The prerequisites for a memorable guys’ (or girls’) trip are minimal, consisting of only three things: good friends, time and a destination. But why stop there when you can also have kicking bars, jovial crowds, maybe a blackjack table or roulette wheel, and killer skiing? Here are our picks for the top ten guys’ trip winter resort destinations.
For a guys’ escape with a real touch of culture and history coupled with a legit mountain, Taos fires on all cylinders. The Taos Pueblo is the oldest continuously-occupied community in the country, with Native American residences dating back more than 1,000 years. In town, the margaritas and Southwest fare are the best among U.S. ski towns.
The mountain itself features precipitous slopes, crowned by the 12,481-foot Kachina Peak, a stunning high-alpine realm of hike-to terrain. And while the resort rep for serious terrain isn’t exaggerated, the town offers plenty of après attractions to keep you powering through long after you’ve stepped out of your boots.
Hunter Mountain, N.Y.
For a mid-sized mountain – 240 acres, 12 lifts and a 1,600-foot vertical drop – Hunter packs an outsized punch, with three distinct mountains and a terrain park. Oh, and one of the most thumping party scenes on the East Coast.
The après vibe in the Main Bar can feel like Manhattan-club-meets-frat-party, especially on live music nights, and from there a couple dozen dining and partying options can keep things going late into the evening. The proximity to New York City assures legions of crazy day-trippers and overnight revelers.
Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Jackson can handle every tier of guy trip. Bonding over single malt and cigars while deciding which company to buy next? Hit the Four Seasons. Bar-hopping in cowboy venues, rocking to live music and road testing pick-up lines? Stay in Jackson, 15 minutes from the mountain – or hit the Mangy Moose, one of the best on-mountain night spots in the country.
Looking under the ‘97 Subaru floor mat for beer money? The venerable Hostel is calling. Oh, and don’t forget to ski 4,200 of the most brag-worthy vertical feet in the country, which you can learn to conquer via the resort’s Steep and Deep Camp, an intensive four-day conquering of the mountain with premier instruction, as well as après events, tech talks and dinner.
For those seeking a self-propelled scene that never runs low on energy, Vail serves up variety and an always-lively crowd. Check the après vibe at Garfinkel’s, the live music at Red Lion or Shakedown Bar, or see how your NCAA bracket is holding up at the Vail Ale House, which boasts TVs and more than 20 beers on tap.
The pedestrian mall in the village and the efficient bus service means nobody has to volunteer to be designated driver. And with 5,289 skiable acres, every dude can find his perfect run.
Of the many (many!) things Canadians have mastered, purebred partying is near the top, and Whistler is Exhibit A as proof. The restaurant and bar options in the Vail-owned village at the base run the gamut, from acoustic picking taverns for chill après ski to thumping late-night discos.
On the mountain, the one-upmanship knows no bounds and might just culminate in a day in the chopper courtesy of Whistler Heli Skiing.
The Beast of the East brings it in a host of testosterone categories, from challenging terrain on 155 trails stretching across 1,509 acres (and a 3,050-foot vertical drop) and one of the more memorable après options around: the Motor Room Bar, in the original drive terminal of Killington’s very first lift (access by pre-arranged snowcat).
Steakhouses, pizza, fine dining, quaint taverns and rugged bars. It’s all here, along with all manner of the state’s famed craft brews and other now-legal ingestibles.
St. Anton, Austria
Often what makes a guys’ trip are the characters you meet along the way. How about dudes in felt Tyrolean hats tap-dancing on the bar? It happens in St. Anton, as do DJs spinning until 6 am (!), an activity that may not be compatible with the 8:30 lift opening – but when in Rome.
The vast terrain is famed for catering to experts, but also harbors more forgiving runs and a renowned slopeside gym for those who feel compelled to do their penance.
Seeking a no-frills trip where the bonding really will center on the skiing? Silverton is the place. One double lift delivers skiers, riders and your guide to a ridge, and from there it’s a hike-out ranging from a short burst to a 45-minute slog, and to the best steep and deep.
The “lodge” is a giant heated tent, the bathrooms are outhouses and the scene in the picturesque former mining town wraps up early, as bleary-eyed and noodle-legged skiers seek rest for the next day’s adventure. Celebrating something that demands the extra touch? You can also arrange for a one-out heli trip, or schedule a multi-day affair on the resort’s birds.
Park City, Utah
While Utah may never be known for unhinged hedonism, Park City Resort has just about everything a group of guys might conjure up for a trip. There’s a lift ascending the mountain from the center of town, wide range of lodgings, the Wasatch Brew Pub, the ski-in/ski-out High West Distillery and Saloon, a huge variety of in-bounds terrain and near-endless hike-to options, especially when you factor in neighboring Deer Valley and the four other resorts within an hour’s drive.
But then again, given the eponymous resort is the nation’s largest, you can still ski for days at Park City and not lap your tracks.
Heavenly Valley, Calif.
The “Fun Meister” was in the zone when he dreamed up South Lake Tahoe: Pine-studded slopes square in the path of the Pacific storm track rise above the glistening lake, which is ringed by full-service Nevada casinos. Time it right and you could combine spring skiing, NCAA March Madness and après at Unbuckle, hosted at the Tamarack Lodge, featuring fur-trimmed bikini dancing and discounted drink and food specials.
And if you’re yearning for something a touch less extreme, the town of Truckee carries a chill Western vibe and loads of dining and drinking establishments.