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The Best Day Trips from Anchorage

By Catherine Bodry
October 28, 2019
Seward Highway
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It’s no surprise that you’ll find some excellent day trips from Anchorage – wilderness is just a few steps out of downtown, with mountains, wildlife and adventure all on offer.

Perched on the very edge of the wilderness, Anchorage is the doorstep to an Alaskan adventure. Drive one of the two roads out of Anchorage for just 20 minutes in either direction, and the office buildings fade away and traffic lights turn into mountain-studded horizons, crystalline salmon streams and the bold promises of the Last Frontier.

It’s no surprise that you’ll find some excellent day trips from Anchorage. Wilderness is just a few steps out of downtown, with mountains, wildlife and adventure all on offer. These following day trips are our favorites.

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Girdwood

This little ski town – home to the state’s largest ski resort, Alyeska – is a 45-minute drive from Anchorage down the curvy two-lane Seward Highway. The drive itself is worth the trip as it’s lined on one side by the steep walls of the Chugach Mountains and Turnagain Arm on the other. You might spot Dall sheep, beluga whales, bald eagles, and the powerful bore tide churning up the Arm.

Once in Girdwood, you’ll have plenty of great options to fill your day. The town is nestled in a rainforest valley and ringed by gorgeous peaks. Hike one of the many excellent trails, including one that takes you to a hand tram across a gorge (the Winner Creek Trail). If your legs aren’t feeling up to a climb, ride the Alyeska Aerial Tram up to the top of Mt Alyeska. You’ll have panoramic views of Turnagain Arm and multiple glaciers, and definitely some pics for your social media accounts.

Don’t skip any meals in Girdwood; this tiny town has a disproportionate number of excellent restaurants. Try the Bake Shop for homey breakfasts and Jack Sprat for creative cuisine with a view. Come hungry and fuel up for your adventure, and then replenish those calories on the other side of it.

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Portage Valley

Another 20 minutes down the highway from the Girdwood turnoff is the gorgeous Portage Valley. This 14-mile-long valley is packed with hanging glaciers, a rushing pastel-blue river, and, at the end, namesake Portage Glacier. The Trail of Blue Ice wanders alongside the two-lane Portage Valley Rd, offering gentle and family-friendly terrain for walking or cycling.

At the end of the road is the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center, perched on a glacial lake bobbing with icebergs. Here you can watch an excellent film about the glacier, and learn more about this river of ice through interactive exhibits. Glacier viewing cruises to the face of Portage Glacier depart five times per day in summer.

Just past the visitor center is North America’s longest highway-railroad combo tunnel. The Anton Anderson Memorial Tunnel is 2.5 miles long and connects to the old military town of Whittier. Driving the tunnel is a unique experience and worth the exploration.

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Eagle River

In the opposite direction, about half an hour up the Glenn Highway, is Eagle River. At first glance, this Anchorage bedroom community offers a collection of stores and restaurants. But the town offers some excellent hiking and wildlife spotting opportunities. At the end of Eagle River Road is the Eagle River Nature Center. Family-friendly, the center offers talks, classes and guided hikes of the area. You can wander along Eagle River, where the mountains tower in vertical walls, or along shorter loops with interpretive signs. This area is one of your best bets for spotting moose and even bears.

Just off the highway from Anchorage is a turnoff for Hiland Rd. If you’re feeling up for an alpine hike, drive to the end of the road and head out to Eagle and Symphony Lakes. This trail meanders 5.5 miles through alpine meadows full of flowers and follows the south fork of Eagle River (really just a rushing stream at this point) until it reaches the two lakes at the end of a glacier-carved valley. The two lakes are markedly different from each other; one is a surreal, glacial blue, and the other dark and clear.

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Hatcher Pass

Nestled into the Talkeetna Mountains, which are sharper than the nearby Chugach, is the green and dramatic Hatcher Pass. You’ll drive up the winding Palmer-Fishhook Rd to Independence Mine State Historical Park, where you can explore the outbuildings and tailings of this once-prosperous gold mine. Take a self-guided tour or read up on the history at the visitor center and museum.

Several hiking trails branch off the road. One of the more popular ones is to Reed Lakes, a 7-9 mile round-trip hike that takes you to two ice blue lakes in a magical mountain ringed setting. It’s somewhat difficult and will take a full day, but the otherworldly valley is worth it.

Finish your day with a meal with a view at Hatcher Pass Lodge or drive back to the farming community of Palmer for a farm-to-table meal.

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Inspiration

Tap into The Spirit of The Desert in Tucson, Arizona

With 350 sunny days a year, Tucson is a wonderful place to see the great outdoors, especially at Saguaro National Park. And thanks to its eclectic mix of American, Mexican, and Native American culture, it’s also an excellent blend of Southwestern influences. From the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum to the Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures, this article will guide you through some of the best indoor experiences and attractions that Tucson has to offer. In no particular order, you’d do well to add one or all of the below to your bucket list: 1. See the world’s largest collection of grounded aircraft. Aircraft boneyards and parked airplanes are a big deal in Tucson. This is because the dry, clear, and mostly smog-free climate is an ideal place to minimize corrosion while storing them. What’s more, Tucson's alkaline soil is so firm that airplanes can be towed and parked on it without the need of a tarmac. Which is why the U.S. Air Force keeps an astonishing 4,400 reusable aircraft parked here. Although the government boneyards are closed to the public, you can get an impressive and up-close taste of them at the Pima Air & Space Museum, home to more than 350 specialty airplanes sitting on 80 acres of both indoor and outdoor display. 2. Learn how life survives in the desert. As indicated by the extreme temperatures and lack of perceivable life, it takes one tough cookie to survive the Sonora and greater Arizona deserts. That fight for survival is on full display at the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, which is a 98-acre outdoor zoo, indoor aquarium, botanical garden, art gallery, and natural history museum not far from the west entrance of Saguaro National Park. With two miles of designated trails, shade cover, and ice cream on site, it’s an enlightening way to soak in both state and Tucson history. It’s also a great way to see local wildlife, whether at one of two aviaries on display or at one of the coyotes, bears, mountain lions, or reptile exhibits. 3. Get campy at the award-winning Gaslight Theatre. For more than 40 years, the Gaslight Theatre has been spoofing pop culture, movies, and performing arts in a wonderful saloon-type setting. Known for its music (especially its talented pianist), laugh-out-loud acting, audience participation, and free popcom, its an unexpected but pleasant surprise. To get a taste of the variety on display, the theatre is currently parodying both Star Trek and James Bond, as well as cover concerts celebrating the music of Dolly Parton, Barbara Streisand, and Creedence Clearwater Revival. 4. Go back in time at the museum of miniatures. Even better than the famous Miniature Rooms at The Art Institute of Chicago, the Mini Time Machine Museum of Miniatures is a magical experience through time and place, as told by more than 300 miniature houses and decor in over 10,000 square feet of exhibit space. Looking at miniature houses dating back to 1742 might not seem like much, but most visitors stay up to two hours and leave unexpectedly delighted. “Jaw dropping,” wrote one recent visitor. “I was a little skeptical at first but will definitely go back,” wrote another. 5. See great southwestern art in a beautiful desert setting. Named a “National Register of Historic Places,” the DeGrazia Gallery in the Sun Museum rates just as well among visitors as it does art historians. Designed and built by acclaimed Arizona artist and architect Ted DeGrazia, the 10-acre site features world-famous painting, a mission, adobe gallery, and cactus courtyard just to name a few. Built in 1951, the setting and artwork on display is as surreal as it is inspiring. 6. Take the scenic car route. If you want to see the great outdoors while still beating the heat, consider scenic drives by car through either Saguaro National Park (both east and west sections), Mount Lemmon Scenic Byway, or the stunning Gates Pass via the Tucson Mountains. For even more good looks, you’d do well to visit the Franklin Auto Museum. For over 40 years, the classic car collection has displayed more than 20 antique Franklin automobiles in the center of Tucson. It’s only open from October to May, however, so plan accordingly. 7. Eat your heart out. Not fully Mexican and not quite Tex-Mex, Tucson has its own Southwestern flavor. You can try that first hand at Boca Tacos. Or at the oldest Mexican restaurant in the country at El Charros. But if you really want to go big, you could attempt the full 23 miles of the best Mexican food in America, as rated by UNESCO. BONUS: For an excellent and recently restored Spanish colonial church, visit Mission San Xavier del Bac. This article was independently commissioned for sponsorship by Visit Tucson. All editorial views are those of Budget Travel alone and reflect our policy of editorial independence and impartiality.

This content is sponsored by Visit Tucson
Inspiration

The Best Glamping Getaways In North America for Under $150

You don’t have to be Prince Harry on honeymoon to afford unforgettable glamping destinations. There are tons of budget-friendly glamping options throughout North America, places where incredible outdoor experiences are right next to plush hideaways. You just need to know where to find them. To research our new book, Comfortably Wild, we spent three years, traveling 73,000 miles across 9 countries in search of the best glamping destinations in North America. Even after staying at Relais & Châteaux treehouses and Forbes Five-Star Ranches, some of our favorite outdoor getaways were those under $150 a night. Packed with character, natural beauty, and unconventional experiences, these affordable picks will make you feel like you’ve struck it rich. Cassiar Cannery, British Columbia Take the train through the Canadian Rockies and along the Skeena River to the secret stop: Cassiar, the former metropolis of the BC fishing world. Over the course of 107 years, tens of thousands of workers from around the world ran 22 different canneries along these shores. The last one standing and longest consecutively operating cannery on the West Coast was none other than Cassiar. Walking the historic grounds with Justine Crawford and Mark Bell, owners of this salmon-cannery-turned-glamping retreat, this forgotten world comes into focus. With their vivid descriptions, you can imagine the expansive dock, net loft, machine shop, and general store bustling with life. The five jewel-colored cottages with waves lapping beneath their porches, once the homes of the cannery managers, are now yours to enjoy. Take a jet boat to see the remnants of fellow canneries, or catch some salmon of your own. Want to dig deeper into the area’s history, ecology, or meditative qualities? You’ll love their multiday retreats. Luna Mystica, New Mexico What do you get when you cross Airstream trailers, a brewery, a music venue, and snowcapped mountains with an art colony? Glamping heaven. Taos Mesa Brewery was built on 24 acres to relish the stunning scenery of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and have ample space for festival camping. Seeing people enjoy themselves at multiday concerts, brewery cofounder Dan Irion and his brother Ryan (a civil engineer that designs RV parks), had the brilliant idea to create Luna Mystica. Each camper has been renovated with the stories of their original owners and travel history top of mind. You’ll meet Ralphie, the Airstream who spent 55 years cruising the valleys of New Mexico, and Rosie, who was in a traveling circus and decorated to reflect her gypsy flair. Staying next to the hottest music venue in Taos affords a rare combo of being in nature and the heart of the action. For even more culture, you’re 15 minutes from the art galleries downtown and the Unesco World Heritage site of Taos Pueblo. Honaunau Farm, Hawaii With the opportunity to watch the lava flow at Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park, stargaze from the tallest mountain in the Pacific, and stroll green sand beaches, anyone would want to stay on the island of Hawaiʻi – but you’re the savvy traveler that knows a big-box hotel isn’t the way to experience its natural beauty. Stay at Honaunau Farm and you’ll have pristine forest all the way from your ocean-view cottage to Mauna Loa volcano. From this organic farm, you can easily access the tourist attractions while having the local insights and hands-on access to Hawaii’s bounty. See the landscape from the eyes of a permaculturist, learn the latest in medicinal hemp, take a class on regenerative farming, and eat all the tropical fruit you can carry back to your safari tent or tea house. Honaunau brings the Big Island back to its purest form. The Cozy Peach, Arizona Planting seeds since 1941, the Schnepfs are excellent farmers, nationally renowned for their peaches, but their ambitions were always bigger than stone fruit. Looking to celebrate the farming heritage of Maricopa County, Arizona, they have restored the area’s historic farmhouse buildings, created a U-pick veggie patch, and they host nearly 100 days worth of festivals per year. To further immerse guests into their 300 acres of orchards, forest, and fields, they opened Cozy Peach glamping, with 10 vintage travel trailers. Just the right blend of nostalgic and contemporary, each camper has been polished like a gem. Take one of the complimentary John Deere bicycles for a ride among 5,000 peach trees, and join the farm happenings – including gardening, a cooking class, or one of their multiday festivals with live music, vintage amusement rides, and crafts. Dreamsea Surf Camp, Costa Rica Tamarindo, Costa Rica, is known as one of the world’s best beaches to learn surfing. Dive in with a seven-night stay at Dreamsea’s surf-camp-meets-yoga-retreat. Settle into your bell tent, complete with private deck to enjoy the jungle’s tropical birds and acrobatic howler monkeys, and meet your professional instructors and new surf buddies. Try the breaks at any of their four neighboring beaches, then stretch it out each evening with some downward dog. Promoting a healthy lifestyle, the chefs embrace Costa Rica’s tropical bounty and spice it up with global recipes. Stay for a one- or two-week session (it’s all-inclusive for less than $100 per person per day), or make it a true Endless Summer by applying to be a volunteer in exchange for free room & board (yeah, both kinds). Mendocino Grove, California Many city folk like the idea of a nature getaway, but may feel a little better knowing that top-notch restaurants, art galleries, and Pilates studios are nearby (you know, in case of emergency). When the founders of Mendocino Grove spotted a property on the wooded bluffs of the Pacific, just a quarter-mile from downtown, they thought, “This is the yin and yang we all need.” Mendocino was once a prosperous logging town with Victorian mansions but today the 19th-century buildings are now home to bookstores, coffee shops, organic markets, and fantastic restaurants. Trees once cut at the mills are now protected by seven state parks within a 10-mile radius. From Mendocino Grove, you can access hikes into the grand fir forest, vegan white-tablecloth meals, and award-winning theater…without even getting into a car. Though with a camp this seductive, you might never make it to town. Breakfast is served in the meadow followed by weekend yoga, your tent has ocean views, and a s’mores kit can be delivered right to your fire ring. Good Knights, Alberta Inspired by the fanciful architecture, decor, and pursuits of medieval European nobility, Good Knights is where you can play princess and feel like a king. After a decade of hosting a Renaissance fair–style festival on their property in the Alberta countryside, they decided to keep the fantasy going for guests all summer long. They built a feast hall, longbow archery range, tournament field, classical arts studio, and lavish tents, all in 14th-century fashion. In 2017 they opened their wooden gates and were an instant hit with the fantasy crowd. But the real test of their success? Skeptics like us. We initially came for the novelty of Good Knights, but after seeing everyone dressed up, learning new skills, and frolicking in merriment, we couldn’t resist the magic of this place. Great Huts, Jamaica After working as a physician around Jamaica for decades, Dr. Paul Rhodes had a vision for a resort that would celebrate the country’s West African roots and aid his humanitarian work. Collaborating with local architects and artists, Great Huts has built African-inspired structures with motifs from the Akan, Igbo, Ibibio, Mandingo, and Yoruba tribes (from which most Jamaicans descend). Bamboo huts, almond treehouses, stone towers, millet silos, and royal-themed rooms showcase African art and antiques alongside local works. More than 250 pieces of art adorn the seaside property, and various cultural events, including four-day art and film festivals, happen throughout the year. A portion of each guest’s stay and all proceeds from the festivals support eastern Jamaica’s only homeless rehabilitation center, cofounded by Dr. Paul (as he’s fondly called around the island). If you’re looking for even more good vibes at Great Huts, just practice yoga overlooking the Caribbean Sea, soak in the cliffside pool, or dance the night away to live reggae. Campera Hotel Burbuja, Mexico One of the only bubble hotels in North America, Campera Hotel Burbuja’s spherical tents line up like a string of pearls against the Docepiedras vineyard of Baja California. A well-crafted French design pressurizes the bubble so that only a thin clear wall separates you from the vines and the Milky Way. Draw back the privacy curtains on your canopy bed and catch a shooting star without leaving your silky sheets. Wake up to a sea of vines and a day of vineyard hopping at Valle de Guadalupe’s 80 wineries, or just open your minibar to sample the wines grown from grapes outside your see-through door. Asheville Glamping, North Carolina Joanna Cahill doesn’t just own Asheville Glamping; she lives it. While dreaming up the concept for this ultra-hip glamp camp, Joanna lived in a yurt she built herself. When she was able to buy the rolling hills just 10 miles north of downtown, she moved into a vintage trailer to save up for geodesic domes. Today the 18-acre property is a glamper’s candy shop, with 5 completely different structures – from bell tents to treehouses. Having started this glamping business in her 20s, she knows what millennials want—a two-story dome with a corkscrew slide to get down to the living room. They want the opportunity to chill around a firepit with views to the Blue Ridge Mountains and hop an Uber when there’s a good indie band in “Beer City,” USA. So whether you’re a hipster or a hiker rolling through North Carolina, you know where to stay. This article is adapted from Comfortably Wild: The Best Glamping Destinations in North America, published by Falcon Guides and written by Mike & Anne Howard of HoneyTrek.com.

Inspiration

Seven Top Mural Hotels in the U.S.

Have you ever stayed in two different hotels on separate coasts and seen the same art prints in each? You’re not alone. Hotels have long rubber-stamped their art collections, though that’s changing. The Alexander hotel in Indianapolis, for one, has an accredited art museum curating its collection. Hotels are also coloring outside the frame and decorating with street-art-turned-interior-décor. Some hotels commission internationally known artists to create one-of-a-kind murals, while others hire locally to give the interior a distinctive sense of place. Either way, the muralists transform the hotels into pieces of art in their own rights. Here are seven hotels with the best – and yes, most Instagram-able – murals in the country. Mural by Asend at Hotel Chicago West Loop, courtesy of the hotel Hotel Chicago West Loop Chicago, Illinois Six rooms in Hotel Chicago West Loop’s art-centric annex immerse guests in Windy City culture. Chicago-based artists including Josh Grotto, Brandin Hurley, Elloo, and Ascend have lent their talents to mural rooms, which showcase Chicago architecture, music, and history. Ascend’s work is exhibited locally and internationally, including in top-notch art fairs like Art Basel; his paintings combine a classical approach to portraiture with contemporary backgrounds. When not in use, the street-art rooms are open for viewing, giving the public a chance to see the works outside hallowed museum halls or traditional galleries. The artistry is growing: In late 2019, street artists will install another six eye-popping guestroom murals. Art students will join the artists for mentorship during the installation of the new murals. Hotel Chicago West Loop plans eventually to install paintings in the majority of its 116 rooms. From $119 Nativo Lodge Albuquerque, New Mexico Heritage Hotels & Resorts called upon a stable of contemporary Native American artists to paint 47 guest rooms (and counting) with murals. The rooms feel like living inside an artwork; they touch every wall and even flow into the bathroom and vanity spaces. Their artwork is rooted in cultural traditions and symbolism, but it’s expressed in vibrant and surprising ways. For example, in Love Movement, Jaque Fragua researched pre-Columbian Mesoamerican pottery designs in the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, D.C. and expressed these designs in a hot-pink background splashed with gold paint. In Sustenance, Warren Montoya expresses traditional hunting practices of the Pueblo (Native American) people in the Rio Grande Valley. From $118. Hotel Des Arts San Francisco, California Hotel Des Arts certainly lives up to its artistic name: More than fifty guest rooms show installations or edgy, graffiti-art inspired murals. Internationally known street artists including Shepard Fairey, David Choe, Buff Monster, Jeremy Fish and Casey O’Connell have painted the one-of-a-kind room. David Cloe, a Los Angeles artist who painted room 304, has collaborated with everyone from Facebook to Jay-Z. Shepard Fairy, the South Carolina artist behind room 210, is perhaps most well-known for illustrating former President Barack Obama’s “Hope” campaign poster. From $159 Hotel McCoy Tucson, Arizona In its first life, Hotel McCoy was a 1969 motor lodge, but in the fall of 2018 new owners transformed it into an art hotel. Hotel McCoy has worked with 48 (and growing) Tucson artists on the outdoor murals, and via the lobby art gallery and in-room art. The murals capture Tucson’s creative side. They serve another purpose, too: “The inspiration behind my idea to incorporate art comes from my love of travel and addressing the feeling of homesickness that comes from it,” says Nicole Dahl, general manager and creative director. “When we travel, often our hotel leaves us feeling empty, disconnected if you will. We wanted to fix that and offer people a place where they could stay and feel a connection.” From $109 Hotel Vintage Portland Portland, Oregon Graffiti artist Andrew Horner freestyled three of Hotel Vintage Portland’s original murals in 2015. Just him, spray paint, and inspiration emanating from Portland’s sub-cultures. He incorporated Portland landmarks and symbols, like roses after the City of Roses’ nickname, in paintings located in a game lounge, downstairs hallways, and the main entrance stairwell. In 2016, this trio doubled when Viva La Free, a Portland non-profit that teaches at-risk youth to use art for healing, painted three additional murals on the fences of the Urban Soak Suites. The hotel is an urban outpost in Oregon’s wine country, the Willamette Valley, and the murals have a (perhaps surprising) similarity to wine: Just as a wine’s flavor blossoms with each sip, the murals reveal hidden elements over time. From $218 W Hotel Bellevue Bellevue, Washington The artists behind W Hotel Bellevue’s six murals may hail from outside the Pacific Northwest, but they certainly capture its vibe. Baltimore-based street artist Gaia gives a lesson in the past, present, and future of Bellevue in Settler Futurity. The towering, three-story mural on the main stairwell showcases the city’s agricultural roots with depictions of strawberry fields, and points to its present and future with aviation references. Other murals include three by Japanese-born and Brooklyn-based Lady Aiko, and two murals by San Francisco artist Zio Ziegler. The W brand hotels emphasize design and the Bellevue edition lives up to that mission. From $289. Mural by Chaz Bear at Ace Hotel and Swim Club, courtesy of the hotel Ace Hotel & Swim Club Palm Springs, California The hoteliers behind Ace Hotel & Swim Club had an artistic eye when they reimagined a 1965 Westward Ho Hotel and former Denny’s restaurant as a mid-century modern hotel and King’s Highway restaurant. They outfitted the hotel with vintage furniture and a sun-washed bohemian design. Each year, the hotel invites a new artist to complete a mural on the property ahead of Desert Gold, a twelve-day Coachella oasis that includes meditative sound baths and wellness pop-ups. In 2018, Laura Berger used desert hues in Lifting the Sun, which speaks to humanity’s interconnectivity. In 2019, Chaz Bear painted vibrant florals in Desert Void, which reflects upon the experience of living in the desert. From $159

Inspiration

Ski Vermont: Where to Find the Best Snow East of The Rockies

Known for the birth of the ski tow in 1934, this New England gem can also lay claim to the largest number of Olympians per capita in the US. In fact, 16 of the 244 athletes at the 2018 Winter Olympics hailed from Vermont. Luckily, the resorts hosting these magnificent slopes are ready and waiting for skiers, snowboarders and snow aficionados of all ages and skill levels. But before you strap on your equipment, check out this list of the best areas to visit this winter in Vermont. Sugarbush Resort, Warren Located squarely in the middle of the state, this iconic resort offers 111 trails sprawling over 4000 acres. Spread across Lincoln Peak and Mt. Ellen, yet separated by Slide Brook Basin, it has a vertical drop of 2600ft, and you can easily move between the two mountains using the chairlift and shuttle bus. With 600 skiable areas, including nearly 3000 acres of cross-country terrain, there is an immense variety of slopes to conquer – though beginners will appreciate the Ski & Ride School at Lincoln Peak Village. STAY: The Claybrook Hotel & Residence is our slope-side pick and includes in-room hot tubs, a heated, year-round outdoor pool and a game room to keep the kiddies occupied. You can reserve anything from a studio to a five-bedroom residence – so it’s perfect for a romantic getaway or a family holiday. Bolton Valley Resort, Richmond Perched in the Green Mountains and just 30 minutes from the Burlington airport, this sweet, family-owned resort gives you access to 71 downhill trails for skiing and about 62 miles of Nordic and backcountry trails. Though it’s officially a valley, the alpine village sits atop the mountain overlooking 5000 acres and uses wind power and energy-efficient snowmaking to reduce its diesel and electric power consumption. It also enjoys a vertical drop of 3150ft. Families will love its affordability and the kid-friendly indoor skate-and-bike park. Interested in staying after dark? Bolton Valley offers night skiing until 10pm from Tuesday to Saturday nights. STAY: Basic and affordable, the Inn at Bolton Valley is a ski-in-ski-out slopeside resort with a mix of 60 rooms, suites and condos. Guests receive access to the Bolton Valley Sports Center and can enjoy the pool, hot tub, sauna and gym, as well as a nest of bouncy houses, game room with basketball, ping pong and pool table for the family. Jap Peak Resort, Jay Head north, just a few miles south of the Canadian border, and you’ll find this winter wonderland in the Green Mountains – boasting the highest average snowfall in Vermont and more powder than most east coasters know what to do with. The vertical drop of 2153ft allows for 81 Alpine trails, including just over 60 for advanced and intermediate skiers. But beginners should not despair, there’s plenty of green trails, a Kids Program for ages 4 to 12 years and an Adaptive Program for people with disabilities starting at age 3. A massive indoor waterpark and activity center boasts an ice skating rink, movie theater, climbing gym and arcade – free with on-site lodging, though you’ll need to purchase tickets in advance if you’re just coming for the day. STAY: The Tram Haus Lodge is a charming, suite-only resort offering just under 60 rooms, with units up to three bedrooms. Just a hop, skip and jump from the slopes, it oozes homegrown flavor and is decorated with locally crafted, recycled and re-imagined materials, like handmade maple hardware and reclaimed barn wood furniture. You can choose from slope side or ski-in-ski-out accommodations as well as a coffee shop and full-service spa. Pico Mountain, Mendon Located inside the massive Killington resort, this single-base, easy-to-navigate resort is super family friendly and perfect for those on a budget. A vertical drop of 1967ft, 19 miles of terrain and seven lifts lead to a total of 57 manageable trails. And though there is an impressive 25 intermediate trails, you can also find classic New England steeps or stick with the gentler, winding beginner trails. Four thousand feet of new snowmaking pipe has been added this season, so making the white stuff won’t be a problem. Youth programs and lesson start at age four and go to 14 years old, and kids ski free with the purchase of an adult season pass. STAY: Pico Resort Hotel and Condominiums offers up to three-bedroom accommodations and is walking distance to Pico. Great for groups, the three-bedroom units can sleep up to 10 with a loft and sofabed, and fireplaces are included in most units. Guests can also access the Pico Fitness Center, featuring an indoor pool and gym, and a free shuttle will take you the five miles down the road to any of Killington’s six mountains. Suicide Six, Pomfret This resort is not only the oldest ski resort in America, it is also home to the first “ski lift,” an improvised rope tow built on Hill No. 6 and powered by a Ford Model T. Now, this quaint and accessible area contains an array of terrain and levels of difficulty. Snowboarders will be thrilled to hit the same slopes that hosted the first National Snow Snurfing competition in 1982, and Alpine skiers will appreciate the 650ft vertical drop, three lifts and 24 different trails, broken down almost evenly between expert, intermediate and beginner. You can also rent fat bikes, try your hand at snowshoeing or strap on a set of cross-country skis. STAY: The Woodstock Inn & Resort is a classic, New England ski resort set in a quaint, unspoiled town – while allowing easy access to the slopes of Suicide Six. After a day in the snow, you can take a stroll on Main Street or hit the 10,000 sq ft spa for a little peace and pampering. The Woodstock Athletic Club is also included in your stay and hosts a variety of activities, like racquetball, yoga, an indoor pool and a gym. A Family First-Run package includes a family group lesson and a s’mores kit for apres ski. Magic Mountain, Londonderry Perched on Glebe Mountain, this ski-forward resort is reminiscent of the Swiss Alps, with twisting, narrow trails which were carved out in the 1960s and are still viable today. Out of the 50 trails, 17 of them are expert, and with a vertical drop of 1500ft, you’ll have access to true rugged, vertical skiing – and a handful of double black diamonds. With a premium on adventure and appreciating the natural beauty of your surroundings, this resort is both laid-back and affordable – and even touts special openings during mid-week snowstorms to access the best natural powder. Want to take some time off skis? Race your pals downhill a totally different way at Tubeyland tube park. STAY: The Upper Pass Lodge is rustic, pet friendly and located at the base of Magic Mountain for an easy commute. A homey resort with personalized service, it consists of just 20 rooms, some of which offer bunkbeds or two bedrooms for families and groups – and one of which comes with an en-suite jacuzzi. Keeping with the local theme, the lodge’s bar features cocktails poured exclusively with Vermont-made spirits.

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