Best Winter Resorts for Non-Skiing Fun

Alaskas Iditarod

Source: Within the Wild Alaskan Adventure Lodges

These resorts beckon with snow-rafting, glacier-climbing, and more.

Hike on High in Whistler

The British Columbia resort is consistently ranked as one of North America’s top ski destinations, but almost as many guests come for off-hill entertainment. The mountains reach 7,494 feet, so the best activities occur at elevation: Bungee jump from a bridge above the glacier-fed Cheakamus River ($105); fly over the snowy treetops of a 1,500-year-old rain forest on Canada’s longest zip line ($104); or work your way through bridges, boardwalks, and platforms suspended in the pines on a TreeTrek Tour ($32). All are close to the all-suite Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre ($453 per night), a resort with a heated outdoor saltwater pool facing the mountain.

Warm up: Pair Whistler Brewing Co. Powder Mountain Lager with poutine or nachos at the Garibaldi Lift Co. Bar & Grill. It’s situated below the Whistler Village gondola, with a direct view of the slopes.

From left: Whistler, North America’s best-rated peak; the gondolas of St. Moritz.

From left: Whistler, North America’s best-rated peak; the gondolas of St. Moritz.

Photographer: Swiss-Image/Daniel Martinek; Tourism Whistler/Mike Crane

Hide Out in the Alaska Range

A 50-minute flight from Anchorage, Winterlake Lodge (starting at $910 per night) offers insane views of the Trimble Glacier, Tordrillo Mountains, and Rainy Pass. The lodge, sitting on 15 acres overlooking a 2-mile-long lake, is best accessed via ski plane, which you book through the hotel ($325). There are no roads, no cell towers, and no neighbors, so guests—fewer than 100 of them—have empty trails to explore by snowmobile, snowshoe, cross-country ski, or dogsled, all provided free by the hotel. In March, when the lodge serves as a checkpoint for the Iditarod, staffers feed and house the mushers. Other guests, of course, get to meet the teams.

Warm up: Book a hot stone massage with the in-house therapist—one treatment and daily yoga classes are included with your room.

The Four Seasons Jackson Hole

The Four Seasons Jackson Hole

Source: Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole

Safari in Jackson Hole

National parks are swarmed come summer, but Wyoming’s Yellowstone is pleasantly relaxed—if a bit chilly—in the colder months. Splurge on the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole (starting at $589 per night), then sign up for a helicopter photo safari with one of the hotel’s in-house wildlife biologists (starting at $10,700 for three people) to spot elk, bighorn sheep, bears, and mountain lions from a safe distance. After landing, you’ll tour the park in a Mercedes SUV tricked out with top-of-the-line binoculars and eat meals such as roasted salmon with tzatziki sauce. When evening falls, head to Grand Teton National Park with the hotel’s resident astronomer for two hours of stargazing (starting at $400).

Warm up: Walk two minutes into Jackson to hit the bar at the Mangy Moose, an après-ski institution since 1967. Order the bison burger, listen to live bands, and spy on townies as they mingle with tourists.

Ice climbing outside of Reykjavik

Ice climbing outside of Reykjavik

Source: Icelandic Mountain Guides/Bjorgvin Hilmarsson

Scale Glaciers in Reykjavik

You don’t need experience to climb Iceland’s ice, just warm clothes and some rain gear. Book a one-day Solheimajokull tour with Icelandic Mountain Guides ($270). An experienced guide will provide gear—climbing boots, safety equipment, harnesses, and picks—then scout out the best vantage points as he teaches you proper form. On the way back to Reykjavik to get some rest at the sleek 101 Hotel (starting at $313), you’ll pass the Instagram-worthy Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls. You can also add on other activities such as viewing the northern lights or visiting the Golden Circle’s landmarks (from $216).

Warm up: Take a dip at Laugardalur ($5 admission for adults), Reykjavik’s largest outdoor swimming complex. It’s fed by a geothermal hot spring.

Go Night-Skiing in Niseko

One of the world’s snowiest towns—it gets about 46 feet a year—Niseko, Japan, also has the most extensive night-skiing terrain on the planet. Fly into Tokyo and take a two-hour flight to Hokkaido, then check into the Hotel Niseko Alpen (starting at $155 per night), the resort with the largest course, spanning about 5 miles. It’s a great place to learn: Evening runs are less crowded, and the fluorescent lighting makes it easy to see the contours of the slope. Feeling lazy? Try snow-rafting, in which you’re tugged behind a snowmobile ($21).

Warm up: Soak in one of the area’s 11 famous onsens—mineral hot springs. Hotel Niseko Ikoi-nomura’s space ($6 admission), blanketed by snow, is called the Hot Spring of the White Birch by locals, because it’s surrounded by pretty trees.

Skijoring in Aspen

Skijoring in Aspen

Source: Aspen Animal Shelter

Play With Dogs in Aspen

The dog-friendly St. Regis Aspen Resort (starting at $649) in Colorado recently introduced a new way to play with your pet: skijoring lessons ($150). Norwegian for “ski driving,” it combines cross-country skiing with dogsledding and has been popular in Scandinavia since the 1800s. A dog pulls you on skis for a few hours, but it’s no problem if you don’t bring your own—pooches are available on loan from the Aspen Animal Shelter, which gets a portion of the proceeds. If you really like your driver, adopt him ($100).

Warm up: Guests and their pets can relax in the Shadow Mountain Lounge at the resort. Pups are treated to doggy biscuits and “martinis”—water bowls—while you sip a hot toddy.

Fake the Olympics in St. Moritz

The impressive Swiss Alps, stunning lake, and relentlessly sunny days have made the enclave a chic wintertime destination for 150 years. Stay at the Kulm Hotel St. Moritz (starting at $390 per night), which has the best views of the mountains. Adrenaline junkies will want to brave the famed Cresta Run, a toboggan route where a rider can reach speeds of 87 mph ($689). Or try the Olympia Bob Run, the world’s last remaining natural-ice luge ($290). Less athletic folks may prefer a pickup curling match at a local rink, most of which offer free evening lessons.

Warm up: Head back to Kulm and its restorative spa, where you can alternate between various saunas, steam rooms, indoor pools, and infrared cabins ($87). Then throw back a classic French 75 at the adjacent Altitude Bar.

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