We’ve made the point repeatedly that in travel it pays to zig when everyone else zags. The prices can be lower and the experiences can be unforgettable.
That philosophy is never truer than with springtime travel, and Spring Break in particular. Come that magic week in March, college students flock to the beaches to be with other college students who have flocked to the beaches to meet other college students. Families do the same thing, only with theme parks replacing the beaches.
You need to break that cycle, and now. So how about spending your spring skiing?
Skiing is a particularly perfect choice this spring. California’s resorts have a reasonable amount of snow by their drought-addled standards, and snow totals in the Northeast have pushed past reasonable to ridiculous. There’s plenty of snow in between coasts, too, even in the uplands of North Carolina and Tennessee. If you’re a skier or a boarder or a wannabe or just want to spend a random week wearing turtlenecks and sipping hot chocolate by a fire, spring skiing makes great sense.
Because ski destinations are spread fairly evenly across the northern tier, getting to one can be less tortuous than getting down to Florida, though not always less expensive. It’s hard to beat 28 college students in a Chevrolet Spark when it comes to budget travel, and hey: The legroom is comparable to most airlines.
You’ll be smiling for sure when you consider the relative lack of congestion at some of these classic ski destinations:
Whistler/Vancouver: Whistler is the nicest ski destination in western Canada bar none, and Vancouver is simply wonderful. The combination makes for a perfect Spring Break destination – especially since the U.S. dollar is strong against the Canadian Loonie, and there are some out-of-the-box ways to save on the experience. You can play this one just about any way you choose: Two days in Vancouver, two at Whistler, another two at Vancouver/Victoria/Seattle, and then home, or more time at Whistler, or no time at Whistler at all. Vancouver is a perfect West Coast Spring Break destination, and anything that happens after that is gravy. Runner-up: If you’re really off-the-beaten-path, and Vancouver is too developed for your savage tastes, how about Aleyska Resort in Girdwood, Alaska? Catch the ski train from Anchorage; easy. And if you can hold off on your break until April, airfares are nothing (nothing by Alaska standards; $650 by everyone else’s).
Lake Tahoe: If Vancouver is the perfect West Coast destination, then Tahoe is a close second. Our resident Tahoe fiend, Lisa Bellavin, delivered the best of Tahoe in an earlier post, but here’s the skinny: Sierra-at-Tahoe is the place to ski, The Divided Sky is the place to eat, Café Fiore is the place to go for a romantic dinner, and Lakeside Inn is the best place to gamble. The snow is deep and the lake is beautiful, and vice versa. What more do you need to know?
Park City, Utah: While our Becky Swan is highly partial to Vail, and for good reason, man does not ski at Vail alone, and for that reason there’s Park City. Park City offers plenty of skiing in all its various colors and flavors – downhill, freestyle, moguls, jumps – but the resort region is a sort of winter theme park built around the leftovers from the 2002 Winter Olympics. You can ride a bobsled down the full Olympic run, try your hand (and face) at the skeleton, or even zipline over a canyon. If you’re looking for a spring skiing destination that’s more fun than an iCarly marathon, Park City’s the place.
Mount Bohemia/Powderhorn, Mich.: Midwest skiing gets a bad rap, mainly because so much of the Midwest is, well, flat. Not everywhere, though. Michigan’s Upper Peninsula has equal portions terrain and snow, and in these near-perfect conditions Powderhorn and Mount Bohemia reign supreme as the ski destinations. Their ambiance is more state park than Park City — perfect if your goal for a spring ski vacation is skiing and lots of it with a minimum of interruptions. Powderhorn is the more-developed and conventional of the two, with runs for all abilities and the traditional resort and condo rentals. Mount Bohemia specializes in off-piste terrain skiing and has trailside cabins and yurts for rent. (If this doesn’t ring your bell, wait a year. Voodoo Mountain is opening near Copper Harbor, with the only snowcat skiing east of the Rockies. And if you don’t know what snowcat skiing is, you shouldn’t be doing it.)
Stowe, Vt.: As we mentioned in the open, the amount of snow in the Northeast has blown past reasonable to full-on ridiculous. What that means for March is the first of what will be many opportunities to ski on melted-and-refrozen “corn” snow. It’s probably not going to get to the skiing-in-shorts stage at Stowe in March, but it will be the best time of the ski season for conditions, temperature, light, and all-around good times. For variety, alternate between Smuggler’s Notch and Stowe Mountain or just hang out at Ben and Jerry’s all day. And when people ask how you managed to gain 15 pounds on a ski trip, just smile.
Editor’s Note: When we say we cover all the #RisksWorthTaking in travel, that doesn’t quite extend to 28 college students in a Chevrolet Spark. But for all the other #RisksWorthTaking in travel, there’s Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection. Get it here.