Skiing has always headlined winter at Stratton Mountain, in Vermont. One of the East's larger ski areas, the resort has 2,500 skiable acres and 600 acres of marked trails, plus another 1,500 acres (the golf course) where they've laid down groomed tracks for cross country skiers. But for more than a few visitors, at least some of the attraction is actually indoors: the Sport Center's two indoor tennis courts, 25-yard swimming pool, basketball court and a steam room.
My favorite was the guided snowshoe trek which meets at the top of the Gondola. From here the trail winds across the summit to the far side and the site of a fire-lookout tower. On a blue-sky day, climb to the top for an aerial view of four mountain ranges: the Green Mountains stretching away beneath your feet, and in the distance, the White Mountains, Adirondacks and Alleghenies.
—KEYSTONE RESORT, Dillon, Colorado; (800) 468-5004; http://www.keystoneresort.com.
Your spouse, it seems, would rather paint the peaks than ski on them. No problem, I get that. So while he or she is capturing Keystone's silver shadows and snow-flecked pines in watercolors, head outdoors with snowshoes, or take the kids to the lakeside ice skating rink or the tubing hill, at Adventure Point.
But a more interesting option is fishing for trout in the Elk River, as good in winter as it is in summer. Hire a guide; they provide rods, reels and waders, and will provide the required out-of-state license. Most important, they know just where to find those special trout pools and riffles. Afterwards, pamper yourself at Keystone Lodge's Rock Resorts Spa, a 10,000 square-foot full-service facility, with massage rooms, relaxation therapy, an indoor swimming pool, a sauna and hot tubs. Powered entirely by solar and wind-turbines, and partially lit by natural light, this officially "green" spa uses only natural products.
—ASPEN MOUNTAIN, Aspen, Colorado; (800) 525-6200. http://www.aspensnowmass.com.
Aspen is the sort of ski town where people come for the mountain and stay for the lifestyle. By day three you'll notice that the gung-ho skiers that rode up with you on the Silver Queen Gondola to the summit of Ajax are now sunbathing in rows of deck chairs facing the mighty snow-capped peaks of the Maroon Bells.
Or start your ski day by joining one of the residents who don shorts for the daily (grueling) hike from the resort base to the summit; they wear hiking boots and walk on the edge of a groomed run.
At the top, join a naturalist-led snowshoe hike, scheduled twice a day. Or explore the valley below on a guided snowmobile tour; check starting times with local outfitters. Once again, layer up for a two-man paraglide launch off the top of Ajax; the pilot controls the glide — you are the passenger.
Window shopping is a must in this town, at least if you expect to say you've been here. At sunset, find a tapas bar then stay for dinner.
IF YOU GO:
Ski resorts offer some non-ski activities on site. Others, like horse-drawn sleigh rides, log cabin dinners, snowmobiling and fly fishing, may be provided by local outfitters or concessionaires. Advance reservations are advised and fees are separate.
Remember to dress warmly. Skiers stay warm because they're always moving. But snowmobilers, parasailors, fishermen and sleigh riders need a lot more layering. All ski resort websites list additional on and off-the-snow activities with details and contact information. Convention & Visitors' Bureaus also keep lists of recreation, entertainment, lodging and restaurants.
Anne Z. Cooke: email@example.com