Great ski resorts with fun, kid-friendly activities.
By Mara Gorman
Snowtubing at Camelback Mountain (Camelback Mountain)
If you’ve been reluctant to book a ski vacation for your family because not everyone knows how to ski, because you’re not sure what the weather will be like, or because you’re worried that your kids won’t want to spend all day, every day of your holiday skiing or riding, you’re in luck.
Ski resorts know that families are looking for more than ski trails and lessons when they go on a winter vacations and more and more of them now offer myriad fun winter activities.
Here are some examples of things to try on your next family ski vacation — and where you’ll find them:
Snow tubing or sledding
You don’t have to know how to ski to head down the mountain at top speeds. Many resorts now offer tubing or sledding hills where kids of all ages can safely and comfortably enjoy a thrilling ride (and many of them have carpet lifts or rope tows that carry riders to the top, so little legs won’t get tired).
You’ll find one of the biggest tubing areas at Camelback Mountain’s Snowtubing Park in eastern Pennsylvania, which has 42 lanes. On the smaller side, but higher up, the tubing park at Keystone Resort’s Adventure Point in Colorado offers six lanes with varying degrees of steepness, a covered magic carpet ride back to the top, and plenty of rocking tunes that create a festive atmosphere.
Dog sledding or sleigh rides
Dog sledding in Breckenridge, Colorado (Photo: Breckenridge)
If mushing a team of huskies is a dream of yours, you can fulfill your fantasy in Breckenridge, Colorado, where local outfitter GoodTimes Adventures will lead you on a tour of the Swan River Valley.
Prefer to snuggle up under a blanket and enjoy a slightly tamer ride? In Jackson Hole, Wyoming you can tour the National Elk Refuge, where 5,000 elk spend the winter, in a horse-drawn sleigh. Or enjoy spectacular views of the Victoria Glacier at Lake Louise, Alberta in Canada.
If you prefer a slightly faster approach to checking out the mountains, snowmobile tours may be for you. At Sunday River in Maine, there are hundreds of miles of groomed trails and numerous places to rent snowmobiles.
Prefer a guided tour? Try the Top of the Rockies at Vail, where a guide will take you up to 12,500 feet. And the Mount Hood Ski Bowl in Oregon has kiddie snowmobiles and a contained oval track that are designed for your child to try riding by him- or herself.
Riding a winter coaster
Timber Ripper Mountain Coaster at Okemo Mountain (Photo: Okemo Mtn Resort)
Some ski resorts know there are families who want to enjoy the thrills of an amusement park vacation in the snow and are satisfying the need for speed with winter coaster rides. The Timber Ripper Mountain Coaster at Okemo Mountain Resort in southern Vermont zips through the trees on 3,100 feet of track. The Alpine Coaster at Park City Mountain Resort in Utah curves and loops through the Wasatch Mountains.
Winter Ziptrek at Whistler (Ziptrek)
Had enough of skiing or riding under the trees? Why not zoom through the top of the snow-covered canopy instead – with no leaves to get in the way, the views are amazing. Zipline Adventure Tours at Hunter Mountain in New York State claims to have the fastest and highest zipline in North America with over 4.6 miles of lines. The Winter Ziptrek at Whistler in British Columbia, Canada has a variety of different tours including one in the evening; participants wear headlamps.
These tours often have height and weight requirements; check in advance if your child is old and big enough to participate.
FunZone at Smuggler’s Notch (Smuggler’s Notch Resort )
Yes, you read that right. For days when your children just don’t want to be outside, there are resorts that offer indoor adventure centers complete with bouncy houses, obstacle courses, and slides.
Smuggler’s Notch Resort in Vermont may rule the roost here with their huge FunZone has a giant slide, a pirate ship just for younger children, and a 45-foot obstacle course. Snowshoe Mountain Ski Resort in West Virginia includes a climbing wall and Eurobungy in their Big Top indoor fun area.
(MORE: Look for the perfect family-friendly ski resort and make your winter vacation a memorable one.)
The resorts mentioned here all have a multitude of other activities for families that include things like naturalist-guided snowshoe tours, skating, indoor pools, sing alongs, snow forts, and fireworks. When you’re planning your family ski vacation, be sure to check the resort’s website to see what kind of activities they offer.
If you will be visiting during a holiday week or on a weekend it usually pays to book ahead as space may be limited. And some resorts offer package deals that include discounts on activities.
Mara Gorman, the author of the The Family Traveler’s Handbook featuring everything you need to plan the perfect family vacation, contributed this to MiniTime.