Just two miles south of the Canadian border, hidden in the vast Green Mountains, Jay Peak feels like another world, where skiing is a way of life. East-coasters jonesing for a western experience come here for an impressive 385 acres of terrain and 2,100 feet of vertical, and a very western 380 inches of snow per year. Grab the gondola to its 4,000-foot top station and rip down the main side or hit a killer pocket of blacks off the lower summit's triple chair. With 40 percent of its 78 runs expert-only, Jay Peak has long been the place to come to challenge yourself. But learners will now find plenty to do in the newly developed "Zone," 80 acres of wide-open beginner-friendly terrain. Lift tickets are $79.
Where to Stay: The plush slopeside Hotel Jay is the sort of place you could spend a week in — and never go outside. And in the same building is something you can't believe exists at a ski resort: the 60,000-square-foot water park, The Pump House, complete with a standing wave for fake surfing, a lazy river, and "beach bars."
Inside Tip: The town of Jay is home to one of the few hardcore backcountry skiing communities on the East Coast. If you thought you had to get on a plane for that experience, just stop by First Trax ski shop and ask for Don. Jay Peak's own backcountry policy recommends: "Ski in groups of three — getting lost sucks. Getting lost at night really sucks."