Beaches always get the spotlight come summer, but mountain vacations are just as refreshing (and won’t leave your car full of sand)! Whether you’re looking for a few days to unwind “off the grid,” or a rejuvenating outdoor adventure, we’ve rounded up four of our favorite mountain towns that are sure to “elevate” your mood. Grab your hiking boots, and get ready for some summertime fresh-air fun!
Shenandoah Valley, Virginia/West Virginia
First stop on our list isn’t a town, but there’s plenty of small mountain towns within it! The Shenandoah Valley spans the heart of western Virginia and West Virginia’s panhandle, and is the ideal destination for a getaway with friends, family, your significant other, or even just yourself. Nestled between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Alleghanies, the valley expands across 10 counties with no shortage of things to do!
Kick off your valley vacay with a daytime drive through the Blue Ridge Parkway or Skyline Drive, a designated National Scenic Byway with 75 different overlooks across the Shenandoah Valley and beyond. Just off the Blue Ridge Parkway in the community of Vesuvius, make sure you stop at 12 Ridges Winery, part of the Shenandoah Valley Wine Trail, and savor the bounty of the rolling countryside. Farther north in the town of Luray, you can explore the largest caverns in the eastern United States at Luray Caverns.
Seeking something a bit more energetic? With over 500 hiking trails, Shenandoah National Park has a trek for every type of hiker to explore, while rafting, kayaking and canoeing on the Shenandoah River provide front row seats to the flora and fauna of the region. No matter where you choose to explore, we can guarantee the friendly, warm atmosphere of the Shenandoah Valley is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before!
Sun Valley, Idaho
The Smokies shine bright in Sun Valley, a secluded mountain town full of family-fun activities all summer long. Start your day 9,000 feet in the sky with a refreshing mountaintop yoga session. Afterward, stop by Konditorei, an Austrian-inspired bakery favored by the locals, for homemade coffee and pastries. From there, head to Sun Valley’s Outdoor Ice Rink, home to several Olympic and world-famous skaters who perform during Summer Ice Shows!
For more outdoorsy excursions, there’s paddle boarding on Sun Valley Lake, rafting on the local rivers, and horseback riding through the Smoky Mountains and hiking across 400 miles of trails. Regardless of your itinerary, no Sun Valley vacation would be complete without scoping out the local culinary options. With a focus on organic, sustainable food and creativity, there’s a café or restaurant to suit everyone’s tastes!
Crested Butte, Colorado
BRB, we’re booking our trip to Crested Butte because we’ve never seen such stunning Rocky Mountain views! (And can you even have a “best mountain towns” list without mentioning Colorado?) Every mid-July, this charming town celebrates its Wildflower Festival, a tradition its held for the last 35 years. Take a stroll through garden tours, journal among Colorado’s unbelievably stunning nature and explore some of the best hiking trails with Wildflower views. Crested Butte is also known for its downtown arts scene — a creative corner for local artists and photographers who capture the essence of the area beautifully.
Spend some time admiring the Elk Mountain range of The Rockies through nearly 60 hiking trail options. Because altitude sickness is very real (and will sneak up on you if you’re not careful), Crested Butte has set up hydration and wellness centers to provide extra oxygen and hydration your body may need. Once you’re fully hydrated, stop by Soupon, a local-favorite Parisian restaurant located inside a mining cabin! Other charming dining options to explore include The Sunflower, The Divvy and Garlic Mike’s… but, really, why not stop by them all?! And hey, if you’re looking for nightlife recommendations — try a Tequila flight at Bonez on Elk Avenue!
A magical getaway destination accessible only by air or sea, Sitka is a coastal mountain town in southern Alaska. With rich Russian and Native history, the area has preserved several historic sites, churches and museums to continue to honor Sitka’s past. During the warmer months, you can kayak around the secluded Sitka Sound bay, along the mountains as you search for marine wildlife. By far the most popular form of transportation is by boat, where you can try your hand at fishing or sail to several of the area’s hiking trails.
Speaking of trails, Sitka has one of the most expansive trail options across all of Alaska. With a 14-mile bike trail, several hiking adventures and plans to develop a hut-to-hut, overnight backpack excursion, there are so many easy-to-moderate trails to explore! But the best hike during the summer has to be Gavan Hill to Harbor Mountain… this ideal day-hike gives you a glimpse of Alaska’s alpine wildflowers during their peak season. Make sure you stop by one of Sitka’s local seafood restaurants to end your day in the sunlight — because in summertime Alaska, you can expect almost 18 hours it!
Stay Tuned for More Vacation Spots!
If you find yourself wanting to permanently stay in any of these mountain towns, find your dream home by searching on Homes.com. In the meantime, keep an eye out for our next vacation destination spotlight!