From high-fives on the chairlift to swooshing down the mountain, there’s nothing like a ski getaway for wintertime family bonding. Whether you’re a seasoned ski family or have little ones hitting the slopes for the first time, being together on the mountain is priceless. Choosing the right ski resort for your family can be the difference between the best day ever and a total disaster, so we’ve got you covered with our top picks for best ski resorts for families. From après ski s’mores to mascot-themed ski runs, these ski resorts are paving the way when it comes to family fun. Scroll on to see them all.
Snow Summit — Big Bear Lake, CA
Hit the beach in the morning and be slope-side in the afternoon! Under three hours from Los Angeles and San Diego, Big Bear is a winter wonderland in the San Bernardino National Forest. Big Bear Mountain Resort offers two ways to get on the snow with their twin properties, Snow Summit and Bear Mountain. Our choice for families is Snow Summit, with over 240 acres of skiable terrain for all ability levels and home to five moving carpets. With the largest learning area in Southern California, beginner skiers will have a breeze learning on terrain suited just for them.
After an epic day on the slopes, check out their Grizzly Ridge Tubing Park, where snow enthusiasts of all ages will love taking a magic carpet ride up the mountain and swooshing down on a high-speed tube. Make sure to check their events schedule for special activities like night sessions and Movies in the Meadow, a free movie series under the stars.
Good to know: Big Bear Lake is a year-round playground. Whether you want a cozy ski cabin or lakeside retreat, check out Big Bear Lake Lodging for perfect family-sized accommodations. Take a peek at all the fun things to do in the summer by checking out our guide here.
Beaver Creek — Avon, CO
With full childcare options, top of the line ski school for beginners, and the incredible Rocky Mountains at your ski tips, Beaver Creek is an ideal spot for a family snow-cation. For the tiniest tots and kids who aren’t quite ready to hit the slopes, the Small World Play School is a fully certified childcare facility with three groups for kids ages two months to six years. While you're there, check out Red Buffalo Park, a 200-acre family learning area. In true Colorado fashion, it’s all about the elevation at this park, accessed by a high-speed quad lift. At 11,440 feet, all the views are breathtaking. Families will find snow sculptures along the 13 trails that make up the beginning and intermediate terrain here. Add in a Ski School Skills Zone, dedicated Kids Adventure Zone and a Cookie Cabin (exclusive for Beaver Creek Ski School students to enjoy), and you may never want to get off this mountain!
Good to Know: Every day at 3 p.m. enjoy complimentary Cookie Time—where chefs serve trays of warm, fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies!
Sugarloaf — Carrabassett Valley, ME
There’s a reason why so many families drive several hours to Carrabassett Valley each weekend. Not only is Sugarloaf fantastic for adults, but it’s even more fun for families. Little rippers are tough at Sugarloaf, and tots as young as three can enroll in their Perfect Turn learn-to-ski and snowboard programs. Adult clinics and inclusive ski programs for individuals with autism are also available. Beginners will love the mellow Moosecaltor conveyor lift, and once they’re ready, take a family ski down Moose Alley, home to the resort’s mascot’s log cabin. After a day well-spent on the slopes, enjoy après ski at The Bag & Kettle, newcomer Hunker Down and fresh-made donuts at The Eighty 8 Donut Cafe. Or, head down the road to The Rack, owned by Olympic gold medalist Seth Wescott.
Good to know: When the weather gets extreme, head indoors to the Anti-Gravity Complex and let the kids bounce off all that hot cocoa on the giant trampolines.
Park City Mountain Resort — Park City, UT
Under an hour from the Salt Lake City airport, Park City is a haven for families looking to hit the slopes. The city is home to Deer Valley Resort, the Canyons and Park City Mountain Resort, which is one of our favorite mountains for beginners. Their Ultimate Ski Lesson packages are the perfect way for kids ages three & up to learn the ropes on skis (or a snowboard once they’re four). Plus, the resort added an enclosed surface lift and designated a sweet trail for beginner use only. It’s the perfect spot for your newbie to take everything he learned and put it to practice under the watchful guise of mom or dad.
Good to Know: Check out the new High Meadow Family Fun Zone at Canyons Village, a dedicated learning area with gentle slopes, new lifts and snowmaking capabilities to make ideal terrain for beginners.
Smugglers’ Notch — Smugglers’ Notch, VT
There’s a reason Smugglers' Notch was voted #1 Family-Friendly Resort in the Eastern U.S. by Ski Magazine readers—families love to ski here! And when it comes to learning to ski or snowboard, it’s all about options. Starting as young as two (Little Rascals on Snow), kids can begin the process of learning to ski or snowboard through exciting games and activities that get them used to the movements and balance needed to truly shred. Then it’s on to Discovery Dynamos (ages 3 & 4), Trailblazers (ages 5 & 6) and Adventure Rangers (ages 7-10), to keep building the skills they need to keep them skiing for life. Family is at the heart of this ski resort, and each week’s litany of activities is all about togetherness, whether it's building model roller coasters, sipping free hot cocoa or belting out tunes during Family Karaoke.
Good to know: Take a break from the snowy slopes and chill out at the Fun Zone 2.0 Family Complex. This 26,000 square foot play space includes The Ozone, where you’ll find mini golf and ping-pong and The Go Zone, with laser tag and a warrior course.
Northstar California — North Lake Tahoe, CA
Located in picturesque mountains of North Lake Tahoe, Northstar California is one of the best ski resorts for families. Their world-class ski school aims to turn your beginner into a lifelong skier, guaranteeing kids will learn to ski in three consecutive lessons or the fourth lesson is free. If you have a budding snowboarder in the family, a visit to the famous Burton Academy is a must.
While you'll want to spend as much time as possible on the picturesque trails, there's plenty to do off the slopes as well. Head to The Village, where the whole family can ice skate to live bands under the bistro lights. If you'd rather soak in the winter magic from the sidelines, snag a cabana spot and après ski with cozy fire pits and complimentary afternoon s’mores. Don't forget to check their events calendar for outdoor movies, live music series and sushi pop-ups.
Good to know: Located mid-mountain, the luxurious Ritz Carlton Lake Tahoe is the place to stay at Northstar. Offering ski-in/ski-out access, this family-friendly destination offers a luxurious spa and fantastic children's program. The kids will flip for Marshmology, the resort's daily lesson in the history of the marshmallow and traditional s’mores ingredients. Which features complimentary s’mores with house-made marshmallows.Online: northstarcalifornia.com
Aspen Snowmass — Aspen, CO
The largest of the four Aspen-area ski mountains, Snowmass is one of the most family-friendly mountains with all kids skiing free up to age six. This resort comes in at over 3,300 acres of terrain with 91 trails of groomies, halfpipes, terrain parks and more. Families flock here for their state-of-the-art Treehouse Kids’ Adventure Center, a gigantic childcare facility for kids ages eight weeks to four years old. With a nurse on staff and themed rooms, this is where your kids will get introduced to skiing. Once your kids turn two, they’re welcome to enroll in Snowmass’ Cubs on Skis program, a mix of early childhood education and skiing based out of this nature-themed adventure center. There's also Snowmass Base Village Plaza, where families can ice skate, enjoy fire pits, pop-up activities and casual dining. Kids of all ages can also try their skills on the rock climbing wall that adorns the front of the new ski in/ski out Limelight hotel.
Good to Know: The Treehouse at Snowmass isn’t the only spot your kid will love. Pay a visit to nearby Buttermilk Mountain to experience The Hideout, a 7,500 square foot facility just for kids. Don’t blame your kids if they forget they’re in the mountains and get lost in The Hideout’s custom-designed play features like a lookout tower and interactive play room.
Holiday Valley — Ellicottville, NY
There's so much for kids to do at Holiday Valley ski resort, located in the quaint village of Ellicottville, that you might want to book an extra day or so to pack it all in! There are your go-to ski and snowboard lessons, which can be found at the kid clubhouse, Creekside Lodge, and once you and your crew hit the slopes, there are plenty of surprises to keep kids occupied. Grab a kids’ map to locate the hidden fort, tree trails and maze, and see if the whole family can spot all eight Seneca Nation rocks, where you’ll be able to learn all about the Seneca Nation of Indians. There are 11 family-friendly lifts, with 60 trails covering four different mountain faces. Kids six and under ski for free and kids ages 11 and under can snag lift tickets at a discounted price.
Good to Know: There are three different lodging options at Hidden Valley: rental properties, ski-in-ski-out rooms at the Inn at Holiday Valley and the newest spot, Tamarack Club, a slope-side condo/hotel combo. There are several packages, and our favorite is the weekday booking option includes two free lift tickets for kids ages 17 and under.
Squaw Valley | Alpine Meadows — Lake Tahoe, CA
With 6,000 skiable acres on the beautiful North Shore of Lake Tahoe sits Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows. Site to the 1960 Winter Olympics and winner of numerous accolades, these two resorts share the same pass, a free shuttle, and miles of terrain for both the beginner and advanced skier. Start out with the Perfect Progression Program for first-time skiers and riders. After three beginner lessons at Alpine Meadows, you'll receive an unrestricted season pass!
If you notice the resort looking a little shinier, it's probably due to 1.7 million dollars worth of upgrades at High Camp, which includes a redesign of the Terrace Restaurant & Bar, the area’s most scenic eating spot, and the addition of the High Camp Marketplace, where skiers can find healthy grab-and-go selections to keep them fueled on their runs. Families will love Disco Tubing, where parents and kids (40" and up) cruise down the tubing lanes to colorful LED lights, lasers and a live DJ. Check their calendar for dates and other family-friendly events.
Good to Know: Stay at the scenic Resort at Squaw Creek with ski-in/ski-out access to Squaw Valley. Combining modern mountain vibes with luxury hotel amenities, it's a resort the whole family will love. Make sure to check out the Mountain Buddies Kids Kamp, a year-round children's activity program, where children ages 4-12 enjoy sledding, snowshoeing and ice skating on the resort's private rink.
Big Sky Resort — Big Sky, MT
Tied for the largest skiing area in the country, Big Sky Resort is located only 15 miles from the border of Yellowstone National Park. Besides stunning views and tons of wildlife, Big Sky offers a bevy of trails specifically designed for kids, like the mellow Harbor's Half Pipe and Kids' Bowl with two magic carpets. The Lone Peak Playhouse offers childcare (with ski lessons or not) for tots aged six months to eight years old, so you can enjoy some time on the slopes while your kids play. With one of the most technologically-advanced chairlift networks, getting up the mountain is a breeze; take the new Ramcharger 8 lift to Everett's 8800, a stunning mountaintop chalet at 8,800 feet serving lunch and dinner with a delicious kids menu. Or, head to Chet's for a family-friendly après with board games, live music and a Nintendo Switch for kids.
Good to Know: Kids six and under ski free, and students 7-14 can receive a discounted lift ticket for $49. Book online for the best savings.
Big Snow — Rutherford, NJ
If the idea of being in the unpredictable winter elements is enough to keep you fireside, Big Snow American Dream might be the perfect place to get your family swooshing down the slopes sans sub-zero temps. Big Snow is North America's first real-snow, year-round, indoor ski and snowboard resort. Beginners can start out with a three-hour lesson at Camp Big while you hit the bigger runs or indoor retail shops. Temps inside the 4-acre facility remain a constant 28-degrees Fahrenheit and 5,500 tons of snow that average two feet deep.
Good to know: Reservations are not required but highly recommended due to limited capacity. As an added bonus, you'll receive a discount for making advanced online reservations.
Dollar Mountain — Sun Valley, ID
This Idaho town has been a gem of a ski community for decades, and it keeps getting better. For families with beginners, the ideal spot to get on the snow is Dollar Mountain. With gentle slopes suited for new skiers and seven progression parks, it's the perfect place for little ones to practice carving turns. Grab a lesson with their Ski and Snowboard School Program, which has been teaching technique and a love for the sport since 1937. Many lodging options await at Sun Valley Resort including the legendary Sun Valley Lodge, cozy cottages and private townhomes. As a bonus, hotels guests receive complimentary shuttle rides from the airport, a short 20-minute drive away. Don't forget to check their DollarLIVE calendar for seasonal events, pond skims and appearances by Sunny the Bear. Read our guide of what to do in this area of Idaho here.
Good to Know: If Dollar Mountain seems too tame, world-famous Bald Mountain is down the road and offers themed Adventure Trails for kids.
Whistler Blackcomb — B.C., Canada
Host to the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics Games, this destination ski village is the ultimate place to hunker down and learn to ski, full-immersion style. The resort is known for their Adventure Camps (for kids ages 3-4 & 5-12) that are packed with activities, games and time on the mountain to learn the basics or hone developing skills. Kids work in small groups, with the same instructor all week long, but if you haven’t got all week to stay and play, daily lessons are available too. You can expect the same perks here (lift line priority, small class ratios, and hot lunch to boot) as kids get in the week-long program.
There’s more to Whistler than just skiing and boarding, your kids will also love cruising down the Coca-Cola Tube Park, exploring the free Magic Castle and Tree Fort adventure playland and watching the pros go all out on the mountain during the weekly Fire & Ice Show. Add in family-friendly après ski and an entire Olympic Village to explore, and you’ll be hard-pressed to leave.
Good to know: Take advantage of Whistler Days to get the most bang for your buck on kids adventure camp programming (hint: the savings are in the early and late seasons!).
Mt. Hood Meadows — Mt. Hood, OR
With a variety of terrain, panoramic views and runs to challenge all levels of skiers and boarders, the Meadows offers a big mountain experience just 90 minutes from Portland. For beginners, start with the gentle slopes of Buttercup and Ballroom Carpet (which has an enclosed snow conveyor). Or, head to the Children’s Learning Center, where kids as young as four can sign up for lessons. The maximum 3:1 student/teacher ratio means your little skier will get the attention she needs to learn a new skill, and if you add in the fun factor and nutritionally balanced lunches, parents can rest easy while their kids have a great full-day lesson.
If it's been a while since you've had a date night, plan a special evening ski lesson for your kids from 5-7 p.m. For each child enrolled, parents will receive a 3-9 p.m. lift ticket, so you and your ski partner can swoosh down the slopes while the kids learn to ski or board. When you're done with downhill, check out one of the other ways to enjoy the Meadows, like nordic skiing, snowshoeing and great eats int the lodge.
Good to know: Make sure to check out the Toyota Learn to Ski incentive program. On select Saturday nights, ages six and up can snag a special two-hour beginner lesson for just $25. A progression lift ticket can be added for $5, and equipment rental can be added for $10. Advanced purchase only, so make sure to grab your spots before they're gone.
Wild Mountain — Taylor Falls, MN
At Wild Mountain, skiing and snowboarding is truly a family parent-tot option, which gives younger kids hesitant to leave a parent’s side a chance to get in on the action too. If you live in the area, check out the Wild Cat Club as a way to build skills all season long, and don't forget to check out Wild Chutes, where you can slide solo or as a group down groomed snow tubing lanes with a convenient conveyor lift to take you back up.still hit the slopes. Wild Mountain offers many ways to get your budding skiers and boarders into the action with Homeschool Days (talk about a great Phys Ed program!), Scout and 4-H days and Friends and Family Fun Days. Lesson offerings include a
Good to know: The kids will love night skiing at Friday Night Moves. Snag a discounted ticket for $36 and ski under the stars from 4 p.m. until the kids are ready for bed.
Ski Santa Fe — Santa Fe, NM
With a base elevation of 10,350 ft and located 16 miles from the heart of Santa Fe, Ski Santa Fe is a unique mountain resort that prides itself on being family friendly at a great value. Here, kids 46 inches and under can ski for free, and lift tickets for paying skiers and snowboarders are extremely reasonable (think under $100 a day with even better deals on multi-day passes). Kids, ages four to 11 for skiing and 6 to 11 for snowboarding, can start at Chipmunk Corner with full-day lessons on a kids-only ski slope with conveyor lift. The tiniest members of the family can also enjoy Chipmunk Corner, with daycare options for ages three months to three years and Snow Play, where kids aged three to four years participate in indoor and outdoor games.
Good to Know: There’s a ton of events happening in Santa Fe year-round, so once you’ve had your fill of the mountain, be sure to explore this culturally-rich city.
Stowe Mountain Resort — Stowe, VT
Sure, Vermont is home to Ben & Jerry’s, maple syrup, and Bernie Sanders, but it's also home to fantastic skiing at Stowe Mountain Resort. Surrounded by Spruce Peak and Mount Mansfield, the highest peak in Vermont, Stowe offers families many ways to get out and enjoy this picturesque winter wonderland. Tiny tykes can check-in at the Adventure Center in the Spruce Peak base area, which is home to the Cubs Childcare—offered for ages three months to four years. It’s also home to Stowe Mountain Ski and Ride School, where kids ages 3 to 12 can get first-rate lessons in a full-day adventure program.
A new side-country adventure also awaits kids and families at Stowe. On-mountain Adventure Zones are adjacent to primary trails and provide an entry-level experience for those seeking a little off-trail powder. For a more horizontal approach to skiing, hit the Cross Country Center, where you'll find beginner cross-country trails and a selection of rental gear for ages three and up. Off the slopes, check out Stowe Rocks, an indoor rock climbing gym inside the Adventure Center or go ice skating in the charming village.
Good to Know: Vermont's commitment to being green is well-know and Vail Resorts, owners of both Stowe and Okemo, continues to lower their carbon "boot print" with environmental sustainability efforts. They were awarded the 2019 Golden Eagle Award for Environmental Excellence by the National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) for their Commitment to Zero.
Wilmot Mountain — Wilmot, WI
Midwesterners have been hitting the slopes at Wilmot Mountain for generations, and now they have 13 million more reasons to do so (That’s how much was invested in improvements to the park.). Riders can expect more chairlifts and a totally transformed Base Area, which includes 400 new seats for dining and new food options. Kids will dig the new terrain park for snowboarders, where they'll find a high-speed rope tow to help them get back up the slope even faster. But the most important improvement, as far as beginners are concerned, is the new Kid’s Ski and Snowboard School and enhanced Play Area that includes playful fun spaces outside and spacious lunchroom quarters inside. Little skiers can learn the ropes during full or half-day lessons that let families come up for a quick day trip excursion.
Good to know: Don’t forget to take a few runs down one of Wilmot’s 22 tubing lanes. It’s a great way to end your ski vacay!
Stevens Pass Washington Ski Resort — Leavenworth, WA
While Seattle families luckily have different options when it comes to winter snow sports, many choose Stevens Pass for its family-friendly atmosphere and top-notch ski school. Located just over 30 minutes from Leavenworth, Stevens Pass does its part to be eco-conscious with its recycling and composting programs and use of wind power. For some fun after the sun goes down, Stevens Pass offers night skiing under the lights until 10 p.m. during peak season. If you need to get some work done, head to the lodge where the resort offers free wi-fi for the ultimate WFM (work from mountain) experience. Don't forget to check out the Nordic Center, where first-timers can try their hand at a new snow sport on easy-to-learn trails!
Good to Know: Purchase tickets 7+ days in advance for the biggest savings.
—Kerry Cushman with Allison Sutcliffe