Forget winter sports. It’s time to get down with water-based fun, ski towns full of arts festivals and epic hikes that are great for your social media feed and family photo albums. Summer is when to head for the mountains to see wildflowers, spot wildlife and take in some premium fresh air.
Not only do these five towns have great natural resources to enjoy, but all season long you can catch festivals, shows and other events that make them worthy of a vacation.
Every year this alpine town packs away the ski equipment and breaks out walking poles, hiking boots and fly-fishing gear, but that’s just the beginning. Not only are summer sports in full swing, thanks to the beautiful Sawatch Range, Elk Mountains and Roaring Fork River pulsing through, but artists and creators of all types flock here for a full roster of festivals.
First up is the FOOD & WINE Classic (June 14 to 16), where famous chefs and talented vintners rub elbows with everyday epicureans for three days of bites and booze. Next, don’t miss the city’s lineup of sweet summer sounds during Jazz Aspen Snowmass (June 20 to 23), Aspen Music Festival (June 27 through August 18) and Aspen Santa Fe Ballet (July 9 through August 24).
Between adventures, rest your head at Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The St. Regis Aspen Resort. The property’s stunning accommodations (the Ralph Lauren-designed red leather beds are showstoppers) earned it a spot on Forbes Travel Guide’s 2019 Verified List of the World’s Best Rooms. But it’s highlights like the mountain-facing pool, Chefs Club by FOOD & WINE and Four-Star Remède Spa (try one of the CBD massages) that make it a luxe alpine classic.
Summer in the mountains often means cold beers and alpine adventures. Luckily, this enclave in Grand Teton National Park offers both in spades. Sip a local ale from Roadhouse Brewing Co.’s taproom and chat up the bartenders to get the inside scoop on some of the mountain’s most memorable pastimes. Owner Colby Cox suggests paragliding over the Tetons for a uniquely Wyoming experience. The session can be set up with Jackson Hole Paragliding.
Other outdoor excitement can include trout fishing in the Snake River, hiking to the top of Jackson Peak for breathtaking views and visiting Phelps Lake on the southern end of Grand Teton National Park.
If you’re looking for something more low-key, take in a little local color at the twice weekly rodeo that runs June through August. There’s also a Saturday morning farmers market in Town Square, various alfresco concerts and rides up the tram, which afford visitors a 360-view of the stunning mountain ranges.
Book a room right in the center of town at Four-Star Hotel Jackson. It’s bright, airy and fits the city’s natural mountain theme to a tee. Take in the Western-style art in the lobby and, when you’re not exploring the trails, sustain yourself with Mediterranean nibbles at the property’s restaurant, Figs.
A couple hours west of Denver is where you’ll find these two adjacent ski towns that prove just as fun when temperatures are rising as they do when the white stuff is falling. On Sundays from June 16 to October 6, there’s a weekly farmers market and art show in Vail that takes over the core of town. Sip cold brews during the Vail Craft Beer Classic (June 21 to 23) and the 13th annual Beaver Creek Wine & Spirits Festival (August 8 to 11). The Vail Film Festival (hosted by the Colorado Film Institute) commences on August 15 to 18, right before the annual Beaver Creek Oktoberfest (August 30 to September 1).
Nature lovers can scale Beaver Creek Mountain or, even better, do one of the weekend guided hikes that conclude at The Osprey Fireside Grill with charcuterie and wine. There are also numerous golf courses nestled between the mountains, gorgeous horseback riding trails, scenic gondola rides and Epic Discovery, a thrill seeker’s paradise that includes access to a mountaintop bungee trampoline, a mountain coaster, climbing walls, tubing and other family-friendly activities.
It doesn’t matter if you stay in Vail or Beaver Creek — the destinations are just 15 minutes away from each other. For alpine charm and onsite golf, check into Four-Star The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch.
If you’d prefer a luxe hotel with a convenient location, opt for Four-Star Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort and Spa in the center of town. This alluring address makes it easy to get a bite to eat in Beaver Creek Village before exploring the mountain, trying rafting or going fishing.
The Canadian side of the Rocky Mountains is just as beautiful as the peaks in the U.S. and, in some ways, remains more pristine thanks to its isolated location. Explore the area by trekking one of the thousands of miles of trails, canoeing on Pyramid Lake, jetting down a river in a raft or getting a bird’s-eye view by hang gliding with Tandem Discovery Flights.
For something slightly more structured, make time to visit Dinosaur Provincial Park, a fantastical place for any amateur paleontologist.
When things get too hot, go underground into Grotto Mountain, where Canmore Cave Tours will take you through the vast network of dark, cool and magnificent caves.
But just because your adventures are rustic, it doesn’t mean that you can’t unwind like royalty. Head for Four-Star Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel to stay in a Scottish-style castle surrounded by sweet-smelling trees, a 27-hole golf course and Canadian wilderness. Though this iconic property is a bit remote, you can still enjoy top-notch cuisine from any of the 11 onsite restaurants and lounges.
Not matter the time of year, there are plenty of reasons to visit this Utah mountain town. When the weather warms, be sure to stop by Park Silly Sunday Market, a long-standing summer event that happens every weekend from June 2 until September 22. It’s a fete of food stalls, live music, local artisans, crafts and so much more, right on Main Street.
Thrill seekers will want to take advantage of the sunny alpine slide, zip line and mountain coaster at Park City Mountain base area.
From August 2 to 4, the annual Park City Kimball Arts Festival runs as a fundraiser for the Kimball Art Center. It features guided tours, kids activities, live music and a special brunch where you can create your own masterpiece while you eat.
You can also partake in various free outdoor concerts around town thanks to Mountain Town Music. Look out for acts like blues cover artist Jeanne Rettos Logan, mariachi band Mi Tierra and acoustic country duo Morgan & McCune.
For a secluded respite between shows, book a room at Four-Star Montage Deer Valley. Sitting just 10 minutes outside the center of town, this chic retreat offers guided fishing, hiking and biking tours. There’s also golf and a Four-Star spa to help you while the day away.
If you’re looking to stay a little closer to Main Street, check into Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Waldorf Astoria Park City. With tasty local bites at Forbes Travel Guide Recommended restaurant Powder, sweeping staircases and grand views, this spot makes you appreciate a little time indoors, too.