Best Authentic Ski Towns
Feb 2, 2019
A ski holiday doesn’t have to mean being stuck on the side of a mountain with nothing to do (other than skiing of course). There are plenty of resorts where the towns and villages are as much a part of the experience as the skiing. Here’s a selection of Scout’s favorite authentic ski towns.
Telluride is Scout’s pick for one of the best ski towns in North America. It has great shopping, fine dining and a happening nightlife all in one of the most picture-perfect settings. Rocky mountaintops form the backdrop to a historic main street lined with quaint buildings from an era gone by. And it’s one of the easiest resorts to get around- everything is within walking distance meaning there’s no need for a car and rarely a bus. Even if you’re staying in the mountain village there’s a free town gondola that runs until 2am each day.
You can't get more authentic mountain town than Jackson Hole. From the moment you step off the plane you are in awe of the stunning beauty of the Grand Tetons, making you truly feel like you're in the wilderness of Wyoming. In the town of Jackson you'll find plenty of awesome shops, bars and restaurants and you can even pop on some skates and have a whirl on the ice in the town square. If you were wanting to further experience a true ski mountain town, pull up a seat (or saddle!) at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar, hit up the dancefloor for some boot scootin' moves and rub shoulders with the friendly locals. Yee-Haw!!
Aspen was made famous by the rich and famous, but is home to some of the friendliest, most down-to-earth ski town locals. This town has it all; historic buildings, galleries, boutiques, designers, jewelers, 5-star restaurants and cocktail bars. When the sun goes down and the fairylights come on, the town transforms into a magical winter wonderland. Don your fur and jump on a horse-drawn carriage for your ride to dinner if you must, but walking the streets at night is equally as fun (and easy).
Sun Valley is a wonderful gem with a long skiing history and an authentic cowboy charm. It was the first place in the world to have a ski lift (in 1936), and in its heyday, it attracted frequent visitors from Hollywood. The town itself has a wonderfully laid back atmosphere, aided by the lovely historic buildings that line the streets. It feels like a real locals’ town, and you're sure to make some new friends at the bar or on the chairlift!
Revelstoke has seen a huge surge in populartiy in recent years thanks to increased coverage of its slopes and back country. Not surprisingly the town has drawn a huge population of hard core skiers that stay for the season - or forever. For this reason we choose it as one of our favourite authentic ski towns because you can't help but get excited about skiing when visting.
When it comes to authentic ski towns in the US, Crested Butte tops our list. The historic mining town is down-to-earth and its residents are friendly and fun (and hard working ski bums!). With plenty of great restaurants and tons of bars, Crested Butte is perfect for those looking to enjoy relaxed but high-quality Colorado hospitality.
Of all the Japanese ski resorts we rate Nozawa Onsen as our favourite ski village. Historic, quaint and lacking in considerable Western development (though not westerners) Nozawa is where you can get a real taste for Japan while enjoying a ski holiday. Relax in one of the village's 12 public onsens or eat eggs cooked in natural hot springs. With dozens of tiny resaurants and a bunch of great bars it's perfect for those wanting to do more than just ski.
A walk down the main streets of Chamonix will reveal two things: firstly there is some great shopping for the adventure seeker (we're not talking fine fashion) and secondly, everyone here looks like they should be in a ski movie. Harness wearing, fat ski carrying ski junkies flock here and it's not surprising why, thanks to the steep mountains that cause the backdrop to this great town.
Set in the spectacular Italian Dolomites, Cortina d'Ampezzo is the jewel in the crown of this famous ski region. The traditional, pedestrian friendly village is where Italy's finest come out and parade in fur coats while shopping, bar hopping and eating. This being Italy, the food is, of course, delicious and the drinks plentiful. It's a good thing you'll be skiing to burn it all off!
Perched up in the Swiss Alps, under the shadow of the mighty Matterhorn, Zermatt should be on the bucket list of all skiers. Its car-free streets and huge village is one of our favourites thanks to its traditional style and endless cafes, restaurants, bars and shops. While Zermatt has great skiing, it's the particularly perfect for groups with non-skiers as there is so much to see and do.
Visitors wandering around Engelberg Village are excused for thinking they accidentally landed in Sweden instead of Switzerland. Popular with some of Scandinavia's best freeskiers, many have now made it their home and they bring with them a sense of fun and adventure. Several of the hotels are owned by Swedes and the hipster style Ski Lodge Engelberg has some awesome parties. But at the end of the day it's still a somewhat quaint Swiss village (complete with Swiss cows).