Hold on to your snow hats. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, “Winter is back” for 2020, with the white stuff predicted to pile up higher than mashed potatoes on a holiday buffet across New England, the Northeast and the Western States. Luckily for working moms, there are family-friendly ski and snow resorts across North America that embrace kids as well as the snow. So put on your hats and gloves and get ready to hop onto the bunny trails with your young skiers at these top family winter resorts. You’ll find fun extras like fireworks, water parks and sleigh rides—something for every interest and budget. Also, see 10 tips for skiing with children.
Ski Resorts in the East
To prove its self-proclaimed title of “America’s Family Resort,” Smuggs amps up the parents-and-kids quotient with a ski school named best in the East by Ski Magazine and programs for kids as young as 2½, a high-tech GPS tracking system that keeps track of the trails kids have run, and even babysitting for tots and toddlers. Uniquely, they also have adaptive snow programs so that kids and adults with special needs can enjoy the snow fun too. The resort is particularly festive over the holidays with activities like cookie decorating, “elf” tuck-ins and story times, and “reindeer games.” And all winter long, it offers “cookie” races for kids (everyone’s a cookie winner!), bonfires and s’mores, and weekly fireworks.
Stowe is a perennially popular family ski resort, but it’s the first season for the lodge’s Spruce Peak Village Center, an alpine hamlet setting with the only ski-in/ski-out access in the area. The village is centered on a 10,000 square foot ice rink with complimentary skating for families. Also, new this year is the Stowe Adventure Center where you’ll find the Stowe Children’s Ski and Ride school and Stowe Rocks, a climbing gym that replicates local rock formations, plus a movie screening area and teen lounge for some off-mountain fun.
Stowe Mountain Lodge – The frozen fun continues off-peak at Stowe’s ice rink.
Fulfill your family’s winter Olympic dreams at this resort that hosted the winter games twice, first in 1932 and memorably in 1980 when the USA team of college students beat the USSR powerhouse squad in the “Miracle on Ice.” At the historic Olympic Village, families can try their hand at bobsled or skeleton, skate on the Olympic oval, or watch ski jumping or biathalon. Over on Whiteface Mountain there’s some of the best ski trails in the northeast, plus tubing for those who’d rather ride sitting down. Whiteface Lodge is an all-suite resort with an ice cream parlor, indoor pool and Kamp Kanu children’s club, making it a perfect fit for families.
Lake Placid Olympic Museum – The nearby Lake Placid Olympic Museum is a perfect ski-break for sports’ history buffs.
Be prepared: Free ski gear checklist [PDF].
A favorite ski area of TriState residents for its easy access from Philadelphia and New York as well as its ski lessons and varied trails, Camelback is also a magnet for families who want skis-free snow fun. Here you’ll find the largest tubing park in the United States, complete with laser-lit “Galactic” lanes; winter ziplining; even snowy mountain “coaster” rides. For many kids, however, it’s what’s inside that makes the difference: After a day of winter play, you can all splash it up in Camelback’s Aquatopia indoor waterpark, with free entrance when you stay at the lodge. All in all, a super winter vacation destination.
Just north of quaint Quebec City, this European-style ski resort really pulls out all the stops for families. There’s TAM TAM Zone, a learning area for kids 3 and 12 that’s enhanced with games as it winds its way through forest and glades. And after a day on the trails, families can enjoy free tubing and skating, all within walking distance, since the resort is a car-free, easy ski-in/ski-out zone. Tremblant is even more skier-friendly this winter: With the purchase of a weekday flight, guests receive either two free day lift tickets or free airfare for one child when accompanied by an adult. Plus, with the positive exchange rate for Americans, it’s as though everything is discounted an additional 25 percent to boot.
Ski Resorts in the West
Any spot that features a “Kidtopia” snow play area is obviously going to be a good fit for families, but Keystone offers more than just super-cool snow tunnel mazes. The resort, which feels like a small town, is centered on the largest maintained skating lake in North America and also has one of the biggest ski camps for kids in the west. (There are also group family lessons.) Accommodations throughout the resort are great for big families, including full-service condos with ski-in/ski-out access available at reasonable rates. And if you book a two-night stay, kids 12 and under ski free—no blackout dates. Don’t miss a trip up the gondola for some of the best fondue this side of Switzerland at Der Fondue Chessel—at 11,500 feet the highest restaurant in the U.S.—which caters to kids with magicians and balloon artists to accompany the massive mounds of molten cheese.
Park Hyatt Beaver Creek
Beaver Creek area offers an easy-to-navigate outdoor-mall-like resort with an outdoor skate rink at its core haloed by casual spots to eat, shop and relax (there’s even a theater)—all without having to hop in a car—making a great fit for families. The Park Hyatt is right at the center of all the activity with a prime ski-in/ski-out location near the ski school. At the end of each day, the hotel hosts a complimentary s’mores happy hour at an outdoor fire-pit, the perfect spot to watch the weekly Thursday night fireworks on Beaver Creek Mountain. Nearby are opportunities to explore the snowy terrain on sleigh rides, by dog sledding or in heated snow cats.
Love the idea of a winter vacation but really don’t want to downhill ski as part of your getaway? This rolling ranch in the heart of the Blackfoot Valley in western Montana’s big sky country has spacious luxury homes (bring your bonus check) featuring hot tubs with fireplaces roaring, snow falling and sleigh bells jingling (really). On-premises winter activities include dogsledding, horse-drawn sleigh rides, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, winter ATV riding and even “skijoring”—where you’ll be pulled on skis by horse or dogs. (How fun is that!) Plus there’s western-dude-ranch fun with horses at an indoor equestrian center. After all that, if you change your mind about downhill skiing, they’ll arrange that nearby too.
Lake Tahoe is renowned for both its fabulous skiing and gorgeous setting, but it’s also surprisingly family friendly if you head to Northstar. In addition to all levels of skiing, there are family snowshoeing adventures that end with hot cocoa and warm cookies. In addition, skating, tubing and an outdoor bungee trampoline are among the resort’s winter activities.
Tracing the Grand Tetons and nestling against Yellowstone National Park, few winter resorts have the stunning landscape and views that are on offer at Jackson Hole. In addition to 2,500 acres of skiable terrain, Jackson Hole offers unique winter family activities such as horse-drawn sleigh rides through the National Elk Reserve or dog sledding to nearby Granite Hot Springs, where the kids might spot bald eagles, bison or bighorn sheep. For classic winter thrills, there’s also sledding, tubing and skating. Great deals are on offer here, too: Choose any of the affordable condos or home rentals for a minimum of four nights and receive a 10 percent discount, with all children under 14 skiing for free.
Printable ski gear checklist. Don’t leave home without it!
Written by Melissa Klurman for Working Mother and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Images provided by Working Mother