The Most Incredible Mountain Towns For Summer

The Most Incredible Mountain Towns for Summer

Instead of looking for creative ways to beat the summer heat, head out to a cool mountain town where you won't have to hide from the sun to enjoy water sports and wilderness adventures. Reach for the hills and immerse yourself in off the beaten path's serenity, as opposed to the sand-and-surf setting where you'll be bumping into people all the time. Mountain towns have several advantages – the air is fresher, there is always a breeze, massive crowds are rare, easygoing festivals are common, and the outdoor activities are thrilling.

Aspen, Colorado

Aspen is known for being one of the best ski resorts in the world. Snuggled between the Rockies, this charming small mountain town is a favorite summer destinations as well. Try skeet shooting or go on a thrilling river tour. With summits higher than 14,000 feet, there is always something to see and explore. Festivals showing off art, wine and music are scheduled year-round, many in the summer. Visit Maroon Bells, one of the most photographed peaks in the country, take your family summer camping in the wilderness, or go ballooning and paragliding.

Lake Placid, New York

Lake Placid, which is set in the Adirondacks, has a rich winter sports history but it also offers many summer activities. The Olympic Center is open, offering bobsled and luge rides with a professional. Hiking is the most popular activity when it gets warm, with trails for every skill level. Many nearby waterways are perfect for paddling—whether that be by canoe, kayak or stand-up paddleboard. Paddle around Mirror Lake, enjoy a concert at Mid's Parks and relax in one of the city's many spas and wellness centers.

Stowe, Vermont

If you are looking for a low key getaway with some outdoor access, the charming mountain town of Stowe, situated in a valley between peaks of the Green Mountains, is your destination. Hike to a beautiful waterfall with swimming holes or wade in local rivers and fly fish. If you're new to the sport, there are clinics and outfitters available. Drive the back roads to Mount Mansfield for some gorgeous views and go on a canoe trip to Boyden Valley Winery. Long hiking and biking trails will also keep you active.

Whitefish, Montana

The mild weather during the summer months in Whitefish makes this small town, nearby the Glacier National Park, a perfect destination to escape the heat. Explore the Aerial Adventure Park and see if you can handle its five courses of varying difficulties. You will be crossing suspended bridges and cable walk ways, climbing on nets and ladders, swinging on trapezes and tube traverses and zip lining. Take a walk through the canopy of an old-growth Montana forest or an art class in town.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Jackson Hole is an outdoor adventurer's paradise. With its proximity to National parks like Grand Teton and Yellowstone, access to the National Elk Refuge and it's placement among practically endless public lands, there's no shortage of trails, waters and wildlife to discover. Paddle the Snake River, which has sections calm enough for kids and others exciting enough for adrenaline junkies, or head out on a wildlife safari. Horseback riding, whitewater rafting and blue-ribbon fly-fishing are other favorite activities. When you're ready for a break, check out some of the art galleries in town, watch a live outdoor concert in Teton Village or experience the  Wild West nightlife at the Million Dollar Cowboy Bar.

Telluride, Colorado

A whole new world opens up in Telluride when the snow melts away and the ski adventures are over. Music is just one reason why – the Telluride Bluegrass Festival attracts thousands of visitors every year. The former Victorian mining town in Colorado's Rocky Mountains is cyclists and hikers' favorite. Backpacking and camping is the ideal way to explore the San Juan Mountains. Perfect your whitewater rafting skills down the Gunnison River or go horseback riding. Kids will love the skate parks, swimming pool facilities and hot air balloon rides.

Sandpoint, Idaho

If you are looking for a laid-back feel and recreation opportunities, Sandpoint is your town. Tucked up in the Idaho Panhandle, the old Northwestern town is one of the most beautiful small places in the country. Enjoy Lake Pend Oreille and its 150 square miles while fishing, kayaking, boating, and maneuvering between little coves and inlets. There are many arts festivals in the summer. Visit Silverwood, the Northwest's largest theme park, featuring over 200 acres and more than 70 rides. Rock climbing, golfing, and biking are a few other favored sports. Take a walk down Main Street for antique wood-frame shops, galleries and the town's landmark – the century-old Common Knowledge Bookstore and Teahouse.

Bryson City, North Carolina

Bryson City is the home of the Great Smoky Mountains Railroad. It will take you through spectacular old-growth forests and meadows. The charming small town is very close to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which means you have access to everything one of the most visited parks in the country has to offer, and the stunning Blue Ridge Parkway, one of the most scenic roads in the country. Stay at in a log cabin as a mountaintop hideout and relax in a hot tub on the deck. Enjoy live music events, meeting with artists and many free concerts.

Berkeley Springs, West Virginia

Berkeley Springs is also known as Bath. It's famous for the abundance of bathhouses due to the many natural springs flowing through town. Berkeley Springs State Park, in the center of the historic spa town is a unique natural playground that kids love. Adults can enjoy a healing and relaxing dip in the park's heated Roman baths. The George Washington's Bath Tub is a children's favorite. There are picnic tables, green lawns, and free summer concerts every Saturday afternoon in July and August.

Girdwood, Alaska

Girdwood is also known as the Glacier City because of the two giant snow summits nearby. If you ever wanted to go glacier hiking, Girdwood, which is near Anchorage, should be on your list. Kenai Fjords National Park is close too. You can go whale watching. The icebergs and glaciers there are majestic year-round. Complete the strenuous Harding Icefield Trail and you'll have bragging rights for life. Visit the historic Crow Creek Mine, hop on the Alaska Railroad, and eat delicious fresh seafood.

Taos, New Mexico

This far-out mountain town –  an underrated adventure destination for the summer – is unlike any other place on earth—and that's the appeal. Bordered on three sides by the towering red peaks of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Taos is positioned in a high desert valley and is one of the few places that retain its native culture, thriving art scene and connection to the great outdoors. If you're feeling adventurous, climb the tallest mountain in New Mexico, Wheeler Peak, or if you're a skilled paddler, take on the Taos box section of the Rio Grande.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee

The No. 1 destination on the rise in the U.S. is Gatlinburg, According to TripAdvisor. People describe it as beautiful, clean, and very peaceful. Gatlinburg offers access to the Great Smoky Mountains and lots of good places to eat delicious southern food. And in 2016, nearby Dollywood will open the world's fastest wooden roller coaster. Cycling in the Smokies, zip lining and mountain golf are some of tourists' favorite activities.

Mentone, Alabama

Mentone is a picturesque little mountain town atop Lookout Mountain in northeast Alabama. The views are absolutely stunning. The Desoto Falls, 104-foot falls that drop into a wide bright green pool, are one of the top attractions. Pick up handmade arts and crafts at the Log Cabin Craft Village and eat fresh fried green tomatoes with homemade remoulade sauce at the Moonlight Bistro. Summer camps with horseback riding, archery, boating, swimming, craft making, and rock climbing, are popular among kids.

Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania

Jim Thorpe, a small town of about 5,000 people, is consistently ranked on national media's "Best" lists, and recognized among the most fun, most beautiful, most romantic and best adventure destinations in the country. Take a train ride or go on a whitewater rafting trip along the Lehigh River; hike the gorgeous Glen Onoko Falls in Lehigh Gorge State Park; bike the Switchback and D&L trails; or camp and canoe at Mauch Chunk Lake Park.

Park City, Utah

Far more famous for its winter adventures, Park City is a gem in the summer too. Take to the mountain for exploits on the Alpine Slide, one of the longest in the world, ride the Alpine Coaster for a rush or take to the air on Park City's zip lines. Check out the mountains on bike or on foot and then head to the public Park City Golf Club and play the back nine. Watch Olympic hopefuls train at Utah Olympic Park and then enjoy one of the many arts and music festivals happening all summer long.