Mountain towns offer fresh air, creative cuisine and active pursuits for all ages.
Here are five to consider for your next family vacation:
1. Durango, Colorado
Visit this picturesque town in southwestern Colorado for an enjoyable blend of outdoor fun, historical sites, scenic beauty and the chance to ride a 19th century steam train through Cascade Canyon. Snap on your skis for a fun-filled powder day at Purgatory Mountain, go snowshoeing or cozy up for a sleigh ride. Stop in to the Nugget Mountain Bar for apres sliders in a rustic miner’s cabin that’s buzzing with energy as stories of a day well-spent are shared. Stay on the mountain or in town at the charming and historic Leland House and Rochester Hotel, where friendly service and a daily gourmet breakfast will enhance your stay in this bustling mountain enclave.
2. Flagstaff, Arizona
Just 80 miles from the Grand Canyon and close to seven other parks and monuments, this college town offers a long list of options for family travelers. At 7,000 feet, you’ll enjoy a full range of snow sports as well as hiking and biking amid Ponderosa Pines, during the summer months. Tap into the history that combines the nostalgia of Route 66, the historic “Mother Road” that bisects the town, as well as the rich legacy of the Old West and the Native American culture. Don’t miss a tour and exhibits at the Lowell Observatory, the astronomy research center where Pluto was discovered.
3. Sun Valley, Idaho
Adjacent to the vast expanse of Frank Church — River of No Return Wilderness, this vibrant, high-altitude mountain town serves as an ideal base camp for exploring the beauty of the Sawtooth Range and the nearby lakes and trails. Closer to town, activities from skiing, snowshoeing, horseback riding, mountain biking, fly-fishing, tennis, golf and shopping will keep your clan engaged. When planning, check dates for outdoor concerts, plus art and music festivals. Don’t miss the weekly ice skating shows at the Sun Valley Lodge featuring world-class figure skaters and Olympic medalists.
4. Vail, Colorado
With more than 5,200 acres of legendary terrain to challenge snow enthusiasts at every level, this high mountain hot spot combines history, luxury and adventure in one destination. Access extraordinary beginner terrain or head straight to the challenging back bowls for a powder-fueled adventure. Families can convene at Adventure Ridge, where views of the surrounding Gore and Sawatch ranges serve as backdrop for an afternoon or evening spent tubing, riding junior snowmobiles, snowshoeing, zip lining or careening on snow bikes. Questions? Just ask Emma. The world’s first digital mountain assistant can advise guests on available terrain and lift line wait times as well as delivering the day’s skier stats. During the warmer months, hiking and biking trails beckon. Fly fish Gore Creek or cool off on a kayak, paddle board or raft trip.
5. Santa Fe, New Mexico
Head to this capital city in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to take advantage of family-friendly ski season offers that include discounted hotel packages and free admission for kids to some of Santa Fe’s best attractions. During March, kids ski free on Wednesdays at Ski Santa Fe, a world-class area offering terrain for the most adventuresome powder hounds as well as groomers, glade skiing and a freestyle terrain park. Visit a top-notch children’s museum, a bug museum, Meow Wolf, and historic and cultural sites. And engage in a full range of outdoor adventures.