Tell a Bostonian you’re planning an Idaho vacation, and you’ll most likely be met with confused looks and a few bad jokes about potatoes. And for the people of Sandpoint, Idaho, named America’s “most beautiful small town” by USA Today and Rand McNally in 2011, they’d just as soon keep it that way, thank you very much. Because if word got out about the stunning mountain views, the dazzling 43-mile-long Lake Pend Oreille and the unsurpassed skiing, hiking, mountain biking and fishing, it certainly wouldn’t be one of the final American frontiers for long.
For those who’ve been let in on the secret (Viggo Mortensen and Ben Stein are often spotted strolling the town’s streets), Schweitzer Mountain Resort is the premier destination this time of year. Located in the Selkirk Mountains, Schweitzer is home to 2,900 skiable acres, 92 downhill runs, 11 cross country trails, three terrain parks and two open bowls. And with an average annual snowfall of 300 inches, fresh powder is almost guaranteed. Forget amusement park-esque lift lines; here they’re nonexistent—probably why Ski Magazine named it North America’s best-kept secret. And with ziplining, tubing, snowbiking and snowshoeing, thrill-seekers and play-it-safers alike will find something to write home about.