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The Ten Best Family Ski Resorts in the USA

Whistler Blackcomb Photo, Kid's Ski School

Family ski holidays can be fun-filled adventures and can create strong family memories for years to come. Experiencing the excitement of skiing or snowboarding in the snowy mountains of North America with your family can be a fantastic experience. However, some resorts are more suited to family ski holidays than others - the key to making your vacation a success is to choose a North American ski resort that is fun for the entire family on and off the mountain. Selecting a resort with a good balance of beginner, intermediate, and advanced runs will ensure that all levels of skiers in your family will have a great ski holiday.

For the youngest members of your family, make sure that the resort has a reputable ski school and daycare program. There should also be plenty for the younger set to do off-mountain, such as ice skating, snow tubing, and swimming. Teenaged family members are usually difficult to please on any vacation, but finding a ski resort that has free concerts, movies, and other age-appropriate events can be a life-saver. Here are some other things to consider when planning a family winter holiday:

  • Ski-in ski-out hotels or condos are perfect for most families, allowing easy access to ski lifts and the ski school;
  • Discounted or free lift tickets and rentals for children are available in certain resorts;
  • Dedicated daycare facilities for young children allow everyone to have a good time;
  • A wide variety of family restaurants and good pedestrian/car-free zones in the central area allows for easy and carefree family time off the slopes; and
  • Easy access to a nearby airport and short transfer times makes for stress-free travel.

The resorts listed below have many, if not all, of these characteristics and are some of the best places to go for a family ski holiday in the USA.

Steamboat, Colorado

Steamboat is highly recommended and is often featured as one of the best family ski resorts in the USA. For each adult lift ticket for five days or more, kids 12 years old and younger ski free for the same number of days. 70% of the trails are classed as beginner or intermediate terrain, so it’s perfect for both kids and families learning to ski. There are also five lifts dedicated to children. Teenagers can enjoy “Rough Rider” clinics, which are part of one of the best teen ski and snowboard programs in the States. After a day of skiing, the Kids Adventure Club has nightly movies and supervised games for ages 4 to twelve, while Night Owls is a great place for the teens to hang out and go snow tubing or indoor climbing. Steamboat also has plenty of ski-in, ski-out lodging and is nearby an authentic western town, filled with a variety of restaurants and shops.

Beaver Creek, Colorado

Beaver Creek is designed specifically to make your family ski holiday as stress-free and comfortable as possible. There is an abundance of ski-in, ski-out lodgings – many deluxe and luxury rated – as well as free shuttle service that makes for easy transportation around the resort (including a daily bus service to Vail). The world famous Beaver Creek Ski School offers a great selection of kids ski programs, with each program designed according to age and ability. The Buckaroo Express lift is geared toward kids and whisks them to The Ranch, a state-of-the-art ski and snowboard school. The picture windows will allow parents to discreetly view their kids learning to ski and ride on customized slopes designed to facilitate the correct body movements. Vail Resorts’ healthy lunch program also ensures that your kids will have healthy and fresh food options at lunchtime. The mountain provides some wonderful beginner areas with wide open, groomed runs. The off-mountain attractions and activities provide non-stop entertainment after a day of skiing. Evening activities include snow tubing, family fun nights, on-mountain storytelling and movie nights. The village area also has an ice skating rink around which there are a variety of restaurants and shops.

Snowmass at Aspen, Colorado

Snowmass at Aspen makes sure that kids enjoy the world class terrain and champagne powder as much as their parents. The Family Zone has interactive trails and a terrain park specifically designed for younger family members. Kids can also participate in ski and snowboard races that are more fun than competitive. After a day of skiing or snowboarding, the Treehouse Kids Adventure Center is a child’s dream come true. There are themed rooms that feature everything from puppet shows to rock climbing so that kids of all ages will have a blast. Other family-friendly activities include ice skating, snowmobile tours, and snowcat rides.

Vail, Colorado

Vail is the largest ski resort in the USA, which means that it has a vast amount of varied terrain that a family with every level of skier will find exciting. It’s excellent ski school offering half day, full day, and private lessons for ages three and up also makes it a wonderful place to learn to ski or improve your technique. Take the entire family up the gondola to a mini-theme park that includes a tubing hill, ice skating rink, snowmobile track, and the Kids Adventure Zone filled with kid-friendly runs. Off-mountain, Vail Village and Lionshead Village feature countless shops, restaurants, and lodging situated around ice skating rinks.

The Canyons, Utah

The Canyons has excellent terrain and abundant snow, but the reason that a lot of families choose it for their ski holiday is that the resort makes everything easy. Getting to The Canyons only requires a short 40 minute drive from Salt Lake International Airport. There is a good selection of accommodations to choose from, with most being either ski-in, ski-out, or a short walk to the ski slopes, restaurants, and shops. The ski school offers a variety of standard and specialty classes for adults and children, while those not old enough to ski yet can go to the resort’s day care. Off-mountain activities oriented towards families include sledding, ice skating, movies, and swimming. A short 10 minute ride on the free shuttle service will take you to downtown Park City, a historical mining town, with many shops and restaurants. The popular Three Resort Pass allows access to The Canyons, Park City, and Deer Valley in one lift ticket.

Deer Valley, Utah

Deer Valley is a luxurious, full-service resort that limits the number of skiers on the mountain each day and does not permit snowboarding. This makes for a relaxing and fun place for the whole family to ski without worrying about crowds and out-of-control snowboarders hindering your ski experience. The ski school offers exceptional classes for kids aged three to 12, as well as a highly respected teen ski program. The day care center at Deer Valley takes children aged two months to 12 years and engages them in a structured day of fun activities. The resort is only 45 minutes away from the Salt Lake International Airport, so getting there is also incredibly easy.

Northstar at Tahoe, California

Northstar at Tahoe is not only located on the stunningly beautiful Lake Tahoe, it also gets some of the best snow of the area. With 75% of the trails marked as beginner or intermediate, the resort is an excellent place to bring the entire family for their first ski holiday in America. For the kids who want to be the next Shaun White, the Burton Snowboard Academy offers excellent instruction for kids aged four to 12. Northstar was one of the first all-inclusive ski resort destinations in the US, which means that it has just about everything your family could want right at your fingertips. There is a huge amount of ski-in, ski-out lodging options and a village that has great dining and shopping options. 

Mammoth, California

Mammoth is one of the best-kept secrets in California. Not only does it receive more snow than the other California ski resorts, its high elevation also means that it stays open well into June. The entire family will enjoy the varied terrain, but the kids will love the multiple ski schools that have easy-to-ride lifts and magic carpets. Day care is also provided for those family members not yet old enough to ski or snowboard. Other fun family activities include sledding, movie nights, games and craft nights, and dog sledding.

Big Sky, Montana

Big Sky may be a little bit more difficult to get to, but the extra effort is well worth it for the huge mountain and lack of crowds. The kids program at the base of the Swift Current lift offers half day and full day lessons, while the Lone Peak Playhouse offers high-quality day care. Some of the family-friendly activities include on-mountain scavenger hunts and dog-rescue demonstrations. And of course, the magnificent Yellowstone National Park is just an hour drive away.

Telluride, Colorado

Telluride is a wonderful resort nestled in a stunningly beautiful Central Colorado box canyon. The Mountain Village, which is located on a small plateau 2,000 feet above town, makes it a perfect destination for your family ski holiday. At an elevation of 8000ft, you can count on excellent snow conditions from the base of the Mountain Village lift to the summit. Although families staying at the Mountain Village don’t usually feel the need to ski any lower on the mountain, there are more challenging ski runs all the way down to Telluride. The Mountain Village Gondola offers another way down and runs until the late evening, so families can ride the gondola to town and back in the evenings. There is also a wealth of lodging options in the Mountain Village, and most of them are either ski-in ski-out or just a short walk to the slopes and ski school. Telluride’s ski school offers specialized programs for kids according to age – dividing them into Otters for 3-4 year olds, Bears for 5-6 year olds, and Eagles for 7-14 year olds. Telluride is also fairly easy to reach via flights connecting to nearby Montrose.

Coda Travel offers all-inclusive ski travel packages that include accommodation, airport transfers, lift tickets, and ski guiding. Our experienced staff can recommend the best resort for your family ski vacation. Coda Travel offers a great selection of USA ski resorts and Canadian ski resorts – many located within one hour of the nearest airport. For an instant online quote click here.

 

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Beaver Creek
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Deer Valley
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Mammoth Mountain
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Snowmass
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Steamboat Springs
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Telluride
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Vail
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