Whether you're a committed ski bunny or a fan of apres-ski, you'll know that come winter, there's no better place to head than a mountain town. With their endless opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, skating, and enjoying a warming drink by a roaring fire, they're the perfect getaway. But make no mistake, mountain towns aren't just for the colder months. The benefits of visiting in summer are just as numerous as they are in winter, with everything from hiking and fishing to festivals and wineries to enjoy. Regardless of the season, here are 20 mountain towns that shouldn't be missed.
20. Ligonier, Pennsylvania
Nestled in the Laurel Highlights in southwestern Pennsylvania is the small mountain town of Ligonier. Despite being just three hours from Columbus, Ohio, it feels a world away from the hustle and bustle, with a gorgeously relaxed pace of life, friendly folk, and plenty of small-town charm. Bluegrass rules in this part of the world - if you visit in June to experience the Laurel Highlands Bluegrass Festival, you won't leave disappointed.
19. Estes Park, Colorado
If you like anything that involves exercise and nature, Estes Park in Colorado is going to be right up your street. Located at the entrance of Rocky Mountain National Park, it offers thrill-seekers a multitude of ways to enjoy the great outdoors, from rafting and fishing to hiking and fishing. If you prefer adventures of the spookier variety, be sure to check out the Stanley Hotel, the very building that is said to have inspired Stephen King to write his bestselling horror novel, The Shining.
Nestled at the foothills of North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains is Asheville, a quirky mountain town with charm for miles. The vibrant arts scene will thrill culture vultures, who'll find no shortage of galleries and antique stores in its lovely downtown. If you're in need of a nature fix, you'll find plenty of hiking trails scattered around the town that are ideal for stretching your legs and soaking up some of the sublime scenery. Before you leave, be sure to stop by Biltmore Estate, a historic mansion built by George Vanderbilt in the late 1800s.
17. Gatlinburg, Tennessee
If you're looking for the kind of place the whole family will enjoy, Gatlinburg in Tennessee should float your boat. Kids are guaranteed to get a kick out of the mountain coaster and huge aquarium, while the surrounding Great Smoky Mountains National Park offers multiple opportunities for family-friendly adventure. If you'd rather enjoy the mountain scenery without breaking a sweat, the 2 mile Gatlinburg Aerial Tramway is a great way to soak up the views in comfort. Before you leave, stop by the Gatlinburg Arts & Crafts Community to watch the local artists at work and pick up a few souvenirs.
16. Snowmass, Colorado
As countryliving.com says, you probably already have Colorado on your winter bucket list, but the state is an all-season destination. In summer, the small mountain town of Snowmass shines, offering outdoor lovers a cornucopia of ways to enjoy nature with its deep creeks and idyllic mountains. Whether you're a fan of hiking, fishing, or maybe even whitewater rafting, you'll find no shortage of things to do. If you're lucky, you might even be in with a chance of enjoying the barbeque, live music, and fun events at the weekly Snowmass Rodeo.
15. Lake Placid, New York
Regardless of whether you visit Lake Placid in summer, winter, or somewhere in between, you're guaranteed a fun time. As you'd expect of a town that's hosted the Winter Olympics twice, the opportunities for skiing, snowboarding, and other winter sports are legendary. For a real thrill, take a ride on a bobsled around the Olympic Complex. Come the warmer months, there's a scenic railway to discover, excellent hiking around Mirror Lake, and plenty of places to enjoy some wining and dining.
14. Aspen, Colorado
Aspen has long been associated with the high life, and it certainly has its fair share of five-star restaurants, swanky restaurants, and luxury hotels. But don't be put off by its reputation; this is a resort with a lot to offer everyone, regardless of their budget. In winter, the mountains offer the perfect conditions for some first-class skiing. Come summer, they're perfect for hiking, with Maroon Bells and the scenic Maroon Lake dishing up plenty of helpings of lush alpine views. If you get bored of the hiking opportunities the town has to offer, take the short ride over to Glenwood Springs to expand your options.
13. Stowe, Vermont
If you're looking for the kind of town you can enjoy regardless of the season, take the advice of travelandleisure.com and pay a visit to Stowe in Vermont. A year-round destination with a quirky appeal and a ton of charm, it offers visitors an endless variety of activities to enjoy, from ice skating and skiing in winter to hiking in summer and admiring the foliage in autumn. Accommodation options are plentiful, with both the Lodge at Spruce Peak and the Topnotch Resort both coming particularly highly recommended.
12. Jackson, Wyoming
If you like picture-perfect scenery, you'll struggle to find many mountain towns that match Jackson. Surrounded by mountains and national parks, its wonderfully picturesque setting provides endless opportunities for outdoor adventure, from skiing at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort in winter to hiking in the Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park in summer. There are enough accommodation options to suit all budgets, but for a taste of indulgence, you can't go wrong with the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole.
11. McCall, Idaho
As Expedia says, if you're a sucker for old movies, you might recognize McCall as the setting of the 1940's western, "Northwest Passage." Even if you don't, there's still every reason in the book to pay the town a visit, from taking a skate around the Manchester Ice Rink to cheering on the McCall Curling Club from the stands. For dinner, stop by Steamers Steak and Seafood to fill up on big plates of Idaho ruby rainbow trout, baked shrimp scampi, and juicy sirloin steaks. If you don't mind splashing the cash for a bit of luxury, an overnighter at the super swanky Shore Lodge won't disappoint.
10. Taos, New Mexico
As Thrillist says, Taos isn't exactly a summer hotspot unless you're being literal. But once the sun starts to lose some of its heat, it turns into a must-visit. With the Sangre de Cristo Mountains on its doorstep, visitors can indulge their adventurous side with activities such as mountain biking, fly fishing, trekking, horseback riding, river rafting, or even a hot air balloon ride. There are also hot springs to soak in, over 80 galleries to visit, and plenty of bars in which to down a margarita or two. For a great (if unusual) night's sleep, check out the charming vintage trailers at the Hotel Luna Mystica.
9. Bar Harbor, Maine
Bar Harbor in Maine is best known as the gateway to the Acadia National Park, offering countless opportunities for visitors to enjoy some of the park's unique attractions. The town is far more than just a stop on the way to the park. With an abundance of shops, seafood restaurants, and galleries to explore, it's very much a four-season destination. Its stellar location on Frenchman Bay also affords plenty of opportunities for boat tours around Mount Desert Island.
8. Telluride, Colorado
Regardless of how you like to spend your vacation, there's a good chance Telluride has what you want. There are awe-inspiring peaks to explore, drinks to down on the New Sheridan Hotel rooftop bar, top tier music events to get your groove on to, film festival to enjoy, and over 2000 plus skiable acres to slide down. On top of all that, the public transport is a gondola, which is reason enough to visit even if nothing else on the list grabs you.
7. Breckenridge, Colorado
Drive around 80 miles southwest of Denver and you'll find Breckenridge, a small, scenic ski town that makes up for its tiny size with a mile-long list of attractions. If you're a keen skier, the 187 slopes at the Breckenridge Ski Resort won't disappoint. If you're not, you'll still find plenty of ways to enjoy the scenery with the endless opportunities for hiking, biking, fishing, and enjoying the apres-ski scene. For a culture fix, check out the town's charming Main Street, which, among other things, includes enough top-notch restaurants to make sure you never go hungry.
6. Hot Springs, Arkansas
Considering its name, it probably won't come as too much of a surprise to learn that the main reason people visit Hot Springs is to enjoy the bathhouses of Hot Springs National Park. But soaking up the park's famous thermal waters is just one of the many things to do in this charming little town. If you're in the mood to get active, you'll find multiple hiking trails spread around the park's North Mountain and West Mountain areas. If you'd rather take things easy, check out the casino, restaurants, and boutiques in the town itself. For a fun-packed day the whole family will enjoy, be sure to check out the water park.
5. Burlington, Vermont
Burlington's main claim to fame is being the least-populous city to also be the most populous city in its state. Technically a city but with the atmosphere, the vibes, and the population of a town, it's a great place to spend a vacation. Along with offering easy access to six first-rate ski resorts, there are also delicious restaurants to dine at, some of the best beer in the state (if not the entire country), a must-visit farmers market, and plenty of opportunities to explore the beauty of dreamy Lake Champlain.
4. Leavenworth, Washington
If you've always wanted to visit Germany but don't care for the 10-hour flight, save yourself the bother by visiting Leavenworth in Washington instead. A charming Bavarian-inspired village with half-timbered buildings, cozy restaurants serving up German delicacies like sausages, schnitzel, sauerkraut, pastries, potato salad, and as much beer as you can drink, along with year-round festivals and events, it's a four-season destination with a difference. Visit in winter to enjoy sleigh rides, ice climbing, and skiing, or come during the warmer months for hiking, rock climbing, and touring the wineries.
3. Big Sky, Montana
If you're looking for the quintessential mountain getaway, look no further than Big Sky, Montana. Boasting over 6,000 skiable acres via 300 designated trails, it's heaven for skiers. Even if you're not a skiing fan, there's still plenty to enjoy, from sleigh rides and snowboarding to snowmobiling and dog sledding. Once the warm weather kicks in, take advantage of the scenery with horseback riding, white water rafting, and golfing. If you want to expand your options even further, the Yellowstone National Park is just 50 miles south.
2. Dahlonega, Georgia
200 years ago, Dahlonega was the center of the first major Gold Rush. The gold may have gone, but the pioneering spirit lives on. Key attractions not to miss include the Historic Public Square and the Dahlonega Gold Museum Historic Site. If you're in town from April through October, don't miss the Appalachian Jam. It's also worth taking a stroll around Red Oak Lavender Farm, which boasts acres of fragrant, organically grown lavender plus a small shop where you can pick up some sweetly scented gifts.
1. Park City, Utah
Located just 30 miles northwest of Salt Lake City is the small mountain town of Park City. It's best known for the Sundance Film Festival, but there's much more to do here than spot celebrities. With a charming historic downtown, first-rate restaurants, and abundant shopping opportunities, the town has plenty to keep visitors occupied. Thanks to its idyllic location, there's also a plethora of outdoor activities to get involved in, including an alpine roller coaster, zip line excursions, and world-class skiing at Park City Mountain and Deer Valley Resort.
Written by Liz Flynn
Read more posts by Liz Flynn