In White River National Forest, at the base of Vail Mountain, you’ll find Vail, CO, a resort town known for its skiing and snowboarding. The town has 5,305 permanent residents, and there are around 5,000 more people that live in Vail on a part-time basis.
While Vail sees lots of tourists during the winter, the town also brings in plenty of visitors in the summer thanks to its cultural festivals and hiking trails. It’s also a culinary hotspot, with everything from upscale gourmet restaurants to casual diners.
Vail takes strong inspiration from European ski towns, and because of that, it’s easy to get around the town without a car. It has a strong public transit system, and many parts of the town are very walkable. If you’re a fan of this resort town, these 20 towns like Vail, CO also deserve a closer look.
1. Telluride, CO
When you visit this mining town, you’ll see plenty of old Victorian buildings along its streets. In fact, the downtown area has been designated as a National Historic Landmark. Of course, skiing is the big draw in Telluride, with slopes for every ability level.
Much like Vail, Telluride brings in lots of tourists in the summer thanks to its large golf courses. After a long day on the slopes — or on the greens — you can enjoy meals at one of the town’s award-winning restaurants. The cost of a stay here can vary wildly based on where and when you stay, with nightly rates anywhere from $119 to $798.
2. Sun Valley, ID
Whether you’re an experienced skier or a novice, you’ll have a great time on the slopes in Sun Valley. This resort town is home to two mountains and offers a variety of slopes. While tourism rates peak in the winter, Sun Valley attracts visitors in the summer season as well, offering activities like mountain climbing, hiking, and horseback riding.
Over the years, many celebrities have spent time in Sun Valley, including Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has visited the town so many times he has a ski run named after him. Sun Valley also has a thriving art scene that includes art galleries and cultural festivals. Hotel costs fluctuate across the year, with prices from $99 to $325 a night.
3. Waitsfield, VT
Waitsfield isn’t the most famous ski town in Vermont, but it is an amazing spot for winter sports, with two ski resorts near by. Like in Vail, it’s easy to ditch your car when you visit Waitsfield thanks to its free bus service. If you visit during the summer, you can enjoy Warren Falls, a series of waterfalls that offers cliff jumping and natural swimming holes.
This resort town is tiny, with a population of just 1,844 people, and it tends to be on the quiet side. Of course, for many visitors, that only adds to its overall appeal. The hidden gem status of Waitsfield also means you can enjoy reasonable hotel prices, with rates starting at only $80 a night.
4. Park City, UT
If you’ve visited Vail, CO before, there’s a good chance that Park City will feel familiar to you. This main resort in this ski town, Park City Mountain Resort, is actually owned by Vail Resorts, Inc, the owners of the Vail Ski Resort.
Of course, even if you’ve visited plenty of ski resorts in the past, Park City is likely to impress you. It offers an impressive 7,300 acres of skiing, making it the largest ski area in the entire United States. You can expect to pay about $200 a night for a room here on average.
5. Durango, CO
Anyone looking for a quieter ski town in Colorado will want to check out Durango, a resort town that’s just to the north of the New Mexico border. Although the resort here is on the smaller side, you’ll still find slopes that are suitable for both newcomers and more experienced skiers.
You’ll also find attractions that don’t involve skiing in Durango, like the Railroad Museum and the Powerhouse Science Center, which offers interactive exhibits that kids will love! The cost of a stay here is very reasonable, with nightly rates starting at only $60 a night.
6. Leavenworth, WA
Vail took a lot of inspiration from European ski towns, and so did Leavenworth. This town is known for its snowy slopes, but it’s also famous for its Bavarian-style architecture and German restaurants. It’s also another resort town that attracts tourists year-round thanks to its Oktoberfest festivities and attractions, like the Nutcracker Museum.
It goes without saying that you can enjoy winter sports in Leavenworth, but in the summer, you can also partake in water sports at Waterfront Park. If you’re looking for a destination that’s bursting with charm, this is definitely a town you’ll want to visit. Hotel rates in Leavenworth average somewhere between $170 and $250 a night.
7. Truckee, CA
In Truckee, you can enjoy both sunshine and skiing! This Californian mountain town averages 275 sunny days per year. Much like in Vail, you don’t need a car to enjoy Truckee thanks to its free public bus and walkable streets.
Skiing and snowboarding are the main attractions when you visit Truckee in the winter, but if you come during the summer, you can enjoy rafting and kayaking on the Truckee River. Truckee also offers a diverse selection of restaurants that includes breweries and fine dining establishments. You can find plenty of deals on accommodations, especially during the off season, but average nightly rates fall between $200 and $350.
8. Killington, VT
Located 90 miles north of Boston, Killington offers breathtaking scenery and over 3,400 acres of ski-friendly terrain. This central Vermont town also has a lot to offer when you visit outside the ski season thanks to its hiking trails and attractions like Pico Adventure Center, an amusement park.
With a population of only 811, Killington is a very small town that primarily relies on tourism. Even though the town is tiny, it’s home to the largest ski area in the northeast. Hotel prices in Killington tend to be economical, with rates starting at $79 a night.
9. North Conway, NH
North Conway is another ski town that draws inspiration from the resorts of Europe. One of the most popular resorts in the town, the Mittersill Alpine Resort, was directly modeled after a resort in Austria. You can also see a European influence on the town’s architecture.
The town was once home to world-famous ski instructor Hannes Schneider. Because of that, North Conway plays an important role in both American and European ski history. A stay in North Conway can run anywhere from $90 to $199 per night.
10. Bend, OR
In Bend, you’ll find more than 3,000 acres of skiable terrain as well as activities you can enjoy when the ski season ends, such as mountain biking trails and a volcanic area with regular tours. If you venture into the downtown area, you’ll find plenty of locally-owned shops and restaurants.
This Pacific Northwest town has a laid-back vibe that makes it the perfect location for a getaway. The 93,917 people that live in Bend love the area thanks to its pleasant weather and low cost of living. You’ll also find low hotel prices here, with nightly rates beginning at $59.
11. Grand Targhee, WY
This under-the-radar resort town has multiple peaks and more than 500 inches of snowfall per year, but it doesn’t have the long lines you sometimes see during peak season in Vail. It’s a quiet place to ski and get away from it all. When you take a break from the slopes, you’ll love spending time in Grand Targhee’s charming base village.
Grand Targhee isn’t a great destination for novices, but intermediate and experienced skiers will find a lot to love here. You can find plenty of warm-weather attractions in the area as well, like hiking and boating. While your lodging options are limited, you can find resort rooms at around $175 per night.
12. Bellingham, WA
If you’re searching for a ski area that offers a range of terrain, you’re sure to love Bellingham. You can enjoy backcountry runs and pristine slopes while you’re here, with options for everyone from beginners to skiers with more experience. Each year, Bellingham hosts the Ski to Sea Race, a competitive event that includes cross-country and downhill skiing, snowboarding, biking, and kayaking.
As you might expect, Bellingham is suitable for all kinds of outdoor activities, with hiking trails, cycling paths, and calm waters. It has a population of 92,314, making it much larger than resort towns like Vail, but tourism is still a major industry. This is a fairly affordable place to stay, with hotel rates beginning at $70 a night.
13. Schweitzer, ID
Even though Schweitzer is home to the biggest ski resort in Idaho and Washington, it’s a surprisingly underrated destination. The town gets its name from a local legend about a Swiss man who abandoned his home to live in the mountains. While Schweitzer mostly sees visitors in the winter, it’s located right alongside Sandpoint, a beach town.
You’ll find a solid 3,300 of terrain for skiing and snowboarding here, with options for skiers of any skill level. Since the town sees an average of 300 inches of snow, the ski season is fairly long. Nightly hotel rates are reasonable, with prices starting at $165.
14. Pagosa Springs, CO
You’ll find incredible slopes when you visit Pagosa Springs, as well as terrain that’s perfect for cross-country skiing. However, this town’s biggest draw isn’t actually its ski slopes. People flock to Pagosa Springs because of the natural hot springs that give the town its name.
The downtown area in Pagosa Springs is on the smaller side, but because of that, it’s very walkable. You’ll find all kinds of incredible restaurants on its streets, including some award-winning eateries. There’s a dramatic difference in hotel prices based on where you stay, with rates anywhere from $90 to $470 per night.
15. Ketchum, ID
Ketchum is located right alongside Sawtooth National Forest, which means you can enjoy outdoor activities here all year round. With that said, the town is best known for skiing, as well as other winter sports like snowboarding, sledding, snowshoeing and ice skating.
There’s no shortage of beginner-friendly ski terrain in Ketchum, but there are some very challenging runs here as well. Like in Vail, there are also plenty of restaurants you can enjoy after a day of skiing. You’ll find affordable and luxury rooms in Ketchum, with rates ranging from $80 to $435 a night.
16. McCall, ID
You’ll find a little bit of everything in this European-inspired ski town. With challenging runs, backcountry skiing, and slopes that are perfect for kids, this is a particularly great destination for families. There are plenty of other fun winter activities as well, like horse-drawn carriage rides through the snow and docile elk that you can hand-feed!
Much like Vail, McCall doesn’t slow down during the summer. You can find hiking trails, state parks, and even a small beach within the town’s limits. Hotel rates can vary throughout the year, but they average out to around $200 a night.
17. Salida, CO
Often referred to as the “Heart of the Rockies,” this Colorado mountain town offers yearround activities for all age groups. You can soak in the natural hot springs, raft along the Arkansas River, or enjoy the town’s thriving culinary scene. If you’re looking to ski, Monarch Mountain is just a short drive away.
Because Salida is almost 5,000 feet below Monarch Mountain, it often has warmer and dryer weather than you’ll find on the slopes. This makes it possible to enjoy activities like skiing and cycling on the same vacation! You can also find great deals on hotels here, with nightly rates as low as $50.
18. Whitefish, MT
Whitefish is a vibrant small town with opportunities for skiing, paddleboarding, and so much more. No matter what the season, you’ll find lots to see and do in Whitefish, especially when you explore its charming, walkable downtown area. It’s a great spot for foodies, with cuisine from all over the globe.
One of the most popular spots to grab a bite in Whitefish is Sweet Peaks, an ice cream shop that’s known for its unique flavors. It’s a beautiful town that offers opportunities for both relaxation and adventure. The town has some very inexpensive hotels, but the average nightly rate for a room is $180.
19. Brian Head, UT
There aren’t many people that call Brian Head home; it has a population of just 83 people! However, the Brian Head Ski Resort, which spans over 650 acres, brings in plenty of visitors. There are two connected mountains at the resort, with 71 runs in total.
Unlike Vail, you won’t find much to do in Brian Head when ski season is over. With that said, the ski season here is fairly long, with an average annual snowfall of 360 inches. Even in the winter, you can find hotel prices as low as $100 a night here.
20. Georgetown, CO
Located 40 minutes outside of Denver, Georgetown is a fantastic spot for all kinds of outdoor adventures. You can enjoy hiking, boating, and fishing, as well as skiing and snowboarding at the Loveland Ski Area. Georgetown has a population of just 1,118 today, but it was once a thriving mining town, and glimpses of that history can still be seen when you visit the town today.
You’ll also find plenty of bars, restaurants, and other eateries in the area, including craft breweries and award-winning restaurants with seasonally changing menus. There are plenty of reasonably-priced hotels in the area as well, with rates starting at $70.