From tots working on their pizza wedge to tweens honing their advanced skills, ski resorts across the United States have recognized the importance of catering to families and are helping kids progress their skills and enjoy their time on and off the mountain like never before.
Limited child-to-instructor ratios and increasingly segmented age groups are improving the on-mountain learning experience, while an emphasis on base-area activities and events is adding more family fun to the after-ski routine. U.S. resorts are catering to new parents with child care and babysitting programs available for kids as young as 6 months. As for those hard-to-impress teens? Ski areas are rolling out nighttime activities and relaxed, yet supervised, areas to just hang or play games.
See below for some of OnTheSnow’s top user-rated U.S. ski resorts for kids and families, plus an OnTheSnow user review for each.
Keystone is one of the great resorts off I-70 in the Colorado Rockies. It delivers a kid-friendly experience from the moment the car doors open. Free parking near the resort’s base and free gear wagons make transportation from the lot to the lift a breeze. Numerous ski-in, ski-out lodging options, restaurants and kid-centric activities complement the beginner-friendly terrain. To top it off, Keystone’s Kidtopia offers mini-shredders everything from snow forts and playgrounds to scavenger hunts and complimentary fresh baked cookies.
“The programs for the kids have been great! Getting to the lifts with kids is an easy task (use the wagons that are provided). Just drop the kids off at ski school and they handle it from there.” See more Keystone reviews here.
Steamboat is about 180 miles from Denver International Airport by car in Steamboat Springs. The resort caters to the family trade with events, perks and activities from the base area to downtown. Holiday events, including the Winter Carnival and the Springalicious Festival. Keep the kids happy fall through the season. Other amenities include the Kids Vacation Center, which offers a variety of programs available for children 2.5 years old up to Kindergarten.
“We try to get our kids out a few times a year during the Christmas Holiday and/or Spring Break. Steamboat has been our standby for our trips because we really enjoy the people of Steamboat, the staff and the quality of the experience.” See more Steamboat reviews here.
When traveling with kids who have a short attention span and little patience, choosing a ski resort that’s close to an airport can make all the difference. Park City Mountain Resort in Utah is located just a 35-minute drive from Salt Lake City International. The big mountain offers 7,300 acres of terrain and a large base area with a variety of kid-friendly activities. Multiple ski school, child care and preschool options are available on the mountain.
“Terrain for every ability—unique layout that allows families with different abilities to ski together. Lots of after-ski activities such as alpine coaster, zip line, ice rink, sleigh rides. Most accessible ski area we have been to, with a phenomenal ski school.” See more Park City reviews here.
Deer Valley, Utah
Deer Valley is an upscale resort in Park City that caters to families with toddler-friendly skiing that includes child care programs and a limited child-to-instructor ratio. Because Deer Valley sells a limited number of daily lift tickets, tiny tots and pint-sized groms have plenty of room to work on their pizza wedge and French fries. Other amenities include a Children’s Center, Adventure Camp and furry mascots on the Adventure Trails.
“I grew up skiing here and learned to love the mountains and snow at this resort. The amenities are top notch and the food is amazing. As a young kid, when the skiing got tough, I would always head inside and get delicious food and hot cocoa.” See more Deer Valley reviews here.
Northstar California, California
The Village at Northstar at beautiful Lake Tahoe, but still in California, is among the West Coast resorts that offer a variety of family-friendly activities for teenagers, including roller skating, bungee trampoline, crafts, movies and holiday festivals and fire pits are available for roasting s’mores. Convenient gear wagons make transporting equipment to and from the parking lot quick and easy. Multiple ski lessons are available for kids 3 years old and up.
“The staff is super family friendly, the instructors are amazingly experienced, the ski school is terrific and they take a lot of care to maximize customer enjoyment no matter what Mother Nature throws their way.” See more Northstar reviews here.
Big Sky, Montana
Big Sky’s generally uncrowded slopes are a welcome relief for helicopter parents who are sick of busy groomers. As the name suggests, Big Sky is big on views, making that family portrait a frame-worthy addition to the mantle piece. Numerous activities, including zip line tours, sleigh rides, dog sledding and a high ropes course are sure to keep the kiddos at bay, and a variety of on-mountain lodging options provide convenient access to and from the slopes.
“We had a great experience over the holidays with ski school for our family. We had a great family vacation and everyone left better skiers. Because we were in the village, we had a lot of wonderful time together.” See more Big Sky reviews here.
Sun Valley, Idaho
Sun Valley, Idaho is the stuff of movie and Warren Miller legends. It is simply “the” classic ski resort. SnowSports School offers top-notch instruction whether you’re interested in group, private or specialty lessons. Off the slopes, Sun Valley entertains kids of all ages with activities, including sleigh rides, movies, bowling, ice skating, ice shows and more. When it comes to lodging, Sun Valley offers everything from deluxe condos to charming multi-room cottages, including the iconic Sun Valley Lodge.
“WOW! The terrain park at Dollar with the family skier cross was a gas. Spent Christmas with the fam and the terrain was perfect for anyone.” See more Sun Valley reviews here.
Smugglers’ Notch, Vermont
Smugglers’ Notch in little Jeffersonville is a Green Mountain family favorite that offers an idyllic Vermont escape with a variety of kid-centric amenities making for a great winter getaway. From adaptive programs and lessons to babysitting and child care, “Smuggs’” delivers. The Teen Alley Teen Center (ages 13-19) caters to the young adults in the group, offering a supervised and centrally located gaming area in the Village. Condominium lodging options are within a quick walk or an on-demand Resort Shuttle ride to the Village.
“Our family of five has been going for four years now. The family events and ski instruction are second to none. The instructors are absolutely the best and have a way to teach the kids the love for skiing or boarding at all levels.” See more Smuggler’s Notch reviews here.
Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
Bretton Woods, New Hampshire’s largest ski area, offers 464 acres and 62 trails and is regarded as having some of the best grooming in the East with an average annual snowfall of 200 plus inches. The Mount Washington Hotel, if you remember your high school history, was the site of the 1944 Monetary Conference and has been totally refurbished. Kid-friendly winter activities include a slopeside climbing wall, ice skating, kids snowmobile park, tubing and more. Hobbits Ski & Snowboard School (ages 4 to 12) offers a variety of programs for the growing skier or rider and the Ski & Snowplay Program (ages 3 to 5) is perfect for younger kids in need of a relaxed introduction into winter sports.
“We have visited Bretton Woods for the last 13 years, on our own and with friends and family and we’ve all fallen in love with the variety of skiing and the friendliness of the resort.” See more Bretton Woods reviews here.
Okemo oozes “family.” The Southern Vermont ski resort’s Ski + Ride School offers programs for kids ages 6 months up to 14 years old. From the Penguin Playground Day Care (6 months to 4 years old) to AmplitudePLUS (7 to 14 years old), Okemo instructors are available to build skills and confidence in young skiers and riders. The Kids Night Out program (6 months to 13 years old in separate sessions by age) entertains kids with movies, pizza and activities in a state-licensed child care facility.
“Have been coming here for years with my family—best experience for young kids, great learning programs, well maintained and well-marked terrain.” See more Okemo reviews here.
Crystal Mountain Resort,Michigan
With over 2,600 acres of skiable terrain, the possibilities of adventure are endless at Crystal Mountain, located in Thomasville in Western Michigan. Over 11 percent of the terrain is beginner, and a designated portion of the mountain is just for beginners, making it a perfect spot for kids learning how to ski. Activities abound for kids of all ages through the winter months, including ice skating and laser tag. There’s even a horse-drawn Surrey in the evenings ending with hot chocolate and a campfire.
“I grew up learning to ski here. I live 1:30 minutes away and have been taking my kids here to learn how to ski. Great ski instructors. Great terrain. On mountain lodging if you want to spend the night. Good modern lifts.” See more Crystal Mountain reviews here.
Breckenridge Ski Resort, Colorado
Less than a 2 hour drive from the Denver metro area, Breck features a charming downtown area and over 11 restaurants to fuel your family’s adventure. With many ski in and ski-out lodging options, staying at the resort with no car is convenient. Childcare and lessons and lessons are available for children as well as a Mountain Top Children’s Museum and mountain coaster to keep kids of all ages occupied. Breck’s Kids Adventure Zone is adjacent to the popular green and blue runs. The younger kids will love Riparoo’s Forest with bridges and tunnels and the spooky haunted forest. Teens will enjoy Downstairs at Eric’s on Main Street with its arcade and pinball games.
“A mountain that is great for the family offering terrains for all levels of boarders and skiers. It also offers one of the best ski towns in the country.” See more Breckenridge reviews here.
Beaver Creek, Colorado
With terrain for all abilities and kid adventure zones scattered around the resort, Beaver Creek is among the top resorts in Colorado for families. Be sure to peruse the village shopping and enjoy ice skating and many other family activities that the resort offers. Beaver Creek is the luxurious and family-friendly sibling to Vail and the ride between them is only about 20 minutes with regular shuttles.
“They have nice diversity of trails for all levels. Some of the great things are that they have a nice amount of green trails at the peak of the mountain which you don’t get at many resorts. Also, you to hang around for the Apres hot coco and chocolate chip cookies. It’s what they’re known for.” Read more Bever Creek reviews here.
Venture across the border for a unique skiing experience for all ages at Tremblant, Quebec, Canada. Most notably, the resort dons a large European-vibe village with shops, restaurants and activities. On mountain, lodging makes it easy for the family to enjoy the resort during their stay.
“With its pedestrian village and tons of other activities, this place is second to none for a family vacation, summer or winter.” Read more Tremblant reviews here.
The indoor waterpark is among the resort’s shining stars, including a lazy river, hot tubs, water slides, a wave surfer and more. There’s a bar for parents who want to kick back and enjoy watching their kids have fun after a day of skiing, or even take the day off skiing to enjoy the unique activity. Ice skating at the indoor ice skating rink, ski school and a special learning zone also feature the resort’s family friendly nature.
“There is something for everybody at this resort! Whether you’re out on the snow or looking for something to do after the lifts are closed. Expert skiers in the family were adventuring all day and the kiddos had a blast in the beginner wooded trails. The customer service was phenomenal and it just seemed like everyone was happy to be there and having a great time.” Read more Jay Peak reviews here.
Winter Park, Colorado
This favorite Rocky Mountain ski resort for many people is just under a two-hour drive from Denver. There are activities for everyone in the family. Winter Park is home to the National Sports Center for the Disabled and has helped thousands of people become “abled” on skis. Kids up the age spectrum can ride ice bumper cars, go tubing, meet the Safety Patrol Dog Team, go ice fishing, soak in sulphur springs and much more besides, of course, skiing and snowboarding. Lessons are based on “guests-centered teaching” where they teach what members of the families want to learn or improve. The Winter Park side of the mountain is cruise-worth, while the Mary Jane side is more challenging.
“I love Winter Park. The terrain is soo very fun and challenging. I ski and snowboard and both are awesome to do at Winter Park. I especially love Mary Jane. Winter Park Rocks!!!!” Read more of Winter Park’s reviews here.
Mt. Bachelor, Oregon
The Pacific Northwest’s Mt. Bachelor in Central Oregon, a long snowball’s throw from Bend, has all the traditional ski school elements for every member of the family. The big plus for kids and teens are the Woodward Mountain Parks with all sorts of urban features. The banked slalom and flowing, twisting and turning features of the Volcano Adventure Zone are all family-friendly. Look for a buried VW bus in Peace Park. Consider a dog sled ride led by an Iditarod finisher.
“After riding here once I had to move from out of state so I could make this my local mountain. I’m a fan of Mt. bachelor!” Read more of Mt. Bachelor’s reviews here.