Humans were never meant to hibernate in winter.
Besides, there’s too much fun to be had in the snow, whether you want to ski, snowboard, snowshoe, xc ski, sled, build snowmen or snow forts or make snow angels.
Are you ready? Snow is already beginning to fall in the Rockies and Sierras.
Maybe you (or one of your kids) has a friend they want to introduce to snowsports this season.
Take the Bring a Friend Challenge, a new element of Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month (LSSM), is open to all current skiers and snowboarders including members of the industry. The Challenge offers incentives for current skiers and snowboarders who introduce newcomers to lessons from professional instructors this winter. The Challenge starts December 17 and ends March 17.
You can win prizes and even a free trip to a snow resort.
January, of course is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month 2013. Special Features offers a quick overview with all of the places where you can get discounted—or possibly even free lessons and rentals. You can also follow the deals on Twitter and Facebook
Look for new opportunities to explore new mountains– like the Mountain Collective– an unprecedented collaboration between the four top independent resorts: Alta, Aspen/Snowmass, Jackson Hole and Squaw Valley/Alpine Meadows that offers 50 per cent off on lift tickets and 25 per cent on lodging.
Find packages and deals. Portals like Hotwire.com let you shop for flights, cars and lodging all in one spot. Instead of flying or driving, why not take the bus? Instead of a hotel or condo, consider a renting a house — Wyndham Vacation Rentals offers many choices for every size group.
Snowlink.com was created for consumers to research everything they need for heading out to their favorite local resort or planning a family mountain vacation. Snowlink.com provides an introduction to skiing, snowboarding, XC and snowshoeing, tips on shipping your gear, this season’s style trends, a women’s-only section, a resort and retail finder and more.
You can also experience winter at a dude ranch like the C Lazy U and Vista Verde Ranch in Colorado where you can snowshoe, horseback ride in the snow, XC ski and even back country ski with a snow cat taking you up the hills so you can ski or snowboard down on private land. And you won’t need to cook a single meal either! See what I wrote about visiting Vista Verde in winter.
Many snow sports resorts are pulling out all the stops for families this season with increased programming, free lift tickets and free flights. Look for deals from companies like www.ski.com that can package lifts, lessons, lodging and air and can tell you where and when your kids can hit the slopes with free lift tickets. Here’s what I wrote about kids-free programs this season.
Check out companies like Black Tie Rentals that will deliver gear right to where you are staying and adjust it on the spot. (I loved the convenience at Aspen last year) Many locations offer a kids rent free package throughout the season for kids 12 and under. Ski Butlers has deal in Steamboat and Telluride where kids rent free with an adult rental for five or more days.
If everyone in your gang are beginners, consider smaller mountains near where you live–Hunter Mountain in New York, for example, Crystal Mountain in Michigan, Brian Head Resort in Utah, Bolton Valley in Vermont and Mount Roseon the North Shore of Lake Tahoe. They will invariably be cheaper and less overwhelming for the kids—and you. Check what snow sports resorts near your home are offering for families this season:
In New Hampshire, check: http://www.skinh.com/ski-central/kids-and-families.aspx;
In Vermont: www.skivermont.com;
In Maine: www.skimaine.com;
In Colorado: www.skicolorado.com
In Utah: www.skiutah.com
In California: www.californiaskiresorts.com
Several states also offer “passports” for kids of certain ages allowing them to ski free—once you have filled out the paperwork and paid a small processing fee— all season. They include:
The 2012/2013 School of Shred Pass provides 4 FREE days of skiing or riding at each of the state’s top-ranked resorts Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge, Keystone and Arapahoe Basin for all Colorado fifth and sixth grade students who register. Lessons and rentals are provided from 11/26/12-12/16/12, as well as during the entire month of January 2013 as a part of “Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month”.
The Canadian Ski Council’s 2012-2013 SnowPass allows 4th and 5th graders living in Canada to ski and ride three times at EACH participating ski area all across Canada
Check with your state to see what they are offering for your grade schoolers.
There are also many adaptive programs around the country for those with physical and mental challenges including the National Sports Center for the Disabled in Winter Park, CO; the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center also in CO; the National Ability Center in Park City, Utah, and Vermont Adaptive Ski and Sports.
There are lots of opportunities for moms and grandmas to hone their skills at women’s clinics around the country. Here’s what I wrote about my experience at The Canyons in Utah.
How to Have An Awesome Family Ski Vacation focuses on planning a trip that’ll be fun for everyone.
I’ve written extensively about many of the top ski areas in North America (just search my columns and travel diaries for more information). Here are resorts and lodges in alphabetical order that are good bets for families this winter:
ALTA SKI AREA in Utah’s Little Cottonwood Canyon is adjacent to Snowbird (you can purchase a combined ticket) and is one of the most beautiful mountains I’ve ever skied. You will be transported back to the days before ski areas were all about glitz. Stay in an old-fashioned lodge that will entertain your kids after ski school and feed them early so you can enjoy a gourmet meal. Look for lift tickets to be less than at other major ski resorts, and Alta Ski Area offers the “Ski After Three” deal. Where you can access certain runs for just a $10 lift ticket: The 3 base area tows (Grizzly tow, Transfer tow and Alta Lodge tow) will still be free all day, every day.
APPALACHIAN MOUNTAIN CLUB in New England offers snow-loving families a different kind of winter outdoor adventure, cross country skiing, snow-shoeing, and ice-skating. You can even plan a winter adventure with experienced AMC guides. Custom adventures are available at both AMC’s Joe Dodge Lodge and Highland Lodge in the White Mountains and families can pick the activity, time and skill level at a cost of just $75 for a guide for the family. There is an exclusive “Learn to Snowshoe Weekend” for adults and children at Joe Dodge Lounge from January 11-13, which includes lodging, meals, guided activities, and snowshoes.
ASPEN – I love Aspen for its history (this was a bona fide mining town after all), its quaint downtown, restaurants, nightlife and the fact that, although this is a celebrity playground, you and your family can enjoy yourselves amidst the glitz and glamour without a Hollywood star’s budget. You have your choice of four mountains- Aspen, Buttermilk, Aspen Highlands and Snowmass which is family-central—see later a separate listing about Snowmass) Aspen Mountain, with its famous black-diamond terrain, promises a variety of glades, bumps and steeps. Here’s what I wrote about first tracks on Aspen Mountain. With 360-degree views of the Maroon Bells and plenty of expert terrain as well as groomed cruisers, Aspen Highlands has been the locals’ favorite for over 50 years. Hike the 12,392 feet to the summit of Highland Bowl for the ultimate inbounds backcountry rush. Buttermilk built its 50-year legacy on wide-open and gently rolling trails that cater to beginners and families. Today it’s famous for hosting the ESPN Winter X Games through 2012 and being voted #1 by Transworld Snowboarding Magazine Reader’s Poll for best park. The 22-foot superpipe in the legendary terrain park does not disappoint.
BEAVER CREEK Colorado is a great resort for mixing luxury and winter activities. Well-heeled families love this Vail resort because it is smaller than Vail and more laid back while offering first-class service and a terrific ski school, not to mention the free fresh-baked cookies offered at 3 p.m. every day at the bottom of lift #6 (a great way to end the ski day!) Ultimate 4 offers kids a lesson with only four kids per instructor while the resort promises plenty of complimentary activities after the lifts close from rail jams and disco skating to family snowshoe tours and fireworks. Don’t forget the lift-served tubing hill that opened three years ago. Enjoy special family programming during “Beaver Creek Loves Kids” weeks, making the Mountains come to life during peak times of the season. This includes Winterfest from Dec. 21 – 31, Prezfest from Feb. 15-17 and Springfest from March 16-April 6. Here’s what I wrote about a visit with my college-aged daughter.
BIG SKY RESORT in Montana — the Big Sky Resort-Moonlight Basin interconnect gives you access to more skiing than anywhere else in the United States. With the Biggest Skiing in America lift ticket, you can access 5,532 skiable acres and endless ways to navigate 4,350 feet of vertical drop. At 11,166 feet it’s easy to see Lone Peak’s appeal to every age and level of skier and boarder. Runs up to six miles long and glades and bowls covered in 400 plus inches of annual snowfall make a day on the slopes something different for everyone. Basecamp, located front and center in the Mountain Village offers information on all the exciting attractions like Zipline, High Ropes Course, Laser Tag, Bungee Trampoline and Tube Park. All activities are offered. See what I wrote about doing the zipline. Another plus: You are only an hour from Yellowstone National Park.
BRECKENRIDGE SKI RESORT, is in the middle of a historic Colorado town and has been a family-adored destination for over 50 years. With over 200 restaurants, shops and more, Breckenridge is often dubbed the perfect mountain town. Check out new One Ski Hill Place, a newer Rock Resort complete with its own bowling alley. Here’s what I wrote about our visit there. If anyone in your family has any special challenges, head to the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center with a variety of special winter and summer programs. If you visit between Dec 2-9, you will be able to catch The Annual Hartford Ski Spectacular, an event of Disabled Sports USA. With the “Breck for a Buck” deal you score a free lift ticket and a free night of lodging if you stay and ski three days!
BOLTON VALLEY RESORT is the only Vermont resort to offer night skiing and riding (Wed, Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights) when tweens and teens rule. You can also give your kids a lesson in being green—the wind turbine near the top of Vista quad produces an eighth of the resort’s energy needs. You’ll run into a lot of locals from Burlington here and because everything is walking distance-lodging, lifts, pool, it is an easy place to navigate with kids. Bolton’s three terrain parks, the 300 acres of trails and glades are divided almost equally for novice, intermediate and advanced skiers and riders. Bolton Valley, having recently partnered with Burton, has introduced a “Learn to Ride” program, combining the most advanced equipment, instruction, and learning environments to provide an excellent snowboarding experience and bring your skills to a new level. Powder Passes are great for families that enjoy skiing but don’t need the commitment of full season passes. For just $199 for adults and $149 for youth/college/seniors, you’ll get five lift tickets that you can use any day during the 2012-13 season — with no blackout dates. Here’s what I wrote about Bolton Valley and how snowsports can change kids’ lives
BOYNE at Boyne Highlands Resort and Boyne Mountain Resort, Michigan’s two largest ski areas with a combined 850 skiable acres and 115 trails, the 2012-13 winter season brings on-hill investments, new Burton Riglet Parks and Burton Store, spa facility, hotel renovations, winter fly fishing trips and an expanded Tubing Park. Boyne Highlands and Boyne Mountain have partnered with Burton Snowboards to develop Riglet Parks at the resorts for the 2012-13 season. The parks are the first to be built in northern Michigan, and join just one other park in the state. Riglet Parks offer on-snow play areas with fun terrain and features designed to introduce children ages 3 to 6 to snowboarding. There’s an indoor water park the kids are sure to love and a winter zipline at Boyne Highlands that’s guaranteed to please tweens, teens—and adventurous parents.
BROMLEY MOUNTAIN RESORT celebrated its 75th anniversary last year, and is the only ski area in Vermont that faces totally south which means it could be warmer. Families love this mountain because it is more intimate with varied terrain including two new terrain parks and plenty of off-the-slopes action including outlet shopping, ice skating, sleigh riding, snowmobiling and cross-country skiing! Combine Bromley’s $49 midweek/non-holiday ticket with Bromley’s fantastic Family Friday deal, where each paying adult pays just $15 per kid for up to three kids, except for holidays, and a family of four skis for just $128.New this season is 2-fer Tuesdays. Purchase your life ticket online and get a 2 for 1 deal on Tuesdays (non holiday) and you and a guest ski for less than $25! Purchase tickets 48 hours in advance on Bromey.com to enjoy the deal. Another online perk- save $15 on Each Consecutive Day when you purchase your Multi-Day ticket online, you pay full price for day one, but then $15 less for days two and three.
CRESTED BUTTE MOUNTAIN RESORT in Colorado combines a friendly, picturesque small town (just a few blocks long!), plenty of steeps and deeps and a new base area Adventure Park for a guaranteed-to-please experience. This mountain has long been one of my family’s favorites. We think the fact that CB is harder to reach than some other resorts adds to the appeal. There’s an eco-friendly synthetic “ice” skating rink (recycled from the American Museum of Natural History in New York where it was part of a display on climate change), bungee trampolines a climbing wall, and a zip-line that you can ski to, as well as a multi-lane, lift-served tubing hill. Families love the Children’s Center and beginner learning area. Look for deals that include a free flight for every two you purchase, a fourth night of lodging and day of skiing free with every three night stay and free stay & ski for kids 12 and under when you book your lodging through Crested Butte Vacations. A great chance to shake off those cobwebs and get back on the slopes- when you book your lodging with Crested Butte vacations you will can also receive free skiing with any stay from November 21- December 19. For more lodging and other fun in the snow activities check in with the Gunnison-Crested Butte tourism site.
COPPER MOUNTAIN, in Colorado. Copper’s terrain is naturally divided for all abilities and includes fantastic bowl skiing. Off slope, three base villages have redefined the Copper experience with accommodations, restaurants, bars, shops, and a kids-only lodge. Copper is also home to the only year-round ski and snowboard program in the state. Offering winter day camps and week-long summer camps, Woodward at Copper has the Barn, the first indoor ski and snowboard training facility with trampolines, foam pits, and Snowflex jumps dedicated to terrain park and pipe progression. Campers develop their tricks in the Woodward at Copper Barn and progress in Copper Mountain’s winter and summer terrain parks and pipe. This year Woodward at Copper is offering fully coached group sessions in the various on mountain terrain parks every day, from Dec. 14 – April 13, 2013. There are also free snow cat rides to Tucker Mountain, FreeRide electric car service for 5 people and their equipment, free snow-shoe tours daily, and kids ski free! Check out the Woodward Student Promotions for kids with good grades: Good Student Discount 3.5 GPA and above - 20% off Winter Camp Days, the Intro Session, Drop In, Air Bag, and Skate/BMX sessions. Must show valid Student report card.
HEAVENLY RESORT in California overlooks Lake Tahoe. You can ski in California or Nevada! The kids will love the 60-foot jumps in Jackpot Terrain Park and the largest tubing hill in the west at Adventure Peak. Kids enjoy the adventure zone called Black Bear Hollow at the top of the Gondola. Right next to the Hollow is an entry-level terrain park with small rails, gentle jumps and boxes meant for youngsters to explore. You’ll love the 34 miles of wide-open, groomed cruisers, and the option for tree skiing off of every lift, as well as sightseeing, ski bikes and snowshoeing. If your teens are angling to go in the back country, you can hire a guide from Heavenly’s Adventure Sessions program, check out and find out what the locals know about. Pay for five nights lodging at Heavenly and receive the sixth and seventh night for free. Also, if you pay for a four-day ski lift ticket you will get the fifth day free. From December 20 to January 1, experience“Heavenly Holidays,” a holiday winter wonderland in Heavenly Village with lights, decorations, carolers, magicians, jugglers, live ice sculpture making, a Ripperoo Parade, and more family-friendly events
JACKSON HOLE, WY not only offers the chance to ski and ride but to explore an authentic Cowboy town and Yellowstone National Park in winter when the crowds are gone. If it is your first time to the mountain, you can take a complimentary Mountain Host tour. This will help you get to know the mountain on groomed terrain with friendly Hosts. There is a special Beginner Center where pros guarantee that after your first beginner class, you can ski if you can’t, you can repeat the First Day Learn to Turn class as often as you like. Try out the Rockies’ first Stash Park, in Jackson Hole Wyoming. Created by Burton Snowboards and unique to only five other resorts in the world, the Stash uses natural elements to build terrain park-like features, giving riders a completely different kind of resort riding experience. The Stash has four different runs and over 50 total features. If you stay at the Village Center Inn 3 or more days, you can ski for free. This deal starts at $89/person. And you can take a guided snowshoe tour at the base of the Tetons with Jackson’s Mountain Sports School.
KEYSTONE RESORT. Less than an hour from Denver, with three mountains where families can not only snag an inexpensive condo but get access to an array of discounted or free activities including skating and ice hockey, snowshoeing, snow biking, snow tubing, even Science Snow Tours offered by the Keystone Science School. Keystone is a Vail Resort, which means that its ski and snowboard school is first rate. Your kids will love the huge snow fort, the Kidtopia Festivals throughout the season, Disco tubing and more. Look for a variety of free night deals, even during peak times as well as discounts on a second person’s lessons. This year, Stay two nights and kids 12 and under ski free. Here’s what I wrote about Keystone’s ice fort.
MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN, CA. Some people come to Mammoth for the 150 trails. Others for its 3,100 feet of vertical. At the highest ski resort in California with a peak elevation of 11,053 feet, there’s plenty of snow, sun (300 days a year) three learning centers for kids, special clinics and the chance to sled and tube, snowmobile, go for a dog sled ride or snow shoe. There’s even a snow play area at Wooly’s Adventure Summit Tube Park where families with young kids can build a snowman and enjoy the snow play area.
MT BACHELOR in Bend, Ore is the largest ski resort in the Cascade Range, offering 3,683 acres and 360 degrees of lift-accessible terrain. The mountain also boasts two tubing lifts and two beginner carpets, five terrain parks, groomed and tracked cross country trails, snowshoeing, tubing, sled dog rides and more. Kids, 18 and under, can ski free if an adult in their family purchases a multi-day ticket! If you are new to skiing or riding, check out the ‘Ski or Ride in 5′ program: For $199 you or your kids get five lessons, five rental packages, and five lift tickets and reserved parking spot close to the lodge. Upon ‘graduation’ from the program, students 18 and under get a FREE season pass; adults get a FREE 12-day pass and 50% discount on next year’s 2013-2014 Full Winter Season Pass.
MOUNT SNOW RESORT provides a unique “back-to-base” trail system that keeps the entire family together. Mt. Snow, in southern VT, is a draw for young freestyle skiers and snowboarders who come for the only all-park mountain face in the east, Carinthia, equipped with 125 freestyle features in eight parks complete with natural obstacles (rock jibs) as well as recycled pieces (giant tires). For beginner park skiers, there is also The Grommet Park that has small jumps. Don’t miss the tubing Park. January 6, 2012 is the annual Youth Pay Their Age Day for everyone 18 and under! Get 10% off lift tickets during Martin Luther King Weekend and President’s Week and check out the Kids Ski & Learn Free Weeks. Stay Sunday-Thursday nights for 3-5 nights, purchase an adult 3-5 day lift ticket and children 4-12 years old get a FREE 3-5 day lift ticket and half-day morning clinic. Valid Jan 20-25, Feb 24-Mar 1, and Mar 3-8, 2013.
NORTHSTAR at TAHOE. Located on the California-Nevada border near Reno and is easy access from San Francisco or Sacramento. Northstar expanded its resort boundaries in two areas of the mountain, adding 170 acres of new side-country terrain that can be explored on guided backcountry and snow-cat tours. If you purchase your lift tickets online before arriving, you will definitely get the lowest price possible. Parents can split the cost of one lift ticket—switching off to take care of the baby. They can also haul the gear—and the kids—in complimentary wagons around the new base area, where you can skate free and make delicious, gourmet s’mores around the many fire pits surrounding the skating rink. If you have snowboard aficionados in the group, check out the Burton Snowboard Academy with a 1:4 student-coach ratio and hands-on involvement by the coach from fitting boots and a board to linking the first turns. If you’re child does not love it or feel improved, they will let you do it again with the Burton Academic Satisfaction Guarantee. There’s Minors’ Camp licensed childcare and outdoor play for non-skiing children ages 2 - 6. No need for potty training, any child over 3 is welcome.
OKEMO, located in Southern Vermont with easy access from Boston, New York and other East Coast points. Okemo offers free use of its lower lifts all season long and kids ski free on select days throughout the season when parents buy a regular priced lift ticket in advance—up to age 18! First time skiers and snowboarders can take part in the free program that includes a lower-mountain lift ticket, beginner group lesson and rental gear. It’s available for ages seven and up every Monday through Friday. And, anyone interested in private lessons beginning at 12:30, 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. (Sun. through Fri., non-holidays) can receive a 20 percent discount off normal pricing. Okemo also has plenty of other options for fun in the snow right at the mountain—skating, tubing, skating, swimming, an alpine coaster and even a giant snow mound where kids like to play king of the mountain. Come midweek and save up to 30 per cent in lodging, get a resort credit and discounted lifts and rentals.
PENNSYLVANIA. The 22 member resorts of the Pennsylvania Ski Area Association are offering a $5 coupon off all Learn a Snowsport packages in January. At Ski Sawmill in North Central Pa, Sunday nights are family nights with adult lifts for just $17; kids tickets (ages 6-11) for $15 and rentals for $15. Check out Hidden Valley with 2 for one children’s private ski lessons (1 hour) on Wednesdays and a $32 lift ticket includes complimentary rental equipment and beginner group lesson.
PARK CITY. Located in Utah, Park City is a short shuttle ride from Salt Lake City airport, which is home to three major kid-friendly resorts. The Canyons; Deer Valley, where the luxe Montage aims to cater to well-heeled families (no snowboarders at Deer Valley! See what I wrote about our stay there as well as at Park City Mountain Resort, which promises there will be no more than 5 kids or adults in your group lessons. I’ve helped them develop a website for snow loving parents – please visit Snowmamas.com. You’ll find plenty of bargains (especially at the Canyons), service and gourmet meals (especially at Deer Valley) and all of the terrain features your riders and free skiers could want (Park City Mountain Resort) which also offers night skiing and riding. You’ll also have fun exploring the historic mountain town chock full of shops and restaurants. The National Abilities Center is designed to help all those in your family with special challenges. You can also have the chance to test your mettle on an Olympic bobsled run at the Olympic Park. Here’s what I wrote about Park City Mountain Resort’s Ladies’ Club dedicated to getting moms back on the slopes.
SMUGGLERS’ NOTCH in Northern Vermont, not far from Burlington or Montreal, is known in New England for its top-notch children’s facilities (including infant care) and off the slope activities including a zip line. It’s offering a mostly inclusive Club Smugglers’ Adventure Package this winter that includes lift tickets, lodging, ski and snowboard lessons for kids, for adult beginners and unlimited use of cross country and snowshoe trails as well as the FunZone Family Entertainment Center, tubing and more. Smugglers’ Notch has also been working with Burton Snowboards to build the Burton Riglet Park, an on-snow play area on Sir Henry’s Learning Hill with fun features designed for young snowboarders. One of the most exciting parts of the park is the “treehouse,” an elevated platform with ramps that children can ride down, a balance area inside the treehouse and a lift chair that swings to help kids practice getting on and off the lift. Its three mountains encompass 1,000 acres of terrain. Check out the Burton Riglet Park with new “Learn to Ride” equipment for beginning snowboarders- featuring a softer flex, edge bevel and a convex base, which reduces the likelihood of catching an edge and makes linking turns easier. There are even all-day snowboarding camps to ages 3-5.
SNOWMASS. One of the four fabulous mountains in Aspen, Co., Snowmass is where kids have their choice of peppermint S’mores, ice cream sundaes or every variety of Gummi après ski at the new Base Village. Snowmass, by far the largest mountain in Aspen, is family snow sports central with its $17 million Treehouse Adventure Center complete with its own climbing “wall” for pre-schoolers. From April 1-14, kids ages 7-12 ski & stay free with purchase of lodging and lifts by an adult for three or more days. Purchase an adult ski lesson as part of the deal and kids have a free lesson too. A new Westin opens this winter. Also, book any 2 nights at a participating property and get the 3rd night free with rates starting at just $99. Check the website for other deals and also don’t miss the resident Golden Eagle at the free Aspen Center for Environmental Studies. Take a snowshoe tour with them n the mountain. Visit the Snowmass Ice Age Discovery Center that showcases the terrific find of prehistoric mastodons. Here’s what I wrote about the discovery.
SQUAW VALLEY USA in California has a newly renovated Children’s Center and plans to transform the Belmont Park into a kids’ terrain park complete with a snow fort, kid-friendly jumps, bumps and more. Squaw also provides a kids map designed to lead them on a grand adventure around the mountain. Kids will follow the map through Squaw Valley’s kid-friendly terrain to find fun facts about the mountain’s animals, history and natural habitat—free with any lift ticket. At Squaw you can hit the slopes until 8pm on weekends Come for spring skiing. The near 500″ of snowfall each season make it possible for the resort to remain open through the April 7th is U.S. Ski Team Day, where guests can join Julia Mancuso, Jonny Moseley, Tamara McKinney, Travis Ganong along with other favorite skiers and snowboarders
STRATTON in Southern Vermont is a favorite for East Coast families. Kids 17 and younger are invited to ski and stay free when two adults purchase a (2 night minimum) lift and lodging package. Kids can get free rentals too, when an adult purchases a rental. Kids love the tubing hill and that once they are eight, they can drive a mini snowmobile in the Sun Bowl Base Area. Parents love the village atmosphere of the base area, the 45 acre Learning Park and EZ Street, a three mile green run from the summit. Teens like the Wreck teen club with indoor skate ramp. We logged a lot of weekends at Stratton when my youngest was on a ski team there and never got bored. Check out the Long Weekend Deal — when you book three nights- Thursday, Friday and Saturday or Friday, Saturday and Sunday, guests can ski Friday or Monday for free. Available weekends, non-holiday all season in select properties. Starting from $169* for the Stratton long weekend.
STEAMBOAT In Northern Colorado, Steamboat is recognized as a top family ski resort in North America thanks to its new Kids’ Vacation Center (adding 3,000 square feet to the new slope side entrance as well as 8 new registration kiosks) with its western themed play area and well-trained children’s staff. The resort has long been an innovator for families with Kids Ski Free, Kids Fly Free and Kids Rent Free programs. Plus, with the ambiance of an authentic Western town known for breeding Olympians and its Old Town Hot Springs pool and slides, there’s just as much to do off the mountain as on. There are Five kids-only lifts and two special beginner-teaching areas with special Magic Carpet lifts. More advanced kids access the entire mountain, including kids-only terrain at Rough Rider Basin, complete with dedicated lift plus teepees, a frontier-style fort and the Beehive – a kids’ terrain park. Check out the special Billy Kidd Race Camps–Dec. 17-19, 24-26, Jan. 21-23, Feb. 18-20 & March 18-20, 2013 and the STARS Kids’ Adaptive Camp –March 2013is a fun ski camp for youth (age 6-20) with physical disabilities, new skiers, beginner skiers who need private lessons, intermediate. Visit www.steamboatstars.com for more information.
STOWE is home to Vermont’s highest Peak, Mt. Mansfield and is known for it’s postcard-pretty New England town, its “Famous Four” double-blacks, some of the longest intermediate cruisers in the East, and a group of beginner trails in the Toll House area. Spruce Peak is geared toward beginner and intermediate skiers and riders. Lower Spruce – the area nearest the Spruce Base Are Complex – is a great place to learn. Take time to visit the Ski Museum, or take a tour of the Ben & Jerry’s ice cream factory! Stowe Mountain Lodge welcomes dogs as well as kids and is known for its farm-to-table cuisine. Check Go Stowe for lodging deals;. Snowshoe or cross country ski at the Von Trapp Family Lodge.
SUNDAY RIVER in Maine boasts a 50-plus year history, eight interconnected peaks, 12 hour skiing and riding Fridays, Saturdays and select holidays, a White Cap Fun Center with a tubing park, and a Sugaring House so you get an up close and personal look of exactly how maple syrup is made—complete with samples. Many families come to Sunday River because of the Perfect Turn Ski and Ride School. During Children’s Festival Week (1/14 – 1/18), there will be scavenger hunts, live entertainment, movies, pajama parties, teen parties, and themed Perfect Turn kid’s lessons – with ids ski, snowboard, stay, rent, and learn – all for free when families stay three nights or longer!
TELLURIDE, a historic southwestern Colorado mountain town, is so safe that local parents let 10-year-olds run around on their own. Kids routinely hop the free gondola from the mountain village for the 12-minute ride into town where they can go to a movie (there’s one movie theater), get some pizza or a burger and some gummies at The Sweet Life. Visiting kids might learn a little Western history in the process. The entire town of Telluride — four blocks long and four blocks wide and nestled in a box canyon — is a federally designated historic district, and it couldn’t be prettier with buildings dating back a century and mountain views in every direction. Even during the busiest week of the year, the ski school has only got about 225 children, ages three through 14, enrolled — perhaps a quarter of the size of other family-friendly resorts like Snowmass. Parents like the intimacy and that the vast majority of instructors in the ski school are veterans here who remember their kids from previous visits. It’s also an easy ski school to navigate — right next to the town gondola in the middle of the Mountain Village. The kids get their rentals right in the building — the instructors take care of that too. Backcountry lovers will love the Black Iron Bowl—a hike-to playground is set against the dramatic backdrop of Palmyra Peak, adding eight runs adjacent to Prospect Bowl, including the wide-open Mountain Quail couloir, European-style faces, open glades and steep chutes. Here’s what I wrote about a visit to Telluride.
TAOS SKI VALLEY. Located in northern New Mexico with easy access from Albuquerque or Santa Fe, Taos is one of the last, most pristine, and still somewhat undiscovered ski areas in the country. It is still family owned and run. Not only is there great snow and an 18,000 square foot children’s center, but you have the opportunity to explore Native American culture nearby—right at the Taos Pueblo, the only living Native American community designated both as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark. There’s plenty for the non-snow sports lovers in the group to do. And Taos Valley now welcomes snowboarders too. Experience the newly expanded tubing hill, located on Strawberry Hill, open Wed-Sat from 2-6pm. Open to all ages, the tubing hill has multiple lanes and a moving carpet that carries you back to the top each time.Be among the first to ride the newest lift at TAOS, the new Pioneers Beginner Lift, is perfect for first-time skiers and riders to carve up new beginner terrain.
VAIL, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, has more than 5,000 acres to ski, including the famous Back Bowls and another 645 acres in Blue Sky Basin, the huge expanse of wilderness-like terrain that faces Vail’s bowls. This resort offers intermediate as well as expert skiers moguls, tree skiing, and even some cliffs. No one in your gang will get bored here—even after the slopes close. There is a Tubing hill at Adventure Ridge, as well as kids snowmobiling, or a bungee trampoline and ski biking. For some fun on the mountain, check out Coyote’s Den, a 50-foot long wooden ski-through feature and the teepee in Sherwood Forest. Also, check out the Nature Discovery Center at Eagle’s Nest with frequent nature walks and programs led by naturalists. You can even take a moonlit snowshoe tour! When it comes to ski lessons, for an extra fee, you can opt for the Ultimate Four, which guarantees kids 3-15 will have only for children per instructor.
WATERVILLE VALLEY RESORT in New Hampshire offers 250 acres to ski or ride, a big Nordic Center that is groomed daily and a Town Square just a short walk from most of the resort accommodations. There’s even an indoor ice rink. Book online 24 hours in advance and you can get a Learn to Ski or Ride package for just $75 including a two hour-lesson, equipment and a lower mountain lift ticket. Look for “Town Square” events that include fireworks. Look for new seasonal programs like the Junior Instruction Programs for fifteen weekends plus the Christmas holiday week. Programs are designed for kids 4 thru 16 years old, who already ski or snowboard, starting at the lower intermediate level. Special programs for 4 and 5yr. old skiers, alpine and snowboarding groups for 6–12 years and specialized groups for kids aged 8-12 who are interested in learning the fundamentals of competitive racing and freestyle skiing.
WHISTLER BLACKOMB in British Columbia is just 78 miles from Vancouver and was the official alpine skiing venue for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympics Winter Games. Whistler and Blackcomb are two side-by-side mountains, connected by the PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola, which together offer over 200 marked runs, 8,000 acres of terrain, 14 alpine bowls, and three glaciers. There’s plenty of snow—over 430 inches a year—which means one of the longest ski seasons in North America. Check out the website for deals, including discounted airfare from certain cities and lodging deals. Coca-Cola Tube Parkis located in the Base 2 Zone on Blackcomb Mountain and has eight lanes varying in difficulty. Open from Dec 15- Apr 15-Weekdays: 12pm – 7pm- Weekends: 11am – 7pm.
WINTER PARK RESORT is only 67 miles from Denver and offers the state’s longest continually operating professional ski school. The Private Lesson Center allows your family to learn together. . There is an incredible variety of terrain spread across five mountains. Steeps can be found on Vasquez Cirque, bumps the size of small VW bugs can be found over at Mary Jane. Groomers are found on Winter Park Mountain with beginner terrain. Terrain Parks come by the handful as the resort has five, including the limited access park, Dark Territory. Look for packages that include free nights and free lift tickets. The Resort is also home to the National Sports Center for the Disabled, which offers a variety of programs for those with special mental and physical challenges. Buy 3 Nights get the 4th Night Free. Offer valid for stays November 14, 2012 thru April 21, 2013, excluding Dec. 26-31, 2012, March 10-14, 2013 and March 27-31, 2013 when a 20% savings is offered.
(Special thanks to our Taking The Kids intern this semester — Becca Tash, a senior at the University of Miami, for helping compile and fact-check this guide)
Buy flip-flops for summer, help a child in needMay 18, 2013
FUMS, a faith-based shoe company that provides free shoes for American children in need, is introducing a line of women’s and men’s leather flip flops. For every pair of flip flops purchased through http://myfums.com, FUMS gives a pair of shoes to a child in need somewhere in the United States, PAIR for PAIR.