Thursday, January 10, 2013

Destination: Snow!

There's no better time than now to get out and enjoy some family fun in the snow!  As ski resorts across the country ramp up for their big season, many thrill-seeking families are wondering which ski resorts are most “family-friendly?”

Family-friendly resorts typically offer top-notch group and private instruction for children of all ages, plus dedicated teaching areas on the slopes. They also usually have free or discounted lift tickets, equipment rentals, and even lessons for children. If travelling with non-skiing members of the family, look for resorts that offer day care or supervised kid’s camps with a variety of activities.  Most family-friendly ski resorts feature a variety of family entertainment options for evenings, nights, and non-ski days (think mountain coasters, spas, and zip lines!). In addition, the most family-friendly resorts offer reasonably priced family restaurants and lodging designed with families in mind, like condos with multiple bedrooms and a kitchen.

So, which ski resorts are the most family-friendly?  Four of our favorites are highlighted below!

Beaver Creek is a peaceful, self-contained village ski resort; the type of place where parents feel comfortable allowing tweens and teens to ski on their own.  It boasts an amazing pedestrian base village sprinkled liberally with escalators to accommodate those carrying skis (or traveling with little ones in tow!).  There are a myriad of skiing, tubing, skating, and other recreational activities, and for families travelling with infants or toddlers, there is a nursery option. Virtually all Beaver Creek lodging is either ski-in/ski-out or steps from a lift, and the ski school is top notch. Beaver Creek's dedicated children’s instructional area even features a children's gondola, which gives kids a chance to learn on longer runs without having to learn to ride a chairlift! And as a final touch, don't miss the fresh-baked chocolate-chip cookies provided daily at 3pm!

The most family-focused ski resort in the East, family-owned Okemo offers a multitude of lodging options; everything from ski-in/ski-out slopeside condos to rental homes. This picturesque mountain is laid out for beginners and intermediates, and has one of the largest superpipes in the East, as well as six terrain parks. They offer free skiing and riding for children under 6, and boast six free beginner surface lifts. Off the slopes, don't miss such fun family activities as alpine coaster rides, ice skating, and snow tubing! Okemo also features a premier daycare option for its youngest visitors.

A smaller, more intimate family favorite, Loup Loup Ski Bowl features everything from traditional Nordic trails to tubing lanes!  Loup Loup's cozy, rustic day lodge provides spectacular views and food concession offers beer and wine service daily!  Nearby lodging options range from family-friendly hotel accommodations, to inns, to premier resort suites and cabins; and off-slope activities in the nearby town of Winthrop include skating, shopping, and fantastic, reasonably-priced dining options!

Celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, Vail is the largest ski resort in the US and is commonly hailed as one of the best!  Boasting a myriad of lodging and dining options and a decidedly pedestrian-friendly town, Vail tops our family friendly list with its numerous fantastic offerings! From its amazing and widely varied terrain, to its excellent instructors, to its nursery (at Golden Peak), to its shopping and non-ski activities (i.e. gourmet movie theater, bowling alley, multiple ice rinks, and mountaintop Adventure Ridge family area); Vail offers something for everyone!  And don't miss a breathtaking ride in Gondola One - new this year!

Got a favorite family-friendly ski resort you'd like give a shout out to?  We'd love to hear about it in the comments section below! 

Safe and happy travels!
-Destination Mom

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