Top Ten Things to do at a Ski Resort (Besides Ski) - Page 2

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Water flowing into a hot-spring tub
Soak up some relaxation at a spa or hot-spring resort  (amanaimagesRF/Getty)

5. Dog Sledding
Dog Sledding is a fun and increasingly popular resort-area activity. If a resort has a nordic center, chances are they've got dog sledding, too, as most tours follow machine-groomed trails. Dog-sled outfits typically use teams of eight to ten dogs and sleds that are designed for two to four passengers. Most rides last about an hour, and cost $65 to 95 per adult and $35 to 45 per child. Some operators offer half-hour rides for less, while others welcome guests (i.e., kids) to help feed and water the dogs after the trip. Longer outings, even overnight, can be arranged at select sites. And just a reminder: Not all operators use huskies exclusively. While plenty of breeds make fine sled dogs, if not having huskies will diminish the experience for you, consider asking ahead.

4. Catch Some Views
Trams and gondolas give skiers and boarders easy access to big-mountain terrain and spectacular views. But what most people don't realize is that many trams and gondolas are open to non-skiers too, for a reasonable price. The mountaintop lodges invariably have sunny patios, meal service, restrooms, and maybe even wireless internet or a cracking fireplace. (At Squaw Valley, California, there's even an ice-skating rink with awesome views of Lake Tahoe.) Bring a book or your computer, and you can very happily wile away a day or afternoon. It's a great alternative to puttering around the hotel, and the skiing members of your family or group are more likely to visit you at a summit chalet than at the busy base lodge.

3. Expand Your Mind
If skiing all day, everyday isn't appealing to some members of your group, picking a resort with some interesting cultural outlets can be a smart move. True, ski areas aren't known for their refinement, but neither are they all hick towns. Aspen, Colorado, is famous for its arts and culture, where you can ski by day and catch a talk by the Dalai Lama or a B.B. King concert by night. Park City, Utah, and Sun Valley, Idaho, are legitimate cultural destinations, too, with museums, galleries, and special events (like the famous Sundance Film Festival, held in Park City in January). Lake Tahoe has nearby casinos with concerts, comedy, and other entertainment, and just about anywhere you go at least has a movie theater, which beats vegging out in front of the hotel TV.

2. Spas and Hot Springs
Nothing beats a hot and steamy soak after a long day of skiing, but you don't have to settle for the crowded, marginally clean hot tub at your hotel. Plenty of ski resorts are within a short drive of terrific natural hot springs, from small no-frills sites to full-service spas. The Rocky Mountains are especially rich; in Colorado alone there are Glenwood Springs near Aspen, Pagosa Springs near Wolf Creek, and Hot Sulpher Springs near Winter Park, all offering multiple pools and spa treatments, plus dining, lodging, and more. Lake Tahoe is known for cozier venues, like Grover Hot Springs, in the little town of Markleeville, and Walley's, on the Nevada side. After skiing and soaking, the hard part is rousing yourself enough to drive back to the hotel!

1. Wine and Dine
For some, eating out on a ski vacation means beer and potato skins. But foodies should not let the base cravings of the rest of us deter them from having a great meal. Certain resorts are known for their "après" scene; Aspen, Colorado, has raised afternoon imbibing to an art form, with bars and restaurants fielding après-only menus and hiring DJs just for the 4 to 6 pm rush. (And of course Aspen hosts the famous Food & Wine Classic; alas, it's held in June.) More and more resorts feature a mid-mountain restaurant open at night; expect gourmet prix-fix meals in a cozy rustic-chic setting, with a moonlight tram or snow-cat ride to get there and back—very cool.

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