Typically considered winter destinations, mountain towns are most famous for their snowy slopes, remote cabins and hot chocolate. Instead of taking the typical summer trip to a crowded beach, consider a vacation that might be a bit easier on your wallet. The same places that charge a premium for slope side accommodations in the colder months usually offer great deals in the summer—and there’s no shortage of things to do.
This once-obscure adventure travel mecca is a must-visit mountain town for anyone who loves the great outdoors. Hiking, biking, fishing, rafting, rock climbing—you name it, you’ll likely find it around Bend. Head up into the Cascades for some mountain biking or dip your paddle into the Deschutes River for a refreshing ride. For a longer day trip, head out to Crater Lake where you can cycle, trail run, and swim in the most stunning landscapes.
Park City, Utah
Far more famous for its winter offerings, Park City is a gem in the summer too. Experience mountain adventures on the Alpine Slide, one of the longest in the world or take to the air on Park City’s zip lines. Check out the mountains on bike or on foot and then head to the public Park City Golf Club and play the back nine. Maybe even watch Olympic hopefuls train at Utah Olympic Park.
This mountain town set beside the Canadian Rockies is best known for luxury accommodations and snowy slopes, but summer in Banff is a treat as well. Easy access to Banff National Park (and the outdoor adventures within) is a major draw for travelers. Meanwhile, in town, you’ll find shops, fine dining and several spas to help you recover from your day out on the water or up in the mountains.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
With proximity to National parks like Grand Teton and Yellowstone, access to the National Elk Refuge and it’s placement among practically endless public lands, there’s no shortage of trails, waters and wildlife to discover. Paddle the Snake River, which has sections calm enough for kids and others exciting enough for adrenaline junkies or head out on a wildlife safari. Jackson Hole is an outdoor adventurer’s paradise. When you’re ready for a break, experience some Wild West nightlife at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar.
Taos, New Mexico
Bordered on three sides by the towering red peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Taos is one of the few places that retains its native culture, thriving art scene and connection to the great outdoors. If you’re feeling adventurous, climb the tallest mountain in New Mexico, Wheeler Peak, or if you’re a skilled paddler, take on the Taos box section of the Rio Grande.
Big Sky, Montana
Best known as one of the country’s premier ski destinations, Big Sky comes alive in a different way during the summer months. Still an outdoor utopia, the mountain biking, hiking, rafting, tubing and fishing are tough to match anywhere else.
Lake Placid, NY
Host to the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympic Games, Lake Placid has a rich athletic history and offers a ton to do. The Olympic Center is open over the summer, offering bobsled and luge rides with a professional. Hiking is the most popular summer activity, with trails for every skill level in the Adirondacks. Mirror Lake and Lake Placid are perfect for paddling—whether that be by canoe, kayak or stand-up paddleboard.
A whole new world opens up in Telluride when the snow melts away and the ski adventures are over. Music is just one reason why – the Telluride Bluegrass Festival attracts thousands of visitors every year. The former Victorian mining town in
Colorado’s Rocky Mountains is cyclists and hikers’ favorite. Backpacking and camping is the ideal way to explore the San Juan Mountains. Perfect your whitewater rafting skills down the Gunnison River or go horseback riding.
Girdwood is also known as the Glacier City because of the two giant snow summits nearby. If you ever wanted to go glacier hiking, Girdwood should be on your list. In this city, you can go whale watching, since the icebergs and glaciers are majestic year-round. Complete the strenuous Harding Icefield Trail and you’ll have bragging rights for life. Visit the historic Crow Creek Mine, hop on the Alaska Railroad, and eat delicious fresh seafood.
Whistler, British Columbia
Whistler is a dream destination for ski enthusiasts, but the summer has a lot to offer to adventurous travelers as well. The eclectic mix of events will energize you, the family-friendly atmosphere will make you want to move there with the kids, and the fun vibrant arts and culture scene will inspire you. Bear viewing tours are also very popular in the summer. The best time for them is from April/May – September/October.
The popular mountain village is in the middle of the Dolomites. It’s a well-equipped base for a full range of mountain activities. It’s a summer hot spot for hiking and for energetic mountain and road cyclists. Even if you don’t care much for the rugged via ferrata up in the rocky heights or the demanding mountain footpaths, there are still plenty of tours using cable-cars and buses which will take you to spectacular viewpoints and mountain restaurants.
Summer tobogganing, or summer sledding, is one of the most popular activities around one of the most spectacular lakes on the planet. The route is arranged in a way that lets people see splendid views of Bled, Bled Castle, Lake Bled and the countryside of Bled. Climb the surrounding hills for superb vantage points.