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With the holiday season upon usand some serious pow already on the mountains, the slopes should be crawling with families. But by going the B&B route, you dodge the crowded lodges and free yourself to fill your days with downhill adrenalin and cap them off in cozy quarters. Making that decision is the easy part, of course. The hard part? Deciding where to go.
Wisconsin's Stewart Inn
RELAXED APRES: The cozy confines of Wisconsin's Stewart Inn
First, consider inverting the typical Rocky Mountains scene for something a little off the main ski circuit by heading to the Mid-Atlantic. Our first B&B pick is the Inn at Sugar Hollow Farm (434.823.7086; www.sugarhollow.com). The name alone should make you want to stay at this Virginia retreat. Just 13 miles west of Charlottesville, this countryside B&B is located along the Moorman River and the historic passageway into the Blue Ridge Mountains. Shenandoah National Park lies next to the property, offering 500 miles of some of the best hiking trails in the National Park System, including 101 miles of the Appalachian Trail. The park often receives significant snowfall, making cross-country skiing possible on the park's fire roads and flatter hiking trails. Starting at $140 per night, the Inn at Sugar Hollow Farm is also located 45 minutes from Wintergreen Resort (800.926.3723; www.wintergreenresort.com), a year-round playground with five chair lifts and more than 20 runs. Test your skills on Outer Limits, the 2,000-foot trail that debuted last season, or get crafty in their newly renovated terrain park. Lift tickets are $61 on the weekends; or plan your visit through mid-December and receive their super-saver rate of just $43. And even if the conditions at Wintergreen only justify one day on the slopes, the city of Charlottesville is worth exploring. It has maintained its historic, small-town feel by absorbing itself in culture and the arts. With a city population of around 50,000, it boasts wineries, historic presidential architecture, and boutique shopping. The University of Virginia is there too, and that helps keep the town hopping with concerts and plenty of pubs along Main Street or along the west end of the Downtown Mall. And if warmth calls you in early, there are always those wood-burning stoves and double whirl pool tubs at the inn.
Known for classic East Coast runs and quintessential New England charm, Vermont is a no-brainer option in your quest. In between Bennington and Battleboro lies the Deerfield Valley Inn (800.639.3588; www.deerfieldvalleyinn.com) in West Dover, a historic, bright red farmhouse with white trim and prime views of Mount Snow. The Deerfield is located on the southern tip of the Green Mountains and promises a pure Vermont winter retreat with quilt-covered beds and private fireplaces, and easy access to the slopes. Located just minutes from the Deerfield, Mount Snow Resort (800.245.SNOW; www.mountsnow.com) is one of the most well-known ski resorts in Vermont, with a summit elevation of 3,600 feet and 590 skiable acres. The mountain is also the home of Ripcord, the North Face's steepest trail, and one of the steepest in New England. And with an annual average snowfall of 156 inches there's bound to be a good number of fresh powder mornings. Just don't down too much maple candy before hitting the slopes. Rooms at the inn start at $94 per night.
If you'd like to bring the whole family along, Rover included, Wausau, Wisconsin's Stewart Inn (715.849.5858; www.stewartinn.com) is the spot. Located just five miles from the Granite Peak Ski Area, Wausau has been a ski town since 1937, back when residents cleared six runs by hand and installed the nation's longest ski lift. Rooms in this architectural masterpiece, which sits on the National Register of Historic Places, are a steal starting at $150. George W. Maher, one of Frank Lloyd Wright's contemporaries, designed the first floor over 100 years ago. Nearby Granite Peak Resort (715.845.2846; www.skigranitepeak.com) offers seven lifts installed over the last six years and has the longest high-speed chairlift in the Midwest, the "Comet Express." This six-person chairlift is located right in the center of their 74 runs and offers access to more than one-third of the mountain. Finish off a long day on the slopes with a hearty steak that you grill yourself and a pint of on-site brew from the Hereford & Hops Steakhouse & Brew Pub (715.849.3700; www.herefordandhopswausau.com).
But for a true big-mountain experience, consider Sun Valley, Idaho, the country's first ski resort. While there are an abundance of accommodations, for the perfect rustic touch try the Inn at Ellsworth Estate B&B (866.788.6354; www.ellsworthestate.com). Just 15 minutes from Sun Valley in the town of Hailey, the inn's rooms offer simple elegance far enough from the resort to escape the cookie-cutter village-style condos yet close enough to reach the slopes without getting snarled in daytripping traffic. Rates that begin at just $75 per night. And when it comes to skiing, Sun Valley Resort (800.786.8259; www.sunvalley.com) will not disappoint. Its two mountains, Bald and Dollar, have summits at 9,150 feet and 6,600 feet respectively, and a total of 75 runs. Plush lodges and quaint villages await, full of boutique shops and gourmet dining. If the snow is too blinding, head into one of the four lodges for a steaming latte or glass of smooth cabernet. It's all within skiing distance.
Want more info on ski resorts throughout the world? Check out our Annual Ski Resort Guide.
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