Getting kids on skis as early as possible can be rewarding for a lifetime of skiing. But planning a ski trip — especially with kids in tow — isn’t as easy as just picking up and going. Instead of just “following the snow,” you’ll want to pick a ski mountain that truly caters to kids — one that offers top-notch ski lessons, kid-friendly trails and many off-the-snow activities as well.
So if this is the year you’re ready to get your family on the mountain, here are some great family-friendly options for your next winter ski vacation.
Debuting this winter, you’ll find 250 new acres of terrain at Beaver Creek in McCoy Park. This family-friendly zone offers a great learning area for kids, with 17 trails and two chair lifts. This is in addition to the many other kid-friendly ski areas at the resort, such as Haymeadow Park, which has its own gondola, and Red Buffalo Park. Your kids will also love finding the Candy Cabin located on the mountain at 9,840 feet.
And don’t forget the fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies after a day on the slopes — a Beaver Creek signature. This year, not only will guests be able to walk up to a dedicated cookie window to enjoy one of these delicacies, but those part of Beaver Creek’s ski school can enjoy chocolate chip cookies and hot cocoa throughout the day.
In Beaver Creek Village, which is within walking distance from the slopes, there’s an outdoor ice skating rink with skate rentals available and many restaurants.
Where to stay in Beaver Creek
Beaver Creek is filled with many hotel options, including many that will allow you to use your hotel points. The Park Hyatt Beaver Creek is as luxurious as they come. For just 30,000 World of Hyatt points per night, which can easily be earned from the World of Hyatt Credit Card, you can enjoy a free night. Best of all, you’re just a stone’s throw away from dropping your kids off at ski school.
Other options include the Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch, which is on the other side of the mountain and farther away from the village, and the Sheraton Mountain Vista Villas. The Sheraton requires a shuttle, but all rooms are one- or two-bedroom villas, which will allow your family to spread out in comfort. And at only a Category 5 property in the Marriott Bonvoy award chart, rates start at just 30,000 points a night, or you may be able to use the annual free night certificate that comes with the Marriott Bonvoy Boundless® Credit Card.
If you’re looking for a more low-key ski experience than what you might find at Beaver Creek and Vail, Copper Mountain is perfect for the entire family — especially since its pricing is much more favorable.
This ski resort was truly made with kids in mind due to the many on- and off-mountain activities. On the mountain — aside from skiing — you have the Rocky Mountain Roller Coaster, snow tubing and the brand-new Copper Maze, which will be built entirely of snow.
If you’re looking to take a break from the outdoors, you can also experience the Woodward Copper Barn, which offers enough adventure to keep kids occupied for the entire day, including skate, scooter and BMX zones, trampolines, a full-size skate bowl and much more.
Where to stay at Copper Mountain
Copper Mountain has a brand-new hotel in Element 29, which is located right at the base of the Center Village. It’s actually one of your only hotel options in the area and offers an on-site restaurant and bar, hot tubs and fire pits.
There’s no sugarcoating it: Skiing can be expensive. But Keystone makes the skiing experience much more affordable for families with its kids ski free program. With all eligible stays of two nights or more, kids 12 and younger ski for free each night booked, plus an additional day of skiing.
But an affordable ski trip isn’t the only reason to visit Keystone. With 3,000 acres and multiple terrain options, a snow fort at both the top and bottom of the mountain, night skiing, dog sledding, sleigh rides, snow tubing and ice skating, there’s plenty to keep an entire family busy both on and off the mountain.
Where to stay at Keystone Resort
Keystone offers many condos where you can walk directly to the lifts, with some even having a true ski-on/ski-off experience. But, if you’re looking to use hotel points to offset the cost of your stay, the Hyatt Place Keystone is a great value. With standard pricing at just 15,000 World of Hyatt points per night, this is the perfect opportunity to use your free night certificate that comes with the World of Hyatt Credit Card.
Steamboat Ski Resort is known for its kids’ camps programs, where kids of all ages can have fun all day and parents can enjoy some relaxation. Steamboat will even get your 1-year-old on skis if that’s what you want. And during holiday breaks, such as Christmas and New Year’s Eve, presidents’ week and spring break, Steamboat offers a five-day ski week lesson for kids.
With night skiing also offered during select days of the week, your kids can continue their love for skiing as the sun falls. Or, if you prefer, you can finish off the day with a ride on the mountain roller coaster. For those looking to take a break from the mountain, you can embark on a completely different activity by visiting one of the many natural hot springs nearby — the perfect way to warm yourself up before returning to the slopes.
But with Steamboat charging the most expensive daily list ticket, you’ll want to look into the IKON pass for your ski trip. (Note that IKON passes for the 2021/2022 season are no longer available.) Or the dual pass will give you seven days to be used toward both the 2021/2022 and 2022/2023 season — the perfect way to lock in a ski trip for both this year and next. You’ll also receive a free kid’s pass with a qualifying purchase of an adult pass.
Where to stay at Steamboat Ski Resort
The Sheraton Steamboat Resort Villas is right at the mountain and near all the activity. If you’re staying with kids, this is an ideal hotel option, as you can book a one- or two-bedroom villa — and you can even use your Marriott Bonvoy points for these larger rooms.
For families flying in for their ski trip, Park City is as easy as it gets. After you deplane and grab your ski gear, you can be on the slopes in almost no time, as the mountain is located just around 30 minutes from the airport.
There are multiple ski school and childcare options right on the mountain. As one of the largest ski resorts in the United States, there’s also a variety of terrain for every skill level. With more than 330 trails, you can spend the entire day challenging yourself to new adventures.
Where to stay at Park City
Park City offers many accommodations, especially for those who are looking to use their hotel points. On the Canyons side of the resort, there’s the Hyatt Centric Park City, Waldorf Astoria Park City and Club Wyndham Park City. You then have Marriott’s MountainSide on the Park City side. These hotels are all within walking distance to the ski lifts, giving you easy access to the mountain.
Located in southern Vermont, Okemo Mountain Resort is a family favorite. The mountain offers 121 trails, 20 lifts and the highest snowmaking efficiency in all of Vermont. With a wide range of terrain, skiers ranging from beginners to experts will enjoy the mountain.
On top of skiing, kids will have a field day between the mountain coaster, tubing hill and ice skating rink. There’s also the Spring House aquatics center with a heated pool, hot tubs and a fitness center.
While the Kids’ Night Out program will continue to be closed for this season, it should return in future years. This allows parents to have a fun Saturday night out while kids enjoy their own pizza party and a movie.
Where to stay at Okemo Mountain Resort
The Jackson Gore Inn is one of the most popular hotels on the mountain, which also has access to a fun pool complex — a hit after a long day of skiing. Or, if you’d prefer to stay in a condo and spread out, you have many options, with some even offering ski-on/ski-out locations. You can book a condo through Vacasa with your Wyndham Rewards points at just 15,000 points per night per bedroom. As an added benefit, many of these condos have access to the Spring House complex or have their own pools and activities onsite
Smugglers’ Notch Resort in northern Vermont is as family-friendly as it gets. With 300 inches of natural snow each winter — plus plenty of its own snow-making capability — and lessons starting as young as 2.5 years old, Smuggs makes it easy to get your kids on the snow from a young age.
The mountain offers 78 trails, eight lifts, multiple terrain parks (including a kid-friendly Riglet Park) and more than 1,000 acres of skiing.
A trip to Smugglers’ Notch will also give you that true vacation feel. After a day of skiing — or even if you are looking to mix in some non-skiing days — there are a plethora of activities for all families during the day and at night. From snowshoeing and tubing to swimming and ice skating, your kids will never want to leave. And if your kids are still rearing to go as the sun goes down, the resort offers many nightly activities, such as family gaga ball, bonfires, s’mores and even glow tubing.
Where to stay at Smugglers’ Notch Resort
When planning a vacation to Smugglers’ Notch, one of the best options is to stay at one of its many on-site condominiums. There are complexes spread throughout the resort, ranging from studios all the way to five bedrooms, depending on your family’s needs. There’s also an on-demand shuttle that can take you from your condo to the ski lifts and any of the other resort amenities. Or you can use your Wyndham points to stay at the Club Wyndham Smugglers’ Notch at 15,000 points per night per bedroom, but availability is extremely limited — especially during peak dates.
Stowe Mountain Resort — also known as the Vail of the East Coast — is a family favorite. Made up of two different mountain areas, Spruce Peak is perfectly situated for kids. Those just learning to ski will love the enclosed bubble on the magic carpet ride or the wide — but not too long — runs on the Sunny Peak Triple. And as kids start to become more comfortable on the snow, they can hop the gondola to enjoy more challenging trails on the Mount Mansfield side.
After a day of skiing, the Spruce Peak Base area offers an outdoor ice skating rink, après-skiing, a candy store and even an indoor climbing wall.
The town of Stowe also has a lot to offer, with many restaurants, breweries and outdoor activities. There’s everything from snowshoeing to horse and carriage rides, and then, of course, the Ben & Jerry’s factory tours.
Where to stay at Stowe Mountain Resort
If you’re looking to stay right at the mountain, there’s just one hotel option: the Lodge at Spruce Peak, which is part of the Hyatt portfolio.
Although Jay Peak is as far north as you can get, it’s worth the drive for families. With an indoor water park, which includes a lazy river, waterslide, surf simulator, hot tubs and much more, your kids will love a trip to the mountains. To add to the excitement, there’s also an indoor ice skating rink, fat-tire biking and arcades. Unfortunately, though, the climbing gym and theatre will be closed for the 2021/2022 season.
Due to its location, the mountain sees fewer crowds than other East Coast mountains, which is ideal when skiing with kids. Ticket prices are also more moderately priced and there are also many ski and stay packages, which include accommodations, lift tickets and even access to the Jay Peak Pump House water park.
Jay Peak also offers daytime and nighttime childcare for kids between 6 weeks and 12 years old. This can allow you to get a few turns on the mountain without the kids — or even a special date night.
Where to stay at Jay Peak Resort
Jay Peak offers many hotel and condo options right at the mountain. You can opt for a hotel room, single-family home, condo or townhouse, all of which offer multi-bedroom options. You can also pick a location that works best for your family, whether it’s ski-in/ski-out, near the golf course or right at the water park.
Known as the largest ski area in New Hampshire, Bretton Woods offers a ton for families both on and off the mountain — while also getting some of the best views of Mount Washington. Once your kids progress beyond the bunny slope, they’ll love that they can take the gondola to the top of the mountain and find many wide green and blue trails leading them down to the bottom.
At the mountain, the kids’ snowmobile park and adventure center will remain closed this year, but nearby at the Mount Washington Resort, there’s access to tubing, sleigh rides and fat-tire snow biking.
Where to stay at Bretton Woods
Hands down, one of the best places to stay — especially with kids — is the famous Omni Mount Washington Resort. The hotel features an indoor and outdoor pool that’s fully heated for the winter, an arcade room, multiple fire pits and endless amounts of hot chocolate. With shuttles to and from the mountain, once you arrive, you truly never have to step foot into your car again.
Being a host to the Winter Olympics twice, Lake Placid has an abundant amount of outdoor activities for kids. With the largest vertical drop east of the Rockies at 3,430 feet, this means your family can spend more time on the mountain and less time on the lifts. Although Whiteface is a challenging mountain, for those just starting out, there’s the dedicated Bear Den Learning Center.
Throughout your stay, your family can also explore many of the thrill-seeking activities and Olympic sites. There’s the Cliffside Coaster, which is the longest mountain coaster in the US, or if you want to truly feel like an Olympian, bobsledding is a big adrenaline rush. Nearby there’s also dogsledding, a toboggan chute and even the opportunity to watch experts mastering their ski jumping skills.
Where to stay at Whiteface Mountain
If you have the budget, the Whiteface Lodge and Resort is the ideal lodging option for families. Within the resort itself, you have access to a movie theater, bowling alley, indoor/outdoor heated pool, ice skating rink, snowshoeing, game room, ice cream parlor, s’more making and three different restaurant options. That’s all in addition to the daily resort activities.
If your kids are just starting out, a smaller resort might feel less overwhelming for your family — but a small mountain doesn’t mean less fun. Camelback Mountain Resort in the Poconos still offers 39 runs, with most lit up for night skiing.
After a day of skiing, your family can visit the Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark, where you can feel like it’s summer year-round with 13 waterslides, seven pools and many play structures. Combine that with many other activities, such as snow tubing and arcades, and your kids will never want to leave.
Where to stay at Camelback Mountain Resort
Fortunately, there are many different hotels nearby, which allows for every budget. But, if you really want to make your stay special for your family, there are three hotels that scream family-friendly, thanks to their water park and activities offered. Camelback Lodge is right at the mountain, offering ski-in/ski-out accommodations. It’s also home to the aforementioned Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark.
Or, less than 20 minutes away, you can stay at Kalahari Resort or Great Wolf Lodge, with both featuring their own indoor water park and many kids’ areas. The Parenthood Adventures has a great comparison of all three resorts so you can pick the one that works best for your family.
With the borders to Canada now open, a visit to Mont Tremblant — less than two hours from Montreal — is a real possibility for your family. Between the 96 trails with terrain for both beginners and experts and the large pedestrian village, this French-inspired mountain has everything a family could ask for.
For families looking to add many other outdoor activities to the mix, Mont Tremblant has you covered. Some family favorites include fat-tire biking, dog sledding, ice climbing, ice fishing, ice skating, sleigh rides, dune buggy tours, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and even outdoor paintball. But maybe one of the most unique activities is being able to spend the day with a woodsman.
And if you’re looking to warm up inside for the day or after a day of skiing, there’s an endless amount of activities. Unfortunately, the water park is still closed, but in the meantime, you can still enjoy the virtual reality arcade and laser tag.
Where to stay in Mont Tremblant Resort
There’s no shortage of lodging options when it comes to Mont Tremblant. You have everything from vacation home rentals and condos to plenty of hotels. And best of all, many accommodations are right at the mountain.
The Lodge de La Montage right in the Pedestrian Village offers multi-bedroom suites with full kitchens. There’s also the Le Westin Resort & Spa with a heated outdoor pool — a great opportunity to use your Marriott Bonvoy points. The Fairmont Tremblant and Homewood Suites by Hilton Mont-Tremblant are two other properties within walking distance to the lifts as well.
Looking for a travel credit card? Find out which cards CNN Underscored chose as our best travel credit cards of 2021.