Sure, you could head to Hollywood with your list of dreamy celebs you’d like to spot, but a celebrity sighting in the great wide open – or interacting with them on a long ski lift ride – is far more satisfying. It’s like seeing a lion in the African bush as opposed to the zoo.
Luckily, celebrities like to spend their winter breaks just like the rest of us: making fools out of ourselves by skiing and snowboarding beyond our abilities. And if you think it’s exciting to see Alec Baldwin buying a latte in Starbucks, wait until you see him dropping 2,000 vertical feet while wearing a puffy jacket.
Here are ten resorts with a history of heavy celebrity sightings.
This small mountain town has a reputation for being relaxed, even in the presence of bright-shining stars. Don’t freak out when you see Tom Cruise on See Forever, a classic Telluride intermediate run. He has a home in the area, and so do Oprah and Jerry Seinfeld. Sandra Bullock, Robert Redford and Ralph Lauren have also been spotted on and off the mountain.
Plus, Telluride hosts a different festival practically every weekend, with musicians and other celebs in attendance.
Get ready to check off your celebrity-spotting list for life. Jessica Biel spent her formative years in nearby Boulder, and she and Justin Timberlake have been spotted skiing Vail’s massively expansive terrain. So was Michelle Obama and the rest of the former first family. And Lindsey Vonn grew up in Vail and will certainly return.
Deer Valley | Park City, Utah
Deer Valley is exclusive any day of the year (no snowboarders allowed, limited number of tickets sold each day), but hit the mountain in late January when the Sundance Film Fest is in town, and you’ll think you’ve skied into a Hollywood set. Name a celebrity and they’ve probably been seen skiing Deer Valley.
That said, Sundance is also one of the best times to ski the Park City resorts because most tourists (and celebs) are watching movies during the day, meaning you can get in some uncrowded turns and then hit Main Street for après with the stars.
Skiing in Aspen must be a standard part of every celebrity’s contract, because almost every household name, from Mel Gibson to Victoria Beckham, has been spotted skiing the most posh powder in Colorado. The holidays bring them out in droves, attracted to the shopping as much as the snow (you know it’s Christmas when you see Mariah Carey shopping in Aspen).
And as for Aspen’s street cred in the snow sports world, it’s the home mountain for Gretchen Bleiler, world snowboarding champ and multi-Olympic medalist.
The stars hit Whistler for the same reason you hit Whistler – the out-of-this-world terrain and snow. The Canadian resort has become a perennial stop on the celebrity skiing tour ever since the 2010 Olympics. Tom Cruise, Heidi Klum and Hugh Jackman are all repeat Whistler visitors.
And the annual Whistler Film Festival, in December, draws a new crop of celebs every year, looking to shred while supporting their films.
Jackson Hole, Wyo.
Celebrities aren’t content with just skiing Jackson Hole, some of them want to own a piece of it. Former vice president Dick Cheney has a home here, as does Indiana Jones himself, Harrison Ford. Even Judge Judy owns a home here. Others, like Tiger Woods, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss, Jim Carrey and Sandra Bullock, are content to just visit, like the rest of us.
Consider Klosters Europe’s version of Aspen. Or maybe that should be the other way around. This is where you ski if you want to ski with EU’s royalty. Prince Charles hits Klosters regularly, and Prince William and then-girlfriend Kate were first photographed kissing here. And if your celebrity taste runs more pop than prince, keep an eye out for Becks and Posh.
Mammoth Mountain, Calif.
Spotting celebrities follows the same three rules as real estate: location, location, location. Mammoth is the closest legitimate ski resort to Hollywood, so it naturally pulls movie stars who are also avid skiers and boarders looking to bag quick weekend turns.
Keep an eye out for lifetime skier Arnold Schwarzenegger, Cameron Diaz and Keifer Sutherland. Tony Hawk’s also a regular and Paul McCartney has been known to hit the groomers.
Sun Valley, Idaho
Sun Valley could be the original snowy mecca for celebrities. America’s first ski destination boasted a direct train from Hollywood to the valley in the ‘30s. Ernest Hemingway lived in Ketchum for a time (and is buried there). Clint Eastwood and Tom Hanks own houses in the valley (how would you like to be invited to that neighborhood potluck dinner?). Bruce Willis also owns property there, in addition to his own ski resort, Soldier Mountain – 1.5 hours from Sun Valley.
Be sure to check out the Sun Valley Lodge, whose walls of striking black-and-white photos bear testament to the long legacy of famed visitors.
Sunshine Village | Banff, A.B.
When most of North America shifts toward spring-focused outdoor activities, Banff is just hitting its stride. The snow keeps falling in Sunshine Village, nestled in picturesque Banff National Park, well into May, and the celebs in the know head there in droves to get some fresh spring turns.
Most congregate around the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, but Sunshine Village and nearby Lake Louise resorts are where they’ll be on the slopes. Alec Baldwin, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Glenn Close and Alicia Silverstone have all been spotted. And the warmer weather also means they’ll be easier to spot because they won’t have to bundle up as much as they would in the heart of winter.