Top 5 Family-Friendly Ski Resorts

It’s 2014 and winter is in full swing. To date, it has been a great year for snow in many areas of the United States. Have you planned your family ski vacation yet? With Presidents’ Day vacation or February break (depending on where you are located) right around the corner, it may not be too late.

What makes a ski resort “family friendly,” you ask? The top ones offer ski school lessons geared towards children of all ages, plus designated areas for learning. The mountains have well-rounded terrain that appeal to all family members – a bunny slope for the mini dedicated shredder, blue cruisers for big sister, terrain parks for the teenage boy, and some fun powdery back bowls for the expert skiers, mom and dad. Many offer discounted lift tickets, equipment rentals, and daycare for the ones that are too little to start lessons. Another attractive feature is location – proximity of the mountain from the airport, as well as the commute from the parking lot to the slopes and bottom of the mountain to a kid-friendly chairlift or gondola. Family-friendly resorts also offer fun entertainment off the slopes for nights as well as non-ski days such as mountain coasters, zip lines, snow-tubing, and reasonably priced restaurants. We have chosen our favorite family-friendly ski resorts and are very excited to share our picks with you!

Beaver Creek, CO

A child’s ski desires include easy access, long groomers, and hot chocolate. Beaver Creek has all of that to offer plus much more! As well as being self-contained and the kind of place where parents feel comfortable letting their kids ski independently, Beaver Creek has a luxurious pedestrian base village that includes escalators throughout. The centerpiece is the village skating rink, and sleigh rides are offered en-route to two different family-friendly restaurants. Most of the lodging is ski-in/ski-out or within close walking distance to a lift. Not only is the ski school one of the best in the world, but there is also a gondola designed just for kids: the Buckaroo Express! The Buckaroo Express takes kids and parents alike to a kid-friendly learning area. When the lessons are over or the kids need a break from skiing, they can head over to Haymakers Tubing Hill and Marmot Maze, which is a twirling maze of burrows, tunnels, and slides where your kids will love to play. A program called Beaver Creek Loves Kids offers plenty more activities centered around kids with special events that take place during peak winter holiday weeks. Teens won’t be left out of the fun with Beaver Creek Loves Teens, which presents teens with fun opportunities like a Pizza and Snowshoe Party and a Teen Trick Class at the new training facility for ski and snowboard tricks, flips, and stunts. What’s our favorite thing about Beaver Creek? The free chocolate chip cookies served warm everyday at 3pm, of course!

Park City, UT

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Kids having fun at Park City! (Photo credit: parkcitymountain.com)

Great ambiance, accessibility, and affordability make Park City Mountain Resort our next favorite. Just 35 minutes from Salt Lake International Airport, Park City is the place to go for your next family ski vacation! Being the only resort to offer direct lift service directly to and from the town’s historic Main Street, the Town Lift connects skiers and riders with all the shopping, dining, and nightlife that one could ask for. With wide, easy trails and high-speed lifts mountain-wide, getting around with little ones is simple and stress-free. Ski school is top of the line as there are programs offered for kids of different ages and even a Teen Select Program and Freestyle Camp for kids who are looking for more of a challenge. With group lessons capped at no more than five students per instructor, your little ones are guaranteed the individual attention they need to have fun and improve their abilities. Once the lessons are done for the day, you can head over to Adventure Alleys, which are a family favorite at Park City. These are safe tree runs marked by giant metal Snowbug sculptures, that are wide enough for turns but rugged enough to add some adventure into your day. Open all winter long are the toboggan-style Alpine Coaster and the Flying Eagle Zip Line. 10 minutes down the road, you and your family can enjoy a day off the slopes at Gorgoza Park with lift-served tubing, mini-snowmobiling, and a kids play area. Are you curious to know what other parents think of Park City? Check out the resort-organized Snowmamas, a panel of real moms and dads who share vacation and ski tips on everything you need to know about Park City!

Breckenridge, CO

Breckenridge was constructed to be extremely family-friendly with long mild stretches of terrain at the base of the mountain and multiple base areas throughout the resort. New for this year is 30 ski trails on 535 acres at Peak 6, offering eight groomed intermediate trails, glades, and a bowl that are great for families past the beginner level but not quite ready for black diamonds. At Breckenridge’s Ski and Ride School, which is geared toward kids ages 3-12, children gain the confidence they need to tackle the slopes and get to spend the day hanging out with Riperoo, the school mascot. After skiing or on non-ski days, children can go ice skating, hit the Breckenridge Recreation Center with climbing walls, pools and basketball, or try out the Gold Runner Alpine Coaster or TenMile Flyer Zipline. Breckenridge is home to the largest historic district in Colorado and you’ll be sure to find abundant amounts of restaurants, shops, and galleries on Main Street, which is just a short walk or ride from the mountain.  Breckenridge also offers RF ID lift tickets with access to EpicMix. If your kids are 13 and over, they can set up their own EpicMix account or if they are under 13, you can add them to your family account to access and relive all their snow moments including their FREE photos, stats, and special accomplishments from each ski day on the mountain.

Finding a ski resort fit for not only mom and dad, but the kids too, means that the whole family will have a great vacation!

Finding a ski resort fit for not only mom and dad, but the kids too, means the entire family will have fun!

Northstar at Tahoe, CA

Together with easy navigation and lots of groomed slopes, including great beginner and intermediate terrain, Northstar is an incredible choice for your next family ski vacation. The village at the base of the mountain offers family-friendly interactive activities such as live music, arts and crafts, special events, and a collection of fire pits, ideal for roasting marshmallows. Minors’ Camp, a licensed childcare and outdoor play area for non-skiing children ages 2-6, will keep your little ones busy all day long with fun activities so you and the rest of the family can hit the slopes without worry. For kids under two, Northstar recommends the unique “Parent Predicament ticket,” – for the same price as a regular adult lift ticket, it allow two parents to switch off skiing and parenting responsibilities throughout the day. Also, for kids ages three and up, Northstar Ski and Snowboard School offers a variety of award-winning Children’s Learning Programs. What we love most about Northstar are the wagons located at the skier drop off area to help families haul their equipment and kids to the lifts and around the village.

Bretton Woods, NH

Last but not least is one of the ski resorts that I grew up skiing (and learning) at on the east coast. Bretton Woods Ski Resort, known to east-coasters as a ‘family favorite,’ has doubled in size over the past decade, and is now the largest ski resort in New Hampshire. With amazing ski school programs for kids and parents alike as well as guided winter adventures, you can also ride up the Mount Washington Cog Railway Ski Train to groomed trails running parallel to the train tracks. Not only does Bretton Woods offer 434 acres of mild terrain, which is great for learning to ski, there are also plenty of family-friendly activities off the slopes as well. You can enjoy dog sledding, ice-skating, tubing, snowshoeing, sleigh rides, or for a truly unique experience, you can book a canopy tour with zip-lines and rope obstacles or bring the kids to the snowmobile park made just for them! The Kids Club day and evening programs include daily-themed activities and events offered Friday and Saturday evenings, plus nightly during February break. Be sure to check out Family Fun week that is coming up soon, designed with families in mind with fun programs and activities for the whole family.

Originally from Massachusetts, Lora came out to coLORAdo for college and decided she had found her permanent home (who can blame her since her name is in the state name)! She loves the outdoors and exploring all it has to offer by way of her favorite activities which include snowboarding, ATVing, hiking, and camping. Recently married, Lora lives with her husband and 2 dogs and hopes to expand her happy little family in the near future.

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