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5 Fun Winter Family Vacation Ideas for Non Skiers

With winter fast approaching (okay, already here) many people are starting to think about their family travel plans. Or perhaps, if you've already booked, you're starting to plan your winter fun for next year. But if your family aren't skiers or snowboarders, what winter fun activities are available?

Are Ski Resorts Fun if You Don't Ski?

If you're the only member of your family or friend group who doesn't ski, it can be tempting to feel like a loser when your buddies are out there zipping around in the snow. But there are plenty of reasons not to ski. Let's face it, skiing is dangerous, cold, wet, and expensive. There is nothing wrong with not wanting to strap two planks of death wood to your feet and hurl yourself down a mountain.


That being said, you can still have fun at ski resorts if your family travel revolves around skiing. Take advantage of the heated pool or hot tub. Snuggle up in your PJs by the fire with a cup of hot cocoa and catch up on some reading. Peruse the local shops. Do some indoor fall activities with your little ones. Check out the snowshoe rentals and go for a hike. Enjoy the full service spa. And don't let any of those lunatics who spent the day cheating death and freezing their faces off make you feel bad for not participating.

5 Fun Winter Family Vacay Ideas for Non Skiers

For those who are ready for something a little different, we put together a list of our top 5 winter fun activities for non skiers to help you figure out your next outdoor adventure. Why not try one for your next winter vacation?

Caribbean (or Mexican) Christmas

We happen to think that Christmas is the perfect time to sit on the beach and sip a Piña Colada. November through April is the best time of year to visit the Caribbean: you're safe from hurricanes and the rainy season has ended. The weather is hot but not too hot, and while it is busy, there are plenty of secluded spots to get away from the crowds. Just don't forget to pack your swimsuit instead of your ice skates!


If the Caribbean is out of your price range, aim for Mexico instead. Baja California on the Pacific side is beautiful this time of year and offers both remote and metropolitan getaways. If you're within driving distance, consider renting a van or RV and driving down the peninsula. You'll be overwhelmed with free, beautiful camp spots perfect for beach time, surfing, and sampling the local fish tacos.

Dog Sledding

Prefer a cold weather Christmas? Many ski resorts offer dog sledding as an alternative to skiing, but you can also book a winter vacation based entirely around dog sledding. Places like Alberta, Canada, Anchorage Alaska, and even Jackson Hole, Wyoming have tour companies offering day trips and extended wilderness guided tour packages for those looking for a bit of adventure. You might even see the Northern Lights!


When booking a dog sledding tour, make sure the company you use is committed to fair and humane treatment of their animals. Some companies go out of their way to post their ethical guidelines on their website, but many do not. Customer reviews, blogs, and firsthand experience from friends is the best way to determine whether a company is treating their dogs humanely or not.

Ice Fishing

If dog sledding sounds a little too intense but you're still looking for a rugged outdoor experience, consider ice fishing or other camping-friendly winter activities like ice climbing or cross country skiing (yes, it's technically still skiing, but it's much more easy-going.) You can also sometimes go ice skating on frozen lakes.


Places like Colorado, Minnesota, and even California have world-class ice fishing lakes where you can find affordable lodging and enjoy winter fun for half of what ski resorts charge. If you've never ice fished before, it's best to go with an experienced friend or guide who can help you obtain the right permits and equipment, and find the best and safest spots.

National Parks

Our national parks are the pride of North America, but many people only seem to visit them during the peak seasons of spring and fall. Places like Lake Tahoe and Grand Teton National Park are partially accessible year-round and offer panoramic views, horseback riding, ice skating, cross country skiing, and all kinds of fun for non skiers and skiers alike.


Visiting a national park during the off-season can be a nice way to see major attractions while they are less crowded - just make sure that the things you want to see are open to the public during winter months.

The Big City

There's nothing like a big city at Christmas. Festive lights, carol singers, ice skating, sleigh rides, hot chocolate, live music...It's a wonderland full of urban winter fun for the whole family. Take a trip to your nearest big city to check out the town square, zip around the ice rink, and take in museums while they are less crowded.


Christmas is also a great time to visit the theatre - and you don't need to trek out to New York to find excellent holiday shows. Regional theatre companies put on high-quality productions. Taking in a show at your local community theatre is a great way to support the arts in your own hometown.

Snow Tubing

For non skiers who find themselves at a ski resort and want to try a high-octane winter activity, snow tubing is a great alternative to downhill skiing. Snow tubing is offered at many ski resorts, and is a "no-skill" fun activity for the whole family. Tubing hills are a nice option for little ones who may be too scared to strap on a pair of skis but still want to hang out with the older kids.


Summing it Up

Your next winter vacation doesn't have to be at a ski resort! There are many wonderful winter activities for non skiers to enjoy, from cold weather alternatives like ice skating and snow tubing to sun drenched winter vacations in the Caribbean, to a simple, low-cost trip to see the city lights in your nearest metropolis. Why not take a break from the slopes and plan your next winter getaway around the non skier in your life?