Ski season is officially underway: Many of North America’s big-name resorts are either already open for the 2022-23 season — with an assist from a hefty dose of snow in parts of the West — or set to open soon.
For those inclined toward adventure, skiing or snowboarding is the ultimate way to enjoy a family holiday during the coldest months of the year. Whether you get it on your doorstep or have to travel to find fresh powder, the magic of a frozen wonderland is undeniable, especially for small humans.
But, let’s be honest, taking a family ski vacation is not quite as simple as planning a beach holiday. Here are seven things to keep in mind when organizing your family’s next ski trip:
Choose the ski resort wisely
Unless you’re a family of pros, you’ll want a mountain with plentiful beginner terrain — including magic carpets — and a reputable ski school for your children to take group or private lessons so they don’t get frustrated or discouraged by intimidating runs. A great selection of on-mountain food options may be important to you, and perhaps you’d like the option of childcare, or at least to know that it’s available. You’ll find all these features and more at some of TPG’s favorite family ski resorts:
Breckenridge Ski Resort, Colorado
Childcare is available this season for the first time since the start of the pandemic at Breckenridge Ski Resort, and kids under 4 always ski free. This historic Colorado resort also just debuted a major enhancement to its beginner ski and snowboard school experience: a major upgrade of the classic Rip’s Ride chairlift to a new high-speed quad, which kids 3 years and older can ride.
The charming former mining town is full of other attractions (but more on that later). It’s also worth noting that it’s Colorado’s highest ski town, which can pose problems to those prone to altitude sickness. Peak 8 chairlift (at just under 13,000 feet) is the world’s highest resort quad chairlift.
June Mountain, California
Southeast of Yosemite National Park, June Mountain remains a well-kept secret in the Eastern Sierras. It has so much to offer every age group that it’s dubbed “California’s Family Mountain.” Uncrowded and beginner-friendly, it offers free skiing and riding for all kids under 12 years (no blackout dates or restrictions) across 1,500 acres. It’s safe to expect no lift lines and more palatable prices, with lessons around half the cost of flashier, neighboring resorts (like sister mountain Mammoth). Rounding out the on-mountain experience, the resort hosts weekly bonfires with s’mores — surefire crowd-pleasers.
Stowe Mountain Resort, Vermont
On the East Coast, Stowe is known as an especially friendly place for children. The resort has a dedicated beginner mountain called Spruce Peak and a lively village that keeps kids entertained. Plus, there’s the appealing ski-in/ski-out Lodge at Spruce Peak, which is part of the Hyatt portfolio and starts at $566 or 35,000 Hyatt points per night during peak ski season, from January through March. Other options include the boutique-y, adventure-ready Bluebird Tälta Lodge with room configurations that include bunk beds and an indoor pool (from $279 per night during ski season).
Keystone Ski Resort, Colorado
Perhaps the most family-friendly ski resort of all is Keystone — which is just 70 miles from Denver. This much-loved Rocky Mountain resort has a no-blackout-date Kids Ski Free program for those 12 and younger with two or more nights of hotel or condo lodging booked through Keystone Ski Resort. There’s even a Hyatt Place Keystone, an award Category 4 property with rooms from 18,000 points, or $144 cash, per night.
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An entire area of the mountain is dedicated to children, and the destination also features the world’s largest mountaintop snow fort, with a second snow fort in the base area. Families get reserved front-row parking (on a first-come, first-served basis), and there are red wagons to help tote both gear and kids, as well as night skiing, skating on a five-acre lake, and eight lanes of mountaintop tubing, along with other thrilling highlights.
Plan other activities beyond skiing
Don’t over-plan. Even if you’re hyped about skiing or snowboarding, you can’t expect kids to remain excited on the mountain day after day with no break to enjoy a different kind of fun. So they don’t get too worn out, pick a place with plenty of other winter pursuits, from cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and ice skating — a feature of many East Coast resorts — to snow tubing or maybe even an Ice Castle, for “Frozen” fanatics.
Telluride’s historical mining town is a true gem that is a fun place for kids to wander and explore, plus there’s a charming ice skating rink right in front of Madeline Hotel & Residences. Telluride Ski Resort offers The Kids Snow Camp for ages 5 to 12, which includes things like trekking and geocaching, and there are also snow-biking lessons for anyone not keen on skiing.
In Canada, Mont Tremblant, two hours from Montreal, boasts a plethora of winter wonderland activities — ice fishing, fat-tire biking, snowmobiling and sleigh rides. As an added bonus, there are plenty of points properties, including the Le Westin Resort and Spa, a Marriott Bonvoy property offering proximity to both the slopes and all the attractions of the quaint…
Read More: Planning a family ski trip this winter? Here’s what you need to know