7 Winter Destinations That You Should Visit in Summer
The best time to visit these famous winter destinations? Right now.
Little-known fact: when summer temperatures set in, your favorite winter getaway does not just vanish into thin air. That beloved ski town, mountain escape or sled dog paradise probably offers some excellent year-round adventures. In some cases, these destinations are even more fun in the summer, when they’re not as crowded and take on a totally different vibe.
Below, check out Livability’s picks for winter getaways that rock all summer long.
1. Park City, UT
Park City is known for its ski scene and for the wintery Sundance Film Festival, but it has just as much to offer in the warmer months. Each summer, the famous Deer Valley ski resort transforms into a nature lover’s wonderland thanks to outdoor concerts, fly fishing, twilight bike rides, stand-up paddleboarding and scenic chairlift rides.
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Every summer Sunday, Park City’s Main Street plays host to Park Silly Weekend Festival, a multi-sensory experience of music, art and food. Oh, and did we mention the outdoor trails? Among the standouts are an epic 28-mile bike trail through the mountains and the gorgeous Armstrong hiking trail. If that’s not enough adrenaline for you, try out the tubing rides, ropes courses and other sports adventures at Utah Olympic Park.
2. Stowe, VT
Stowe’s ski scene is the stuff of legend, but its picturesque downtown is a destination in itself — especially during a storybook New England summer. Downtown Stowe is home to lovely boutiques and galleries that are well worth an afternoon stroll. Beer lovers, take note: Stowe has one of the most vibrant craft brewing scenes in the region. With breweries like The Alchemist, Von Trapp Brewing and Idletyme Brewing, you’ll never run out of cold suds to sample.
Of course, Stowe also has plenty of outdoor adventure to offer, from hiking along the Stowe Pinnacle Trail to mountain biking. You can beat the summer heat with some H2O at Moss Glen Falls or Bingham Falls. For a truly epic summer view, make your way to the top of Mt. Mansfield, the highest point in Vermont. Whether you get there by car, gondola, or hike, you’ll be glad you did. Bonus points if you take the zip line down!
3. Northern Michigan
Northern Michigan is known for its remote, snow-heavy winters that leave many locals snowed in and blissfully off the grid for the season. That said, even the most dedicated winter warriors here love the magic of a Midwestern summer. Tasha Stielstra, co-owner of Nature’s Kennel Sled Dog Racing & Adventures (dream job alert), loves the respite of the warmer months. “We love the peacefulness in the summertime,” Stielstra says. “We live very remotely so it’s easy for us to escape the summer tourist traffic and spend some quiet time with the dogs … We have lots of private and public lakes nearby which are great for swimming and we are within close proximity to both Lake Michigan and Lake Superior if we need to cool down in one of the big lakes.”
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Northern Michigan may look big on a map, but with a sparse population and wide open spaces, it can feel more like a tight-knit community. You can find summer adventure in Marquette, the largest city in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, but you’ll also want to explore the breathtaking Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore and the massive Tahquamenon Falls.
“Northern Michigan summers are unlike anything I've experienced anywhere else,” says Alex Beaton, a native Michigander, marketing pro and founder of The Awesome Mitten. “The weather is perfect — 80 degrees and sunny, no humidity and lakes aplenty!” Beaton love spending time at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, and the nearby foodie paradise that is Traverse City. “My ideal lineup [in Traverse City] is a late brunch at The Red Spire in the old state hospital grounds, Grand Traverse Commons, followed by a stroll by the water. Then, take advantage of the happy hour deals at Red Ginger if you're in the mood for cocktails, or 7Monks if you're more into the craft beer scene.” Yes please.
4. Aspen, CO
When summer temps make their way to Aspen, you can ditch your skis for walking shoes. “As soon as the lilacs come to full bloom, the trails and streets surrounding Aspen become intoxicating,” Jillian Livingston, Aspen local, travel writer, blogger and founder of Aspen Real Life and Aspen Connect. “By the end of June the temperatures can stay into the 60s well after dark and we stay outside playing until we need to go home for more layers.”
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Summer in Aspen is like living in a page of National Geographic. “Where I live we encounter wildlife all day long,” Livingston says. “Just yesterday alone I passed elk in the bright green meadows and a mommy deer and her two spotted tiny fawns treading as close to her hooves as they possibly could with coyotes and mountain lions lurking nearby.”
Get in tune with nature via mountain biking, camping, hiking on the Ute Trail and stand-up paddleboarding and rafting on the Roaring Fork River. Back in town, you can wander through the long-running Aspen Saturday Market for fresh produce and artisan treats.
5. Sun Valley, ID
Sun Valley was America’s very first ski resort, but it’s not just for winter escapes. “There is a saying that we come for the winter, and stay for the summer,” says real estate agent Sheila Liermann, who moved to Sun Valley in 1980 with just $30 in her pocket and never looked back. Liermann didn’t know a soul in Sun Valley when she arrived, but she stayed and built a life there — and the town’s gorgeous summers are part of the reason why.
“In short, the Sun Valley community is self-contained,” Liermann says. “On any given day we can visit an art gallery, then within minutes we can be on a hiking or mountain biking trail witnessing our glorious mountain vistas. Or we can fly fish from the River Run Bridge. Or we take our mutts to the dog park to commune with other humans who know that dogs make us better human beings. And then we can finish the day at any of our great restaurants, all unique across varied price ranges and cuisines.”
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And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Summer in Sun Valley means live music at the Sun Valley Pavillion, golf at the renowned Sun Valley Golf Course, horseback riding at Sun Valley Stables, year-round outdoor ice skating, and scenic gondola rides on Bald Mountain. You’ll be hard pressed to run out of things to do in this town. “And the next day we start all over,” Liermann says. “Different activities, same bliss.”
6. Duluth, MN
Long, frigid winters make Duluth locals pros at making the most of their short but glorious summers. “A big perk to summer up north is that most people take advantage of every summer day!” says Duluth resident Ashley Klingsheim, social media manager of Duluth’s City Moms community. “There are so many green spaces, parks, and of course, beaches.”
This northern city is on the shore of Lake Superior, which isn’t your average lake — it looks more like a freshwater ocean than a low-key local watering hole. “People travel from all over Minnesota and beyond to catch glimpses of Lake Superior and enjoy the beauty that we get in our own backyard every day,” Klingsheim says.
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Anyone looking to get out on the water can spend their summer days stand-up paddle boarding and boating on the lake. For an outdoor adrenaline rush, walk across the scenic Swing Bridge at Jay Cooke State Park, which towers over the St. Louis River, or try rock climbing at the Positive Energy Outdoors education center.
And then, of course, there’s downtown Duluth. The city is a longtime maritime destination, and freighters headed toward the Atlantic make their way out to sea from here. Summer is a perfect time to gawk at the city’s stunning century-old Aerial Lift Bridge. This epic feat of engineering raises and lowers all day to accommodate the height of ships passing beneath it en route to Lake Superior. Wander along the Duluth Lakewalk for excellent views of the bridge before heading into town for a foodie adventure at one of the city’s hottest restaurants.
7. Jackson Hole, WY
Jackson Hole is just a stone’s throw away from both Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, so it’s no surprise that this ski town has a whole lot of summer magic to offer. Jackson Hole’s charming Town Square is home to galleries and restaurants, and the nearby National Museum of Wildlife Art displays creations by the likes of Andy Warhol and Georgia O’Keeffe.
Local ranches (and of course, those epic national parks) offer ample opportunity for camping and glamping escapes. Outdoorsy locals can enjoy whitewater rafting on the Snake River, leisurely float trips and epic fly fishing. Off-season ski resorts offer gorgeous gondola rides, and sensational mountaintop hiking trails. It’s like living in a mountain postcard. Sign us up!