The 10 Best Family-friendly Ski Resorts Cater to Kids — and Kids at Heart (Video)
Part of what makes a big ski trip special is the people you go with. And when you’re going with the whole family, it’s important to make sure that everyone has fun — that means catering to every age, every skill level, and every interest with one all-encompassing destination.
The best ski resorts for families offer entertainment for everyone, from non-skiers and kids, to the most expert skiers and boarders. From tricky mountain terrain that takes serious skill to navigate, to fun family activities like scenic gondola rides that allow anyone to embrace the breathtaking mountain views, there needs to be something for everyone.
Kids will love the enchanted forest and hidden magical castle at Whistler Blackcomb in Canada, and adults will love the challenging ski runs. The whole family will enjoy relaxing in a hot spring after a long day of skiing at Steamboat in Colorado, and there are even water slides for an extra dose of fun.
These are the 10 best ski resorts for families.
Adults will love the 97 different trails at this New Hampshire resort that offer a wide variety of difficulty. Kids will love the fact that there are so many activities designed just for them (aside from skiing and snowboarding lessons). They can go for a ride on a snowmobile in the Kid’s Snowmobile Park or enjoy their very own après ski with clowns, storytellers, and musicians.
Find it: Bretton Woods, 99 Ski Area Road, Bretton Woods, NH
Smugglers' Notch Resort
This family-friendly Vermont resort caters to every age. Adults won’t run out of runs to explore (there are 78 trails to try). And kids will love unwinding after a long day of skiing or snowboarding with some hot chocolate at a nightly bonfire. Don't mkiss the torchlight parade and fireworks on Thursday nights. Parents can enjoy some adults-only time while their kids go crazy during the Kids' Night Out program (but with pizza, laser tag, ice cream and more, adults may be tempted to sneak in on the fun).
Find it: Smugglers' Notch Resort, 4323 Vermont Route 108 South, Jeffersonville, VT
Adults can test their skills on more than 3,000 acres of terrain that is mostly for intermediate or expert level skiers. But while the grown ups are hurtling down the mountain, kids have plenty to do to keep themselves entertained. Check the daily Kidtopia schedule for everything from cookie time to a meet and greet with the avalanche dog team to learning the basics of cross-country skiing.
Find it: Keystone Resort, 100 Dercum Square, Keystone, CO
One of the biggest concerns when it comes to planning a family ski vacation is cost, and this mountain resort has you covered: kids 12 and under are eligible for free lift tickets with the purchase of a 5-or-more day adult lift ticket. Besides the over 2,900 acres of terrain, families will love the Kids’ Vacation Center, which is ideal for younger children learning to ski or snowboard. And after a long day of hitting the slopes, everyone in the family will enjoy the Old Town Hot Springs, complete with two 230-foot water slides.
Find it: Steamboat, 2305 Mt. Werner Circle, Steamboat Springs, CO
Park City Mountain Resort
The expansive trails at Park City Mountain Resort make it one of the best ski resorts for families in the United States. Adults will love exploring the 330 trails over 7,300 acres of terrain on this Utah mountain while kids (and adults who are learning) will find themselves at home at the resort’s High Meadow Park, which includes “Adventure Alleys” where beginners can try their hand at “off trail, groomed” runs. After a day of skiing, relax with a 23-minute snowcat-pulled sleigh ride up the mountain to a yurt where guests are served a five-course dinner and greeted with hot spiced glogg.
Find it: Park City Mountain Resort, 1345 Lowell Avenue, Park City, UT
After a day spent exploring the Lake Placid mountain’s 87 trails over 22 miles, parents can head to the Bear Den Lodge, which features a bird’s eye view where they can watch their kids learning to ski and snowboard. Apart from the slopes themselves, there’s plenty of adrenaline to be had off the mountain. Experience what it’s like to hurtle down a winding track by going for a ride on a real Olympic bobsled track, or fly down a 30-foot converted ski jump trestle in a toboggan before being shot out onto the frozen Mirror Lake.
Find it: Whiteface Mountain, 5021 Route 86, Wilmington, NY
Northstar California Ski Resort
This North Lake Tahoe resort features 100 trails over more than 3,100 skiable acres, so there is plenty for everyone in the family to explore. Come back together as a family after a day on the slopes with some après ski ice skating and hot chocolate, or continue to slide down the hills with snow tubing. Warm up by the fire pits and enjoy the complimentary s’mores (because we can’t think of a better after-skiing snack than melted chocolate and gooey marshmallows).
Find it: Northstar California Ski Resort, 5001 Northstar Drive, Truckee, CA
What’s more family-friendly than a Candy Cabin set right on the mountain, ready to welcome kids (and kids at heart) with Swedish Fish, sour worms, M&M's, and more at 9,840 feet? Ski down after you’ve gotten your sugar fix — there’s 150 different trails to explore — and get ready for even more sugar: ski school students can raid the Cookie Cabin after a long day spent traversing the slopes. Later, gather as a family to watch the Thursday Night Lights fireworks display for a bright way to cap off the day. All this and more makes Beaver Creek one of the best family ski resorts for your winter vacation.
Find it: Beaver Creek, 210 Beaver Creek Plaza, Beaver Creek, CO
This Poconos ski resort is smaller than some of its big mountain counterparts, but its smaller size actually makes it more manageable for families of all skill levels. There are 39 total runs (38 are lit up for night skiing), with 39 percent of them considered "easy" (26 percent are considered “most difficult” for the thrill seeker in your family). When you're not skiing, get your adrenaline pumping at the Camelback Lodge & Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark, which features 13 water slides and seven pools.
Find it: Camelback Mountain, 301 Resort Drive, Tannersville, PA
Ski through a kid-friendly trail and end up at a magical snow-covered tree fort, or head to the magic castle, a hidden escape where kids of all sizes can play king and queen of their own wintery domain. Adults will love exploring the 200+ trails across more than 8,000 acres — and true adrenaline junkies can explore the mountain’s extensive backcountry with an expert guide to help you navigate. Later, take a stroll in the charming pedestrian village, or head to the Family Après where adults can enjoy a warm drink while the kids participate in free kid-friendly activities.
Find it: Whistler Blackcomb, 4545 Blackcomb Way, Whistler, British Columbia, Canada