You love the idea of being at a ski resort -- it's the slippery slope you can do without. You want to indulge in the parts of high-altitude fun that don't involve standing upright on a pair of skis: sitting by a roaring fireplace in a lodge, kicking back in a cute chalet, sipping hot chocolate or hot toddies in a mountainside restaurant, and chilling out in a hot tub. Heck, you're even willing to venture outdoors to try tubing and snowshoeing.
You just don't want to clamp your feet onto a pair of skis. Maybe you're afraid of breaking your leg or another crucial body part as you speed downhill at 95 mph, or of falling flat on your face as you disembark from the ski lift. Whatever your reason, you can still join skiing family members and friends on a ski trip and have a wonderful time off the slopes.
You outdoorsy types can tiptoe through trails on snowshoes as you watch birds perched in leafless trees, or wrap up in a warm blanket while horses pull you on a sleigh through the wintry landscape. And if you can drive a car, you can rent a snowmobile and whiz around snowy trails.
The licensed and unlicensed alike can steer their way down a hill on a snow bike, a nonmotorized vehicle constructed like a road bike, but without the wheels. It moves on a flat base and is propelled by gravity.
Several resorts have joined the latest trend and added tubing parks to their mountain attractions. Tubing offers the same thrill as sledding, but not the dreaded trudge up the hill. Once the tube reaches the end of the chute that it slides down, the rider needs only to
hook onto a tug and be pulled back uphill. It's sledding without the exhaustion.
One resort even offers paintball, a combination of tag and hide-and-seek that's popular with action-adventure fans.
If you are determined to stay indoors, you'll be glad to know that some resorts have fitness centers with workout rooms, indoor swimming pools, saunas and hot tubs. Others offer massages and facials. Many have full-service restaurants and one or more fireplaces, beside which guests can cuddle up with a cup of cocoa and a good book, content to enjoy a ski-less ski trip.
The following is a guide to the attractions at area ski resorts that don't require skis. In addition, in some cases, we've included information about things to do nearby the resorts. Note: The time in parentheses is the approximate driving time from Baltimore.
Wisp Ski Area, McHenry (3 hours)
Two bumps on each of its six snow chutes add variety to Wisp's Bear Claw Tubing Park. The Allegheny Mountain resort also offers snowshoe and snow-bike rentals.
For visitors intent on staying warm, Wisp Hotel has an exercise room, indoor heated pool, saunas, handball and racquetball courts and three restaurants with fireplaces.
Call 301-387-4911 or visit www.gcnet.net/wisp.
In McHenry, Garrett 8 Cinemas shows matinees of current movies.
Big Boulder, Lake Harmony/Jack Frost, Blakeslee (3 1/2 hours)
Seven miles apart in the heart of the Poconos, both Big Boulder and Jack Frost have a variety of tubing chutes, and claim to offer the world's biggest snow-tubing facility. Jack Frost also rents snowmobiles to holders of a valid drivers' license.
On Saturday evenings, cover bands play in the Big Boulder lodge. Jack Frost offers daytime
entertainment on weekends.