15 best ski resorts in the U.S. for families

Check out the powder just south of the border. From daycare to ski school to rentals, these awesome family resorts have your winter vacation covered.

snowy view from ski lift

Photo: Courtesy of mommygearest.com

1. Smugglers’ Notch Resort

SKI Magazine’s top “in the East” resort is also a winner in the kid-friendly and service categories, too. Eight lifts across three interconnected, progressively challenging mountains offer snow-seekers a 2,610-foot vertical rise and 78 trails—one of which is the only triple black diamond run in the east. Smuggs has onsite daycare that will take in babies as young as six-weeks-old, an exceptional kids’ camps for three- to 20-year-olds and in-room babysitting. Inclusion is important here, and the Smugglers’ Notch Adaptive Program provides therapeutic recreation for children and adults who need special assistance. Outdoor activities include tubing, snowmobile tours, ice skating, airboarding, jibbing clinics (where you learn to snowboard on unconventional surfaces like metal rails, boxes or benches), winter walks and more. When it’s time to come inside, the FunZone 2.0 indoor play complex has 26,000 square feet of family fun with ping-pong, mini golf, laser tag, a climbing wall and a bouncy castle. You’ll find a mix of slopeside ski-in/out and mountainside lodging with space for even the biggest families, easily accessed by the free, on-demand resort shuttle. Canadians will love the Canadian-at-par pricing on all packages booked over the phone.

Smuggs is located at 4323 Vermont Rte. 108 in Jeffersonville, VT., approximately an hour’s drive from Burlington International airport. Call 855-318-7103 or smuggs.com

skiiers heading towards village

Photo: Courtesy of Stowe Mountain Resort/Jesse Schloff Photography

2. Stowe Mountain Resort

Part of the Epic Pass (a season pass that covers multiple ski resorts across Canada and the US), Stowe is where the 10th Mountain Division was born and where ski patrol as we know it today was first created and developed. Twelve lifts, including two gondolas, await and are ready to take you to any of Stowe’s 116 trails covering 2,360 feet of vertical. Based in the resort’s world-class Adventure Center, lessons come by way of an all-day camp experience for three to 16 year olds—with a “Big Easy” option for first-timers who might not be ready for a whole day. Child care is available from Monday to Friday for ages three months to four-years-old. When you’re tired of the great outdoors, the Stowe Rocks Climbing Center has a Kid Zone for kids aged 12 and under. We suggest staying at The Lodge at Spruce Peak, accessed by a unique gondola, which has 300 luxury rooms—including four-bedroom suites that come with a private concierge. Or choose nearby accommodations at the Trapp Family Lodge (run by the actual von Trapp family!). Download the RouteShout 2.0 mobile app, which will provide info about the Stowe Mountain Road Shuttle; it runs all day between Stowe proper and the mountain.

The resort is located at 7416 Mountain Rd. in Stowe, VT, approximate a 40-minute drive from the Burlington International airport. Call 802-253-3000 or stowe.com

kids at ski school

Photo: Courtesy of Deer Valley Resort

3. Deer Valley Resort

For those looking for a five-star ski experience, head straight to Deer Valley. It’s been named the United States’ Best Ski Resort by the World Ski Awards for the last five years and is one of only three American ski resorts that prohibit snowboarders. From free ski valets and parking shuttles to fine dining and boutique shopping in the main lodge (plus complimentary overnight ski check services), Deer Valley offers families the opportunity to languish in the lap of luxury. The resort also limits daily ticket sales so that lift lines and trails don’t get too busy—this is helped further by the 21 lifts, including 12 high-speed detachable quads and an enclosed four-passenger gondola, which carry skiers to 103 runs in some of the world’s most perfect “champagne powder.” Part of the Ikon Pass, Deer Valley has a vertical drop of nearly 3,000 feet and was one of the first U.S. ski resorts to have a state-licensed daycare. Kids’ programming abounds and there are plenty of non-ski activities, too—think snowmobiling, dogsledding, horse-drawn sleigh rides or the Snowshoes and S’mores adventure (yep, it’s exactly what you’re picturing). From ski-in/out lodging to accommodations in Park City itself, there are plenty of places to rest your head. But don’t come to Deer Valley looking for budget accommodations—it’s luxe all the way with the price tags to match.

Less than 45 minutes from the Salt Lake City International Airport, the resort is located at 250 Deer Valley Dr. S. Call 435-649-1000 or deervalley.com

kids at a winter festival

Photo: Courtesy of Vail Resorts

4. Keystone Resort

With three unbelievable mountains, tons of outdoor adventures, amazing lodging and dining options, and kids 12 and under being able to ski and board for free, this resort is truly the ultimate family destination. From night skiing, to tubing, to painting, to yoga, there are tons of activities for everyone in the family, but especially for the kids at Camp Keystone. This kids-only zone helps little ones gain confidence before they hit the slopes. Starting with the Ripper’s mountain maze, they’ll get a chance to get comfortable in their ski or snowboard boots, and once they’re shot out of the 24-foot slide into the snow, they’ll want to play out there for hours on end. Your kids will also think they stepped into heaven after experiencing Kidtopia, the resort’s ultimate playground that features the world’s largest snow fort. But if you came specifically to ski, you can spend quality time together with private family lessons. Regardless of age or experience level, the Ski & Ride School team will perfectly tailor your lesson to your family’s needs. And once you’re ready to wind down for the day, scenic horse-drawn sleigh rides are a great way to settle down before dinner at one of the resort’s 15 restaurants.

Just over an hour from Eagle County Regional Airport, the resort is located at 100 Dercum Square in Dilon, Colorado. Call 970-754-0001 or keystoneresort.com

two people on a snow coaster

Photo: Courtesy of Steamboat Ski Resort

5. Steamboat Ski Resort

Expect all the classic features of a ski lodge at this northwestern Colorado resort, but with a few more fun twists including the Outlaw Mountain Coaster—the longest coaster in North America spanning more than 6,280 linear feet. The track shoots down 400 vertical feet, gets as high as 40 feet above the ground, and has thrilling dips, waves, turns and 360-degree circles. If coasters aren’t your thing, the snowmobile tours are worth checking out. Here, you’ll explore miles of open meadows and get spectacular views of the 50,000 acres of private land. There’s also ice skating and bumper cars on ice. (Yep, you read that right.) The resort got its name from Steamboat Springs, a city known for its natural hot springs. Warm up after hitting the slopes by soaking in a therapeutic mineral pool, which can reach temperatures from 101 to 105 degrees. The Old Town Hot Spring is a quick five-minute drive from the resort while the famous Strawberry Park Hot Springs is a just over 20 minutes.

Approximately 15-minutes from Steamboat Springs Airport, the resort is located at 2305 Mt Werner Cir. Call 970-879-6111 or steamboat.com

kids skiing under ski lift

Photo: Courtesy of Okemo Mountain Resort

6. Okemo Mountain Resort 

With gorgeous skiing and boarding terrain, state of the art amenities and tons kid-friendly activities, a family trip to this snowy Vermont resort is a recipe for an unforgettable trip. Home to the east coast’s longest superpipe, Okemo’s the perfect destination for both new and advanced skiers and boarders to build on their skills and explore some truly beautiful trails. But if you’re looking for a more relaxing experience, visit the 18,000-square-foot fitness and aquatic centre with a pool, slides, fountains, hot tubs and a sauna. Après ski, yes please. At the centre, you can also play racquetball or break a sweat at one of the Zumba or Yoga classes. And after a gruelling day of relaxing, Kids Night Out will keep your children happy and entertained so you can spend a kid-free evening out and have a romantic dinner at one of the resort’s five restaurants. Run by child care professionals, the night program includes movies, pizza, and tons of outdoor and indoor activities including swimming, skating and more. The year round resort transforms in the summer into an 18-hole golf course, with mountain biking and trampoline bungee jumping.

Located at 77 Okemo Ridge Rd in Ludlow, VT, approximately a 25-minute drive from the Rutland Southern Vermont Regional Airport. Call 802-228-4041 or okemo.com 

Photo: Courtesy of The Mount Washington Resort, Bretton Woods

7. The Mount Washington Resort, Bretton Woods 

Bretton Woods, New Hampshire’s largest ski area, has 464 acres of skiing and snowboarding terrain with 62 trails, 35 glades and three parks. It’s considered one of the East Coast’s most renowned winter resorts. Even if you’re not an avid skier or boarder, the views alone will capture your heart. Take in the beautiful mountain vistas by trekking across Nordic trails, going on a romantic sleigh ride or partaking in a daring canopy tour. After a long day in the great outdoors, treat yourself at their rejuvenating spa. This will also give your kids their chance to visit the snowmobile park or the kids-only après ski party where they’ll be entertained by clowns, storytellers and musicians at the Kids’ Alpine Club. A little something for everyone at this distinguished resort that’s over a century-old. Definitely a must-see.

Located at 99 Ski Area Road, Bretton Woods is approximately a 15-minute drive from Mount Washington Regional Airport. Call 603-278-3320 or brettonwoods.com.

Photo: Courtesy of Vail Resorts

8. Park City Mountain Resort

When you ski former Olympic venue Park City, you get three mountains in one. Park City Mountain, with 348 trails, is actually comprised of two mountains, connected by gondola. Together they are the largest ski and snowboard resort in North America. Head to Park City Mountain Village to ride the mountain coaster and for lots of green runs that will take you all the way down the mountain, and to Canyons Village for runs that are a bit more challenging. If you’re skiing with a newbie (or a panicky beginner yourself) the easiest way down the mountain is always helpfully marked with signs. Relics of the area’s mining history dot the mountain, and the downtown Main Street has an old-timey, wild west feel. The blue runs on the far west side of the mountain let you ski right into downtown for lunch, with Town Lift to get you back up to the slopes afterward. If you’re looking for some adults-only time \, the Little Adventures Children’s Center accepts kids six weeks to six years old, and includes a gondola ride up to a special snow play spot. Add on Ripperoo Program ski lessons for kids two to six, and snowboard lessons for kids four to six (private and group lessons are also on offer). For the ultimate cozy après-ski dinner, splurge on Deer Valley’s Fireside Dining, where they serve raclette freshly carved off a fire-roasted cheese wheel, hearty stews and soups, and the crazy-decadent assortment of dessert fondue fixin’s.

Located at 1345 Lowell Ave, Park City, UT, Approximately 40-minutes from Salt Lake City International Airport. Call 1-800-331-3178 or parkcitymountain.com

kids skiing down mountain with view of Lake Tahoe

Photo: Courtesy of Diamond Peak

9. Diamond Peak

This Nevada ski resort claims to have the best view of Lake Tahoe, and after a quick lunch at the Snowflake Lodge (at an elevation of 7,400 feet), you’ll be hard-pressed to argue that point. Run by the community of Incline Village, a town in North Tahoe, this 655-acre mountain has seven lifts and 30 named runs (with a mix of groomed slopes, open glades and picturesque tree skiing). Unlike a lot of other resorts, family comes first a Diamond Peak, so you won’t have to worry about showboating snowboarders or an excess of the “après ski” crowd—because sometimes you’re just not in the mood for a shot ski. Tiny skiers- and boarders-in-training can head to the Child Ski Center, a separate learning area with a surface lift and a 1:5 instructor to kid ratio specifically designed for kids four to six. Participation in the program includes all equipment rentals and lift tickets. Got a three-year-old who just can’t wait? Private lessons are available in both skiing and snowboarding. Families travelling to Diamond Peak have a wealth of accommodation options to choose from, including the impressive 422-room Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, which is situated right on Lake Tahoe (it even has it’s own private beach!). Grab your s’mores kit upon check-in and settle your ski-sore muscles in the heated year-round swimming pool (with swim-out access from inside), a wading pool for kids, and two oversized jetted whirlpools.

Located at 1210 Ski Way, Incline Village is only a 45-minute drive away from Reno-Tahoe International Airport. Call (775) 832-1130 or diamondpeak.com

kids playing in the snow

Photo: Courtesy of Vail Resorts

10. Heavenly Mountain Resort

With 10,000 beds within walking distance to Heavenly Mountain Resort’s four portals (and another 10,000 a short shuttle ride away), you won’t have to worry about finding just the right accommodations to suit you and your brood. In Heavenly Village, you can easily shop ’til you drop when you’re not swishing down the slopes, and with so many dining choices, even the pickiest of eaters can dine to their heart’s content (but there’s also a supermarket if you prefer to prep your own meals and snacks). In need of a break from the mountain? Catch a flick at the eight-plex movie theatre or tie on some skates at the rink. The mountain is an impressive one, though, that’s certainly earned its name. With 97 named runs that span 1,943 hectares of skiing (served by 28 lifts so the lines are never daunting), there are runs for skiers of all levels here—Heavenly also boasts the most unobstructed views of Lake Tahoe. Your kids will be well occupied while here. Heavenly Childcare and Nursery is a licensed daycare centre for children six weeks to 12 years old. Kids four years and up can get ski lessons (private family lessons are available, too) and for those who don’t want to ski or board, they can take the Heavenly Gondola 3.9 kilometres to Adventure Peak for snowtubing or a guided UTV tour.

4080 Lake Tahoe Blvd., South Lake Tahoe is approximately an hour drive from Reno-Tahoe International Airport. Call 1-800-432-8365 or 775-586-7000 or skiheavenly.com

small child learning to snowboard

Photo: Courtesy of Vail Resorts

11. Wilmot Mountain Ski Resort

Families who come to Wilmot love the skiing, but it’s the tubing that keeps them coming back year after year. With 22 tube lanes (each at over a thousand feet long!), it’s a tuber’s dream destination. The resort itself stretches over 120 acres with 23 named runs and seven lifts, which give lots of time and space for skiing and snowboarding. Need a break from the slopes? Hangout in the new lounge area and bar with free wifi (so you can get all of those adorable shots from the slopes up on the ‘gram!). For kids, there is a new child care program with skiing and snowboarding lessons for kids ages three to six. Refuel at the Ski Hill grill located right on the mountain. The grill serves up all kinds of kid-friendly eats, like pizzas-from-scratch, build-your-own-hotdogs, and the famous “World’s Epic Burger!” If you’re looking for a sweet treat, you can check out the hot chocolate trail in the nearby Lake Geneva resort village. The village also offers other outdoor activities, like year-round zip lining, snow-sculpting contests and an ice castle perfect for your little princess or prince. While you can’t stay in the castle (sorry!), there are many hotels and resorts nearby for families to choose from. We recommend The Cove, which is located right in the heart of things and has spacious rooms, a 24-hour arcade and pool on site. 11931 Fox River Rd., Wilmot, WI is approximately O’Hare International Airport. Call 262-862-230 or wilmotmountain.com

kids around a fire drinking hot chocolate

Photo: Courtesy of Winter Park Resort

12. Winter Park Resort

About 67 miles from Denver International airport, this resort features seven unique territories in its 3,000 acres of terrain to explore. Positioned along the Continental Divide, Winter Park is blessed with over 325 inches of annual snowfall, which you and the family can take advantage of by skiing or boarding the groomed runs, checking out the seven terrain parks or, if bumps and steeps your thing, Winter Park’s got them, too. New this season: there’s a 10-person gondola (and a more efficient gondola means more time on the slopes!). Have you ever tried ski-in/ski-out accommodations? If so, you know you can never go back and this resort has you covered with tons of lodging properties in the village that offer this convenience. There’s also tubing, scenic gondola rides, moonlight snowshoeing tours and stargazing snowcat tours. For some much needed adults-only time, be sure to book the kids into Kids Night Out, held every Thursday, where they get to enjoy crafts, games, pizza and a movie while you get to dine out in the Village.

85 Parsenn Road, Winter Park is less than a two-hour drive from Denver International Airport. Call 970-726-1564 or winterparkresort.com

high fiving at the top of the mountain

Photo: Courtesy of Telluride Ski Resort

13. Telluride Ski Resort

When you’ve got over 300 days of sunshine combined with 280 inches of annual snowfall, you can see why Telluride Ski Resort is a ski bunny’s dream. Those ideal conditions can be enjoyed on 2,000 acres of terrain, with runs for skiers and boarders from beginner to advanced. Another bonus? You can skip a car rental while you’re in Telluride thanks to the city’s gondola, a free pedestrian transportation system (which will come in handy if you indulge in a Moscow mule at après-ski). And while Colorado is for lovers, so they say, Telluride is for beginners: its popular beginner area has just been enhanced with a 320-foot cover surface lift and the resort has also invested in its Terrain Based Learning program (which means people new to skiing have the opportunity to learn the sport in a wide open space rather than being crowded and feeling intimidated). For the kids, there’s the dedicated Children’s Center, where the programs are divided by age and ability with ski  lessons for ages two and a half to 14 and snowboard lessons for ages five to 14. The little ones have plenty of spots off of the slopes to have fun, too, including ice skating in Mountain Village and Kids Night Out (think games and crafts held every Tuesday and Thursday in the winter). If your squad is into checking off the biggest/tallest/best sights off of the family bucket list, make a reservation to dine at Alpino Vino, the highest elevation restaurant in North America.

565 Mountain Village Blvd. Telluride is approximately a 15-minute drive from Telluride Regional Airport. Call 844.709.6021 or tellurideskiresort.com

kid looking up at the gondola

Photo: Courtesy of Daniel Bayer/Aspen Skiing Company

14. Aspen Ski Resort

Four mountains—Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk—compose Aspen Snowmass Resort, which means no matter what your level, you can vacation here and never cover the same terrain twice. If you’re keen to get your kid into lessons, the Kids Mountain Explorers program for ages eight to 12 has been expanded. These week-long adventure camps will give your little adventurers the chance to make friends while skiing a mix of terrain on all four mountains with a pro-level coach. There’s no shortage of things to do outside of skiing, too. At the new Snowmass Base Village, you can tie on some skates to carve up some ice at the rink, or head indoors to the climbing gym at the Limelight Hotel Snowmass. Younger kids might be more into the new Fort Frog over at Buttermilk, though. This frontier-style wooden fort features lookout towers, a swinging bridge, a snowball launcher, a turbo twister slide and more to keep them entertained. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for an adrenaline-fuelled activity, the Breathtaker Alpine Coaster winds its way through a mile of forest on an elevated track at speeds of  up to 28 mph. Too fast for you? Skip the coaster and take the opportunity to learn about the beauty of mother nature on one of the free snowshoe or ski tours with the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies. Ullr Nights, held every Friday during the peak of winter season in honour of the Norse God of Snow should not be missed. Here, you’ll find live bands, tubing, snowbiking and s’mores and hot chocolate by the bonfire.

120 Carriage Way, Snowmass Village is approximately a 15-minute drive from Aspen Pitkin County Airport. Call 800-290-1326 or 970-923-1227 or aspensnowmass.com

kids skiing in a row at top of mountain

Photo: Courtesy of Vail Resorts

15. Beaver Creek Resort

With a vertical rise of 3,340 feet and 150 trails, Beaver Creek offers terrain for skiers of all ages and abilities. Snuck away to Beaver Creek just you and your partner for a ski vacay? Be sure to book one of this luxury family resort’s signature experiences; the open-sleigh ride through Aspen groves to Beano’s Cabin to dine on gourmet fare (think 48-hour braised pork belly and Colorado lamb with chimichurri) and to enjoy its award-winning wine list. Got the kids along? Dinner at Allie’s Cabin is a must; here, once you arrive via the sleigh, you’ll have a pair of plush slippers awaiting you and a three-course meal. Little diners can help themselves to a kid-friendly buffet. These traditions are the ones that make this a favourite year after year for many families—although it could also be the warm chocolate chip cookies served daily at 3 p.m. Continue your sugar fix at the ice cream parlour at The Ranch in the new Haymeadow Park Learning Area. This second signature learning area (the first, Red Buffalo Park, opened for 2017-2018 season) features a beginner gondola and lift, along with magic carpets for newbies of all ages, and terrain designed to create the most fun and positive day on the mountain for beginners.

26 Avondale Lane, Avon is approximately a 40-minute drive from Vail Junction airport. Call (970) 754-4636 or beavercreek.com

Read more:
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Some of the writers costs were covered

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