A row of neatly trimmed trees lines either side of the winding driveway that leads up to the stately clubhouse at Kilkarney Hills Golf Course, welcoming visitors to its verdant grounds. Ever since players began spraying drives and rolling putts over the 18-hole course in 1994, the club has filled the space with similar congenial flourishes, including flower beds and a central lake fountain. After players hole out and exchange secret handshakes on the 18th green, they can head for drinks at the course bar, complete with a veranda where they can watch the sunset.
Skiers and snowboarders gently rise over the St. Croix River Valley in one of 18 chairlifts that grant them access to Afton Alps’ 300 acres of skiing terrain. With 48 trails—80% of which are manageable for beginner and intermediate alpinists—and an average annual snowfall of 48 inches, guests can carve their way down Afton Alps’ 350-foot vertical drop in a variety of ways, from slowly snaking down a 3,000-foot run to tucking into a cannonball at the peak and landing with a white splash at the base. Three rental shops provide guests with high-quality gear, and a snowtubing park offers a more leisurely way to enjoy the tender romance between snow and gravity.
In the spring, the melting snow gives way to the fairways and greens of Afton Alps’ 18-hole golf course, where golfers hunt pars over a combination of flat and hilly terrain. Guests can take in scenic views of the St. Croix River and its attendant wildlife aboard a peppy golf cart or while cruising down trails on a mountain bike or runaway wheelbarrow.
First opened in 1995, Gopher Hills has since come to be known among golfers and confused hockey players for its classic features, currently boasting a total of 18 holes on two distinct nines that increase scorecard strokes with wind, native grass, and undulating greens. The course's Early American layout is lined with tree-lined fairways, sculpted bunkers, leaf-covered bear pits, numerous elevation changes, and bubble-wrap-lined greens, providing plenty of reward opportunities for risk-takers and enjoyable scenery for shaky-swinged optimists. Throughout the round, golfers will get to cruise the course in style with a rental cart instead of having to drag their grumpy club-toting Sherpas along. After the game, feel free to visit the chateau-style clubhouse and its fully stocked pro shop.