The winter holiday season has become synonymous with skiing and snowboarding, making it one of the best times for families to spend plenty of quality time together on and off the ski slopes. But, there are a few caveats of spending the holidays at ski resorts. Ski towns around Christmastime fill up, and if you don’t act early, you may not find any room at the inn. In fact, you’ll want to book your ski accommodations for Christmas before the season starts. Other important considerations for a Christmas ski trip includes dining out and dinner reservations. You’ll want to book dinner reservations ahead of time, especially for those sought after Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners.
Nonetheless, with a little bit of planning, a holiday ski trip can make for a memorable ski vacation to kick off the ski season. So we’re here with a round-up of some of best ski resorts to spend the holidays at. Note: Use our Snow Before You Go forecasts as a reference as the holidays get closer.
Best Ski Resorts for the Holidays
Stowe is a quintessential New England ski town, and that much more around the holiday season. In fact, Stowe was the only North America destination on CNN’s list of the best ski resorts around the world for the holidays. The town of Stowe goes all out, with parades, tree lightings, holiday bazaars, holiday music, and more. Take in the magic of the Village at Spruce Peak between laps at Stowe Mountain Resort. Enjoy complimentary access to Spruce Peak Village’s ice skating rink (rentals available for a fee), or cozy up fireside for s’mores and hot chocolate. If you’re in Stowe in mid-December, don’t miss the Spruce Peak Lights Festival.
Start the holidays early with the Big Sky Christmas Stroll, happening December 8-9. Join in the fun at the Meadow Village Center and at Big Sky Town Center for a weekend of family-friendly events, entertainment, and holiday cheer. The fun continues Christmas Eve at Big Sky with a whole host of events, from skiing with Santa and Ms. Claus to Christmas Eve Dinner to the Torchlight Parade and Fireworks. It’s only fitting that a place called Big Sky would go big for the holidays.
» Check out lodging options at Big Sky.
Park City and Deer Valley, Utah
Kick off the Christmas season in Park City at the giant tree lighting ceremony at Canyons Village, take the kids for a ride on Heber Valley’s North Pole Express, or head down to Main Street for the annual Electric Parade. Old Saint Nick ditches his reindeer and makes an entrance during the “Santa Comes Down the Town Lift” event in a sleigh that’s decorated with twinkling lights. Music, entertainers and more keep the holiday spirit flowing in Park City.
Over at Deer Valley Resort, Montage Deer Valley’s Christmas activities include Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dinners, and a Christmas Eve reading by Santa Claus of ‘Twas the Night Before Christmas. Additionally, kids have the opportunity to decorate cookies and write a special letter to Santa. Afterward, families are invited to join in a twilight search of the sky for Santa’s sleigh.
» Check out lodging options at Deer Valley.
Beaver Creek is overflowing with holiday activities. Some of the more unique events include the best chefs from around America competing in the annual Chocolate Chip Cookie competition. Bonus: Visitors receive the winning cookie for free. For more traditional events, gather around for the 38-foot-tall Christmas tree lighting and live entertainment from musicians and singers who perform holiday classics. Or, get the family together for a holiday movie night. Elsewhere, the Vilar Performing Arts Center always has a variety of holiday shows and performances. View their full event calendar here.
While you’re at Beaver Creek, you’re just minutes from the uber-charming Vail Ski Resort, and the European-style Vail Village. Vail has a number of unique holiday events, from the Kris Kringle Market to ice skating shows to a silent disco and more.
» Check out lodging options at Beaver Creek.
Visit the spectacularly decorated Chateau Lake Louise and ski at Lake Louise Ski Resort for an iconic holiday experience in Canada. Headlining events include the torchlight dinner and ski event, and unique experience like horse-drawn sleigh rides along the edge of Lake Louise. Popular holiday events in Banff include the European-like Banff Christmas Market and the “In Search of Christmas Spirit” experience, which follows an enchanted trail with illuminated sculptures, a fun story, and sound effects. Last, but not least, check out Mountaintop Christmas at the Banff Gondola, featuring Santa’s Workshop, cookie decorating, craft making, movies, games, and more.
» Check out lodging options at Lake Louise.
The annual Holiday Village Stroll is among Lake Placid’s great holiday events, featuring an entire weekend full of fun festivities for families and kids in early December. Choose between ice skating and ugly sweater parties on Friday. Have breakfast with Santa at the Grand Adirondack Hotel Saturday morning, then decorate cookies in the evening. Finally, see a matinee showing of The Polar Express on Sunday at the Palace Theatre with free popcorn and a special gift for the first 300 kids. Say hi to Santa who will be making an appearance in several locations.
» Check out lodging options at White Face.
A place called Crystal Mountain is an apt destination for the holidays. The Snowiest Snowflake Contest at the Park at Water’s Edge occurs daily, where guests create a unique snowflake and are entered to win prizes. Elsewhere, slide, swing and climb at the Frankly Fun Playground, located behind the Mountain Adventure Zone, or go ice skating in Barr Park right in the heart of Crystal’s village. Then, on Christmas Eve, ski with Santa on the slopes. Cap it off with a holiday buffet at the Wild Tomato and horse-drawn Surrey rides.
» Check out lodging options at Crystal Mountain.
It’s fitting that America’s first destination ski resort, Sun Valley Resort, is one of the best ski destinations for the holidays. The holiday spirit takes over Sun Valley Resort over the month of December, from Sun Valley carolers strolling the European-style holiday market to the lit Christmas tree to the torchlight parade down Dollar Mountain on Christmas Eve to fireworks that close out the month. Enjoy photo ops with Santa, catch one of the holiday movie nights at the Opera House, or enjoy brunch with Santa on Christmas Eve.
Holidays around Big Bear Lake make for a white Christmas that most Southern Californians don’t typically experience. Say hello to Santa and Mrs. Claus at The Village at Christmas Tree Corner, or catch Santa on the slopes or around Big Bear throughout December. If you’re in Big Bear in mid-December, check out the Christkindlmarkt at Big Bear Lake Convention Center to celebrate the holidays with long-standing German traditions. After the sun goes down, ride under the stars at Snow Summit until 8:30 p.m, or fly down a long, sloped hill on a smooth inner tube at Big Bear Snow Play. For a real Big Bear adventure, head to Big Bear Snow Play at night for a thrilling nighttime glow tubing ride.
» Check out lodging options at Bear Mountain.
The winter scenery at Stateline, on the south shore of Lake Tahoe, is a holiday spectacular in itself. But the holiday activities at Heavenly still abound. Get in on the tree lighting, ice sculpture contests, a holiday ferris wheel ride, train rides, breakfast with Santa, holiday Build-A-Bear workshops, a Santa run, live music, dancing, and more. Don’t miss the Santa Pub Crawl and holiday-themed aprés-ski parties throughout the village for visitors. Heavenly takes aprés-ski up a notch for the holidays.
» Check out lodging options at Heavenly.
Mont-Tremblant screams Christmas cheer. Head to the Laurentians on Christmas Eve, as Santa Claus will be coming to town for a meet-and-greet. Afterward, catch the holiday parade in the afternoon. Elsewhere in Tremblant you will find ice sculpting workshops, soap bubble blowing, an outdoor disco, Christmas lights, snowboarding clowns, and ice skating. Enjoy a “waterful time” at Mont-Tremblant’s Brind O’ Aquaclub water park, which will be open to the public throughout the holidays. The aquatic complex is the perfect place to bring children and teenagers to play on its 4 waterslides, 35 interactive water games and whirlpool.
» Check out lodging options at Tremblant.
Header image: ©Sun Valley Resort