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Many factors can make or break a ski trip including the terrain, the resort amenities and the quality of the ski instruction. But you’ll also want to consider what’s available to do after the last run, or for members of your group who don’t ski. It’s time to talk about that beloved winter tradition: après ski.
Après ski refers to the range of activities available at ski resorts that don’t involve strapping something to your feet and sliding down a mountain. It includes fun activities like snow tubing, ice skating and snowshoeing. But après ski is also a state of mind induced by soaking in a hot tub, roasting s’mores by the fire or taking a horse-drawn sleigh ride.
Here’s an exploration of the tradition of après ski and a complete guide to après ski activities at major ski destinations and resorts across the US.
So, What is Après Ski?
History of Après Ski
The Europeans invented après-ski. The custom originated in Norway and was quickly adopted in France. The term translated from French is “after ski.” This fun tradition comes from the history of ending a long, cold, hard day with mulled wine and friends.
The tradition of après ski crossed the ocean to North America in the early 20th century and is here to stay. Ski towns around the country now offer many varied après ski opportunities for skiers.
Family ski resorts such as Aspen, Vail, Park City, Jackson Hole and Whistler all offer a whole world of fun things to do when you’re not skiing.
Après Ski Today
To today’s skiers, the après scene can come in many forms. To the young party crowd, it may involve Happy Hour libations at ski bars. Or, it may mean craft beer, margaritas and nachos on a ski deck.
But to a family, it may take the form of relaxing in a slopeside hot tub, on a ski-in, ski-out deck to live music and warm sweet s’mores. Or, for those active families who aren’t looking for relaxation after a day’s skiing, it may mean post-ski snow tubing, sledding, ice skating or riding snowmobiles.
For mom, it may mean an afternoon at the local spa or taking a break on a sunny deck. But to everyone, après ski starts when you kick off the ski boots.
Read More: Traveling with the family? You’ll find enjoyable family fun at all of your favorite ski resorts for kids.
Where to Find Unique Après Ski Scenes
We’ve rounded up unique après ski ideas and the most fun things to do when you’re not skiing.
Nordic Snowcat Adventure at the Breckenridge Nordic Center
Breckenridge Nordic Center’s fun-loving staff and its state-of-the-art Prinoth Snowcat offer a unique family adventure. The snowcat provides a heated, all-glass cabin so you can experience the forests of Breckenridge in comfort with a stop for après ski s’mores and drinks at a historic mining cabin.
Available during ski season most days of the week at 2 pm and 4 pm. This is a private tour for up to eight people for $700. Make reservations online.
Water Play at the Cascade Indoor Waterpark
Greek Peak Mountain Resort, Cortland County, New York
This indoor water park is kept at 82 degrees year-round and is a spacious 41,000 square feet.
The water park offers activities for everyone, with a wave pool, indoor and outdoor hot tubs, a wading pool and more. It is conveniently attached to the eco-friendly Hope Lake Lodge in the Finger Lakes Region of New York, just a shuttle ride to and from Greek Peak Mountain Resort.
Families can wind down from a long day on the slopes with a relaxing time by the pool.
Roasting marshmallows over the fire is a fun way for families to après ski together after a day of winter fun. Many, many ski hotels offer s’mores roasting, but Snowmass takes it to a whole new level.
Every day, starting at 3:30 pm, guests can find s’mores carts near the fire pits in Base Village and the Snowmass Mall. These carts offer free classic fixings including chocolate, graham crackers, and marshmallows on a stick, all prepped to roast over the open fire.
Another fun and free après ski activity is to investigate the Snowmass Ice Age Discovery. More than 35,000 bones of prehistoric mammals and small vertebrate species have been unearthed, the richest Ice Age ecosystem found at high altitude.
Snowmass is celebrating this distinction with new attractions for 2023-2024 including murals, QR codes located at various points with Ice Age facts and a “Snowmastadon! Snow Day Adventure” storybook walk on the Sleigh Ride Trail. Visit www.snowmassiceage.com for everything there is to see and know about this incredible find.
When you’re done on the slopes, hit Vail Village to drink or dine at one of the many restaurants and bars. They range from casual spots ideal for families to gourmet experiences and buzzing nightclubs.
One of the more relaxing ways to end a day is to go ice skating at Solaris Plaza and then sip specialty cocktails while soaking up glorious Rocky Mountain views.
Magical Snowy Ice Castles Lit in Sparkling Colors
Typically après ski activities are about relaxation; this one is not. But it is unique, and located near several ski resorts, so we decided to include it.
These magical twinkling castles built of ice are straight out of a fairy tale. The acre-sized castles feature maze-like tunnels, slides, crawl spaces, thrones, slot canyons, and towers that are all made of ice and illuminated at night with beautiful, color-changing LED lights. Kids will feel like they stepped into a fairy-tale world.
You can find Ice Castles locations near Park City and Deer Valley in Utah; Loon Mountain in New Hampshire; Afton Alps in Minnesota; Hunter Mountain in New York; and Grand Geneva in Wisconsin.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Read our tips for visiting ice castles before you go!
Warm Chocolate Chip Cookies Served with White Glove Service
Beaver Creek, Colorado
At Beaver Creek Resort in Colorado, après ski in the Slopeside Lounge means chocolate chip cookies steaming from silver platters offered by servers in white jackets, white chef hats and white gloves.
It certainly makes that hard work at ski school worth it for the kiddos, as they enjoy their warm treats before even getting their ski boots off.
Other Lounge amenities include an on-snow ski and snowboard valet and private lockers. Lounge access comes with a per-day fee (three-day minimum during the holidays).
Ski Resorts Offering Fun Après Activities
Limelight Hotel Ketchum
Sun Valley, Idaho
A fun way to apres at the Limelight is the daily happy hour from 3 – 6 pm. Open to hotel guests and the public, the Limelight Lounge has live music with discounted beverage and food items. Extend the party Wednesday-Sunday from 6 – 9 pm with more music featuring a low-key mix of folk, rock, jazz, DJs and other genres. Sample the Lounge’s signature menu of oven-fired pizzas and seasonal specialties.
Every winter adventure deserves proper recovery. New this year, all Limelight Hotel guests will have complimentary access to reserve a suite of Therabody products ranging from the Therabody goggles to the RecoveryAir JetBoots. The variety of tools helps promote wellness and recovery after a long day on the slopes.
Another resort guest perk is Exclusive Preferred Pricing on select spa treatments ($130 for a 50-minute service, pilates or personal training session and $190 for an 80-minute service) at Zenergy Health Club and Spa.
Additionally, all spa services include a complimentary day pass to the club, which offers more than 85 fitness classes, access to a state-of-the-art gym, and the opportunity to swim and relax in Zenergy’s indoor and outdoor saltwater pools and oversized jacuzzi. The club’s luxurious locker rooms offer amenities such as eucalyptus steam rooms and Himalayan salt saunas, ensuring a truly pampering experience.
Park Hyatt Beaver Creek
Beaver Creek, Colorado
Après ski at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek commences on a sweet note. Ask for a s’mores kit from the front desk that includes puffy house-made marshmallows. Then warm up and thaw out around a fire pit on the patio with incredible mountain views!
The hotel also offers the ultimate turndown service. Kids will enjoy this personal teepee tent equipped with a snuggly sleepy bag and a faux fire pit to stay “warm.” There are a limited number of these available; inquire at the front desk at check-in.
At Snowpine Lodge, the après-ski experience is a captivating blend of culinary delights, entertainment and natural wonders.
After a day on the slopes, unwind at The Gulch Pub with a selection of delectable après-ski cuisine and drinks, while live music sets the mood for a cozy evening. As night falls, gather by the outdoor fireplace to craft s’mores beneath the starry sky, or delve into celestial exploration with our telescope and monoculars, unveiling the secrets of the night sky and the wonders of wildlife.
Throughout the winter months, fireside chats with the Alta Historical Society add an enriching touch, immersing you in the rich history and culture of this mountain paradise.
Beaver Creek, Colorado
Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa features live music nightly from 4 -9 pm all winter long in the hotel’s Lookout bar, which features specialty cocktails, mocktails and Colorado microbrews.
Families can borrow board games from behind the front desk. A variety of children’s craft activities are offered throughout the season. And the daily cookie and cocoa hour from 4 – 5 pm is a must!
In addition, the resort hosts a weekly educational series. “Nature at Night” is led by a naturalist from the Walking Mountains Science Center. It features hands-on programs such as how to track Colorado animals in the snow.
For relaxation, try soaking in one of the resort’s three infinity hot tubs overlooking the Eagle River. Work up a sweat first at a group exercise class – the resort offers 50+ classes each week including aerial yoga and Pilates.
Or indulge in a relaxing treatment at Spa Anjali, which offers an extensive menu focused on three healing mountain traditions – the Rockies, Alps and Himalayas. Unique treatments include the Chakra Blessings, a collection of ancient rituals designed to help clear negativity, balance energy and create an optimal state of well-being.
Schweitzer Mountain Resort
Bonner County, Idaho
Schweitzer Mountain Resort is unique in that the entire resort is on private land. This means, if you buy a beer or a glass of wine from a Schweitzer outlet, you can take it to go anywhere on the mountain.
So parents can grab a local IPA, then head to the outdoor campfire with the kiddos to make s’mores. Or head to Gourmandie, order a glass of wine and watch the kids play on the snow in the heart of the village.
Park City, Utah
Montage Deer Valley offers snowshoeing and snow tubing onsite for families, and a complimentary s’mores hour from 4 – 5 pm. And, conveniently located nearby, is Olympic Park with a real bobsled!
The signature Comet Bobsled ride offers the opportunity to experience the official 2002 Olympic Sliding Track at speeds over 60 mph and notable g-forces. Make advance reservations online for this popular activity, although walk-ins are accommodated if there’s availability. Kids must be at least 16 years old and weigh over 100 pounds to ride.
SheBuysTravel Tip: Because each bobsled needs to be fully occupied, parties traveling together may have to split up for the ride.
Liana Moore lived overseas growing up, attending British public school for kindergarten in London. She then moved to Stavanger, Norway for nine years until age 15, growing up with friends of different cultures. Summers involved camps in Switzerland and Wales, plus USA time in East Texas and Minnesota. Liana sees things from others’ viewpoints, believing those experiences shaped the woman she is today. She’s instilling that empathy in her children, having fun along the way. Currently based in the mountains of Colorado, much of her time is spent exploring the Rocky Mountains. When she’s not marketing a resort property professionally, or traveling and writing, find her trying out new sports like BMX biking with her nine-year-old daughter or debating with her five-year-old son (and occasionally winning). Follow Liana’s adventures at Insider Families.