Skiing is a great way to get the family outdoors and enjoy some winter fun together. But if your kids are entirely new to the sport, it can create several challenges and require more patience on your part. That’s why choosing the right ski resort that still provides enough of a challenge for you but also has terrain suitable for your children is important to consider.
There are several ski resort locations around the U.S that do a fabulous job catering to families with kids. Here’s our Ski Kids Guide to help make your family’s first ski trip a success. From where to ski to gear to make the experience better, we’ve got you covered!
Best Ski Mountains for Kids
Some resorts are more kid friendly than others. As you are planning your trip, think about what is most important for your family. Is it having fun off mountain activities? Or, is it being located in a ski in/ ski out property? Is it an amazing ski school? Is it wide open green ski runs? What is best for your family will vary depending on the skiing ability and ages of the kids, as well as priorities of the family as a whole.
Beaver Creek, Colorado
From a wide variety of fantastic beginner terrain to fun trick parks and glades carved out just for kids, Beaver Creek knows how to welcome families.
Kids love Jack Rabbit Alley with wagons and tepees to ski through, all in the midst of the forest.
There’s not much better a treat than a warm chocolate chip cookie as you come off the mountain, except maybe one as you are heading up. Fresh out-of-the-oven chocolate chip cookies are served at the base of the mountain at 3 p.m. daily.
Both the terrain on the mountain and the amenities make Beaver Creek our favorite mountain for kids to learn to ski.
Snowmass is a slopeside ski village that runs up the base of this expansive ski mountain run by Aspen Skiing Company. It is the most family friendly of the Aspen area mountains, as well as the largest with 3,339 skiable acres and 4,406 vertical feet. Snowmass is home to the Treehouse Kids’ Adventure Center which offers daycare, ski school, and a host of other activities for kids.
There is a wide variety of terrain, much of which is ideal for beginners and kids. The slopes are convenient to lodging. There are so many fun things for families to do in the village from ice skating and game rooms to roasting S’mores. And, there’s lots of fantastic food including restaurants that the kids will also love.
If you’re searching for one of the top ski destinations in the country for your family, I’ve got just the answer. Vail, Colorado is a world-class ski resort that still has plenty to offer beginners and experts alike. This massive resort has over 5,200 acres of skiable terrain, making it one of the largest in the United States. And while it may be large, the resort is still very family-friendly.
Vail offers a variety of beginner-friendly slopes and amenities, such as a children’s ski school and equipment rentals. The resort also has a number of other activities that the whole family can enjoy, such as ice skating, snowmobiling, and dog sledding.
But with its expansive back bowls, we think teens and kids who are more independent skiers will love Vail most.
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
While Steamboat Springs is known for ranches and champagne powder, kids and adults alike also enjoy the historic town and local hot springs. Steamboat Mountain boasts 17 lifts, 170 trails and 2965 acres of skiable terrain.
I’d recommend that more advanced skiers take advantage of night skiing for a unique experience.
The Steamboat Grand at the base of the ski resort boasts a variety of condo configurations ideal for families. Here ski valet takes your skis and poles to the base of the mountain for you. No schlepping of kids ski gear necessary.
Your kids are sure to discover not just one or two, but three candy stores between the base of the mountain and downtown.
There’s also a great sledding hill right in downtown. And, no shortage of fun events.
Breckenridge Resort, Colorado
Breckenridge Resort, Colorado is another excellent choice for a family ski trip. The resort has over 2,900 acres of skiable terrain, making it one of the largest in North America.
And like Vail, it also offers a variety of beginner-friendly slopes and amenities. These include a children’s ski school, equipment rentals, and childcare services. In addition to skiing, the whole family can enjoy a number of other activities at Breckenridge. These include ice skating, snowboarding, sledding, and tubing.
But lift lines can get long during peak ski dates. Plan to visit during a less busy time to avoid lines.
Deer Valley, Utah
This upscale resort that’s located in Park City, Utah is very family-oriented, even providing skiing opportunities for toddlers. There are plenty of amenities and activities geared toward children including their Children’s Center, Adventure Trails, and Adventure Camp. Deer Valley also has a childcare program that has instructors that will teach your children how to ski and they’ll certainly be excited about the kid-friendly eats and the hot cocoa afterward!
One of the largest ski resorts in New England, Sugarloaf Mountain is perfect for families who want to hit the slopes. They offer a wide variety of skiing and snowboarding lessons for kids of all ages as well as Kids Night Out events. After a long day of skiing, the family can relax in one of their spacious condos.
Big Sky, Montana
Big Sky, Montana is a great choice for families with young children who are just starting to ski. The resort has a wide variety of beginner-friendly slopes and a number of amenities specifically geared toward families. And, because it’s located in the beautiful state of Montana, you can be sure that there will be plenty of snow.
The resort offers several beginner-friendly trails, as well as a number of amenities specifically geared towards families. These include a children’s ski school, child care services, and rentals of equipment specifically designed for kids. The resort also offers a number of other activities that the whole family can enjoy, such as tubing, ice skating, and snowshoeing.
Okemo is arguably one of the best ski resorts to take your kiddos to along the eastern part of the U.S. They provide tons of entertainment for the little ones and some of the best skiing and snowboarding opportunities in the area.
The resort has a number of beginner-friendly trails, as well as children’s ski school and equipment rentals. And when everyone is ready for a break from the slopes, there are plenty of other activities to enjoy, such as ice skating, sledding, and snowmobiling. This is a favorite from some of our readers, so we added it to the kid’s ski guide!
Tips for a Successful Kids Ski Trip
Even more important than choosing the best ski resort for your family is being prepared. Cold fingers or toes can ruin what might otherwise be a successful ski day.
These are several helpful ideas that would not only keep your kids warm and comfortable but also ensure that everyone in your family has a great time.
- Get the right ski gear for your kids. This includes not only the proper clothing but also the right type of skis and poles. If you’re not sure what to get, ask a salesperson at your local ski shop. They should be able to set you up with everything you need.
- Make sure your kids are properly clothed. This means dressing them in layers, with a waterproof outer layer. Moisture wicking base layers are key. Ski socks and warm gloves (mittens keep little fingers warmest) are just as important. Gaitors or balaclavas keep cold from neck.
- Choose the right mountain. If you’re not sure which mountain is best for your family, ask around or do some research online. There are many factors to consider, such as the size of the mountain, the type of terrain, and the amenities that are offered.
- Don’t skip out on lessons. Lessons are a great way to introduce your kids to skiing or help them improve their skills.
- Have a plan. Before heading up to the mountain, it’s a good idea to have a plan for what you’re going to do each day. This will help to keep everyone organized and on track.
- Be prepared. This includes being familiar with the mountain, having a map of the area, and knowing the trails. It’s also a good idea to have a first-aid kit on hand in case of any accidents.
These tips are all an important part of any ski kid’s guide. Skiing for yourself is one thing but teaching a kid everything they need to know about skiing is another thing.
More Skiing Tips
- 9 Life Lessons Learned Skiing with Kids
- How to Prevent Altitude Sickness Skiing
- Where to find affordable ski lessons on Colorado
Ski Gear for Kids
We touched on important gear above. But here’s a more comprehensive list.
Skis & Snowboards
If you only ski a couple of times a year then definitely rent skis. Ski rental pricing varies primarily by proximity to slopes.
Kids are still growing and in their younger years will need different sized boots and skis or snowboards every season.
But if you live near a ski slope and ski regularly you have a couple of options. Larger ski shops will offer seasonal rentals. These can sell out quickly. So plan in advance for this option. Some ski rental shops will also offer trade in programs. This is what we did for our kids. We paid full price for their gear the first year and then would trade it in and get 50% off of the next year’s purchase.
While kids can’t ski without skis, they shouldn’t ever ski without a helmet. Not only do helmets keep their heads safe, but they also provide warmth. Fortunately these can last a few ski seasons as there is some adjustability. We like the Smith and POC brands for ski helmets. But just look for the MIPS rating for the most safety.
Layers are key with ski clothing. You’ll want a waterproof outer layer, a warm mid layer and an inner moisture wicking layer. Avoid cotton. Ski socks are best even if they seem thin. They are designed to keep toes warm in ski boots. Mittens win over gloves if your kids will wear them.
Skiing is a great way to spend time with your family and create lasting memories. By following these tips and choosing any one of these family-friendly resorts, you can ensure that everyone has a great time on your next ski trip. Can you think of any other ski resorts that are perfect for families or any other tips for children that would be helpful? I’d love to hear from you! What would you add to this ski kid’s guide?