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mar 15

5 Great Ski Resorts For Families

Squaw Valley Family Ski Resort

There's something for everyone in the family at these five family-friendly ski resorts.

(Courtesy Hank deVre)

We've already shared where to go this season whether you're a ski-lover or still a little hesitant to hit the slopes. But what about a good old fashioned family ski adventure? We've got five family-friendly resorts around the U.S. and one in eastern Canada where there are plenty of snow activities to keep everyone busy.

Okemo Mountain Resort, Ludlow, Vermont
Okemo hosts a wide range of family-friendly fun, offering everything from snowcat rides and snowtubing areas to zipline tours and a roller coaster built right into the snow. Try your hand at snowshoeing at the Okemo Valley Nordic Center, take a dip at the indoor pool, do some laps around the Ice House skating rink, and warm up afterward with s'mores at the Coleman Brook Tavern. The Okemo Ski & Ride School offers seven fun programs for children ready to start out on the mountain, giving parents the chance to hit the slopes knowing their kids are in good hands for the day. Penguin Playground Day Care is available for kids as young as six months old to age four, while several skiing lessons and private workshops are based on age group—two advanced ski and snowboard classes are geared toward seven to 14-year-olds, giving them some more freedom on the mountain without being completely unsupervised. Kids' Night Out also takes place every Saturday night for children ages six months thru 12, giving parents the night off after a long day on the mountain.

How to get there: Driving directions from all angles are available on the resort's website. Visitors coming from New York City can hop on Amtrak's Ethan Allen Express with service to Rutland. Both Albany and Manchester airports are about a two-hour drive from the Okemo Mountain Resort—another option is flying Cape Air (partners with JetBlue) from Boston's Logan International to Rutland Regional Airport.

Wachusett Mountain, Princeton, Massachusetts
About an hour outside Boston, Wachusett Mountain sits at 2,006 feet, taunting ski and snowboard enthusiasts to leave Bean Town behind for the day and hit the slopes. But what about the kids? A variety of children's programs are available including Polar Kids, a beginner-friendly full or half-day experience for children ages 4-12 with trained ski and snowboard instructors to show them the ropes. (90-minute classes take place twice daily for from $45 on weekdays or for from $60 on weekends; equipment rental is an extra $20).

How to get there: The Wachusett Ski Train connects the Princeton ski resort with Boston's North Station on weekends with trains leaving at 8:35 a.m. and arriving at the Fitchburg commuter rail station by 10 a.m. (Ski Train tickets cost $10 per person each way). From the station, complimentary shuttles are available to take you to and from Wachusett Mountain, returning skiers to the station in time for the 5:35 p.m. train back to Boston.

Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, Canada
If you've got a valid passport and the urge to explore ski options outside the U.S. without traveling too far from home, consider visiting Mont-Tremblant, a vibrant ski town located 90 minutes outside of Montreal. Not only is it relatively accessible for skiers in the northeast (thanks to a new 90-minute direct flight from Newark on Porter Airlines), it's known for being an incredibly family-friendly ski resort. Choose from snow tubing, ice skating, snowshoeing, skiing, snowboarding, dogsledding, snowmobiling, paintball, ice fishing, or take the family along for a sleighride. The resort offers Kidz Club Daycare for children ages one to six ($99 for a full day), where kids can do arts and crafts and play games on and off the snow. Children ages three and four can participate in Mother Nature Camp, a cross between ski school and day care that allows parents to take on the mountain between 9:45 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. daily (prices vary).

How to get there: Direct flights are available from Newark and Toronto, with connections to Boston, Chicago, Washington D.C. and several other U.S. cities through Porter Airlines—shuttle service is available from Mont-Tremblant International Airport to area hotels for $35 per person round-trip.

Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe, California
Families will love the SnoVentures Activity Zone, where kids ages 6-12 can ride mini-snowmobiles around a smooth outdoor course ($25 for every 15 minutes), go snowtubing down the hill ($20 per hour, ages three and up), or try out snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, dog-sledding, and horse-drawn carriage rides in the snow (prices vary). Off-mountain family activities include miniature golf, a 30-foot tall indoor climbing wall, and a skyjump bungee trampoline, while an aerial tram ride to High Camp el 8200 takes you to ice skating facilities and a large swimming pool and hot tub area with views of the Sierra Mountains and Lake Tahoe (re-opening in Spring 2013). Children ages 3-13 can also take group or private ski lessons (prices vary).

How to get there: 72 non-stop flights are available daily from 15 U.S. cities through Reno Tahoe International Airport. Make it a familly road trip: the resort is located 42 miles from Reno, 96 miles outside of Sacramento, and 196 miles from San Francisco. The entrance is six miles north of Tahoe City and Lake Tahoe's North Shore on Highway 89.

Beaver Creek Resort, Avon, Colorado
Families will find activities for every night of the week—everything from storytime and skiing with forest service rangers to complimentary family snowshoe tours and disco-themed ice skating nights—as well as kiddie menus, magicians, and family entertainment at the resort's restaurants. Snowtubing, ice skating, and guided tours of the mountain are also available. Half-day and full-day child care is available for $108-$135 and accommodates children ages two months to six-years-old. Sip hot cocoa for free each morning at 9:30 at the top of the Centennial Express Chairlift #6 and save room for complimentary cookie time at 3 p.m., a daily event that makes the entire resort smell like freshly baked chocolate chip cookies.

How to get there: American Airlines, Delta, and United Airlines all fly into Eagle County Airport (30 minutes from the resort) while other airlines service Denver International Airport about 100 miles away. By car, Beaver Creek is 120 miles west of Denver and 20 miles east of Eagle on I-70. Colorado Mountain Express shuttle buses are also available from either airport to a number of area ski resorts, as well as a Ski Lift Rideshare Program geared at helping skiers and snowboarders meet up and carpool to their mountain destinations.

Tell us: Where is your favorite place to ski with the whole family?

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Note:This story was accurate when it was published. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.

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