Whether you are bunny-slope bound or headed for the back bowls, these five family-friendly ski resorts are sure to elevate your winter getaway.
1. Vail, Colo.
With more than 5,200 acres of legendary terrain to challenge snow enthusiasts at every level, this high mountain hot spot combines history, luxury and adventure in one destination. Access extraordinary beginner terrain or head straight to the challenging back bowls for a powder-fueled adventure. Families can convene at Adventure Ridge, where views of the surrounding Gore and Sawatch ranges serve as backdrop for an afternoon or evening spent tubing, riding junior snowmobiles, snowshoeing, zip lining or careening on snow bikes. Stay at the town's first hotel, The Lodge at Vail, an alpine-style inn, located in Vail Village and just steps from Gondola One. Compare notes on the day's adventures in the outdoor, fireside apre setting where cocktails, hot cocoa and s'mores are popular, Questions? Just ask Emma. New this year, the world's first digital mountain assistant can advise guests on available terrain and lift line wait times as well as delivering the day's skier stats.
2. Keystone, Colo.
Spend your snowy getaway on the slopes of this Rocky Mountain resort, offering 3,000 acres of easy-to-expert terrain on three impressive peaks. From the friendly reception center and up-front parking reserved for families, to the scores of red wagons spread throughout the property to ease the transport of little ones plus gear, Keystone, a Vail Resort, is committed to making mountain time memorable for you and your clan. The Kidtopia program offers a range of activities for children including giant snow forts, arts and crafts, ice-skating, and scavenger hunts, as well as culinary and musical events. Stay two nights in resort lodging and kids 12 and under ski and ride free. Ask about private ski and boarding lessons for family groups.
3. Santa Fe, N.M.
Head to this capital city in the Sangre de Cristo mountains to take advantage of family-friendly offers that include discounted hotel packages and free admission for kids to some of Santa Fe's best attractions. During the month of March, kids ski free on Wednesdays at Ski Santa Fe, a world-class area offering terrain for the most adventuresome powder hounds as well as groomers, glade skiing and a freestyle terrain park. Other offers, available through April 21, include free admission to hands-on classes, scavenger hunts, museums, climbing walls and chocolate factory tours.
4. Whitefish, Mont.
A well-kept secret, the Whitefish Mountain Resort is a family-friendly gem, offering ski and board lessons for multiple age groups and skill levels. Open since 1947, when outdoor enthusiasts accessed the slopes via a T-Bar, the resort remains a place where families can avoid excessive crowds and enjoy the extraordinary scenery found in Northwestern Montana. Take a day off from the steeps to explore neighboring Glacier National Park on nordic skis or snowshoes.
5. Smugglers' Notch, Vt.
This New England resort is committed to making family vacations just that - a vacation for every member of the family. All-day children's programs are an option for those parents who want their kids to learn to ski or board in small groups of similar ages and skills. There are first-timer programs and multiple ways for teens to enjoy the mountain by day and to take part in dodge ball and ping pong tournaments, laser tag, dance parties and teen jeopardy when not shredding on the mountain. The resort also offers an extensive adaptive program, providing therapeutic recreation for children and adults of all abilities.