While most people hunker down in the winter in their cozy homes and try to stay warm, the adventurous plan winter vacations where they can venture out into the snow and ski — as well as other winter activities. However, towns known for their fabulous skiing and gorgeous natural beauty — such as Vail and Aspen in Colorado or Jackson, Wyoming — also come with a hefty price tag.
Fortunately, there are a number of lesser-known ski towns that are both beautiful and affordable to visit this winter. Here are six standouts.
Taos, New Mexico
Though New Mexico is often celebrated for its gorgeous desert and forested mountains, it’s a popular place for skiers, too. And though you may imagine that the town of Taos, with a population of 5,872, would come at a high cost for a ski vacation, it’s actually quite affordable as ski trips go, according to Trips To Discover.
According to Sperling’s Best Places, the cost of living in Taos is 3.5% less than the rest of the U.S. and this extends to the cost of tourism. So enjoy a trip in the Sangre de Cristos Mountains of northern New Mexico. Ski at Taos Sky Valley with its adventurous landscape and 1,300 acres to hit the slopes.
Leadville, Colorado, which may sound dull, is actually a wonderful place to spend a ski vacation, particularly if you like Victorian inns, affordable hotels and even an old Irish pub called The Silver Dollar Saloon — founded in 1877. A former gold rush town, Leadville, which only has a current population of 2,770, is steeped in history and natural beauty.
The cost of living is 5.2% less than the rest of the U.S., according to Sperling’s Best Places, and is a lot cheaper than many other popular ski destinations in Colorado. Check out Ski Cooper, an affordable resort according to Trips To Discover.
Vadito, New Mexico
New Mexico has claimed two spots on this list because you just can’t go wrong with its rugged combination of desert, forest and mountains. Vadito is only 20 miles southeast of Taos, with a population of just 315.
Here, the cost of living is a significant 15.2% lower than the rest of the U.S. according to Sperling’s Best Places. You’ll find an affordable, family run ski resort called Sipapu, which is family-friendly and has a variety of runs and trails for skiers of different abilities, according to Trips to Discover.
The town of Scranton is most well known for being the location of the sitcom “The Office,” as well as President Joe Biden’s hometown, but it’s also a great place for skiers to vacation, according to Realtor.com.
The biggest town on our list, Scranton has a population of 76,532 and a wide variety of terrain for skiers. One recommended ski resort is Montage Mountain, which is not far from Philadelphia and New York City. The resort has ski runs for all experience levels. It’s also a much more affordable town to stay in if you want to ski in the Pocono Mountains, a couple hours away. Scranton’s cost of living is 21% less than the rest of the U.S. according to Sperling’s Best Places.
Malone, New York
Upstate New York is full of forested beauty and great skiing at the right price, if you just know where to look. According to Realtor.com, a little town very close to the Adirondack Mountains called Malone is a wonderfully affordable place to vacation if you love to ski.
Here, where the population is 14,103, you’ve got a number of options for places to stay, but Realtor.com recommends the Titus Mountain Family Ski Center, whose elevation at the peak is around 2,000 feet. They’ve got 10 lifts and a whopping 58 trails of a variety of skill levels. You’ll also find a lot of places to eat nearby, and the cost of living in Malone is 27.2% cheaper than the rest of the U.S. according to Sperling’s Best Places.
Perhaps the most affordable place to vacation and ski on this list is in the Buckeye State, in a little town called Mansfield. According to Sperling’s Best Places, the cost of living here is more than 31% less than the rest of the U.S. One real estate agent named Peter Haring told Realtor.com that it’s “an undiscovered secret” housed quietly between big cities like Cleveland and Columbus.
Once devastated by factory closings as recent as the early 2000s, this town is having a comeback. Realtor.com recommends checking out Snow Trails resort, which has one of the longest tubing lanes of any resort in Ohio, and even offers “glow tubing” with colorful lights.
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