Winter Adventure at Alyeska

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Photo © Alyeska Resort

Stay & Ski at Alyeska Resort: Girdwood, Alaska

The only developed ski resort in Alaska is home to North America’s longest double back ski run as well as a plethora of other winter-wonderland activities. Whether it be the Torchlight Parade down the slopes with an evening fireworks show, or the Telepalooza filled with live music and fun events, this is one of Alaska’s most exciting destinations.

For all you competitive spirits out there, Telepalooza includes a competition called the North Face Vertical Challenge to see which skier can get the most vertical feet racked up—a perfect excuse to be on the slopes all day long.

Alyeska has it all: a mountaintop AAA four-diamond restaurant, dog sledding excursions, aurora viewing and much more, all for a getaway the whole family can enjoy.

Fly into Anchorage, take the Alaska Railroad (alaskaailroad.com) to Girdwood and shuttle to Alyeska. To book your stay and check event dates, visit alyeskaresort.com. Be sure to check out Alyeska’s Stay & Ski packages for special savings.

Stay in a Working Waterfront Town: Anacortes, Washington

Anacortes, located halfway between Seattle and Vancouver BC, provides a coastal island getaway for those seeking new places to enjoy. During the winter months, you’ll practically have the town to yourself. Stay at the restored Majestic Inn and Spa (majesticinnandspa.com) or at the Swinomish Casino and Lodge (swinomishcasinoandlodge.com), a short drive out of town.

Photo © Steve Berenston courtesy of Anacortes Chamber of Commerce

Within walking distance of the downtown hotel awaits many shops and restaurants. Among the city’s historic buildings, you will find boutiques, bookshops, art galleries and antique stores galore. Take an evening walk down Commercial Street and the working waterfront, stopping at Adrift Restaurant for new American cuisine and fresh seafood. For inventive breakfasts, check out Dad’s.

For a real Anacortes adventure, hire a fishing charter to take you blackmouth (the resident Chinook salmon) fishing. Or head to the city’s 220-acre Washington Park and drive its 2.2-mile loop through coastal forest and meadows with photo-perfect views of the San Juans Islands and Olympic Mountains.

For more to do and see visit anacortes.org.

Finders Keepers: Lincoln City, Oregon

The hunt is on! This winter, a beautiful seven-mile stretch of the Oregon Coast will expose 3,000 unique blown glass balls that have been scattered meticulously around the beach—and it’s your job to find them. The best part? You keep what you discover.

Lincoln City offers not only a fun treasure hunt, Finders Keepers, that the whole family can enjoy, but also a comforting place to relax after a day of beachcombing. Chinook Winds Casino Resort offers a cozy place to stay and a variety of activities, such as concerts, an arcade for the kids and their signature Sunday brunch.

Don’t forget to text 24587 and enter FLOAT or go to the Visitor Information Center in Lincoln City to register your sea glass goodie! By doing this you help the folks in Oregon keep track of the art, and you can learn more about the artist that made your favorite new mantel piece.

To make reservations at Chinook Winds, go to chinookwindscasino.com. To learn more about Lincoln City, go to oregoncoast.org.

Gig Harbor, Washington

This winter on Valentine’s Day, treat your loved one to a charming, romantic weekend away in Gig Harbor, Washington. This waterfront city offers a pleasant, secluded bay for dining, shopping and relaxation.

During one of the most romantic times of the year, stay at the inviting Maritime Inn or Waterfront Inn. Take a stroll around downtown to explore  the delightful boutiques, art galleries and antique shops. Visit the Harbor History Museum to indulge yourself in Gig Harbor’s culture. Or drink up at the Maritime City’s famous Heritage Distillery, Morso Wine or 7 Seas Brewery. Dine at award-winning Brix 25 or Tides Tavern for more casual pub grub.

Looking for a “sea”sonal, extravagant way to celebrate your love? Take a gondola ride with Gig Harbor Gondola. Cozy up in warm blankets while John “Cinque” Synco gives you a private tour of the bay.

Visit gigharborguide.com and gigharborgondola.com for more information about Gig Harbor.

Dining in a Yurt, Big Sky, Montana

Your coach awaits. Snowcoach, that is. Pack your long johns and mittens and head to Big Sky, Montana, for a dining adventure that, in itself, is worth the trip.

First, check into your hotel at Big Sky Resort and get settled. Then bundle up and get ready for your rendezvous with Montana Backcountry Adventures. After the sun sets over the mountains, your guide will gather you and other dinner guests at the Snowcrest Building at Big Sky Resort’s Mountain Village, where you’ll pile into a snowcoach and enjoy a 20-minute trundle up the mountain.

You’ll arrive to a blazing bonfire, a torch-lit sledding hill, your dining yurt in the background, all overlooking Big Sky Valley. Play in the snow or cozy up to the fire while, inside, the chef puts finishing touches on dinner.

When the dinner bell rings, you find the ambiance of a romantic country dining room inside the yurt. A fire crackles in the stove. Candles and lamps burn above linen tablecloths. A musician deftly fingers the strings of an acoustic guitar as your senses awaken to the heady aromas of French onion soup and roast beef.

Conversations liven as guests are seated at long tables, family style. After the first two courses, everyone partakes in the ritual of chocolate fondue, a perfect dessert in a magical mountain setting.

Book your lodging at Big Sky at bigskyresort.com. To reserve your yurt dining experience, go to skimba.com.

Lava Hot Springs, Idaho

Historically, people used hot springs to bathe, relax and heal. The waters supposedly had healing powers associated with the hot mineral water, causing many people to flock to them.

Today, Lava Hot Springs, Idaho, about four hours from Boise, offers hot springs for relaxation and a great time. The pools offer different temperatures for those with different preferences. The warm waters provide a sanctuary from the cold, winter air outside.

Photo © Idaho Tourism

If you need a place to extend your relaxing day and stay the night, check out Home Hotel Lava Hot Springs. The hot pools are within walking distance from the hotel and some of their rooms offer personal hot springs baths. Riverside Hot Springs Inn, located downtown as well, provides hot springs and a spa along with their other amenities.

For more rates and hours at the hot springs visit lavahotsprings.com and for more activities in Lava Hot Springs, Idaho, go to lavahotsprings.org.

Whistler, BC (for non-skiers)

At Whistler, who has time for skiing? Don’t misunderstand, this is one of the world’s best ski resorts. But, if you don’t hit the slopes, you’ll have no trouble filling your days and evenings with excitement at this busy village, less than two hours north of Vancouver, B.C.

Two museums have put Whistler on the world cultural stage: the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre (SLCC) and the recently-opened Audain Art Museum. Not to be missed, the stunning SLCC celebrates the heritage and cultures of the First Nations peoples of the area. The Audain, also an architectural gem, exhibits the works of prominent BC artists. Taking in both museums can absorb the better part of a day, so plan accordingly.

The winding village pedestrian lanes are home to more than 200 boutique shops and galleries. Browse to your heart’s content, and pick up a few made-in-BC gifts for loved ones back home. And stop in for a well-deserved treatment at one of the day spas you’ll pass.

When it’s time to dine, you’ll discover world class chefs whipping up amazing and distinctive food. You need go no further than the letter A in an alphabetical list of eateries to find the best fine dining: Araxi (in the village) and Aura (at Nita Lake Lodge).

Don’t miss a sightseeing ride on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, a thrilling journey on the world’s longest unsupported span. While on top of Blackcomb Mountain, enjoy a cocktail, lunch and the view from Christine’s, one of Whistler’s newest and best.

To find lodging and plan your getaway, visit whistler.com.