Snowy adventures are just a hop, skip and jump away! We’ve made it easy to plan the perfect family getaway. See our top ski resort picks and the key steps to decide which ski resort is right for you.
In just a few weeks, we'll be offering discounts on ski resort hotel rooms and car rentals — so hop back soon! Lift tickets and more coming for the 2017-2018 ski season!
Breathtaking views await! Sitting above Lake Tahoe on the California-Nevada border, Heavenly boasts the highest elevation and most skiable terrain in the area—within two hours of two major airports. With 24-hour casinos and on-mountain après ski parties, the fun never stops.
With an abundance of beginner and intermediate terrain, this smaller, village-style California ski resort near Lake Tahoe and some 200 miles from the San Francisco Bay Area, makes for an easy getaway and ideal introduction to the sport.
One of the world’s most famous ski resorts, it boasts fine dining, nightlife and shopping—plus plenty of ski terrain among its four peaks—Snowmass, Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands and Buttermilk. This former mining town is now the place to see and be seen.
Image ©Jeremy Swanson
Five peaks surround this picturesque former mining town just a hop, skip and a jump from Denver. The Victorian architecture of Main Street makes a cozy backtrop and nice respite from the varied ski resort terrain.
Widely recognized for having one of the best kids' ski programs in the country, Steamboat offers dedicated kids' terrain and lifts. It is also steeped in history. The oldest ski area in Colorado is also home to more than 150 springs, with some reaching up to 150 degrees.
Images ©Larry Pierce/Steamboat Ski Resort
Home to the U.S.’s largest independent film festival, this former mining town also boasts the largest ski area in the United States—with some 7,300 acres of skiable terrain—and is just 35 minutes from a major airport.
Nestled atop the Sierra Crest, this ski resort is home to Lake Tahoe’s lightest, driest and most plentiful snow. Kirkwood is known for its advanced terrain, including cliff drops and cornices.
Killer views and terrain are the hallmarks of this spectacular ski resort that boasts more than 6,000 skiable acres, including a mountain-top beginner area. Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows has one of the longest ski and snowboard seasons in Lake Tahoe.
This is luxury family skiing, tucked away from the rest of the world. Made up of three villages—Beaver Creek, Bachelor Gulch and Arrowhead—this ski resort has the quaint feel of an Alpine village but all of the modern conveniences.
Kids ski free at this resort just a hop, skip and a jump from Denver. With the largest nighttime ski operation in Colorado, there is plenty of powder time and a variety of terrain among its three mountains and five bowls.
One of the nation's top ski resorts, Vail is known for its vast terrain, including seven legendary back bowls and beginner skiing from its main bases. Modeled after a Bavarian town, the pedestrian-friendly Vail Village is upscale yet unpretentious.
While you can plan a last-minute family ski resort vacation, the earlier you decide, the more options you will have and the less you will pay. To determine which ski resort is right for you, consider:
The ski resorts’ seasons and average snowfall vary. This is especially important if you’re visiting early or late in the season. If you’ll be skiing during peak season, choose a ski resort with more lifts and consider adding days to account for additional travel time and crowds on the slopes.
Many ski resorts are at least a half-day’s travel time to the nearest major airport. If you’re planning a shorter visit, consider a ski resort near a major airport, such as Heavenly or Park City in Utah, or fly into a smaller airport.
If you’ll have a mix of skiers and non-skiers, consider a ski resort that offers more ski-in, ski-out accommodations, dining, shopping, nightlife, and additional activities such as tubing, ice skating or snow shoeing. You’ll also want to choose a resort that will offer ski lessons for your tadpole (ages vary) or sitter services for non-skiers (not all do). If you’ll have a mix of beginner to expert skiers, you’ll want a ski resort that offers a good mix of runs.
|Ski Season||Trails||# of Lifts||Childcare||Ski School||Known for its...||Distance |
|Heavenly California||Ski Season: Mid-Nov-Early Apr||Trails: ||# of Lifts 28||Childcare: 6 wks.-6 yrs.||Ski School: 3+ yrs.||Known for Its: Spectacular views of Lake Tahoe; "off-hill" activities (gambling!)||Distance to Airport: Reno/Tahoe -55 mi |
Sacramento - 115 mi
|Kirkwood California||Ski Season: Mid-Nov-Mid-Apr||Trails: ||# of Lifts 15||Childcare: Not available||Ski School: 3+ yrs.||Known for Its: Deep, dry snow; diverse & challenging terrain||Distance to Airport: Reno/Tahoe - 80 mi |
Sacramento - 107 mi
|Northstar California||Ski Season: Mid-Nov-Mid-Apr||Trails: ||# of Lifts 20||Childcare: 2 ys.-6 yrs.||Ski School: 3+ yrs.||Known for Its: Easy terrain & accessiblity (popular with first-time ski families)||Distance to Airport: Reno/Tahoe - 41 mi |
Sacramento - 114 mi
|Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows California||Ski Season: Mid-Nov to May||Trails: ||# of Lifts 42||Childcare: Not available||Ski School: 3+ yrs.||Known for Its: Abundant snowfall and spring skiing||Distance to Airport: Reno/Tahoe - 47 mi |
Sacramento 115 mi
|Aspen Snowmass Colorado||Ski Season: Nov-Mid-Apr||Trails: ||# of Lifts 43||Childcare: 8 wks.-4 yrs.||Ski School: 2+ yrs.||Known for Its: Fine dining, exclusive nightlife, chic ski & après scene||Distance to Airport: Aspen/Pitkin County - 3 mi |
Eagle County - 70 mi
Denver - 220 mi
|Beaver Creek Colorado||Ski Season: Oct–May||Trails: ||# of Lifts 25||Childcare: 2 mos.-6 yrs.||Ski School: 3+ yrs.||Known for Its: Tucked-away, 5-star locale (fresh-baked cookies après ski!)||Distance to Airport: Eagle County - 28 mi |
Denver - 131 mi
|Breckenridge Colorado||Ski Season Mid-Nov-Late Apr||Trails: ||# of Lifts 34||Childcare: 2 mos.-5 yrs.||Ski School (ages 5-adult): 3+ yrs.||Known for Its: Former mining, "real town;" affordability & easy accessiblity||Distance to Airport: Eagle County - 63 mi |
Denver - 102 mi
|Keystone Colorado||Ski Season: Oct-May||Trails: ||# of Lifts 20||Childcare: 2 mos.-6 yrs.||Ski School: 3+ yrs.||Known for Its: Night skiing; low-key, affordable, family-friendly experience||Distance to Airport: Eagle County - 70 mi |
Denver - 96 mi
|Steamboat Colorado||Ski Season: Late Nov-Mid-Apr||Trails: ||# of Lifts 18||Childcare: 6 mos.-6 yrs.||Ski School: 2+ yrs.||Known for Its: Laid-back cowboy roots, "champagne powder" & hot springs||Distance to Airport: Steamboat/Hayden - 24 mi |
Denver - 178 mi
|Vail Colorado||Ski Season: Oct–late Apr||Trails: ||# of Lifts 31||Childcare: 2 mos.-6 yrs.||Ski School: 3+ yrs.||Known for Its: Endless terrain, upscale yet welcoming village & après scene||Distance to Airport: Eagle County - 40 mi |
Denver - 120 mi
|Park City Utah||Ski Season: Mid-Nov–Mid-Apr||Trails: ||# of Lifts 41||Childcare: 2 mos.-6 yrs.||Ski School: 3+ yrs.||Known for Its: Extensive terrain; big-city amenities & Western glitz||Distance to Airport: Salt Lake City - 35 mi|
When you visit is the single biggest decision you can make around planning your family ski vacation, affecting which destination you choose, how many days you'll need, crowd levels and overall how much you pay for your trip.
* Snowfall amounts vary at this time, and there may not be any!
While a variety of accommodations are available at every destination, it's important to decide whether you want the pampering and convenience of a hotel vs. the affordability and space of a condo or vacation home. Some ski resort destinations are heavier on one versus the other. Some vacation condos offer ski lockers and shuttles to the ski resort, but generally if you want someone else to store your gear, want to be near the slopes and/or shuttles, you'll want to stay at a hotel. Keep in mind that slopeside and ski-in/ski-out accommodations will get you near the slopes, but may not be near ski school. If your tadpoles will be spending the bulk of their days at ski school, we think it's worth the splurge of staying at a nearby hotel, especially for a first visit.
While you can always purchase additional days for ski school, lift tickets and rental equipment, usually you will save more money the more days you stay and by purchasing in advance. Always do the math! Generally, if you plan to ski more than five days, you will likely save more by purchasing a season pass.
When it comes to getting to and from your ski resort destination, car rentals, shuttles and car services are all viable options. Shuttle and car services offer both group and private transport to the destination and charge per person. Renting offers the most flexibility, especially if you plan to visit other ski resorts or destinations. If you rent, consider an SUV or other 4-wheel drive option for winter road conditions. While many ski resorts are on major highways and driveable even with heavy snow, snow chains may be required during blizzard conditions.
Even skiers need a day off from the slopes, but if you have non-skiers or are planning a multi-generational trip, you'll want to make sure the ski resort has plenty of non-skiing fun to keep the whole family entertained. Most ski resorts nestled around villages or towns offer shopping, dining, spas and après ski options. Some offer fun winter activities such as scenic gondola rides, on-mountain dining, ice skating, ice tubing and other winter activities.
Images ©Larry Pierce/Steamboat Ski Resort×
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