Five family friendly ski resorts in 500 words?
That was my challenge from Expedia’s Viewfinder travel blog.
First, there’s the challenge of defining a great family resort.
The easy answer? A great family resort is where you are skiing, today.
Since families come in all shapes and sizes with all different ability levels, it’s hard to define great family terrain. But I do think that a great family resort should have some memorable and unique features, some touchstones to remember.
Home of the 1960 Winter Olympics and one of the cradles of North American extreme skiing, Squaw Valley may surprise you.
First, there’s High Camp, Squaw’s mid-mountain “base.” Here you’ll find the learning center and access to extensive beginner and intermediate runs, as well as the terrain parks.
Start your day with a tram ride to High Camp and end it by soaking in High Camp’s outdoor hot tub and pool.
For families that rip, KT 22 is deservedly legendary. Other advanced terrain is found off of the Headwall, North Bowl and Granite Chief.
Top Tips: Buy a Wildflour Bakery “cookie pass.” Visit the High Camp Olympic Museum. Ski Alpine Meadows on the same ticket.
Families love Deer Valley Resort for its groomed terrain and top-notch service, including valets and free ski check.
Spread across six mountains, you’ll find 22 lifts, three full-service lodges and enough terrain to keep everyone busy, with bumps, chutes and some of the best tree skiing anywhere.
Another Olympic mountain, Deer Valley hosted the 2002 Olympic Slalom and Mogul events. It’s also a great place to learn to ski, with a highly regarded ski school.
And, the dining at Deer Valley is equally unique and special.
Seafood Buffet, anyone?
Top Tips: Take a free intermediate or expert mountain ski tour. Check out Stein Eriksen’s collection of ski racing awards and memorabilia. Ski with Olympian Heidi Voelcker.
If you must pick just one family resort in Colorado, make it Keystone, home of Kidtopia.
From the fun, bright children’s learning center, to the on-mountain ice castle and tubing, Keystone offers diversions, explorations and adventures for kids. Munch on sweets at Cookie Hour. Meet and greet the Ski Patrol avalanche dogs. Ice skate on the outdoor rink.
And that doesn’t even begin to cover the skiing. A mountain with a low-key reputation, Keystone has surprisingly difficult options, as well as cat skiing for advanced and expert skiers.
Top Tips: Check out the Kidtopia calendar. Stay in River Run to be close to the fun. Enjoy a mountain top fondue dinner.
A “western” mountain in the mid-Atlantic, Snowshoe is an upside down resort, with the skiing and riding falling away below the mountain top village.
Known for intermediate skiing, families flock to Snowshoe and it’s sister mountain Silver Creek (they’re on the same ticket). While the hardest skiing is on the backside of Snowshoe, in The Western Territory, Silver Creek has the best terrain parks, night skiing and tubing.
Top Tips: Take an après ski dip at the Split Rock swimming pools and water slide. Book a “kids’ night out” and enjoy an adult dinner in a backcountry hut. Go cross-country skiing.
In April 2014, OnTheSnow.com honored Okemo, Vermont as North America’s most Family Friendly resort. A Visitors’ Choice award, it’s well deserved, because among all the things Okemo does well, keeping families happy is at the top of their list.
Known for outstanding grooming and snowmaking, this family owned resort offers immaculate trails, with a huge amount of intermediate terrain. Okemo is also a great place to learn and expand your skills.
And when you need a break from skiing, Okemo has everything you need to keep busy, from tubing to snowcat excursions.
Top Tips: Kids 6 and under ski free at Okemo, while kids 12 and under can stay for free. Trade your skis for skates and shoot pucks at the Ice House. Ride the Timber Ripper Mountain Coaster.
Want More Information?
- You Gotta Go Ski Squaw Valley, USA, November 11, 2013.
- Surprising Keystone: Bigger, Better and Fun for Everyone, February 4, 2013.
- Fun Family Times at Utah’s Deer Valley Resort, March 5, 2014.
- Snowshoe, West Virginia: A Southeast “Secret”, December 10, 2014.
- Why I Love Skiing At Okemo, Vermont, October 27, 2011.
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