At some ski areas, the beginner slopes funnel into base-area traffic—creating a chaotic environment that many kids (and parents) find alarming. But Keystone’s kids-only Midstation beginner zone is located high on Dercum Mountain. The gondola ride gives youngsters a sense of adventure. Arriving at Midstation, kids find magic carpets, a warming hut and dedicated bathrooms that make learning comfortable.

Keystone also understands that most kids need a break from the slopes, and the resort provides a myriad of ways for young ones to find off-piste exploration and adventure. A massive snow fort—the world’s largest—sits atop Dercum Mountain, near the tubing hill. From mid-December through Presidents’ Day, this snowy playground offers countless ways for kids to imagine themselves King of the Hill: Three entrances pierce the fort’s 12-foot-high walls, which are adorned with big, fluttering flags. Kids can climb aboard snow slides and swoop down into the fluff below, then settle into a snowy throne to issue their regal commands. A dragon (carved from snow) stands guard over the fort, and at night, lights gleam from the ramparts.

Christmas festivities include the Chocolate Village, an annual Keystone Lodge installation that’s unveiled in mid-December: Trains wind among houses and storefronts, gondola cars whisk skiers up the mountain, trees coat the hillsides—and everything, right down to the box cars hauling logs, is made of chocolate. A massive Christmas tree towers over the outdoor skating rink (the largest Zamboni-maintained ice in North America). Holiday lights project Christmas themes throughout the ice rink and village. And hot cocoa warms skaters and skiers after a day of wintry fun. Click here for more info.