A family ski trip offers the rare opportunity to spend quality time with every member of your family, including your significant other. In the morning, kids can improve their skills at ski schools, while you hit the slopes with your number one squeeze. In the afternoon, children can show off their new tricks while you ski together as a family. The best ski areas have gentle slopes for little skiers, first rate instructors to enhance skills of children ages 3 and up (in group or private lessons), childcare services for kids younger than 3, and more than enough activity to keep the kids busy when they need a break from the mountain. These 10 ski resorts, listed in no particular order, fit the bill in North America:

Written by Steve Jermanok
Since the opening of Stowe Mountain Lodge in 2008, arguably the premier ski-in/ski-out lodging in the Northeast, Stowe has transformed itself to a ski area for children of all ages, not just teenaged hot-doggers who want to throw themselves down those infamous double-black diamond runs, the Front Four. Next door to Stowe Mountain Lodge is the relatively new base lodge and Spruce Peak’s Cubs Day Care, where you can drop off kids ages 13 months to 3 years. Children 4 to 14 can take private lessons with either half- or full-day outings with qualified instructors. The skiing for families starts at the expanded terrain on Spruce Peak, before going on the Over Easy Gondola across Route 109, to hit the trails on Mount Mansfield, the original Stowe ski area. In late January, the 12-day Stowe Winter Carnival features a round of snow golf at the Stowe Country Club, snow volleyball, Super G races on Stowe Mountain and a large village block party.

Recommended Hotel: Stowe Mountain Lodge

It’s easy to figure out why families return to Okemo generation after generation, making it one of the most popular ski resorts in New England. The Okemo Ski + Ride School features an accomplished staff of more than 400 instructors. The heated indoor and outdoor pools, ice-skating rink and large indoor fitness area are well-loved after a day of skiing. The new Timber Ripper Mountain Coaster is a blast when you need a break from skiing. Then there are the two waffle huts on the mountain that kids adore. First and foremost is the varied terrain and the impeccable grooming that allows novice skiers to feel like Olympic downhill champions as you cruise down the long boulevards. Through the ingenuity of powerful snowmaking machines and all-night grooming, Okemo can turn adverse skiing conditions into a skiable surface, a feat that’s valued in New England.

Recommended Hotel: Okemo Jackson Gore Inn

The town of Park City seems to be running as smooth as ever, these days. This stems from Mother Nature’s benevolence and the deluge of snow the region received the past several years, close proximity to the Salt Lake City Airport (less than a 45-minute drive on I-80) and, of course, the fame that comes from hosting the Winter Olympic Games in 2002. The four-man bobsled run at Utah Olympic Park is open to the public, so you can get a feel of what it’s like to zip around the track, reaching speeds of 70 miles per hour. And, oh yes, there are hundreds of serpentine trails to choose from at the three ski areas that make up this family-friendly locale -- Park City, Deer Valley and the Canyons. Remarkably, many of the easiest trails start from the top of these peaks, so first-time skiers are rewarded with glorious mountain vistas. Yet, that’s just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. There’s also dogsledding, hot air balloon rides and the Old Town district that easily transports kids back to the days of the Wild West, when Park City was a big mining town.

Recommended Hotel: Waldorf Astoria

When skiers discuss really big ski areas in America, the conversation usually turns to Colorado’s Vail or Utah’s Park City. Rarely does Montana figure into the conversation. Who would have thought that the biggest single ski site in the U.S. is a hop, skip and a jump from Yellowstone National Park, in the southeastern corner of the state? Big Sky Resort and Moonlight Basin, two ski areas operating on opposite faces of 11,166-foot Lone Mountain, team up to offer a combined lift ticket that covers 5,750 acres, edging out Vail as the largest ski area in the country. But unlike Vail, which reports over 1.5-million skier visits annually, these Montana twins total less than 350,000 a year. Families come to this part of the world to leave the hectic pace of modernity behind and breathe in the crisp fresh air. Kids will enjoy the quiet runs, dog rescue demonstrations and on-mountain scavenger hunts. Parents will relish the ski-in/ski-out properties, where you can swoosh right up to your lodging. An added bonus is the one-hour drive to Yellowstone to cross-country ski or snowshoe with the wild bison, elk and moose who frequent the area in the winter.

Recommended Hotel: Summit at Big Sky

Get lost on Vail’s back bowls, a winter wonderland devoid of trees, and you feel like you just entered a Star Trek episode where Captain Kirk landed on the Arctic Circle. Or make those turns on the meticulously groomed and serpentine Riva Ridge, and you’ll reach that state of meditative bliss only attained by skiing long runs from an 11,570-foot peak. The apres-ski scene is also hard to top; a glorified theme park with a kids snowmobile track, an ice-skating rink 10,000 feet up the mountain, a tubing hill and Kids Adventure Zones, where children can ski or snowboard over bumps and twists in a make-believe mine and ancient Indian Burial Ground. To top it off, the resort offers fireworks on select evenings throughout the season. The stellar terrain and long list of attractions can attract crowds, especially on weekends, so consider heading 20 minutes down the road to Beaver Creek, which arguably runs the finest children’s ski school in the West. Ski-through tunnels and little slalom courses are several of the programs that make skiing fun.

Recommended Hotel: Four Seasons Resort Vail

By creating 30 new ski trails on 535 acres of Peak 6, Breckenridge gets the prize for greatest expansion prior to the 2014 ski season. But the real reason we like Breck is that the majority of those new trails are family-friendly, including eight nicely groomed blue (intermediate) cruisers, blue glades and even a rare blue bowl. At Breckenridge’s Ski & Ride School, which is geared toward kids ages 3 to 12, children gain confidence and skills to tackle the slopes and get to spend the day with the school mascot, Ripperoo. When children grow tired of skiing, they can go ice skating or hit the Breckenridge Recreation Center, which features two climbing walls, an indoor pool and slide, basketball, racquetball and tennis courts.

Recommended Hotel: One Ski Hill Place

Steamboat Springs has one of the premier teen programs in the States: “Rough Rider” clinics are offered daily for kids ages 13 to 18. Afterward, teens can mingle amongst themselves in a separate Night Owls program, partaking in such activities as tubing and indoor climbing. Not to be forgotten, children 4 to 12 have five kids-only lifts and special ski terrain around frontier-style forts. At night, the Kids Adventure Club features supervision, movies, games and snacks. Grab the family and check out the authentic Wild West town in Steamboat Springs, too. Also be on the lookout for the Family Snow Festival, usually happening over MLK Weekend.

Recommended Hotels: Steamboat Grand Resort and Condominiums

Bretton Woods ski area has doubled in size over the past decade, and is now the largest in New Hampshire. It recently expanded its glade skiing on Mt. Stickney, which sits directly across from Mt. Washington and offers some of the finest views in New England. Adding to the fun is a year-round canopy tour and a Kids Snowmobile Park. Opened last winter, it allows children between the ages of 4 and 13 to test their snowmobiling mettle at the Bretton Woods base area. Then there’s the highly acclaimed Nordic Center, with groomed trails that glide along streams and leave you looking up in awe at the mountains. Best of all is the chance to spend the night at the historic Omni Mount Washington Resort, a mere 112 years old. After your day on the slopes, head back to the resort to rave about your experience over a four-course meal in the formal dining room, while listening to the sounds of a piano player. Kids will love the gluttonous breakfast buffet in the morning.

Recommended Hotel: Omni Mount Washington Resort

Aspen has earned its reputation as one of the premier places to teach kids and their parents the skills necessary to ski the Rockies. Indeed, they cater to kids both on the mountain and off. The Family Zone on Snowmass is home to interactive kids’ trails, races, and a terrain park. Down at Snowmass village, the Treehouse Kids Adventure Center, unveiled several winters ago, has become a huge success. Themed rooms, such as one devoted to rock climbing and another to puppet shows, entertain all children, be they toddler or teen. Other activities include a guided snowmobile tour, ice skating and a family snowcat ride to a cabin, where you have a barbecue and Western sing-alongs.

Recommended Hotel: Hyatt Grand Aspen

Home to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, Whistler has come a long way since opening in 1966, with only one gondola, one chairlift and two T-bars. Today, Whistler and neighboring Blackcomb Mountains have a whopping 8,171 acres of skiing terrain and a mile-high vertical drop, both tops in North America. Whether you’re a novice or an Olympian, the terrain is varied enough to entertain all. Along with ski and snowboard schools offered to all ages, take advantage of Fresh Tracks, a chance to grab breakfast on the mountain and be the first to shred the slopes. Children will also like the tubing, horse-drawn sleigh rides, helicopter tours and the chance to zip line on the longest run in North America.

Recommended Hotel: Four Seasons Resort Whistler

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10 Best Family Ski Resorts
Stowe Mountain Lodge Reviews
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Okemo Jackson Gore Inn Reviews
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Waldorf Astoria Park City Reviews
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Summit at Big Sky Reviews
kidski - Sep 30th, 2013

First the good: 1. The mountain and skiing were nice. It wasn't crowded when we were there. 2. The staff were generally courteous and helpful. 3. Yeti dogs were great. 4. Breakfast buffets at the Summit were very nice. Good food and ... read more
Summit at Big Sky reviews
Four Seasons Resort Vail Reviews
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One Ski Hill Place Reviews
ChicFamilyTravels - Sep 1st, 2012

Our family of 5 planned a summer mountain vacation and after a lot of research could not find a place that was more suitable for families than One Ski Hill Place. Our family includes a 10 year old, 8 year old and a 2 year old that always puts a kink ... read more
One Ski Hill Place reviews
Steamboat Grand Resort & Condominiums Reviews
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Omni Mount Washington Resort Reviews
everkare23@charter.net - May 11th, 2013

My family stayed for two nights at the Omni Mount Washington in August 2012. It was absolutely wonderful, and I wish we could have stayed for a few more days. The rooms were spacious and well kept. The pool and hotel grounds were amazing. The ... read more
Omni Mount Washington Resort reviews
Hyatt Grand Aspen Reviews
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Four Seasons Resort Whistler Reviews
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