Classic Mountain Towns

Places where the eating and drinking and hanging out downtown is every bit as great as the skiing at the resort

Dec 9, 2009
Outside Magazine
Park City's Town Lift, Utah (Dan Campbell/courtesy, Park City CVB)

Park City's Town Lift, Utah    Photo: Dan Campbell/courtesy, Park City CVB

When the spring-breakers roll in, Breckenridge temporarily becomes a snowy Cancun. But the 150-year-old village (pop. 3,500) has a more civilized side, too, and remains one of the most family-friendly resorts in Colorado, thanks to its effortless intermediate slopes and stellar ski-school instructors.

There's a reason so many stars flock to Aspen: It's an unbelievably fun place to ski (especially Aspen Highlands). And party. Downtown Aspen basically a four-by-nine-block rectangle has everything from dark, unpretentious places (Zane's Tavern) to lounges seemingly airlifted straight out of L.A. (like 39 Degrees at the Sky Hotel, complete with signature martinis, minimalist furniture, and outdoor fire pits).

Sure, Park City's skiing is great (check out the award-winning park, awesome groomers, and surprising amount of big-mountain terrain). But with a pumping main street packed with 54 bars and restaurants, it's without a doubt home to the state's best nightlife.

Steamboat's tagline is "Ski Town, USA" and town is the operative word. Unlike purpose-built ski villages, Steamboat is the real thing, with stores that still sell stuff like groceries and hardware. Tip: Start your evening at the Tugboat (located in Ski Times Square) before taking advantage of the shuttle system and walking the town.

Not only does Stowe have some of the best terrain (and snowmaking capabilities) back east, but it's also one of the oldest ski towns in the U.S. Pop into the old-school Vermont Ski Museum (, in the village, then head over to the Rusty Nail (, a bar and grill with some of the state's best live music.