The Olympic Games are set to return to Beijing in February—but you don’t have to go all the way to China to get your fill of Olympic glory. Whether watching epic snowboard jumps inspires you to want to hit the slopes, or the graceful art of figure skating captures your heart, there are plenty of destinations in the U.S. and Canada that allow you to try your hand at your favorite winter Olympic sport.
If you’re ready to plan a getaway to an action-packed winter wonderland, check out these six destinations that offer sporting options for all skill levels.
1. Bobsled in Park City, Utah
There’s perhaps no better location to test your Olympic skills than Park City. Here you’ll find Utah Olympic Park, where visitors can take a thrilling ride on a bobsled track designed for the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Olympic Games. Those who are at least 16 years old, and weigh 100 pounds or more, can hop aboard a sled with a professional pilot, who will steer you along a track previously used for bobsled, skeleton, and luge events. Utah Olympic Park also offers a summer bobsled experience, where visitors can reach speeds of up to 60 mph in less than a minute with modified sleds rolling on a concrete track.
Those looking to explore this venue at a slower speed can enjoy a shuttle tour of the facility, including a drive to the top of the ski jump. Nearby, Kearns is home to the Utah Olympic Oval, offering a 400-meter ice skating arena. Dubbed the “Fastest Ice on Earth,” people of all ages can try out speed skating in a venue that inspired 10 Olympic records and eight world records.
2. Ski or snowboard in Telluride, Colorado
In Colorado, you’ll find slopes in the Rocky and San Juan mountains—but for the ultimate downhill terrain, head to Telluride, internationally recognized as a premier ski and snowboard destination. Telluride’s topography is some of the best for skiing in Colorado, and the Telluride Ski Resort is the best in North America according to Conde Nast Traveler’s annual reader survey.
With more than 300 inches of snow annually, this region also offers sunshine galore and options for every skill level. Beginners and families can try out the Galloping Goose, a gentle 4.6-mile trail ending in the town’s charming European-style Mountain Village. Perched at 9,500 feet above sea level and accessible by gondola, Mountain Village is a great spot to dine (or sample craft beer at Telluride Brewing) before hitting the slopes.
In the summer, Telluride’s slopes transform into ideal mountain biking trails brimming with wildflowers. Take a gondola ride (with your bike) up to Telluride Bike Park, and test those biking skills.
3. Curling in Banff, Alberta
Whether you’re an avid follower of the sport or are only familiar with it due to the publicity garnered by the Norwegian team’s colorful pants, curling is undoubtedly one of the more unique Olympic events. If you want to try it out for yourself, head to Canada, home to the most successful team in the history of curling.
The Banff Curling Club offers regular classes on curling, and opportunities to engage in a friendly game at the Fairmont Banff Springs outdoor curling rink, a winter fixture at a luxurious resort. Or try a European variation of the game, Bavarian Ice Curling, at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, where you can also get a taste of other Olympic sports, such as snowshoeing and skating.
If you’re looking to visit after the frost has thawed, Banff’s Lake Louise turns a mesmerizing shade of turquoise in the summer. Here you can canoe and kayak surrounded by soaring mountain peaks.
4. Biathlon or skeleton in Whistler, British Columbia
Another ideal Canadian winter sporting destination is Whistler, home to one of the largest ski resorts in North America. And while this is certainly a good spot to hit the slopes, just south of town you’ll find Whistler Olympic Park, where you can take lessons in another unique sport: biathlon, a combination of cross-country skiing and target shooting. Offering classes for all skill levels, visitors to the park can learn to shoot a 0.22-caliber biathlon rifle and race laps on cross-country skis.
Or take part in another exhilarating Olympic sport at the Whistler Sliding Centre’s public skeleton experience. This activity allows you to ride solo on a skeleton sled, rocketing through six turns and clocking speeds up to 100 kilometers (62 miles) per hour. Whistler’s Mountain Skill Academy offers visitors the chance to slide down a 14,000-year-old glacier on their bum (called glacier glissading)—it’s not an Olympic sport yet, but it’s definitely fun.
5. Snowshoe or Nordic ski in Sun Valley, Idaho
The resort town of Sun Valley offers some of the best cross-country skiing in North America, featuring quality trails, specialty training programs, and clinics. Children can learn the basics of Nordic skiing with private lessons, including SnowSports School Alpine Au Pair sessions for ages 3 and older.
The Nordic Center provides ample opportunities for snowshoeing on an extensive and carefully-maintained trail system. However, the beauty of snowshoeing is that you’re not restricted to trails. Take in the scenery during an independent exploration of the area or build up your Olympic skills as part of a guided tour. Either way, you’ll want to end the day by soothing your sore muscles in luxury at the Sun Valley Resort.
Sun Valley’s skating rink is home to the Sun Valley Figure Skating School, which allows you to practice this Olympic sport in any season. A full slate of skating clinics will teach you how to hone your figure skating and ice dancing moves, no matter your skill level.
6. Speed skate (and more) in Lake Placid, New York
Located in northeastern New York, Lake Placid hosted the Winter Olympics in 1932 and 1980. Today, Lake Placid Legacy Sites include the Olympic Center, home to a museum containing Olympic memorabilia, public skating rinks, and a speed skating oval. At the Olympic Jumping Complex, visitors can watch ski jumpers traverse the length of a football field or ride a zipline located next to the 90-meter jump, reaching speeds up to 30 miles per hour.
Mt. Van Hoevenberg is home to a combined skeleton and bobsled track, cross-country ski trails, and The Cliffside Coaster, billed as North America’s longest mountain coaster. Whiteface Mountain, a skiers paradise in the winter, offers activities year round, such as disc golf, downhill mountain biking, and a 300-foot zipline.