Most of the vacation talk right now is about skiing.Where's the best powder? Where are the best ski runs? Which ski school the kids would like best? But maybe you aren't a skier, and still want to stay active in the winter. Or, you're just looking for a little winter adventure that doesn't happen to involve skis and poles. There are lots of options that let vacationers enjoy the cold, crisp weather without going skiing. Even better, a lot of destinations that get tons of traffic in the summer are still beautiful, but much less crowded, when the weather is chilly. Here are seven ideas.
For Your Second ChildhoodExtreme sledding is not your parents' sledding experience. A few outfits like Mad River Rocket and Hammerhead have created sleds that make for a totally different downhill experience than Rosebud would have given Charles Foster Kane. Riders use the sled "like a surfboard or a snowboard, and it allows for a lot more control" than past sled models did, says Rochelle Skinner of the
For the Speed DemonTake a boat, make it like an ice skate, and you've got ice boating, where you can glide along the top of a frozen lake at speeds of 60 miles an hour or more. "It's exhilarating, it's thrilling," says Deb Whitehorse, secretary of the
|Iceboats on Lake Mendota, Wis.|
|Photo: Allen Penticoff/ |
Four Lakes Ice Yacht Club
A Dog Lover's ParadiseAnd you thought the Iditarod in Alaska was as far as dog sledding would ever go. But who wouldn't want to try, at least once, flying across the snow behind a cadre of canines? "Dog sledding is becoming very popular," says Skinner.
|Photo: Bar W Guest Ranch|
Stock Up on Food, TooIf you've gotten out with your waders in the summer months, why not try getting out on a lake in your parka and ice house during the winter? Ice fishing is done all over the U.S., and the species of fish and type of fishing will vary by location. Places such as Minnesota's
If you do decide to fish on your own, Hustad cautions that "no ice is safe ice," and to be very careful, because ice could be thin in some areas.
Icehotel in the Swedish village of Jukkasjärvi. It's made entirely out of ice from the Torne River, and exists only during the winter months. Jukkasjärvi is close to the Kiruna airport , which several airlines, including SAS, serve.
While staying at the Icehotel, guests can go on a moose safari, hunt ptarmigan, drive a snowmobile or go on an ice-driving event in a Saab (Saab is a division of General Motors ( GM)), so there are plenty of activities to keep guests occupied, apart from contemplating the windchill. Or, if you're not up for quite so much cold and travel time, you can check out an ice bar -- Absolut has them in
London , Milan, Tokyo and Stockholm, in addition to a location at the Jukkasjärvi Ice Hotel. You reserve a time slot, then get outfitted with capes to keep you warm, and get a chance to have a couple of drinks in glasses made of -- what else? -- ice.
Yellowstone National Park spokesman Al Nash and Ted Harvey, the general manager of the Bar W Guest Ranch in Montana, name snowmobiling as a good way to spend a day -- or to get around entirely. For instance, Yellowstone's Old Faithful Snow Lodge is open during the winter, but accessible only by going on the park's interior roads, which aren't cleared and thus can't be used by cars or trucks during the snowy season. "Coming into a place like our geyser basins in the winter and watching steam and hot water right next to tall snowbanks is an amazing experience," Nash says -- and you can take a snowmobile right there.
For example, Harvey, the manager of the Bar W ranch in Montana, says his place offers 45-minute sleigh rides with hot chocolate served at the end. Or, the sleigh can go over to a nearby lake where the whole group has dinner at a gazebo before heading back.
To See the Northern LightsHere's an intense way to experience cold: Take a trip up to the
|Main Hall, Icehotel|
|Photo: Håkan Hjort/Icehotel|
|ABSOLUT ICEBAR LONDON|
|Photo: ABSOLUT ICEBAR LONDON|
If You Like PowerFolks like
For the Whole FamilySleigh riding is one of the more accessible wintertime activities, and it can be romantic, family-oriented or both. Even cities often have places where folks can do this, but sleigh-riding is usually a featured activity at resorts and ranches that offer wintertime activities.
|Photo: Bar W Guest Ranch|