Sunset falls on snowy slopes near Stowe, Vermont. The area is known for its exceptional skiing and charmingly vintage atmosphere.

8 Incredible Destinations for Snow

February 10, 2015

With majestic peaks, mouth-watering cuisine and world-class skiing, the following winter havens provide exceptional settings to enjoy the snow, slopes and warmth of a fire. Take a break from the ordinary and switch hemispheres for year-round access to cold-weather adventure—the mountains of Argentina and New Zealand can be ideal destinations to escape the heat of a North American summer. Not a skier? No problem! These retreats offer a variety of activities, both on and off the mountain, and for all members of the family.

1. Bavarian Alps, Germany

Looking for famous castles, medieval towns, sweeping views and Germany’s best sites for snowy-weather sports? The Bavarian Alps offer all of this and more. “Three hundred sixty-five days a year, each season offers something special,” says Nikolai Bloyd, general manager at Schloss Elmau Luxury Spa & Cultural Hideaway. The surrounding area is ripe with ski runs that appeal to all levels of experience and has multiple sites that have hosted the Winter Olympics—previous hosts Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Innsbruck, Austria, are both just a short drive away. A popular spot for families, Luttensee is ideal for beginners and kids. Deep powder lovers flock to The Dammkar in the Karwendel mountains. With a wealth of museums and cultural sites, indulgent spas and music-related events, the area appeals to athletes and non-athletes alike.

OUTDOOR ADVENTURE: Dog sledding, bobsledding, horse-drawn sleigh rides, snow archery, snow kite surfing, curling and snowshoeing

Schloss Elmau in Krün, Germany, is uniquely positioned to take advantage of Bavaria's many winter attractions. Schloss Elmau

2. Patagonia, Argentina

A true ecological paradise in the foothills of the Andes Mountains, the Patagonia region of Argentina is home to stunning natural wonders, pure air and crystalline waters. “There is no [other] place like this in the world,” says Daniela Termite, sales and marketing assistant at Llao Llao Hotel & Resort. With more than 62 miles of runs and a lift capacity of 22,200 skiers per hour, Mount Catedral in Nahuel Huapi National Park houses one of the biggest ski centers in South America. Llao Llao guests can take advantage of the hotel’s hospitality lounge, which provides coffee, a heated place to rest and ski-style shopping, as well as skiing and snowboarding instruction.

OUTDOOR ADVENTURE: Ice skating, horseback riding, whale-watching, river rafting, rock climbing and bike tours.

GASTRONOMY: The area produces some of the best beef in the world and offers an extensive list of five-star dining experiences. It’s also the chocolate capital of Argentina.

Perched atop a hill between two lakes in the Andean foothills of Argentina, Llao Llao Hotel & Resort commands a stunning view of the surrounding scenery. Llao Llao Hotel & Resort

3. Aspen, Colorado

First settled by silver prospectors more than a century ago, the Aspen area is home to four distinct mountains: Aspen Mountain, Snowmass, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk. This wealth of snow-capped open space accommodates skiers of all experience levels, as well as participants in cold-weather activities like snowshoeing and snowmobiling. In addition to top-notch Rocky Mountain skiing, the area is renowned for its attentive service, upscale shopping and exceptional cuisine. Visitors enjoy dining options that include the Aspen Oasis, a pop-up bar that moves around the mountain serving Veuve Cliquot Champagne. “This is our mountain version of a food truck,” says Meredith McKee, public relations manager at The Little Nell, Aspen’s only ski-in, ski-out resort.

BUNNY SLOPES: Elk Meadows, a mid-mountain ski area, has its very own terrain, lift and magic carpet to help beginners learn.

GASTRONOMY: With more than 100 bars and restaurants in the area, there’s no shortage of delectable dining options. McKee recommends The Little Nell’s own Element 47, as well as Ajax Tavern for burgers and “legendary” truffle fries.

NEW ON THE SCENE: The Aspen Art Museum’s Shigeru Ban–designed building opened in 2014. In 2015, Aspen Skiing Co. opened a ski school for kids at the base of Buttermilk Mountain.

A view over the Silver Queen Gondola. David Marlow. Courtesy of The Little Nell.

4. Central Vermont

While many ski resorts try to fabricate a quaint, frozen-in-time atmosphere, Central Vermont offers the real thing. “The area has done a great job of maintaining its integrity over the past 50 years. Development happens really slowly,” says Ari Sadri, general manager of The Pitcher Inn in Warren, Vermont. The result? A community of charming villages, great skiing, and a true Vermont mountain feel. “I can’t think of a time of year that I don’t think this is the best place in the world to be. It's genuinely as sweet and charming and lovely as it seems,” Sadri says. The region’s relaxing, laid-back atmosphere offers a low-pressure environment for beginners to learn the sport and hone their skills.

OUTDOOR ADVENTURE: Sleigh rides, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, sledding, Nordic skiing, ice skating, hot-air ballooning.

OFF THE SLOPES: “I recommend visiting historic and picturesque Woodstock and checking out glass blowing at the Simon Pearce Gallery,” says John Graham, managing partner of Twin Farms, an all-inclusive resort in Barnard, Vermont.

ANNUAL EVENTS: August: Vermont Music Fest, Vermont Festival of the Arts; September: Tunbridge World’s Fair

Covered bridges blanketed in fresh snow are common sights during Vermont's idyllic winter.

5. Jackson Hole, Wyoming

With only about 9,600 residents, Jackson is a small, affluent town full of unforgettable landscapes, wildlife, culture and true Western hospitality. Advanced skiers who want to push their limits have long been drawn to the Jackson Hole valley for its notoriously challenging terrain, including the largest vertical drop in the United States. But don’t be discouraged if a Black Diamond merely sounds like an interesting accessory—the area welcomes families and groups of mixed experienced levels, too. “In recent years, the mountain has taken great strides to appeal not just to the expert skier but also to those just getting started and those of a more intermediate level,” says Edward Browne, assistant general manager at the Rusty Parrot Lodge.

OUTDOOR ADVENTURE: Snowmobiling, snowshoeing, sleigh rides and ice hockey

GASTRONOMY: Local freshwater fish and game meats appear on most menus. “I never thought buffalo was something that I would love until I had our rib eye,” says Browne of Rusty Parrot Lodge’s restaurant, Wild Sage.

ANNUAL EVENTS: July: Teton County Fair; September: Fall Arts Festival

6. Park City, Utah

Originally built as a 19th-century mining town, today Park City seamlessly blends old and new. In fact, the National Register of Historic Places includes 64 of Park City’s buildings, many of which are in the center of town. “Main Street is lined with great restaurants and beautiful local boutiques,” says Jeff Fishman, travel industry sales manager at Stein Eriksen Lodge. This idyllic resort town is also home to world-class skiing and snow sports. The Deer Valley area is well known for its groomed runs, offering multiple options for first-time skiers. Stein Eriksen Lodge offers escorts to take intermediate and advanced skiers to hidden spots that only the locals know. For those guests who prefer to stay off the slopes, Park City offers art galleries, theaters, spas and unique markets.

GASTRONOMY: Park City has more chefs per capita than Paris, serving Western-style dishes to traditional European ski cuisine.

KID-FRIENDLY: Stein Eriksen Lodge delights kids with marshmallow roasts, gingerbread house decorating and horse-drawn sleigh rides.

ANNUAL EVENTS: January: Sundance Film Festival; July: Park City Food and Wine Classic

The town of Park City draws winter visitors and A-list celebrities alike with the Sundance Film Festival held each January.

7. Queenstown, New Zealand

Unofficially known as the “Adventure Capital of the World,” Queenstown is famous for its endless supply of year-round, adrenaline-rush thrill rides like bungee jumping, jet boating, skydiving, zip trekking, paragliding, dirt biking and offroading. “You name it, Queenstown has it. There is never a bad time to visit Queenstown,” says Gemma Dawson, who works in guest services at Eichardt’s Private Hotel. While skiing and snow sports reign supreme from June through September, sun-seekers soak in rays from November through March.

BUNNY SLOPES: Each mountain offers beginner runs and daily lift passes.

OUTDOOR ADVENTURE: Heli-skiing, snowshoeing, dog sledding, skydiving, jet boating, kayaking, wine-tastings and The Lord of The Rings set tours.

ANNUAL EVENTS: June-July: Queenstown Winter Festival

Surrounded by lakes, forests and mountains, Queenstown offers outdoor adventure for all interests. The Remarkables mountain range and many of the surrounding areas were used as locations for The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings films. Eichardt's Private Hotel

8. Gstaad, Switzerland

Home to picturesque vistas and authentic Swiss chalets, Gstaad has a long history of attracting a who’s-who-of-Hollywood clientele, including stars like Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Grace Kelly and Roger Moore. In addition to more than 136 miles of ski runs, nearby Glacier 3000 offers exciting outdoor activities like tobogganing and dog sledding. The ice and slopes are just a part of the area’s draw. “Only about one third of winter visitors actually ski,” says Stefanie Krisch, public relations executive at Gstaad Palace. Hikers take advantage of more than 180 miles of trails, and shoppers love strolling on the pedestrianized promenade.

GASTRONOMY: Krisch describes the area’s cuisine as “everything you could wish for: hearty and delicious, delectably creative, genuinely regional or international.”

ANNUAL EVENTS: January: Sommets Musicaux de Gstaad classical music festival; July: Glacier 3000 Run

With authentic Swiss architecture and a largely undisturbed landscape, Gstaad offers a quintessential wintry setting for a holiday. Gstaad Palace

Want More?

View all recommended ski resorts.

This article was originally featured in the Traveler magazine.

Get Inspired for Your Next Adventure

Register to sample:

  • One-of-a-kind itineraries
  • Inspirational travel articles
  • Free e-newsletter from our editors
All fields are required.

By Hideaway Report Staff
Contact a Travel Advisor
Hideaway Report members have access to travel advisors at our partner Andrew Harper Travel. Learn More
Call Andrew Harper Travel:
1 (800) 375-4685