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Our Favorite Mountains

Okemo, Vermont by Dana White
One of the few small privately owned resorts left on the East Coast, Ludlow, Vermont's Okemo (554 acres, 2,150 vertical feet) does everything to make a family ski trip a breeze. Besides specialized instruction for kids of every age—from preschoolers to the Clearasil set—it's the little things here that mean a lot. A "basket room" in the base lodge gives parents all-day access to bags and dry clothes for a flat rate of $2. There are free lift tickets for skiers six and under. And the hard-charging college crowd tends to head elsewhere, which gives you peace of mind to let the kids explore by themselves.

Best places to stay: The 50-room, 40-villa Hawk Inn & Mountain Resort (800/685-4295; doubles from $250, kids free) is a Colonial-style hotel in Plymouth, 10 minutes from the slopes. With an indoor-outdoor pool and fitness center, ice skating, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and cross-country skiing on the 1,200 acre property, it won't be tough to fill your time there. On the mountain, you can rent from Okemo Mountain Condos (800/786-5366; from $421 a night, kids under 12 free) and have a kitchen, washer and dryer, and the all-important VCR. Best cruising run: Sapphire, with spectacular views of the Black River Valley and New Hampshire's Mount Washington on the horizon. Best new sport: SnowBlading, like ice-skating on snow (the blades resemble mini-skis). Every Friday, you can try a pair of SnowBlades free at the Salomon Oasis Demo Center next to the Sugar House Lodge (802/228-1615; all-day rentals $20). Best on-mountain lunch: The Gables (lunch for four $50), an airy dining spot in the Solitude Day Lodge with a great portobello mushroom sandwich and crab cakes. Best chances of finding your kid at 4 p.m.: Head to the Zone, an après-ski hangout with a yurt where kids can warm up and grab a snack. Local way to stay in touch: The Snow Stars Center and Penguin Playground (802/228-1780) rents pagers for $10 a day. Best New England moment: On the way to Okemo via Route 103 you'll pass through Chester, a quaint village with a row of stone houses that date back to the 1830's. Best place to buy maple syrup: The Green Mountain Sugar House (820 Rte. 100 N.; 802/228-7151) four miles from Okemo. You can also watch them make the sweet stuff. General information: 800/786-5366 or 802/228-4041; www.okemo.com.

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