Why head to a resort when you can head to a vacation lodge? For that matter, what’s the difference?
Once common throughout the United States, vacation lodges offer a wonderfully rustic take on recreation. They’re places to unwind, relax, and spend time with your family while enjoying the great outdoors. While they’re typically more off-the-grid than busy resorts, many winter lodges have plenty of amenities for travelers who don’t mind a bit of pampering.
If you’re looking to engage with nature this winter, here are a few incredible vacation lodges that deserve your consideration.
1. Whiteface Lodge, Lake Placid, New York
Located a short walk from Lake Placid, Whiteface Lodge is surrounded by six million acres of Adirondack wilderness. It’s a stunning structure that evokes the old-school lodge aesthetic, and much of the timber used in the construction was milled on-site.
Relax at the spa, take a swim in the heated indoor/outdoor pool, or catch a movie at the on-site movie theater. There’s even a bowling alley, and you can easily spend your entire trip on the premises without feeling like you’re missing out.
For adventurous travelers, the nearby Whiteface Mountains offer skiing, snowboarding, ice fishing, and other exhilarating winter activities.
2. Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge, Talkeetna, Alaska
Sure, heading to Alaska in the middle of the winter sounds like an enormous undertaking, but Talkeetna Alaskan Lodge makes the trip worthwhile. This stellar lodge is set next to the Denali and Alaska mountain ranges, and it offers a comfortable way to experience breathtaking views of Alaska’s untouched wilderness.
Enjoy a curated selection of Native American artwork, sample local wines, or relax by the giant 46-foot river-rock fireplace. Talkeetna also offers convenient access to outdoor excursions throughout the year, though you can enjoy majestic views of the Alaskan wilderness without straying off-site.
3. Stein Eriksen Lodge, Park City, Utah
Named for an Olympic gold medalist skier, Stein Eriksen Lodge was one of the first luxury lodges in the United States. It remains one of the nation’s premier stops for skiing, but that’s just scratching the surface; you’ll find elegant dining options, crackling fireplaces, high-end spa treatments, and plenty of other indulgent amenities.
Stein Eriksen Lodge is a suitable place for family vacations, but it’s especially attractive as a spot for a romantic getaway.
4. Topnotch Resort, Stowe, Vermont
The aptly named Topnotch Resort is set in the Green Mountains of New England. You’ll get a great view of Mount Mansfield from the lodge’s backyard, and during your stay, you’ll have access to world-class tennis facilities, two high-quality restaurants, and a luxurious spa. You can book biking excursions, horse-drawn sled rides, or craft beer samplings -- alternatively, you can simply sit around the property and enjoy the incredible views.
Topnotch also offers rental homes with access to the amenities of the resort, an option worth considering if you’re traveling with the whole family.
5. Grouse Mountain Lodge, Whitefish, Montana
Whitefish, Montana, is a ski town that transforms into a foodie’s dream come nightfall. Grouse Mountain Lodge puts you right in the heart of all that action -- or lets you escape the action entirely.
Free shuttles take visitors to Whitefish Mountain Resort for some of the best skiing and snowboarding in the West. They’ll also pick you up from town as late as 2 a.m., so you can enjoy the breweries, restaurants, and clubs well into the night.
Whether you’re looking for an action-packed ski trip or a relaxing mountain getaway, Grouse Mountain Lodge won’t disappoint.
6. Suncadia Resort, Cle Elum, Washington
After a long day of winter activities in the mountains of Washington State, you’ll appreciate the fact that the suites at Suncadia Resort include deep soaking tubs and gas fireplaces. This gorgeous resort is perched on a peak above the Cle Elum River, offering priceless views of the mountains and valleys.
Adventurous members of your party can rent skis, snowshoes, and ice skates to take advantage of all the mountain recreation that winter has to offer. Meanwhile, you can spend a day relaxing at the on-site spa, tee off at the resort’s golf courses, or enjoy dinner at one of Suncadia’s many restaurants.
7. Molly Butler Lodge, Greer, Arizona
If you’d like a side of history with your mountain escape, head to Greer, Arizona, and ask for Molly. Established in 1910, Molly Butler Lodge & Restaurant is one of the oldest vacation lodges in the state. It’s tucked away in the picturesque White Mountains.
Stay in a rustic guest room attached to the lodge itself, or relax in even greater privacy in one of the 50 cabins. Either way, you won’t be far from fresh mountain dinners featuring menu items like Hot Dang Chile and Molly’s Special Steak with Mormon Gravy.
Remember, winter lodges' calendars fill up quickly, so try to book your stay as early as possible, especially if you’re traveling with family. There’s nothing like spending your vacation days reclining in wintry luxury, and these lodges offer spectacular experiences for all types of travelers.