Skiing can be intimidating -- both skill-wise and money-wise -- especially if your family is new to the sport. Luckily, most ski resorts offer trails and programs for beginners, many of them tailored to children specifically. More ski resorts have begun to offer additional activities for families, too, both on and off the mountain, along with packages and promotional discounts for opportunities to save. These are our top picks for family ski resorts in 2015/2016.
Okemo Mountain Resort - Ludlow, Vt.
Okemo Mountain Resort is an all-season, destination resort that caters to new skiers with programs separated by age group: 3 (Little Dippers), 4 to 6 (Snow Stars) and 7 to 14 (Mountain Explorers). It also offers a mountain coaster, ice-skating, snow tubing and kids' snowmobiling, along with restaurants and Kids Night Out -- a childcare program that allows mom and dad to enjoy a romantic dinner on the mountain.
Recommended Hotel: Jackson Gore Village
Jackson Gore Village
Stratton Mountain Ski Resort - Stratton, Vt.
Part of Stratton Mountain Ski Resort is located at the highest peak in Southern Vermont, yet 41 percent of its terrain is classified novice; another 31 percent of it is designed for intermediate skiers. Both group and private lessons are available to beginners, as are seasonal programs separated by age group. When it's time for a break from the slopes, families can take a dip in the resort's pool or head to the postcard-perfect Village of Stratton, where restaurants await visitors in search of hot chocolate and other comfort food. In 2016, the Stratton Jitney will make its debut, operating between Manhattan and the mountain.
Recommended Hotel: The Black Bear Lodge
The Black Bear Lodge
Camelback Mountain Resort - Tannersville, Pa.
Camelback Mountain Resort offers all the necessities for a successful ski vacation in the Poconos -- ski and snowboard lessons, tubing, two terrain parks and a mountain coaster (rides are self-controlled - go as fast or as slow as you want!). There are also several options for dining and accommodations, including the new Camelback Lodge & Indoor Water Park. Spend your days on the slopes and your nights on the slides!
Recommended Hotel: Camelback Lodge & Indoor Water Park
Camelback Lodge & Indoor Water Park
Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort - Hancock, Mass.
Located in the Northern Berkshires of Massachusetts (less than hour from Albany, New York), Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort is a must-visit ski resort for families -- particularly those with learning skiers. Ski and snowboard lessons are available to children ages 3 to 14, and include lunch and hot chocolate breaks. When it's time for the whole family to rejoin, grab a bite to eat at John Harvard's Restaurant & Brewery (located at the Country Inn, also on the mountain), or relax by the fire pit with S'mores.
Recommended Hotel: Country Inn at Jiminy Peak
Beaver Creek Resort - Beaver Creek, Colo.
Lessons for skiing and snowboarding are just the beginning of the fun at Colorado's Beaver Creek Resort. The expansive resort also offers kids' programming via Beaver Creek Loves Kids and Beaver Creek Loves Teens, available at peak visitation times. Activities include pizza parties, arts and crafts, and excursions on the mountain. The fun continues with ice-skating, snowshoeing, themed events (don't miss WinterFest) and even a children's museum. There's certainly no shortage of lodging for families either, from vacation rentals to luxury hotels. Fun Fact: The Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort & Spa offers S'mores Happy Hours!
Recommended Hotel: Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort & Spa
Park Hyatt Beaver Creek Resort & Spa
Badger Pass Ski Area - Yosemite National Park, Calif.
Let the kids experience a special piece of Yosemite National Park: Badger Pass Ski Area. It is the oldest ski resort in California, and its small size makes it a prime place to take your newbie skiers. Children can participate in the Badger Pups Downhill Ski/Snowboard Program, which includes two lessons and is designed for ages 4 to 6, or attend the All Day Kids Camp that's offered on holidays and weekends. While the kids learn to ski, try cross-country skiing or snowboarding. Bonus: Guests who book two nights at a local hotel ski free at Badger Pass.
Recommended Hotel: Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite
Tenaya Lodge at Yosemite
Greek Peak Mountain Resort - Cortland, N.Y.
Greek Peak Mountain Resort features Junior Ride and Ski School for children as young as 3, and families can enjoy sledding, snowshoeing, snow tubing or riding a fat bike -- designed to traverse snow and other rough surfaces. Babysitting services are available for future skiers. The fun of visiting Greek Peak also includes plummeting down the waterslides and floating along the lazy river at Hope Lake Lodge's Cascades Indoor Water Park, located right at the ski resort.
Recommended Hotel: Hope Lake Lodge
Hope Lake Lodge
Smugglers' Notch - Jeffersonville, Vt.
Smugglers' Notch in Vermont is a dream destination for skiing families -- and with good reason. The resort offers several incentives for families, such as Kids' Night Out, a childcare service with dinner and activities, and a FamilyFest Package that includes lodging, lift tickets, activities and more. Children as young as 2 and a half can learn to ski, and all new skiers are placed in lessons with other children their age. When teens aren't ice-skating, snowmobiling or Airboarding, they can hang at Teen Alley, where there are video games, music, movies, organized events and new friends to meet.
Recommended Hotel: Smugglers' Notch Resort
Northstar California Resort - Truckee, Calif.
Northstar California Resort provides lessons for all skill sets -- even the best of the best can brush up on their moves. And they'll want to do so, considering this resort has nearly 100 trails, 27 percent of which are advanced. Sixty percent are designed for intermediate skiers, however, making it an ideal spot for families who love to ski. Whether this is your first or fiftieth visit to a ski resort, you'll enjoy the recently added progression park, designed with children and families in mind, along with a Family Apres Snow Play area where families can play games, listen to music and more.
Recommended Hotel: BEST WESTERN PLUS Truckee-Tahoe Hotel
Aspen/Snowmass Ski Resort - Snowmass Village, Colo.
New for 2015/2016, Aspen/Snowmass Ski Resort has announced a Kids Ski Free promotion. Book accommodations (hotels, lodges, condos and homes) via Stay Aspen Snowmass, and children ages 7 to 12 will receive free lift tickets when their gear is rented at Four Mountain Sports, located onsite. Families can also get a 30 percent discount on rates for children's ski and snowboard group lessons when they purchase lessons for a minimum of seven days. The perks for families continue with free skiing for kids under age 6 and Very Important Kids Snowmass (VIK), which provides free activities for kids and a 10-percent discount on Sunday night family dinners.
Recommended Hotel: Limelight Hotel
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10 Best Ski Resorts for Families in 2015-2016
Written by Amanda Geronikos