is stepping into life on a more surreal level.
Originally founded around 1879 during the silver boom era but eventually dwindled. By 1930 less than 1000 people resided in Aspen. However, in the 1950s, industrialist Walter Paepcke was fundamental to developing Aspen Mountain ski area and the town. Additionally, he helped develop three institutions: the Aspen Music Festival and School, the Aspen Institute, and the Aspen Center for Physics.
As a nonskier, you can take your time diving into Aspen’s extraordinary culture in a variety of ways. An overwhelming intellectual influence can be discovered by attending any number of ongoing events. Music and the arts are always making an appearance either in local venues or special events hosted throughout the year. Lectures, museums, performing arts, and other cultural events are always on tap. If a luxurious endeavor is on your list. Aspen sets the standard for spas, retreats, or any other type of self-awareness experience you are after.
Staying in the town of Aspen is choosing among exquisite hotels, lodges, and B&Bs. Or a selection of some of the finest home rentals, condominiums, and private residence clubs available in Colorado.
The town of Aspen encompasses less than 4 square miles. Some areas are denser than others, but the town has an inviting flow with walkways, bike paths, and vehicle access. It’s an enjoyable place to wander around, stopping in at coffee shops, checking out the latest at upscale mountain boutiques, or dining at some of Colorado’s finest cuisine.
Aspen Mountain Ski Resort
Aspen Mountain ski area is a resort for the intermediate and above level skier or snowboarder, and neighboring Aspen Highlands is an expert-only area. If you are truly a non-skier, then visiting the town of Aspen will be a delight; however, if you are a non-skier, you might want to check out getting on skis for the first time. You will need to travel down the Roaring Fork Valley, back towards Basalt, and anticipate having your lessons at Buttermilk Resort.
Vail - Everything and more
Vail is located right off Interstate-70, about 30 minutes east of Frisco. Unlike many other mountain towns, Vail has always been a ski resort. It has roots with Pete Seibert, a local rancher and former member of the 10th Mountain Division, who identified Vail as an ideal location for a ski mountain in the early 60s.
The Villages at Vail
The resort has since developed into a series of villages or base area locations. All of which have a European style of architecture and layout. Each of these villages is connected with pedestrian walks and a free in-town shuttle system that follows Gore Creek from Vail Village to Lionshead. Vail Village and Lionshead both have centrally located ice rinks, adding an element of dazzling to the village-lined shops.
Enjoy wandering through the cobblestone streets and popping in and out of unique boutiques to outdoor gear shops. You can expect to add to your formal wardrobe, demo sporting equipment, or find the latest kids' trends in clothing and more.
Dining in Vail is its own sporting activity and certainly a delight for the “foodies” within your group. There are many choices, from pizza to cafes and establishments serving those with more gourmet palates.
Nonskier To Do List at Vail
There is no shortage of events and activities in Vail. The town of Vail has a variety of ongoing events to satisfy all types, such as special yoga workshops and various intellectual retreats to an endless list of music shows. Separately, Vail Mountain hosts a robust list of signature events and winter activities, like equipment demo days, music festivals, ski & snowboarding events, and various classes.
Spa and Wellness Centers
You can expect to find state-of-the-art fitness centers and spas. Facilities that include private hot tubs, steam rooms, dry saunas, facial rooms, co-ed relaxation lounges, and more.
Vail Ski Resort
If you’re truly a non-skier, Vail will keep you engaged and stimulated. For those who might want to try out skiing or snowboarding. Vail is part of the Green Run Guarantee program, which promises that you’ll be skiing green runs in 3 lessons or your fourth lesson is free. Additionally, for the skiers and snowboarders in your group. Vail has extreme terrain, a Superpipe, terrain parks, and a large selection of beginner runs.
Vail is close to the Silverthorne/Dillion/Frisco/Breckenridge area. If you have a vehicle, visiting these other nearby towns and resorts opens up even more opportunities for alternative outdoor activities and a plethora of shopping and dining establishments.
Breckenridge - Extravagantly Colorado
Breckenridge or “Breck” is in the heart of Colorado’s premier ski country. Less than 10 miles south of the Frisco/Silverthorne/Dillion corridor lies the town of Breckenridge. The town and resort are situated at the base of the Tenmile Range, which provides a bounty of expansive views and Rocky Mountain terrain to explore. Similar to many Colorado mountain towns, Breck was initially established during the gold rush of the mid-1800s.
The dated Victorian core of this town has been preserved as the Breckenridge National Historic District, which runs primarily along Main Street. The buildings and shops are colorfully painted, and many have retained the traditional clapboard and log exteriors that add to Breck’s charm.
Breckenridge Ski Resort
For the nonskiers in your group, the resort promotes an endless list of special events, such as snow sculpture championships, music festivals, art exhibits, and designated family-friendly activities. Suppose you are a nonskier who is considering giving it a try. Breck, as part of the Vail Resorts ownership, honors the Green Run Guarantee program, which promises that you’ll be skiing green runs in 3 lessons, or your fourth lesson is free.
Nordic Centers and Free Groomed Trails
The Breckenridge Nordic Center is a full-service shop that offers ski and snowshoe rentals and sales of equipment and gear. Enjoy 40 km of groomed trails. Sign up for lessons and guided tours or check out their snowcat adventure tours. The traditional log cabin-style lodge has a restaurant and a large stone fireplace.
Gold Run Nordic Center provides an additional 27km of groomed trails. On-site rentals, lessons, and guided tours are available for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and fat-biking. You can even take a horse-drawn carriage ride.
Free Groomed Trails
Take advantage of Summit County’s groomed rec path. This extends from Breck’s rec center to Frisco’s Adventure Park, over 8 miles of free groomed trails used for cross-country skiing, skate skiing, fat biking, snowshoeing, and other non-motorized uses. Ready for more? Adventure out onto Breck’s interconnected trail system. Countless miles of trails to be explored on nordic skis or snowshoes.
Getting around Breck
Most lodging is within walking distance of Main Street, plus many outfits have free shuttles. The BreckConnect Gondola does just that, transporting people directly from the resort to downtown in minutes. The town is easy to explore on foot or bike, and the free bus makes getting around town even more accessible.
Frisco/Dillon/Silverthorne - Colorado's Corridor
The towns of Frisco, Dillon, and Silverthorne are located right off I-70 on the shores of Lake Dillon. They may not have a ski resort within their town limits, however, they are the central hub of five nearby ski resorts and offer many year-round mountain activities.
Dillon and Silverthorne are neighboring towns located on the northern end of Lake Dillon. Nearby are the ski resorts of Loveland Ski Area, Keystone Ski Resort, and Araphaoe Basin Ski Area.
Silverthorne is a creative and cultural hot spot, home to a state-of-the-art performing arts center, public art displays, and many town events including the town's signature event series, First Fridays. If you enjoy shopping, be sure to check out the Outlets at Silverthorne and take home some great souvenirs.
Dillon is the outdoor lover's dream. In the summer, Dillon's primary attraction is sailing on or hiking around Lake Dillon, but when the lake freezes over that doesn't stop visitors from enjoying all that the lake has to offer. Cross-country ski a groomed trail around the perimeter of Lake Dillon, drop in for a Hockey or Broomball game at the Community Ice Rink or take in a show at Dillon Amphitheater, located right on the shore of Lake Dillon.
7 miles south of Silverthorne and Dillon on I-70 is Frisco, a charming 1870s mining town and "Main Street to the Rockies". Frisco is only 7 miles from Copper Mountain Ski Resort and 10 miles from Breckenridge, but there is no need to leave Frisco to enjoy winter in the mountains. You can go snow tubing at the Frisco Adventure Center, cross-country skiing at the Frisco Nordic Center, or enjoy a meal at one of the many great restaurants and breweries.
Lodging in Dillon, Silverthorne, and Frisco is more affordable than staying at the resort, the Summit Stage bus will take you the rest of the way for free, and options for aprés ski and off-slope activities increase.
Favorite Non-skiing Outdoor Activities
- Snow Tubing at Frisco Adventure Center
- Cross-Country Skiing on Groomed Trails around Lake Dillon or at the Frisco Nordic Center
- Horse-drawn Sleigh Rides
- Ice Skate or Play Hokey on Keystone's Lake
- Hike or Snowshoeing one of the many trails
- Explore Frisco's Historic Park and Museum
- Attend a Performance at the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center
- Watch a concert at the Dillon Amphitheater
Telluride - Extreme & Spoiled
Telluride is an adventure for both the non-skier and the most daring skiers and snowboarders. The town of Telluride is the county seat and the most populous town of San Miguel County. The town’s meager 2.22 sq miles, resides at the end of a box canyon with Bridal Veil Falls at the canyon’s head. The nearest town to Telluride is Ridgeway which is 39 miles down the valley. The isolated location of Telluride, combined with the small population of approximately 2,600, gives Telluride a uniquely warm, and cozy feel.
The town and community of Telluride is an established area steeped with historical mining character and dominant Victorian architecture.
Mountain Village is a sister village to Telluride that sits slightly above but very close to Telluride. You can even ride the free gondola, which connects the two towns. Taking the gondola is not only a convenient way of getting around, but it’s an excellent way for the non-skier to experience the dramatic mountain vistas that cannot be seen from town. Plus a fun group activity for all to participate in.
Nonskier Places To Go - Things To Do
Events and activities are big in Telluride at any time of the year. You can expect to find various music venues, art exhibits, and more. Wandering around Telluride will reveal the mix of modern eclectic and old-time history that gives the town a distinctive character. We recommend signing up for a historical walking tour via the local museum to learn more. While touring, you will certainly locate several shops, cafes, restaurants, and spas to revisit. Ask your guide about these “other” places to get some more insights.
Outdoor activities for the nonskier
If learning to alpine ski or snowboard is definitely off the table, but you still want to have a Colorado outdoors adventure, here are some other activities to consider.
- Cross-country skiing at Telluride’s nordic center
- Guided snowmobiling
- Sled dog ride
- Dinner horsedrawn sleigh ride
- Indoor or outdoor ice skating
Spas and Wellness Centers
Telluride has a selection of spas and wellness centers. There’s nothing better than a message after an outdoor Colorado activity or just taking time to work on those ailing aches and pains.
f you're a nonskier that has come to Telluride because your other group members want to experience the extreme terrain, and you’re thinking about trying skiing or riding but certainly not on the same level. Well, you’re in luck. Their ski school offers a super great deal on an all-day private beginner lesson for only $295, equipment included.
Steamboat - Laidback with options
Steamboat Resort is located in northwest Colorado, a once historically significant western frontier town. The development of the ski area during the 50s transformed this cowboy town into a very modern, cosmopolitan western outpost. Unlike most of Colorado’s mountain towns, Steamboat was never hugely impacted by mining. Instead, it has always been a lush country rich with wild game and favorable to cattle ranching.
Visiting Steamboat as a nonskier opens doors to the many activities in Steamboat. The resort has an ongoing list of events and events sponsored by the town of Steamboat. There is always a host of music venues, comedy, art exhibits or shows, demo days, and more happening around town.
Favorite Activities for the Nonskier
- Shopping & Dining
- Spas and wellness centers
- Strawberry Park Hot Springs
- Tread of Pioneers Museum
- Ice Skating
- Snow biking
- Sledding hill
- Dinner Sleigh Rides
If you're a nonskier, who is considering learning to ski or snowboard. Steamboat is a great place to give it a try. There is an extensive ski school with many options, from private to group lessons, and a large amount of beginner terrain.
The resort base area has a central ice rink which is also the front for many restaurants, shops, and lodging establishments. The resorts often host music and other events in this area. The entire resort base area is spread out but easily accessible by walkways and the free bus.
The original town of Steamboat is just a few miles away and is also accessible via the same free bus. The free bus makes getting around the resort area, including accessing all the different condominium complexes, grocery stores, and getting to Old Town Steamboat easy. Although if you have a vehicle, your off-the-slopes itinerary will be much more flexible.
Old Town Steamboat
Old Town Steamboat has plenty of shops and quality restaurants to choose from, including wellness spas and salons. The jewel of downtown Steamboat is Howelsen Hill. Howelsen Hill is the original historical ski area of Steamboat and is the training center that has produced 100 Olympic athletes and counting.
Old Town Hot Springs is also in downtown Steamboat featuring several natural hot spring pools. It’s also a health and wellness center that includes a gym, swimming pool, and offers massage services.
Both the resort and downtown area are connected by a core trail for bikes and pedestrians. In downtown, the core trail follows the Yampa River providing an urban riverwalk that accesses Howelsen Hill, Budwerner Library, city parks, and more.
Lodging in Steamboat comes in a variety of places and types. Ski-in-ski-out is abundant around the slopes and continues out from there with condos, hotels, motels, and B&Bs. There is certainly no shortage of lodging choices, ranging from luxurious expensive to more economy basic motel-type accommodations.