There are plenty of reasons to love family ski trips: they’re active, exciting, scenic, and often involve downing comfort food and cozying up to a fire. They can be fun for kids—and adults—of different ages.
But what if you’re a non-skier, have an injury or only like to be on the slopes for a morning or two? You can still enjoy the snow. As an avid skier with three kids who ski and snowboard, I find the most enjoyable mountain resorts offer activities to meet everyone’s interests and needs, whether on or off the slopes. Sleigh rides, snowshoe treks, and tubing hills are just a few of the extra winter activities you’ll find at these seven versatile resorts.
Mammoth Mountain, California
The name says it all: This resort has more than 150 trails for all levels throughout its 3,500 acres of skiable terrain. Adults and kids over 3 can learn to ski or snowboard at any of the three base lodges–Main, Canyon and Eagle—and there’s also an Adaptive Ski School. Non-skiers can still catch awesome views on a Panorama Gondola ride to the summit, where there’s a cafe and interpretive center about the Sierra Nevada. Mammoth also offers snowmobile tours, luxury snowcat rides to a snowy picnic spot, and Woolly’s Tube Park, a high-speed tubing park with a snack bar (hot chocolate!) and a heated deck. In Mammoth Lakes, check out the ice skating rink then duck into the Mammoth Brewing Company for craft on draft. mammothmountain.com
Smugglers’ Notch Resort, Vermont
Popular with East Coast families, this northern Vermont resort has more than 1,000 acres of terrain and reliable snow. Smugglers’ main draw is the skiing, but there’s also snowboarding, snowshoeing and other snowsports for kids and adults, as well as bonfire warm ups, games, and fireworks. Adventurous kids 12 and older will love airboards, a new way to carve down the mountain. The lightweight, A-shaped airboard is like a boogie board for the snow, and is easy to maneuver. Have little kids? Children under 3 can spend the day at the Treasures childcare program while you, ahem, chill. smuggs.com
Steamboat boasts it has produced 98 winter Olympians, more than any other town in North America. But you don’t have to be an expert skier to navigate the mountain, which has plenty of beginner and intermediate groomed trails. If you don’t ski, you can still enjoy a gondola ride up Mount Werner; it stops at Thunderhead Lodge, a good spot for lunch with a view for the whole family. After a day on the slopes, enjoy a soak in the Old Town Hot Springs, the only hot springs we know of featuring waterslides. Cap off the day with a Haymaker Sleigh Ride Dinner. Snuggle under thick blankets as two draft horses pull a sleigh through snowy fields to a Western feast at the clubhouse. steamboat.com
Taos, New Mexico
Encompassing more than 1,200 skiable areas, Taos is an independently owned and operated ski resort that pampers families on and off the slopes. Whether kids take ski/ride lessons or just want to play, the Rio Hondo Learning Center is a full-service children’s center. It has new play spaces, fresh food service and even nap rooms for little ones. Getting there is half the fun: The gondolita (basically a mini gondola) transports people from the main base area to the children’s center. Rounding out family fun is the new Eis Haus ice-skating rink for all ages and abilities. Afterwards, warm up by the built-in fireplaces. skitaos.com
Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
Bretton Woods is New Hampshire’s largest ski area, with 464 acres for skiing and snowboarding. It’s also home to the grand and historic Omni Mount Washington Hotel. The resort has a range of fun winter activities, including snowbiking, canopy tours, and snowshoeing. For a more laid-back family activity, take a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the resort’s snowy grounds. brettonwoods.com
Solitude Mountain Resort, Utah
Among Utah’s many family-friendly ski resorts is Solitude Mountain Resort, located in the heart of the Wasatch Mountains—yet just 40 minutes from the Salt Lake City airport. The cozy, secluded village has numerous lodging options for quick access to the mountain. Aside from skiing, a fun way to explore the snowy forest (and get in some steps) is on snowshoes. The Solitude Nordic & Snowshoe Center offers snowshoe rentals, guided tours, and 10 km of dedicated snowshoe trails. solitudemountain.com
Club Med Québec Charlevoix, Canada
Debuting this month, Club Med’s first resort in Canada ensures a hassle-free family ski vacation, Québec style. Situated in Le Massif de Charlevoix region, the all-inclusive resort offers unlimited ski-in/ski-out access, lift tickets, and group lessons for skiing (4 and older) and snowboarding ( 8 and older). Experience emblematic Québec activities like ice-skating, dog sledding, and sugar visits (featuring traditional cuisine and maple treats). Also included are children’s programs and a 25-yard heated indoor pool. As the sun sets, rendezvous for dinner at the family restaurant Terroir & Co for local cheeses and charcuteries, freshly baked cookies, and Québec’s famous maple taffy. clubmed.us