Make the most of winter and take your kids on a skiing holiday. Many resorts offer special family packages as well as supervised kids programs and ski schools. Family friendly resorts, like those below, take the hassle out of vacationing in cold weather. And kids who learn winter sports early have a good chance of developing a confidence that will last a lifetime.
Family Friendly Resorts
We've chosen a variety of resorts that are easy to get to—even with a family in tow! All of these resorts offer a wide range of activities from snowshoeing and snowboarding to sleigh riding and tubing. And if you've already tried all of these adventurous outings, but haven't gotten up the nerve to stumble off the ski lift and weave down the mountain, you'll find plenty of learn-to-ski (and advanced) lessons at these resorts for both you and the kids.
Remember to call ahead or visit a resort's Web site to make reservations for childcare and ski lessons. And if you'd like to prepare your kids before you leave on your ski trip, visit www.snowlink.com, an authority on helping parents teach kids to ski and have fun in the snow, and click on the Learn and Improve button.
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Nestled 7,000 feet up in the Colorado Rockies, Steamboat is one of North America's largest ski mountains. The incredible skiing and snowboarding that has made Steamboat famous are complemented by its abundance of activities and programs for everyone in the family to enjoy. At this resort, you can go snowmobiling, horseback riding, sleigh riding and tubing, or even take some time to relax and get a massage.
Steamboat's kids programs are also recognized as being top-notch nationally. Their Kids Vacation Center houses indoor and outdoor programs for children ages 6 months-5 years. Steamboat also has five kids-only lifts and two special beginner teaching areas with their own Magic Carpet lifts. More advanced kids (6-15 years) can try out the kids-only ski terrain at Rough Rider Basin that has its own lift, Indian teepees and a fun Wild West theme. Teens and adults can also participate in ski and snowboarding clinics with their own age group at the appropriate skill level.
Contact info: www.steamboat.com or call
Surrounded by the San Juan Mountains, Telluride is a great town and a great mountain that offers beginner and expert terrain. Because everything in Telluride is walking distance, it's an ideal destination for families. The majority of lodging is connected to the Mountain Village by a free gondola that brings you directly to the slopes and the Mountain Village Activity Center. The Mountain Village Activity Center houses lift tickets, rental equipment and the Children's Center that has a nursery for infants 2-11 months and toddlers 12 months-3 years as well as children's ski and snowboard schools. In addition to kid's clinics, Telluride offers adult ski, snowboard and snowbiking lessons. They also have ice-climbing which is a big hit with teens.
Contact info: www.tellurideskiresort.com or call
For information on other Colorado family friendly ski resorts such as Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Winter Park, refer to www.skicolorado.com.
Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Jackson Hole Mountain Resort (JHMR) is a kid's paradise thanks to its impressive Kids Ranch located at the base of the mountain. Cody House Kids Ranch is an all-inclusive children's facility with daycare and age-specific activities for kids ages 6 months-17 years old. Once the kids are occupied skiing, snow boarding or doing other fun outdoor programs, you can spend some quality time on the slopes and/or participate in some of JMHR's adult programs. Adjacent to the ranch is a western playground, so you and the kids can get a taste of Jackson Hole's old west legends by skiing through its array of western characters on a gentle, protected slope.
Contact info: www.jacksonhole.com or call
The Canyons Resort, Utah
The Canyons, situated in beautiful Park City, Utah offers plenty of indoor and outdoor activities. The resort's Perfect Turn clinics offer beginner to advanced ski and snowboard lessons for teens and adults. For kids ages 2-12, The Canyons provides both indoor and outdoor child care plus age appropriate programs at the Perfect Kids Ski School. Kids will also enjoy the SnowMonsters program in which characters such as Power Pig and Snow Snake accompany them in their ski lessons so they'll get excited about skiing and snowboarding.
Contact info: www.thecanyonsresort.com or call 888-226-9667.
For information on other Utah family friendly resorts such as Brian Head, Deer Valley and Park City, click on www.skiutah.com.
Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
New Hampshire's largest ski area, Bretton Woods offers family-friendly terrain and terrific programs. Their Babes in the Woods Nursery staff will entertain infants and toddlers (ages 2 months-5 years) with games, storytelling and arts and crafts while you enjoy a worry-free day on the slopes. For kids ages 4-12, there's the Hobbit Ski and Snowboard School located in the Family Center next to the Base Lodge. Children are placed in groups according to age and ability and the full-day program includes supervision, two lessons (ski/snow play/snow board), rental equipment, lift ticket and lunch. For teens and adults, the resort has an Alpine Ski and Snowboard School as well as their new Be a Skier or Rider programs for novices.
Contact info: brettonwoods.com or call
Smugglers' Notch, Vermont
Lying in the heart of the Green Mountains in Northern Vermont, Smugglers' Notch is consistently voted one of the top ski resorts for families. It offers a multitude of indoor and outdoor activities for all ages. Programs include children's ski and snowboard camps and lessons tailored to certain age brackets, special adventures for teens to take advantage of, outdoor ice skating, and adult lessons that will get you comfortably moving and turning on the slopes in no time. Treasures, their fully certified child care center, is a winter wonderland for children ages 6 weeks-3 years. The resort offers indoor activities such as swimming in an indoor heated pool, hot-tubbing and relaxing with a soothing massage.
Contact info: www.smugglersnotch.com or call 1-800-451-8752.
For information on kids programs and other family friendly ski resorts such as Bolton Valley, Jay Peak, Stowe and Killington refer to www.skivermont.com.
Contact info: www.stratton.com or
With a highly-rated kids ski school, award-winning child care programs and ski and non-ski activities offered at value pricing, Northstar-at-Tahoe is a winter haven for families. Northstar provides camps and ski lessons for kids of all ages. Its Minors' Camp, childcare for kids ages 2-6, will keep your toddlers busy all day long. The camp also offers Ski Cubs, a slopeside learn-to-ski option for 3-6 year-olds with no skiing experience required and Super Ski Cubs for 5 and 6 year-olds who have some prior skiing experience. For added piece of mind, parents are issued pagers so you can always be contacted on the mountain. You can also take advantage of the resort's popular "Mommy, Daddy & Me" FREE program for parents who want to experience all the "firsts" with their little snow bunnies. You'll receive useful hints to help your kids enjoy learning how to ski.
Contact info: www.skinorthstar.com or call
Other ski schools such as Startykes for kids ages 4-6 and Starkids for 7-12 year-olds include a lesson in snowtubing, skiing/snowboarding, the lift ticket and rental equipment. There's also "First-Time" packages offered for adults.
Yosemite and the Badger Pass Ski Area is the perfect winter family get-away. Large resorts can be somewhat overwhelming for kids, but Badger Pass keeps things personal by offering special Learn-to-Ski programs tailored to kids ages 4-6. The resort has earned a reputation as a premier family ski resort, offering snowshoeing, snowboarding, downhill and cross-country skiing for children and adults of all ages. Their all-new snow tubing area provides yet another fun option for visitors to the ski resort. If you like ice-skating, you should definitely check out the Curry Village outdoor ice rink where you'll get a beautiful view of Yosemite Valley's majestic landmark, Half Dome. When you're not outdoors, you and the family can enjoy the valley's range of restaurants, shopping, and Yosemite National Park sightseeing tours in the comfort of heated motor coaches.
For information on other California family friendly resorts such as Diamond Peak, Heavenly, Homewood Mountain, Squaw Valley USA and Sugar Bowl, refer to www.skicalifornia.com.
Contact info: www.YosemitePark.com and www.BadgerPass.com or call
About an hour and a half north of Vancouver, Whistler offers a medley of family-oriented activities and has kids programs rated some of the best in North America. They offer a variety of supervised programs, sport camps and indoor/outdoor adventure excursions for kids ages toddler and up. Enroll your children for the day or for an entire week. Among others, the Adventure Camp Programs (for 3-4 year-olds) consists of five days of skiing with the same instructor and group, while the Ride Tribe Camps program (for 13-17 year-olds) allows your teen to ski or snowboard with informal lessons. The resort also offers snowshoeing (for ages 5 and up), snowboarding (for kids 6 and older) and sleigh rides.
Whistler, British Columbia
With any 3-night or longer ski vacation, American Airlines Vacations is offering a "Kids Fly Free" promotion that provides free airfare for children 12 and under, accompanied by a paying adult, to Steamboat Springs, Breckenridge, Keystone, Vail, Beaver Creek and South Lake Tahoe/Heavenly Valley. You can pre-purchase your lift tickets, book a car with your vacation and even earn 2,000 AAdvantage Bonus Miles with your package. As with almost any free offer in life, some restrictions apply and quantities are limited. For pricing information and reservations,
For other family friendly deals for over 30 different resort areas, visit www.ski.com or call
Contact info: www.mywhistler.com or call
Fly Your Kids for Free to Ski
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For other family friendly deals for over 30 different resort areas, visit www.ski.com or call