Ski destinations are ranked by snowfall, terrain, and vertical drop, but as any skier will tell you, there’s more to skiing than hitting the slopes. The term après-ski was coined as a reference to the activities that accompany a long day on the mountains and the culture and lifestyle that surround skiing. For us, that means excellent food, and we’ve searched for the ski towns around the world that offer not just powdery inclines, but memorable dining experiences.
We started with top-ranked ski towns, and then looked for the ones with mention of a notable restaurant scene. From there, we rated each ski town using the following criteria: variety and range of dining options, the presence of renowned chefs, the frequency of mentions in top food publications, Michelin recognition, and whether the town was home to any well-known food festivals or events.
We discovered that eating well and skiing well often go hand-in-hand. It’s not uncommon for top ski destinations to also have world-renowned eateries, such as the Alpine ski resort of Courchevel, France, home to seven Michelin-starred restaurants. Traveling to ski can also be an opportunity to explore regional specialties, like the raclettes in Zamblett, Switzerland, the parrillas in Bariloche, Argentina, or the New England farm fare in Stowe, Vermont. It’s no wonder, then, that a town like Aspen, Colorado is equally heralded for its skiing as it is its famous food festival, the Food & Wine Classic.
While “hot dog” might refer to the trickery performed by a showoff on the slopes, it’s a far cry from what you’ll be eating if you follow our guide for après-ski dining. Whether you’re an adventure skier looking to set a new record or a recreational snow bunny equally as interested in the fireside lounging as the wintry terrain, our list is everything you need to find the best ski towns for food.
Sunday River draws skiers and snowboarders to the small town of Bethel, Maine, with some of the best snow conditions—and one of the longest winter-sports seasons—in the East. And while it’s not exactly a rollicking party town, there’s plenty of fun to be had here once you’re off the slopes.
The Foggy Goggle bar is the main venue for après-ski drinks, good food and live music right at the mountain, and if you’re staying at the Summit Hotel and don’t feel like driving, it has some late-night atmosphere, too. The new-ish restaurant at the hotel, Camp, also gets good reviews for its rustic atmosphere and upscale comfort food.
Right down the access road is the legendary Matterhorn, a rambling roadhouse of a ski bar which is a pretty sure bet for danceable live music and great pizza. The Sunday River shuttle will drop you off right at the door, and the last pickup is late enough to allow a full night of fun with friends old and new.
Founded in 1774, Bethel village is sometimes overlooked by Sunday River visitors, but it’s a cute little New England town with some nice restaurants (22 Broad for fine dining, Cho Sun for sushi and karaoke) and bars (local favorite Suds, and the venerable but lively Funky Red Barn) of its own.
Alta Badia lies at the north-eastern corner of the Sella Ronda, at the heart of the vast Dolomiti Superski area. The resort covers six villages, the biggest of which are Corvara, San Cassiano and La Villa. It has 130 km of its own runs, but makes a good base for exploring the Dolomiti Superski area.
Much of Alta Badia’s own skiing is on an undulating plateau and only the runs back down to the villages offer much of a test for good skiers. Experts will find one black run here – the Gran Risa World Cup descent to La Villa. As you'd expect with such a vast area, there is plenty of off-piste, including the Val Mezdis, known as the "Vallé Blanche of the Dolomites" and the 1,400 metre descent down the Val Setus. What it perhaps lacks in terms of steeps, Alta Badia more than makes up for in terms of scale.
When it comes to Italian food and wine, they don't come Alta Badia - which boasts that "no other valley in the Alps has such a density of highly decorated restaurants in such a small area," including two Michelin-starred restaurants with four stars between them. Even the mountain huts here offer gourmet food, with Rifugio Bioch a favourite. Start your après at Utia Club Moritzino, and go on from there.
Read our full ski resort review of Alta Badia here.
Waterbury, Vermont: Starting to look like a ski town
Median Home Price: $288,000
Miles from a chairlift: 17
Chuck Hughson was in his late-20s when he found his home in the mountains. He had worked for REI for seven years and had a job at Burton Snowboards in Burlington, Vermont. Rentals and real estate near his favorite resort, Stowe, were out of reach, so he found a place between the hill and his job: Waterbury.
Waterbury was just coming into its own. For years, it had been known as the home of a sprawling brick compound known as the State Office Complex and a mental hospital that once housed the criminally insane. (“Send him to Waterbury,” was once a saying in the state.) The town was a whistle-stop at the crossroads of Highway 89, Route 2, and Route 100—the Skier’s Highway—that most glimpsed from their passenger windows on their way to somewhere else. Hughson had stopped over plenty of times for gas, food, and occasionally a beer. When he moved there permanently in 2009, his friends were surprised. “They were like, ‘Waterbury?’” he said. “And I told them, ‘Yeah, it’s the place to be.’”
He was right. Set on the eastern fringe of Vermont’s Green Mountains, Waterbury is the quintessential satellite ski town. It is located 25 miles southeast of Burlington, wedged between the 4,000-plus-foot summits of Mount Mansfield and Camel’s Hump. Stowe Mountain Resort, Sugarbush, Mad River, and Bolton Valley are all less than 20 miles away. The town had been a skier’s hub since the first $3 ski trains rolled north from New York City’s Grand Central Terminal in the 1930s. Hundreds of skiers emerged from overnight sleepers and dispersed into Vermont’s mountains to ride the rope tows for 25 cents a day.
In the 1990s, a group named “Revitalizing Waterbury” set out to return the town to its former alpine glory. Ben & Jerry’s had been churning out ice cream from its Waterbury factory since the 1980s. Over the course of 20 years, the now-legendary Alchemist Brewery (Heady Topper), Green Mountain Coffee Roasters, Cabot Creamery, Cold Hollow Cider Mill, and a solar installation company called SunCommon also set up shop there. Arts and music followed. A pub renaissance took over downtown. People began stopping over to grab a bite or drink a brew after skiing. Then they started moving there.
Hughson and his wife were shocked when a low bid they put on a house was accepted. After many years living in ski country, the idea of actually owning a home near a ski resort had seemed impossible. There are many others like them in town now, Hughson said: “Stowe employees, ski industry reps, ski bums, World Cup bootfitter P.J. Dewey, late-20s dudes trying to ski 80 days a year and work 40 hours a week, I see them all in the lift line.”
Instead of service or resort jobs, skiers living in Waterbury can work just about anywhere. Hughson’s wife has a job at Blue Cross Blue Shield in Berlin, Vermont. Other friends work at Stowe or commute to Burlington. Hughson eventually quit his job and opened Waterbury Sports with two business partners. “Friday and Saturday nights we stay open until 7 p.m.,” he said. “There are so many people in town waiting to be seated at a restaurant, they wander in and buy something.”
Off-resort living has gotten so popular in Waterbury that the town is seeing its own housing crunch, said Cindy Lyons, owner of Waterbury’s New England Landmark Realty, though that’s still just a $288,000 median price. Where ski town development is often limited by geographic or conservation constraints, though, towns like Waterbury have an easier time expanding with the population. “They are building rental units right now outside of town,” Lyons said. “They’re filling them up as fast as they are building them.”
Driving into town—past the woodlots, post-and-beam barns, and rolling stands of sugar maple you see on postcards from Vermont—Waterbury is starting to look like a ski town. From the east, you cross over the Winooski River and pass a half dozen clapboard colonial saltboxes. Pickups stacked with cordwood line South Main Street in the fall, alongside sport wagons crammed with kids, skis, and commuter bikes.
The Prohibition Pig marks the edge of downtown, and the beginning of Waterbury’s foodie quarter. Skiers often après at the Pig, taking down one of its 20 craft beers and signature pork cracklins. Blush Hill Bistro, Hen of the Wood, The Reservoir, and Michael’s on the Hill are other hotspots. Downtown is a collection of brick federals that looks a bit like Telluride. The Old Stagecoach Inn, built in 1826, has a stunning parlor and book-lined library bar. To the north is the Ben & Jerry’s mothership and The Alchemist brewery.
There are more young people than old in town now. A quarter of the people in Waterbury are under the age of 18. (The mean age is 37.) Hughson and his wife will soon add another, their first-born.
“Weekdays in the winter I get to Stowe at 8 a.m.,” he said. “I hit Star, Nosedive, Bypass, whatever is good, then I drive home, take a shower, walk the dog, and ride my bike two minutes to the shop. What else do you need?” —Porter Fox
The 10 best ski resorts for food lovers
Enjoying leisurely lunches and sophisicated dinners is part of the joy of skiing and snowboarding Credit: getty
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W e all know skiing and snowboarding is about the slopes, right? Pristine pistes in big ski areas that keep us travelling say, or fresh snow for fluffy powder turns, or exciting terrain parks. But there’s no denying that eating well, knowing that it’s at least fairly well deserved after all that exercise, is part of the pleasure too.
While self-service eateries dishing out mediocre spag bol at high prices exist, there has always been good food in the mountains. Think filling local specialities loaded with mountain ingredients – the glorious once-a-year cheese fests of fondue and raclette in Switzerland or France, or Tiroler gröstl, made with fried potatoes, onions and leftover meat with an egg on top in Austria.
We can go on… Polenta with a slow-cooked meat ragu in Italy, peerless steaks and burgers in North America. Not to mention desserts like the fluffy chopped up pancakes of Austrian Kaiserschmarrn, or the melt in the mouth pastry of French fruit tarts.
These days, however, whether on mountain or on the streets of increasingly gourmet-focused resorts, fine-dining opportunities are on the up. Michelin-starred restaurants, young locals bringing new life to mountain ingredients, celebratory food-focused festivals featuring well-known chefs are all just waiting to be discovered.
Some days it works to ski hard all day, stopping only for snack or hot chocolate, in anticipation of three wonderful courses in the evening. On others, a leisurely lunch on the mountain seems essential. Whichever your favourite way to dine, here are our 10 favourite foodie resorts – let’s eat!
Unless stated otherwise, prices are per person half-board, based on two people sharing a double or twin room for seven nights, including flights and transfers.
Best for intermediate hut cruising
San Cassiano, Italy
The quiet village of San Cassiano and its livelier, family-friendly neighbour Corvara are situated in the heart of the spectacular Italian Dolomites, with access to a huge playground of intermediate slopes. Not only are the villages home to two Michelin-starred restaurants, the ski area is rich in delightful mountain restaurants, and each year there are gastronomic events to celebrate them.
The local Alta Badia ski area gives easy access to the huge Sella Ronda circuit of slopes, and both are rich in cruisy, confidence-boosting red runs that are usually well groomed. At sunset, the cliffs and crags of the Dolomites turn an extraordinarily vibrant shade of pink. The panorama is so enchanting that eyes are perpetually drawn to the skyline, and sometimes it’s hard to concentrate on the snow underfoot.
The annual Taste for Skiing initiative in Alta Badia includes wine orientated events such as skiing with a sommelier, as well as good-value gourmet dishes designed by celebrated chefs served in the mountain restaurants. For dining at altitude with superb mountain views, the Piz Boè Alpine Lounge by the Boè cable car up from Corvara is recommended. Off the slopes, the five-star Rosa Alpina in San Cassiano is home to the three Michelin-star St Hubertus restaurant, while in Corvara there’s two-starred La Stüa de Michil.
Where to stay
As well as gourmet fare at the three-Michelin starred Hubertus, the family run five-star Rosa Alpina hotel serves pizza in its wine bar and has a traditional fondue stube. It’s close to the lifts and there is a large spa. From £2,400 B&B with Scott Dunn.
Best for good-natured partying
Ischgl is often overlooked by the British – which is surprising, given its full-throttle nightlife and high-quality intermediate pistes. And, unlike many Austrian resorts, as well as hotels with high standards of cooking and prices to match, it also boasts a big variety of independent restaurants. It is famed for its opening and closing parties featuring celebrated artists including Elton John, Kylie Minogue and Robbie Williams over the years. The 2018/19 season closer is American rocker Lenny Kravitz, on April 30.
The old farming village has developed over the years into a sophisticated tourist centre, with smart hotels and cavernous bars, and from 3.30pm, the atmosphere in the village and at the foot of the pistes is electric. For fine dining, the Paznaunerstube in the Hotel Trofana Royal has three Gault Millau toques – chef Martin Sieberer specialises in regional cooking with a twist. The wine cellar house 25,000 bottles from around the world.
Ischgl’s 239km of pistes – the area is linked to Samnaun in Switzerland – offer something for all standards and the lift system is constantly being updated. For on-mountain dining, the contemporary restaurant Alpenhaus, on the mountain at Idalp, has a tranquil table service option with an enticing menu. Desserts are a highlight, including a trio of nougat, chocolate and apricot.
Where to stay
As well as being home to chef Martin Sieberer’s Paznaunerstube restaurant the five-star superior Trofana Royal has the Heimatbühne, serving traditional cuisine, plus a pool and wellness area. From £1,699 with Crystal.
Best for guaranteed snow
Val Thorens, France
Set at 2,300m, purpose-built Val Thorens is not only the highest resort in the giant Trois Vallées ski area that includes Courchevel and Méribel, but the highest in Europe. Its lofty altitude means slopes from the door, with pretty much guaranteed snow cover from November onwards. There are also plenty of good restaurants.
Since 1971, when the first ugly blocks rose from this white wasteland, Val Thorens has developed into an almost attractive, sophisticated resort with an ever-growing number of five-star hotels with fine restaurants. These include one-Michelin-starred Les Explorateurs, overseen by Chef Josselin Jeanblanc in the Hotel Pashmina, chic bistro Les Enfants Terribles at the Altapura and Le Diamant Noir with spectacular views at the Koh-i-Nor. Nightlife is nonetheless young and surprisingly vibrant.
The local terrain suits everyone from beginner to expert, but the vast majority of visitors are intermediate, for whom Val Thorens is a dream – Chalet de la Marine is the pick of the on-mountain restaurants here, with plenty of atmosphere and delicious traditional cuisine. It’s well worth heading to the neighbouring Trois Vallées territories of Les Menuires and St Martin de Belleville for long cruising and, at times, demanding runs. St Martin is also home to three-Michelin star La Bouitte, under father and son team René and Maxime Meilleur.
Port Townsend, Washington
Sweet Laurette's is ALWAYS a must ?
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Seafood shacks, afternoon tea, craft cocktails and rye bread worth lining up for can all be found in this coastal Pacific Northwest gem. The beloved Sweet Laurette Cafe & Bistro is lovely for breakfast, lunch or dinner, and features cooking classes, which are perfect for when you fall in love with its lemon ricotta pancakes and French classics.
Every skier and snowboarder in the country has heard of Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Its reliable annual snowfall, expansive front, back and side country terrain and over 4,000 feet of continuous vertical slopes make it one of the most popular ski destinations in North America. Fortunately, the nearby town of Jackson has après-ski scene that can keep up. Before ending your night at the famous Mangy Moose, located in Teton Village, make sure to stop at the Bistro at Alpenhof Lodge, a Swiss-alpine style bar and restaurant. The Million Dollar Cowboy Bar is another Jackson classic.
Jackson Wyoming and Teton Valley. (Photo by Adventure_Photo / Getty Images)
The friendly town of Twisp in Washington&rsquos Methow Valley is an excellent place to chow down. Start your day with a cup of joe from Blue Star Coffee Roasters and a slice of quiche from Cinnamon Twisp Bakery, grab a casual lunch at Fork Food Truck or Glover Street Market, and finish off the day with a sit-down meal at Tappi or Linwood Restaurant.
Photo courtesy of Twisp Chamber of Commerce
Tasty things sometimes come in very small packages. These 10 small towns – each with a population of under 25,000 – have big food scenes with chef-driven restaurants, local flavors and plenty of variety, especially given their small size.
The top 10 winners in the category Best Small Town Food Scene are as follows:
- Abingdon - Virginia
- Punta Gorda - Florida
- Thibodaux - Louisiana
- Lewisburg - West Virginia
- Stillwater - Minnesota
- Saranac Lake - New York
- Oxford - Mississippi
- Orange Beach - Alabama
- Collingswood - New Jersey
- Twisp - Washington
A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to pick the initial nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote.
Congratulations to all these winning small towns!
Beaver Creek is Vail’s fancier sister resort, although let's face it, Vail is fancy, too. This beautiful resort is nestled among the aspen trees. It's about 15 to 20 minutes from Vail. It's about 30 minutes from Eagle County Regional Airport and about two hours from Denver.
Beaver Creek is a luxury ski resort. It provides short lift lines and fast lifts to long, well-groomed runs — in fact, they groom 600 acres daily! Beaver Creek has 1,800 skiable acres and 150 trails. The gorgeous Beaver Creek Village is sprinkled with fire pits, helpful employees, family programming, a performing arts center and an ice rink. One of our family favorite perks is getting free warm cookies after skiing! You can catch weekly fireworks on the mountain. There are many great restaurants, from casual to fine dining.
While Beaver Creek may be at the top of your budget, it’s quite nice. You can save money by buying lift tickets in advance through Undercover Tourist. These lift tickets are also good at nearby Vail.
It’s a difficult decision to pick from all of the best ski resorts in Colorado for your family. Hopefully, our guide has helped narrow down your options. If the resort you choose is near another ski resort, you might hop on over for a day of skiing and riding to add some variety … perhaps scout it out for your next trip? We frogs have the travel bug and are always looking ahead to the next adventure!
Once you choose from the best ski resorts in Colorado, you might need help in reserving a rental car, finding a hoppin’ deal on ski hotel and equipment rentals, or purchasing the Epic Pass or Ikon Pass. Hop on over to all of our other ski-related blog topics for more helpful tips on skiing with kids, ski school, getting the right equipment or clothing, ski safety and even sanity-saving tips to simply make it all easier.
3 . Valle NevadoWelcome to Valle Nevado, the largest resort in Chile
With about 2,200 ac of skiable terrain, Valle Nevado is Chile’s largest resort. Thanks to the local geography and its higher elevation, the resort often has the best snow in the Tres Valles which is kept fresher longer than the neighboring resorts. The purpose-built base area is designed to welcome international visitors with plenty of multilingual staff members as well as activities to keep everyone entertained. There’s something suitable for a range of budgets, along with all the other features that make for a wonderful family-friendly destination. Just note, beginner terrain isn’t the easiest to get to.
Fabulous plates in Bloomington
Breakfast @ Farmbloomington Signature buttermilk biscuits, with eggs, bacon, gravy--or just a smear of butter. farm-bloomington.com
[email protected] Inn Eggs Charleston, made with sage sausage, shiitake mushrooms, onions, a toasted English muffin and hollandaise. scholarsinn.com
Sweets @ Blu Boy Chocolate Among lovely truffles, a deceptively humble espresso-chocolate mudslide cookie. bluboychocolates.com
Pictured: Berry shortcake at Farmbloomington