Park City, Utah
This winter Olympics site is the perfect place to challenge your inner summer athlete.
Hot Sports: Speed downhill on the Alpine Coaster (snowboarder Shaun White screamed all the way), or buddy up and ride side by side on the Alpine Slide. At Olympic Park, ski-jump off a mini ramp into the pool, ride the Comet Bobsled (piloted by a professional) at 70 mph (ages 14 and up), or watch the U.S. aerial ski team show off high-flying moves at Saturday shows (utaholympiclegacy.com). If biking and hiking are more your speed, Park City has miles of trails.
Cool Happenings: Experience the town's gold rush heritage at Park City Museum (parkcityhistory.org), where you can board a mining cage and "dynamite" a tunnel, then scare up some spirits on Park City Ghost Tours (parkcityghosttours.com). Though the Sundance Film Festival happens in winter, catch free indie movies under the stars on Thursdays in June, July and August—and maybe even spot Robert Redford, who lives in nearby Sundance.
Lodging Deals: Centrally located on charming Main Street, Treasure Mountain Inn is eco-friendly and a short walk or shuttle ride from the mountain. One-bedroom suites with kitchens sleep two adults and two kids under 12 starting at $150 a night; two-bedrooms from $225 (treasuremountaininn.com). For town homes, try Newpark Resort & Hotel, which has its own central village and pools; two-bedrooms from $175 (newparkresort.com).
Side Trip: Heber Valley Historic Railroad (30 minutes away) offers two distinct experiences on vintage trains: The Raft 'n Rail Adventure chugs through scenic Provo Canyon and stops for whitewater rafting, while Reins 'n Trains features a dramatized train robbery (hebervalleyrr.org).
More Info: visitparkcity.com
Vail/Beaver Creek, Colorado
The country's largest ski resort has a vibrant summer arts scene that shouldn't be missed.
Hot Sports: Hike or bike Vail's recreational path through the Bavarian-style village; check out fly-fishing clinics along Gore Creek. The Eagle Bahn gondola whisks you to Adventure Ridge at 10,000 feet for bocce, volleyball, disk golf, a bungee trampoline and a climbing wall. In Beaver Creek Village, ice-skate in your shorts or ride horses through the hills (vailhorses.com). One town over, in Avon, watch cowboys rope broncos at weekly rodeos.
Cool Happenings: On Sundays, the Vail Farmers' Market and Art Show serves up food, crafts and live jazz. Meet more musicians at Free & Easy concerts during the Bravo! Vail Valley Music Festival (June 25-August 4), or dance in the street flash-mob style at the Vail International Dance Festival (July 29-August 11). Families compete in water-balloon tosses and pizza-twirling contests and watch raptor shows at the Family Saturday Afternoon Club in Lionshead Village (mid-June to mid-August).
Lodging Deals: Vail Cascade Resort & Spa has a huge fitness center, two pools and spacious standard rooms—most with balconies—starting at $121 a night (vailcascade.com) . Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa at Beaver Creek Mountain's teen programming (for ages 12 to 16) includes Improv Movie Making and Hobo Cookouts (fees vary). Studio suites with kitchens start at $229 a night; one-bedroom condos start at $239 a night (westinriverfrontbeavercreek.com).
Side Trip: Water sports rule in the Victorian town of Glenwood Springs (an hour from Vail). Raft the Colorado River (glenwoodadventure.com) and soak in the world's largest hot springs pool, with slides and diving boards (hotspringspool.com). At Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, the Giant Canyon Swing hurls theme park junkies over the river (glenwoodcaverns.com).
Big Sky, Montana
Try nearly every kind of outdoor adventure.
Hot Sports: In Mountain Village, check out the bungee trampoline or high ropes course (balance beams and swinging bridges up to 30 feet above the ground)! Ride the chairlift up Lone Peak mountain (bikes allowed), then hike or pedal down the trails, or take the Lone Peak Expedition (combination chairlift, safari vehicle and tram tour). Don't forget to go whitewater rafting on the Gallatin River; Geyser Whitewater Expeditions leads half-day trips.
Cool Happenings: Chow down at Monday night pig roasts at 320 Guest Ranch. Save Thursday nights for Music in the Mountains, free concerts held in the Town Center in Meadow Village. The Big Sky Country Fair & Arts Festival showcases local artisans, farmers, chefs and musicians on July 28.
Lodging Deals: Rustic Buck's T-4 Lodge offers basic, cozy hotel rooms with free breakfast at their restaurant; rooms start at $139 per night. Or make yourself at home in a Big Horn condo, less than a quarter mile from Mountain Village; one-bedroom, two-bath units with kitchens and living areas sleep four, from $217.
Side Trip: Spend at least a day in Yellowstone, about 30 minutes away. Watch Old Faithful blow its stack and explore nearby trails for more gushing geysers, bubbling mud pots and colorful thermal springs. Drive the park's Grand Loop Road—bison and elk abound! And definitely hike the rim of Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone for its amazing waterfalls.
A beach and mountain vacation, all in one!
Hot Sports: The lake's calm water makes it a great place to learn stand-up paddleboarding; Tahoe Adventure Company offers intro lessons and tours. Boating is big here too—rent kayaks, pedal boats, Hobie Cat sailboats and Jet Skis from North Tahoe Watersports. When it's peak time, head to Heavenly Mountain Resort on the South Shore for a gondola ride through the Sierras or fast tubing down a hill.
Cool Happenings: Spot planets, constellations and meteors at Star Tours nighttime sky programs at Northstar resort, led by an expert from the Northern Nevada Science Coalition. At the Wanderlust wellness and music festival, July 26-29, strike a pose with renowned yoga teachers, go on meditation hikes and groove to Ziggy Marley live.
Lodging Deals: North Lake Tahoe is more serene and kid-friendly than the south end. Try the retro, family-owned Ferrari's Crown Resort, set on Kings Beach, one of Tahoe's best; with two pools and breakfast included, rooms start at $99. Minutes from the lake, the luxurious mountainside Resort at Squaw Creek has three pools and a waterslide, a spa and fitness center, and family golf nights, when kids can play free with a paying adult. Rooms start at $229 a night.
Side Trip: Virginia City, Nevada, is a perfectly preserved frontier town about 90 minutes away. Stroll the wooden sidewalks past the old firehouse, jail and many working saloons; tour the Ponderosa Mine; or ride through town on a vintage stagecoach.
More Info: visitinglaketahoe.com