While some people start their calendar year when the first ski resorts open to the public and count the days in inches of snowfall, others of us are simply looking for a fun, convenient, and family-friendly place to play in the snow and enjoy some après ski. Here is our list of the top family ski resorts in North America for an unforgettable winter trip.
5. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Jackson Hole has a reputation for being a true skiers mountain. In many ways, this reputation is warranted. After all, Jackson Hole boasts steep chutes, challenging terrain, and the most continuous vertical of any ski mountain in the US, a staggering 4,139 feet! When the mountain first opened in 1966, there was no beginner or intermediate terrain. However, in the decades since, a lot has changed.
Today, Jackson Hole is a family-friendly, well-run, and easily accessible mountain. It offers an average annual snowfall of 475 inches, over 2500 skiable acres, a full-service Kids’ Ranch ski and snowboard program, and sophisticated lodging. Additionally, with Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks located right in their backyards, locals and visitors alike can take time off the slopes to explore the majestic beauty of nature. Catch a glimpse of elk, bighorn sheep, moose, deer, and maybe even a few sleepy bears.
Best For: Families looking for a blend of the authentic mountain town, phenomenal skiing, and conveniences of luxury resorts.
Insider Tips: Consider staying slopeside at the Hotel Terra Jackson or at the ultra-sophisticated Amangani. Larger families looking for a boutique hotel experience with all the amenities of a 5-star resort should stay at the Caldera House.
4. Park City, Utah
The largest ski resort in the US is also the most accessible. Families can make it from Salt Lake airport onto the slopes in under an hour. Because Park City offers 7300 skiable acres, the resort is perfect for a weekend getaway or a multi-week retreat. With over 300 trails collectively at Park City’s three ski areas, including Deer Valley, Park City Resort Mountain, and the Canyons, families are spoiled for choice and never have to wait long in lines. The trails are well laid out, marked, and thoughtfully interconnected. There are hundreds of trails to choose from beginners to experts and 355” of average snowfall to fill them.
Since becoming a part of the Vail Resorts, over $50 million was spent connecting Park city and the canyons via the Quicksilver Gondola. Although easily accessed, fewer skiers venture over to the Canyons, making this a perfect spot for those looking for fresh powder, isolation, and challenging terrain. Park City is truly a great ski resort for families.
Park City boasts one of the best ski schools in the country and offers various lesson options for varying ages and levels. Family lessons, private lessons, children’s ski school, adult group lessons, and peak-to-peak guided ski instruction are offered daily throughout the season. Guides and Instructors at Park City Resort Mountain have clear identification. Instructors wear blue, and guides wear red with an “I” on the back of their jackets.
With a quaint and beautiful downtown, easily accessible airport, dozens of lodging options, fantastic restaurants, and a reputable ski school, Park City is one of the best choices for your families’ ski adventure. It deserves a nomination as one of the most incredible family-friendly ski resorts in North America.
Best For: Families looking for a quick getaway over a long weekend, those wanting to mingle with celebrities over Sundance, and advanced skiers seeking a multitude of options.
Insider Tips: Since Park City is an internationally renowned destination, there is no shortage of luxury accommodation options for families of all sizes. The St. Regis, Deer Valley is a quintessential mountain retreat nestled in the private Deer Crest community. Perfect for families who enjoy their time off the slopes as much as on the slopes, it offers a 14,000 square foot spa to relax and rejuvenate. Likewise, the Montage Deer Valley is a refined hotel set amongst the trees and crowd-free slopes above Park City. The Waldorf Astoria Park City, on the other hand, is situated right at the base of the Canyons Village at Park City Resort. It offers slopeside access to the largest ski mountain in the United States.
3. Keystone, Colorado
Keystone is a small, well-organized, extraordinarily family-friendly, and quaint locals mountain. Unfortunately, it is often overlooked by people seeking a destination ski experience. Located just 90 minutes from Denver airport, Keystone is also one of Colorado’s most economically attractive options. Kids 12 and under ski for free when families book two or more nights of lodging with the resort. Although smaller than many other mountains, Keystone offers various terrain options for all skiers, from novice to advanced.
Boasting an average of 235 inches of snowfall a year and over 3000 skiable families with older kids will have a blast skiing at the largest night skiing operation in the world. Those with younger children can enjoy adventure Point tubing. As a bonus, the resort also offers some of the best glade skiing in the country. There are options to fit everyone’s needs and budget with group and private lesson options, women’s programs, and local kid’s programs.
Best For: Families looking for excellent skiing at budget-friendly prices.
2. Breckenridge, Colorado
Breckenridge is a perennial favorite for those seeking a top-notch ski experience, authentic mountain village atmosphere, and a consistently excellent chance of powder. The mountain has 2900 acres of skiable terrain, 187 trails, and 34 chair lifts with four terrain parks. On average, the mountain receives over 300” of snow per year.
Stay in the historic downtown (the largest in Colorado), take the free gondola to the mountain village, or stay in the ski resort for ski-in access lodging options.
Lift tickets at Breckenridge are pricey. Therefore, in-the-know travelers purchase season passes and ski as many days as their heart desires. Although Breckenridge offers plenty of options for unforgettable days on the slopes, it is also conveniently located for a day trip to Keystone, A-basin, Vail, and Copper Mountain. So even the most hard-core skiers are spoiled for choice.
However, if you want to be considered one of the best family-friendly Ski Resorts in North America, you must offer more than just great powder. To have the wholesome Breckenridge experience make sure to stop for a Crepe in town. The long lines and visitors huddled together under heat lamps are all part of the charm.
Best For: Families seeking an authentic Colorado old town, plentiful shopping and dining options, and easy access to surrounding resorts.
Insider Tips: Breckenridge sits at an elevation of 9600 feet with a summit elevation of 12,998 feet. If you are looking for a luxury hotel experience, great shopping, and many dining options but worry about the altitude, consider staying in the nearby town of Vail. Although located only 40 minutes away, Vail’s base elevation is 8150 feet, while the peak elevation is 11,570 feet.
The Grand Hyatt hotel in Vail offers premier skiing, on-property ski lift, ski concierge, rentals, and ticket office. In addition, since Vail Resorts own both mountains, you can purchase an Epic Pass and ski both mountains.
1. Whistler- Blackcomb, Canada
The largest ski resort in North America connects two mega mountains Whistler and Blackcomb, via the highest altitude gondola. Surprisingly Whistler-Blackcomb is also quaint, charming, and non-pretentious. The resort offers over 200 runs, 8171 acres of terrain, adventure parks, mini terrain parks, and a tree fort playground. It also averages an astounding 461” of snow per year.
Those who visit Whistler usually fall in love and end up returning year after year. The prices are relatively reasonable, the ski school possibly the best on the continent and the restaurants varied and exceptionally good. Mountain village also offers ice skating, festivals, and a world-class weekly fire and ice show. Athletes flip and twist through burning rings of fire and end the night with an impressive fireworks display. All this makes Whistler a destination worthy of the coveted number 1 spot of the best family-friendly ski resorts in North America.
Best For: Families who want a fantastic all-around ski experience with plenty of non-ski entertainment options.
Insider Tips: Book your stay at the Fairmont Chateau in Whistler and reserve a day for non-ski activities. From dog-sledding to ice skating, the town has many options to keep everyone in the family entertained.
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