Best ski resorts for families in North America
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With the first fall of snowflakes from gray skies, winter-loving families head for the hills to enjoy the snow-covered splendor found at ski resorts. Whether your child is a shredding, snowboarding teen or a ski bunny newbie going to ski school for the very first time, mountain resorts across North America are catering to families, whether they prefer to enjoy the snow from the comfort of the heated indoors or on the slopes. When it comes to the best ski resorts for kids, check out all of the offerings at these top-rated North America mountaintops, as well as the best accommodations for your ski vacation.
Beaver Creek, Colorado
Perhaps one of the friendliest slopes for kids is Colorado’s Beaver Creek. Just about two hours from Denver International Airport (DEN) (or 30 minutes from Vail – Eagle) — this resort is relatively easy to access from East and West Coast destinations. This ski resort features 150 trails and 23 ski lifts, plus kid-friendly amenities. The Red Buffalo Park offers a 200-acre, 13-slope “family learning area” where you can access the top in just 4.3 minutes.
Teens and families can attend special events like an après ski pizza party; grab fresh, free warm cookies at 3 p.m.; and take weekly sunset snowshoe treks. There’s also a slope-side Candy Cabin, ice skating, snow tubing and dog sledding available at or close to the resort.
For apres-ski, make a reservation at Allie’s Cabin Family Dinners where an open-air sleigh picks you up and whisks you to the restaurant.
Where to stay: Park Hyatt Beaver Creek (30,000 World of Hyatt Points), Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch (from 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy points), the Westin Riverfront Resort and Spa (from 60,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) or Comfort Inn Near Vail Beaver Creek (20,000 Choice Privileges points)
Of all the Colorado ski resorts (of which there are plenty), Keystone is the hot spot for kids of all ages. Sure, there are the highlights like dog sledding, snow tubing, ice skating and sleigh rides, but the pièce de résistance is Kidtopia. Kids can play in its giant snow fort, enjoy fresh après-ski cookies or stay indoors with a variety of games, crafts and activities located within the Expedition Station headquarters. Saturday nights feature fireworks, along with family fondue events. If that’s not enough, did we mention the 3,000 acres of ski terrain during the day?
Best of all, kids 12 and under ski free when you stay at one of the resort’s properties for two nights or more, with no blackout dates.
Where is Snowmass, you ask? It’s one of the mountains that comprise the swanky Aspen ski area in Colorado. Check a high-end ski resort visit off your bucket list, and entertain the kids in one vacation. A bit less pretentious than its big sister Aspen, Snowmass includes the Treehouse Kids’ Adventure Center, an all-inclusive kids club for children between 8 weeks to 4 years. The center can occupy little ones, while older kids take part in ski school and you enjoy multiple terrains. Yes, there is snow tubing, snowshoeing and even snowcat rides to dinner on the mountain at Elk Camp.
Where to stay: Westin Snowmass (from 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points or use your 35k free night certificate)
Copper Mountain, Colorado
If you are looking for a “Vail” resort experience, but with lower lift prices and a more economical ski school, then this is the resort for you. This resort has family-friendly written all over it with a ton of activities. In addition to skiing on some great snow conditions, you have the Rocky Mountain Roller Coaster, snow tubing and even complimentary snowshoe tours (8 and older). And, of course, a snow playground is a huge hit amongst kids of all ages.
A unique experience is the Kids Night Out program right in the village. For parents that want a kid-free evening, you can drop your kids (ages 3–12 years old) at the Copper Mountain Child Care at Center Village (select days of the week between 5:30–10 p.m.). Just spend $30 (per child) in the local village and your child care is free! All children can stay for up to three hours. This is a great way for your kids to have fun, while not having to spend anything extra for child care.
Where to stay: Copper Mountain Resort (use your flexible points to wipe away the cost)
Deer Valley, Utah
When kids are just getting their bearings making big side-to-side turns down an incline, snowboarders, speeding straight for the bottom, can be scary. Thankfully, there are no boarders to heed at Deer Valley, which is a ski-only resort, allowing cautious parents everywhere to exhale. The mountain limits its ticket sales each day, which keeps crowds (and lift line waits) at a minimum.
With a revamped Gorgoza Park, now being renamed Woodward Park City, kids can enjoy a seven-lane tubing park as well as an indoor facility with trampolines, foam pits and a skatepark.
Where to stay: St. Regis Deer Valley (from 85,000 Marriott Bonvoy points) or Sheraton Park City (from 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy points)
California’s Northstar Resort, along the California–Nevada border on Lake Tahoe, is one of the best for families. Enjoy the sleigh rides, snowshoe tours and snow tubing, as well as s’mores and a hot cocoa bar after getting your runs in for the day. Families can ski together in the new Kids Adventure Zone, where two mountain areas with blue trails are safely tucked away from bigger, faster skiers and snowboarders. Ice skating, day or night, is another treat, which is often accompanied by live music.
Where to stay: Marriott’s Timber Lodge (from 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points)
Smugglers’ Notch, Vermont
This über kid-friendly ski resort, found just across the mountain divide from its more famous neighbor Stowe, is a favorite of New England families who return to “Smuggs” again and again. Beyond the ski school for kids, choose from daily bonfires, weekly carnivals, snowshoeing, ice skating, tubing and night skiing for all ages to enjoy. Rather hide away from the cold? Visit the Family Fun Complex for 26,000 square feet of indoor fun activities for non-skiers. Smuggs also offers an official kids club with daily programming. Oh yes, and don’t miss the special evening fireworks!
Stowe has a world-class ski school and plenty of long beautiful blues to keep your not-yet-expert skiers and boarders engaged. After a great family day on the slopes, take in a free pre-dinner skate at the Spruce Peak outdoor ice rink or do a guided twilight snowshoe tour through the woods. Want to skip the “are we there yet?” choruses in the car? Jump on a Tradewind Aviation flight from Westchester County Airport directly to Stowe Morrisville State Airport (December through March). Rates start at $340 plus tax per one-way flight on the Friday/Sunday flights — no extra charge for all your ski gear.
The main issue with Stowe Mountain is the ticket prices, compared to other east coast resorts, although the Epic Ski Pass could come in handy and potentially save your family money.
Jay Peak, Vermont
People love Jay Peak due to its indoor waterpark. For those families who want to take a day off from skiing or for something to do after morning ski school, the Jay Peak Pump House indoor waterpark is ideal. The waterpark features slides, a Flowrider, a lazy river and an entire kids play area. There are many lodging packages which includes waterpark access or you can purchase a day pass (purchasing in advance is recommended). Aside from the waterpark, there are two arcades, a climbing gym, an ice skating rink and a movie theater.
Where to stay: Jay Peak Resort
Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
Just over the Vermont border is New Hampshire’s answer to family-oriented skiing: Bretton Woods. Home to the equally family-friendly Omni Mount Washington Resort, Bretton Woods features a cool kids’ snowmobile park, fat-tire snow biking trails, sleigh rides and a sports center with indoor, heated swimming facilities. Kids will enjoy the après-ski programs with fun weekly themes such as Lunar New Year and Wildlife Encounters.
Bretton Woods also partners with many ski shops where if you purchase a seasonal rental, you’ll receive a free seasons pass (plus a small processing fee). This junior pass partnership program is for kids ages 5 to 12.
Where to stay: Omni Mount Washington Resort
Whiteface, New York
Lake Placid is such a perfect winter destination that it has not once but twice hosted the Winter Olympic Games. The town of Lake Placid offers a plethora of kid-friendly activities and dining, but it’s Whiteface Mountain that offers non-skiing young kids a camp with arts, crafts and more. Beyond the offerings for ages 6 and younger, Whiteface combines ski lessons and off-slope activities for children, while parents enjoy more than 300 skiable acres in the upstate New York mountain resort. In the spare time you have left, check out the Olympic sites and activities, including a chance to experience bobsledding like the athletes.
With New York State’s Learn to Ski or Ride Passport program, 3rd and 4th graders can also receive up to three free ski days at this resort.
Although the Eastern Pennsylvania slopes may not offer as many runs as the other destinations on this list, the Poconos are home to Great Wolf Lodge and Kalahari Resort, where kids are treated to (gigantic!) indoor waterparks, arcades and daily festivities. Nearby, Camelback Mountain ski resort has its own indoor waterpark at Aquatopia, creating a trifecta for a non-skier paradise. For those who do love the powder, there’s Camelback’s adventure park, snow tubing and, of course, skiing and snowboarding.
Where to stay: Kalahari Resort
Cross the border to Quebec’s Mont-Tremblant, just a couple of hours outside Montreal, and you’ll be blessed with a French-inspired getaway. Grab the kids for snow-covered trails ripe for fat-tire biking, winter dune buggy rides, ice fishing and even ice climbing. Kids 6 and younger can play in the Kidz Club, while older family members explore the high peak of Mont-Tremblant. Come together again to play at the indoor/outdoor Aqualab La Source waterpark.
Where to stay: Fairmont Tremblant or Le Westin Resort & Spa, Tremblant (from 40,000 points)
Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia
British Columbia’s Whistler is another Canadian ski hot spot for families. Kid-friendly after-ski parties include entertainment and activities, and your kids will go crazy for the Magic Castle and Tree Fort outdoor playlands at both Whistler and its sister Blackcomb mountains. Pint-sized skiing is provided at the resort’s Enchanted Woods, free and clear of more experienced (aka faster) skiers.
Where to stay: Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler or Westin Whistler (from 50,000 Marriott Bonvoy points)
Dreaming of a winter getaway with your family? Read TPG’s tips for planning your ski trip with points and miles.
- Everything You Need to Know to Pack for a Ski Trip
- Best US Ski Towns
- Plan Your Ski Trip With Points and Miles
- Best Ski Schools for Kids
- Tips to Make Your Best Ski Trip Better
- Best Credit Cards to Use on Ski Trips
- Best Annual Ski Pass: Epic vs. Ikon vs. Mountain Collective
- Kids Ski Free: Save on Your Family’s Next Ski Vacation
- Kids Ski Free in Colorado and Utah With Epic Ski Days
Featured image by Getty Images / Imgorthand
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