Skiing can be intimidating—both skill-wise and money-wise—especially if your family is new to the slopes. But most ski resorts offer trails and programs for beginners, many of them tailored to children specifically. Many ski resorts also offer additional activities for families (both on and off the mountain), along with packages and discounts for opportunities to save.
When travelling with the kids, you’ll want the experience to be as smooth and hassle free as possible, from letting everything be taken care of for you on an all-inclusive family ski holiday, to picking the right resort with plenty of family-friendly facilities.
So with all that in mind, we’ve pulled together our Top 16 Favorite Family resorts.
These ski resorts do all of the above (and then some), making them our favorite family ski resorts for the 2019 season.
The Village at Northstar offers a variety of family-friendly activities, including roller skating, bungee trampoline, crafts, movies and holiday festivals; fire pits are available for roasting smores and convenient gear wagons make transporting gear to and from the parking lot quick and easy. Multiple ski lessons are available for kids 3 years old and up.
St-Gervais Mont-Blanc, France
St-Gervais is Mont-Blanc without the madness. Leave behind the extreme, powder-crazed, queue-pushing mayhem of Chamonix and instead experience the relaxed charm of St-Gervais!
St-Gervais is a traditional spa town, complete with working thermal baths, local French restaurants, and chilled out bars. It’s a perfect base from which you can access two large family friendly ski areas. The first via a rack-and-pinion railway, which kids love, that clunks its way up to slopes interlinked with Les Houches, in the Chamonix valley proper.
The second link is to the stylish slopes of Megève, where the jet-set ski at an affordable price.
Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada
Lake Louise is worth a visit solely on the basis of being a natural wonder: see for yourself on one of the free guided tours each day. It was voted Canada’s best ski resort in 2017 by the World Ski Awards for a reason because there may be no prettier place to ski and snowboard. You have 145 trails and over 4,200 acres to do just that. (Alas, there’s no night skiing.) The vertical drop is 991 metres. And for beginners, there’s a green run (most resorts indicate degree of difficulty with a colour/shape code, and green is easiest) you can ski or board down from every chairlift—so you won’t be stranded! This also helps families with varying skill levels stick together while still doing the kind of run they like best. And there are various features to try in the Showtime Terrain Park, including many jumps and rails.
Even the littlest infants are welcome at the resort’s daycare centre, along with kids up to age six. Opt in for the lunch program if you wish, or add one-hour lessons. Kinderski is a one- or two-hour ski-and-play session for three- and four-year-olds; and full- or half-day lessons at all skill levels are available for kids five to 12. Rentals are extra. There are five casual restaurants on the mountain for breakfast, lunch or snacks (all close by 6 p.m.). The Slopeside Coffee Bar serves Starbucks (squee!). For something fancier, the nearby Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is a luxurious place to warm up and enjoy the stunning views (kids under five eat free; kids under 12 are half price).
1 Whitehorn Rd., Lake Louise. 1-877-956-8473 or 403-522-3555; skilouise.com
Snow Valley, Ontario, Canada
Ski Canada magazine has called Snow Valley the “Best Ontario Hill for Kids,” which is great for parents, too. First Tracks offers care for kids six months to five years; reservations recommended. Check out Ski ’n Play packages that give kids three to five a combo of indoor play and ski lessons in the resort’s Kidz Village. Of course, there are lessons for every other age range and skill level, as well. The hill has a 91-metre vertical drop, with 21 trails and eight lifts. All the equipment you need is available to rent, including well-priced Family Rental Packs. You can ski under the stars every night except Monday. There’s also a tube park and snowshoe rentals are available too. Overnight accommodations are nearby; many offer “stay and play” packages.
2632 Vespra Valley Rd., Minesing. 705-721-7669; skisnowvalley.com
Purgatory Mountain Resort, Colorado
As family skiers, we love everything about Purgatory at Durango (accept maybe the intimidating name Purgatory). Purgatory Mountain offers plenty of terrain, fun undulating runs on the frontside, some edgier steeps and glades on the backside, and a convenient un-crowded base village with ski school, shops, restaurants and perfect condo lodging at The Purgatory Lodge with an outdoor pool and spa. As a bonus, you can visit downtown Durango to experience a real Colorado cowboy town.
Beaver Creek, Colorado
Beaver Creek is like Vail – though more upscale. While not as big as Vail, this resort is posh, well-pitched and has the personal touch I like on a family ski holiday. Maybe it’s the free, fresh homemade cookies in the village for après ski, staying at the lovely Park Hyatt Beaver Creek or the centerpiece ice skating rink, or it could be the World Cup Downhill Course – Birds of Prey… Beaver Creek has something for everyone. Check out the Ritz Carlton Bachelor Gulch for a luxurious ski to lunch.
Park City Mountain Resort, UT
When traveling with humans who have a short attention span and little patience, choosing a ski resort that’s close to an airport can make all the difference. Park City is located just a 35-minute drive from Salt Lake City International, offering 7,300 acres of terrain and a large base area with a variety of kid-friendly activities. Multiple ski school, child care and preschool options are available on the mountain.
Keystone delivers a kid-friendly experience from the moment the car doors open. Free parking near the resort’s base and free gear wagons make transportation from the lot to the lift a breeze. Numerous ski-in, ski-out lodging options, restaurants and kid-centric activities complement the beginner friendly terrain. To top it off, Keystone’s Kidtopia offers mini-shredders everything from snow forts and playgrounds to scavenger hunts and complimentary fresh baked cookies.
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 Camelback Lodge & Indoor Water Park. Spend your days on the slopes and your nights on the slides!
Greek Peak Mountain Resort – Cortland, NY
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. When you’re not descending snowy hills, plummet down the waterslides at Hope Lake Lodge’s Cascades Indoor Water Park, located right at the ski resort.
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. Our favorite offering at Smugglers’ Notch? Adaptive programs for those with special needs, from skiing to arts and crafts.
If you want your teenage kids to think you’re super cool (and let’s face it, who doesn’t), book a holiday to the Rider’s Palace Hotel in Laax and buy them an introductory course at the Freestyle Academy.
Laax has always been a proactive and inclusive freestyle resort, with its five on-slope terrain parks often hosting international freestyle snowboard and music events, such as the Burton Open.
So Laax’s credentials for on-slope fun have never been in doubt, but now they’ve surpassed themselves by building a huge indoor ‘Freestyle Academy’, fitted out with trampolines, big air jumps with soft landings, skate ramps… Even us oldies think it’s very cool!
Madonna di Campiglio, Italy
There are 150km of pistes here, and if that won’t do, you can always upgrade your pass to the regional Skirama, gaining access to an impressive 380km.
The shoppers will love the Italian boutiques in the near traffic-free downtown, not to mention its fashionable bars, cafes and eateries. Some Italian resorts are cheaper, and more easily reached but Madonna di Campiglio is still very affordable – giving you a trip to a world-class resort without needing a second mortgage.
Being so far north, Åre is a safe bet for late season family skiing. When many Alpine resorts are turning to slush, you can almost guarantee that Åre will still be blessed with well covered snowy slopes.
Åre also has varied pistes, excellent terrain parks (from small starter hits through to huge pro lines) and a super stylish town, with hip restaurants, bars and boutiques.
The off-piste tree skiing through stunted silver birch trees, is perfect for confident kids to experience a sense of true Swedish wilderness.
While the chair lifts are modern and very fast, the only downside here is the high number of drag lifts, although they will always keep running, even when it’s windy.
Appi Kogen Ski Resort, Japan
- Beginner Course Ratio: 30%
- Nursery: for children 1 year and up
- Other Facilities: snow escalator (surface lift), kids park, kids school (for children 4 years and up)
Rusutsu Resort Ski Resort
- Beginner Course Ratio: 30%
- Nursery: for children 1 year and up
- Other Facilities: snow escalator (surface lift), kids park, kids school (for children 3 years and up)