Winter is coming, and so are adventurous, unforgettable family vacation opportunities.
It’s time to dust off the skis (or snow shoes, sleds and ice-skates) and get ready for the winter season. When planning, it’s imperative that you find a resort that suits your needs and has something for the entire family. We came up with a few destinations to help you decide which mountain resorts to check out.
Breckenridge is one of the most popular ski destinations in the U.S., if not the most popular. Breck, as locals and ski buffs call it, is known for having something for everyone. From the most aggressive terrain to gentle slopes for first-time skiers, it’s all here. But there’s also ice-skating, an Alpine slide and a mountain-top museum complete with a Kids Night Out program, where the little ones can have fun experimenting in the museum lab or painting their view. Meanwhile, mom and dad can frolic through downtown window shopping and dining along the seven-block historic district. Breckenridge also has lots of choices for ski-in/ski-out lodging, so you never have to leave the mountain, ever.
What’s in the renowned name? The largest ski mountain in Colorado? 350,000 surrounding acres of national forest with 5,289 of it skiable? Advantageous geography, boutique shopping, fresh dining and luxurious accommodations, this town knows how to do family vacations in style. Like Adventure Ridge, a mountain top snow park with ski biking, tubing, mini snowmobiles and ziplines. There are also plenty of educational opportunities at the Nature Discovery Center, inside a yurt, where you can learn about the local wildlife. Or, join the snowshoe tour about winter ecology. One of the most memorable things might be the Vail Holidaze, a perfect family holiday celebration that includes a torchlight parade down the mountain.
BEAVER CREEK, CO
Noted as one of the “best family ski resorts” by the Travel Channel, Beaver Creek is over 1,800 acres of both extreme terrain and gentle runs. There are quality ski and snowboard programs, like Nordic lessons into White River Mountain to learn snowshoeing, cross-country or telemark skiing. Closer to home is the 3 p.m. cookie program with freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, on-hill story times, Thursday night lights, a tubing hill, ice skating and Marmot Maze. Beaver Creek hasn’t forgotten anyone with its popular evening teen program, Loves Teens Too.
3,000 acres that include three peaks, Keystone is equipped for outdoor enthusiasts. You might need extra mountain time to see it all. Get it with night skiing, something few resorts offer. Children 12 and under also ski free. That’s right, all day, any day with a two-night stay at any Keystone resort. Plus, there’s Kidtopia, which is exactly what it sounds like; free, on and off mountain, family-friendly programming. How about building the largest snow fort or hunting for the elusive sasquatch at the Bigfoot Adventure Walk? There’s face painting, cookie hours, disco tubing and more. All appropriately topped off with story time and hot chocolate around the fireplace at Bighorns’ Bistro.
PARK CITY, UTAH
Park City really put itself on the map after Park City Ski Resort hosted what was deemed to be the best Winter Olympics ever in 2002. Park City is a big resort with 116 runs and 19 lifts covering more than 3,300 acres of skiable terrain. They’ve also personalized family vacations with children’s ski schools that limit classes to five. There’s even a Signature 3 Program for children ages three to five. And if you want to mix it up you can pop off your skis and hop on the alpine coaster – essentially a roller coaster that cruises down the mountain through tight turns for more than 4,000 feet.
LAKE TAHOE, CA
Lake Tahoe is home to some of the most gorgeous scenery in California. It’s also home to some of the greatest ski resorts in the United States. The jaw-dropping cliffs and spectacular sightseeing on the mountains pair well with the fine dining and boutiques found in town. Lake Tahoe’s resorts, such as Northstar Ski Resort, offer a first-class luxury feel to go along with your ski adventures. This is where your winter enthusiasm is matched. There’s also so much more to do on the mountains than snowboarding and skiing. Take advantage of the free mountain tours, tubing, ice skating, snowshoeing, live music and complimentary daily s’mores. Outside Magazine crowned it with both “best resort for families” and its famed ski and snowboarding school the “ski schools of the future.”
WHISTLER, VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA
Welcome to the largest skiing territory in North America. Whistler and Blackcomb, the side-by-side mountains in Vancouver have more than 8,171 acres of skiable terrain and get an average of 38.4 feet of snow each year. With more than 37 lifts, 16 alpine bowls, 3 glaciers and a mile high vertical, it’s truly a mecca of skiing. At the base of the resort is a pedestrian-only village with a skating rink within restaurants with fires and warm drinks. Since hosting the Olympics in winter of 2010, Whistler Olympic Plaza and the monumental Olympic Rings are still a huge attraction. You can even slide down the official Olympic tracks on bobsled and luge.