10 Picture-Perfect Mountain Towns to See in Winter

by , SmarterTravel Staff
(Photo:  Le Crans Hotel and Spa)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on November 7, 2013. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: Berkeley Springs, Caroline Costello, Cody, Crans-Montana, destination, Fernie, Ifrane, Megeve, Ouray, Sandpoint, Shirakawa, Tegernsee.

(Photo: Le Crans Hotel and Spa)

There's something impossibly charming about a mountain town in winter. Lantern-lit cobblestone streets, glowing cafes filled with friendly locals, and intimate family-run inns warm even the coldest, shortest of days. Add fresh mountain air, high-altitude views, snow sports, and steamy thermal springs, and you just might find yourself falling for winter. But don't expect crowds: These charming little hamlets are, for now, relatively undiscovered. From Colorado to Japan, here are 10 off-the-beaten-path mountain towns that are especially enchanting during wintertime.


Sandpoint, Idaho

Sandpoint's Lake Pend Oreille reflects the rugged Selkirk and Cabinet mountains, doubling their visual impact. It's the perfect backdrop for a small town that's big on local culture. From wineries and breweries to the arts—Sandpoint is home to major music and film festivals—this little township is a vibrant, happening haven in the wilds of northern Idaho.

What to Do: Head to higher altitudes and go skiing at the nearby Schweitzer Mountain Resort, with 59 named trails and 2,500 acres of terrain. Or, when conditions are right, tie up some skates and join in a game of ice hockey on the frozen Lake Pend Oreille.

Where to Stay: Talus Rock Retreat is a Tuscan-style, timber-framed lodge that offers water views and has plenty of porches. Though the property is quite large (30 acres), it features just six guest rooms and suites, so it feels quite intimate even when the place is booked.

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