After surviving the holidays, travelers can often find themselves at a fork in the road-to get away for recreational relaxation or to let loose with friends? Luckily when it comes to ski destinations, the following winter wonderlands welcome enthusiastic snow-lovers to carve out many of the world's best slopes-or at least enjoy the view from the bar.
Aspen provides serious skiers limitless opportunities to schuss their days away. What keeps them lingering well into the night, is the glitzy and glamorous aprés-ski scene, animating the charmingly antiquated buildings of this former silver-mining town. Delight your palate at one of the fabulous restaurants; or swap ski war stories over a cocktail. This fabled ski resort hosts plenty of hot bars and lounges, so be sure to have the bartender call a free taxi through the "Tipsy Taxi" program.
Chamonix-Mont Blanc, France
Chamonix's reputation as one of the most happening aprés-ski resorts in the Alps is well-deserved. Numerous bars and lounges lure skiers away from the pistes with live bands and tempting drink specials. Hotspots include Dick's Tea Bar, with dancing to international DJs; beer connoisseurs, meanwhile, enjoy the Canadian-run micro-brewery, MBC, for the best ales and pilsners in town. With some of the world's finest skiing and luxury chalets, there's the fine
casino attracting high-rollers to the center of town, to luxe lounges and classical music recitals.
Nestled beneath Dolomite Peaks, the picturesque alpine village of Cortina is one of Europe's most glamorous winter wonderlands, attracting international jet-setters since hosting the 1956 Winter Olympics. After schussing down the mountain's 90 miles of trails, after-dinner favorites include Enoteca, an old wine bar where patrons can pair wines with cold cuts and cheese; Terrazza Vienesse, a piano bar serving Austrian pastries like crêpes flambé; Birreria Hacker Pschorrz, a Bavarian pub doling out pints of beer; and the VIP Club, a vivacious scene from midnight on.
An East Coast winter favorite, legions of skiers and snowboarders enjoy snow-filled action at the base of the mountain. Two aprés-ski staples that everyone must sample-the Wobbly Barn and the Pickle Barrel-the former, set in an old barn, hosts happy hour and a crowded dance floor, while the latter, a larger nightspot that doubles as a music venue. For a high-class evening, fabulous Hemingway's, an elegant New American restaurant is ranked among the best in New England.
Lake Tahoe, California
Take the Vegas vibe out of the desert and plop it by 14 downhill mountain resorts and you'll get a feel for the attitude that is Lake Tahoe. This winter retreat offers abundant snow play, neon-lit casinos and the largest alpine lake in North America. The south shore is chock-full of casinos, hotels, and mini-malls. Sister casinos of Vegas bigwigs, like Harrah's, Harveys and Caesars, are all within two blocks of each other, in addition to nightly live entertainment.
This Rocky Mountain resort is reminiscent of its rowdy mining-town roots, but not without a splash of 21st-century sophistication. Telluride invites visitors to dig into the rugged slopes and to throw one back at a neighborhood pub. The Chicago Tribune wrote, "Telluride has more good restaurants per person than any resort in the Rockies." And the nightlife is an unparalleled experience. A central district of historic Victorian buildings, since converted into bars, shops, and eateries, and all shadowed by the majestic scenery of the San Juan Mountains, make for a picture-perfect night on the town.
Whistler and Blackcomb mountains, situated just a couple of hours from Vancouver, are synonymous with great skiing. As one of the premier resorts in North America, the area has little difficulty attracting snow bunnies to its slopes-and, after the sun goes down, it easily convinces them to stick around with one of the continent's hottest aprés-ski scenes. Mountain views, outdoorsy revelers, and live music greet party-goers after the lifts close at the numerous bars and lounges that dot this picturesque mountain town.
World-class Zermatt has become the quintessential alpine resort, with over 195 miles of trails, luxurious hotels, fashionable boutiques, ritzy restaurants, and a smattering of bars and clubs on and off the mountain. This fairytale-like Swiss town counts no building taller than a four-story chalet; more charming still are the horse-drawn sleighs and electric taxis that are the town's sole modes of transport. Skiers can stop off at slope-side pubs to warm up with a mug of traditional glühwein (hot spiced wine) before making their way down to the base. Once you shed your snow gear, dozens of bars and pubs will keep you out into the wee hours.