I like Okemo because it’s not Killington. Don’t get me wrong, I love Killington, but Okemo Mountain Resort has a family friendly vibe AND it’s just a little bit further down the path than Killington. So while everyone’s heading to Killington and meeting up at the Wobbly Barn to party (I still can’t believe that thing has not come down), head over to Okemo for the same great snow without the volume of humanity that you get at Killington.
Located in the heart of Central Vermont’s Green Mountains, Okemo offers eight different properties, all with their own character and charm. Okemo Mountain Resort has plenty of trails for all abilities.
1 high-speed six-pack bubble chair with heated seats
9 quad chairs (4 highspeed quads)
3 triple chairs
7 surface lifts
Other cool things to do at Okemo:
Ever watched those snow cats go up at night to groom the hill and get a twinge of jealousy? Some brilliant person came up with a way to make everyone happy. See the mountain from the view from inside a specially-designed cabin, attached to an Okemo snowcat! See the top of the mountain, and the valley below like you’ve never seen it before, lit up at night.
Each ride departs from the Jackson Gore base area and will last just over one hour, with time to get out at the summit, take pictures and learn a bit about the mountain and the area along the way. You must register in advance to take in this incredible experience, and we will begin offering rides as soon as weather permits.
Ride a Mountain Coaster
The Timber Ripper Mountain Coaster is Central Vermont’s favorite four-season attraction, offering a scenic and exhilarating ride through alpine forests and along the contours of the mountain at Okemo’s Jackson Gore. The roller coaster ride heads down 3100 feet of track following the contours of the mountain with added waves, camel back and banking loops down the mountain, at up to 25 miles an hour. Sled-like cars carry two passengers in comfort but can be handled easily by one alone. The riders are in control of the speed, and this gives them a unique hands-on experience, encouraging repeat visits.
Guests will load and unload the Timber Ripper in the Jackson Gore base area, near the bottom of the Coleman Brook Express lift.
This is a historic year for Park City as it connects its Park City and Canyons resorts, making Park City the biggest resort in the US. With 3300 acres, 9 bowls of terrain and a 10,000 foot summit, Park City is a great place to find adventure with your family.
The speedy lifts on the front side of this 50 year young Utah favorite destination is just what families need to get their adventure groove on.
Park City Mountain Resortis located in the heart of Utah’s famed western town of Park City, just a 30-minute drive from Salt Lake City Airport. The US Ski and Snowboard Teams train on the front side and the 2002 Winter Olympic snowboarding and ski racing events were held here.
What Programs Do They Have For Kids?
Kids Signature Programs offer just the right mix of fun and education; the perfect balance for getting young ones started on the slopes. By limiting class sizes to five students or fewer, they give your child more personalized attention with more time to play, more time to practice and more time to learn.
They’re now open for the 2015 2016 ski season at Park City. Here’s the video to prove it!
Ski Family Vacation at Heavenly Mountain in Lake Tahoe
With a higher elevation and the most skiable terrain in Tahoe, Heavenly ski resort is one of the most unique ski and snow sport destinations in the world.
At Heavenly Mountain Resort, skiers and snowboarders alike get access to a varied degree of terrain that spans the California-Nevada border and includes rolling glades, terrain parks and challenging technical steeps. You can ride from one state to another state to get your full day of skiing in.
There are also plenty of family-friendly events at Heavenly to choose from. When you need a beak from carving powdery turns, you can head out to try some tubing and ice skating. For the kids, there’s also the kids ski school, the Ripperoo Parade, shows and arcades.
An experience at Heavenly offers something for everyone. Beginners can practice on groomed runs while more seasoned riders can explore the back-country-like canyons, tree runs and terrain parks.
There are 4,800 acres of Heavenly ski and snowboard terrain, 97+ trails, and 3,500 feet (of vertical. The area is the largest of the California ski resort.
Ski and Snowboard Terrain
Heavenly Resort has a mix of terrain for all abilities, but in particular it’s an intermediates’ paradise, so if you’re looking for super expert and extreme terrain, this may not be the resort for you. However, if you have young children, it’s a perfect mix to keep everyone happy.
Heavenly Lake Tahoe has 29 lifts that include a gondola and lots of high speed six-packs and quad chairs, and Vail Resorts has been investing heavily in more lifts and terrain.
Heavenly Mountain Resort is extremely convenient for travelers from all over the world, located within an hour of the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, and two hours of the Sacramento International Airport. Click here to learn about Heavenly Mountain in Lake Tahoe.
Traveling by car is easy as well since Heavenly is located off three major U.S. highways and interstates. The drive from the Bay Area and Northern California only takes a few hours and is easy at any time of year.
Check out this video to get a sense of the insanely beautiful terrain at Tahoe.
So after the CES show I made a quick jump up to Lake Tahoe to check out the skiing up there. I’d noticed that Heavenly Resort was one of the most searched on ski resorts this winter so I had to see what it was about. I flew up after the show and met some ex-ski instructor friends who live in the area vbefore heading home. Here’s my take on everything:
Heavenly Resort Ski Resort
It’s an interesting mountain with beautiful views. Most of the trails are intermediate so it’s great for families with children. Everywhere you look there are decent, long, wide trails with slopes that are challenging but not super aggressive. There are a few blacks but you have to work to get to them and then my friends who used to teach there, told me there’s a big jump between blue and black in these areas. So be careful if you have young children. You might find yourself going from a nice easy blue to a monster black. Even so, the trails were covered in powder so even if you had to pick your way down with a little one it might not be so dire.
Since I didn’t have my daughter with me this time, I was able to go full throttle, which was nice, except that I found myself bored with the mountain. For the $125 lift ticket price, I would have liked a few tougher trails besides the scary blacks tucked away in the corner. So I would say if you have a mixed bag of skier levels with you, and kids, this is the place to be. If you are on your own or with very experienced skiers, I’d opt for another mountain. My ski instructor friends said Squaw is better for expert level.
It’s a little odd how you can’t buy your tickets from anywhere on the mountain. I find that obnoxious. I would have liked to have been able to order my tickets and have them waiting in my room the way I can in Tremblant. And there are no discounts, so if I am going to pay $125 a person, I don’t want to have to wait on line to do it. Order them on the mountain’s website and give yourself time because the site is a little clunky. Desktop is a lot easier than mobile. Also parking is tough but there’s free parking behind Harrah’s. From South Lake you actually take a Gondola up to the mountain so it’s a little disconcerting not being able to walk to the main lodge from the parking lot. I drove around and around trying to find a big entrance to the mountain until I realized the bottom of the Gondola was it. There are also a few other access points to get on the hill from the Gondola is the main one.
Overall, definitely a mountain I would go back to when in the area but wouldn’t make a big trip out to go there if I have to make a big trip out of it.
The Ridge Resort
I got an upgrade because I’m an Expedia gold member and while I booked a hotel room I ended up in a beautiful apartment with views of the village. Large master bed, a living room, with fireplace and a full size kitchen and dining table. The bed pulls out as well, plenty of room for a large family.
One thing that wasn’t made clear to me was that you can’t just rent any car from the airport to get up the hill. The Ridges is located at the very tippy top of exactly that, a ridge. The road goes straight up. I rented an Elantra and on the way up were signs all over about chains and 4 wheel drive when signs are flashing. With the sun melting the snow and the run off continually soaking the road, I knew if I went down into town I better get myself back up that mountain before the sun went down and it began to freeze. So I would recommend not booking this place unless your car can handle steep drives up and down in inclement weather, unless you feel like being stuck up there after sundown.
The Ridges is more of a compound with several buildings, scattered around the main lodge. There’s no housing inside the lodge itself but it’s where you go for the fitness room and spa. I didn’t love that you had to trek out in the cold to get to the spa or fitness center, or grocery store, especially since it was a pretty steep walk. They do have buses but it seemed kooky to me to wait for a bus to take you only a short distance, so I just hoofed it.
There’s a nice bar and restaurant in the lodge, except sadly the weekend I was there it was completely booked for a wedding. So I only got to hear the party going on from downstairs. One of the reasons I booked this place was because I knew they had a nice bar and restaurant on the premises, so that combined with the fact that I didn’t want to risk the drive down the mountain, really kind of stunk.
The best part of the Ridges is it has it’s own private gondola that will take you right down to the ski area. It’s about a ten minute ride and remember to bring your key with you to call the gondola. It’s a great feature, the only downside to it is you don’t get to go to all the cool restaurants down in town by the main gondola.
Breckenridge is a world-class destination for Colorado vacations with kids who are looking to experience a fun Colorado family vacation in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. There are tons of activities and restaurants on and off the mountain and lots of options of where to stay.
Parents can also watch their kids excel on the hill after a day of lessons at their world renowned ski school. Adult, Child, and Private Lessons are available for all family members.
Need a break from skiing? Take the kids ice skating, sleigh rides or snowmobiling. You can even enjoy a ride on Breckenridge alpine slide or just relax in the historic Town of Breckenridge.
When fortune seekers flocked to Breckridge back in the 1800s little did they know they found something better, the perfect ski mountain town.
Taos Ski Valley is located in the Sangre De Cristo Mountains in Northern New Mexico, with access to 1,294 acres of skiable terrain, and receiving an average 300 inches of snowfall annually. The ski area has a great mix of terrain combined with a distinctive mix of European, local Native American and Spanish cultures. It’s also home to one of the country’s highest rated ski schools.
Blue Mountain Ski Area is one of the most searched for ski areas on the Internet.
It’s a favorite for Pennsylvania and New York families who love to ski and snowboard. Skiing is a great way to spend time as a family and this mountain is a good size for families.
Blue Mountain boasts the highest vertical in PA at almost 1100 feet. There’s plenty for everyone to do there.
Located in Little Gap Valley alongside the Pocono Mountains, Blue Mountain has 39 trails, and 164 ski-able acres. It’s definitely family friendly for parents. It has a flexible 6 hour ski ticket (so you get there when you get there) and has one of the largest beginner terrain areas in the tri-state area. The learning center offers private and group lessons, but also strangely, promote the idea of you teaching your own kids if you are comfortable (I always did this because I was a ski instructor) but I don’t know if I’d recommend that for anyone that wasn’t trained in teaching skiing.
Blue Mountain is not only for beginners, it’s also got 3,000 foot long Double Black Diamond Trails, where skiers earn a breathtaking view of Pennsylvania’s beautiful Pocono Mountains.
Blue Mountain Resort also has some cool features where they includehands-off lift ticket scanners, RFID, that will fast track you through lift lines. The Summit can be reached by the High-Speed Detachable Quad and the 6-Person Chair Lift. In addition, three double chair lifts give access to the western mountain side where skiers and boarders will find novice, intermediate and expert terrain. Numerous mogul fields and glades accompany Blue Mountain’s varied terrain for all skill levels.
As for lodging and food. No one’s going to go hungry while skiing or boarding at Blue Mountain resort. They have over twelve places to eat slopeside and even more around town. There’s no on site lodging but plenty of local ski and stay parters in the immediate area for you to choose from.
So parents have for years had a love/hate relationship with kids’ ski boots. Yes it is the vehicle that helps keep their kids out on the hill and exercising every weekend, all winter long, but the downside is of course, those pesky growing feet.
There are several options modern parents have to get the right boot on their kids feet to keep them happy, healthy, warm and tearing up the mountain.
Types of Ski Boots Available
First let me explain the types of boots you need to know about. There are two major types, rear entry and front entry boots.
What Are Rear Entry Ski Boots?
Rear entry boots are what they sound like, boots you enter from the rear. They fold forward and then once your child has placed his foot in the boot, he leans back and you crank the binding until it’s tight enough. The plus to rear entry is that it’s easy to get in, so great for little kids that need some help getting their boots on. This is easier on moms and dads’ backs as they spend less time hunched over trying to get a boot on a little kid’s foot. The downside is that as kids advance, there are less points to fit the boot against the foot leaving some play inside the boot, which can make it harder for kids to stay in control of their turns and edging.
What Are Front Entry Ski Boots?
These are boots that will give your child a better fit overall, the more buckles, the more fit. Buckles help you fit the boot to your child’s foot by adding multiple points to close the gap between the boot and your child’s foot. This means there’s less leeway when making turns. The better the fit the more responsive the ski will be to your child’s foot and leg.
But remember, every buckle you have on your child’s boot, means, one more buckle…to buckle..and unbuckle…every time you go in and out of the warming hut. So usually three or four buckles should be the max.
Where to find ski boots for your kids
Rent at the ski area
You have a number of options when renting skis and boots. Here’s my breakdown of how to get them:
You can rent boots at the ski area where you are going, usually. If you are renting boots you’ll really need to rent the skis there as well. Not sure how many places just rent boots and if they do, don’t expect them to fit the ski bindings to your boots. Many ski resort rental areas won’t touch someone else’s skis. Bring your own screwdriver to set your bindings, and that’s only if you are sure you know how to do it.
The downsides to renting at the area you are skiing at? Well, it’s usually a zoo and lines can be long, especially on weekends. There’s a chance your size might not be available when you get there, screwing up your whole day. It also eats up time on the hill that you are paying a lot of money for.
If you have friends with you who have their own skis, they will kind of hate you if they have to stare at the mountain and wait for you while you get your kids’ skis. It’s an icky way to start the day off at a mountain. It’s infinitely better to walk up, get your ticket and hit the hill. Or better yet, have your tickets sent to you in advance. Then with skis in hand, you simply walk onto the hill. It’s like the feeling you get with TSA PreCheck at the airport, only times a thousand because you are standing on a ski mountain instead of staring at a security line. But you get the point.
Renting boots and skis at a local ski area near the mountain
This is far more civilized than trying to rent at the mountain. Call ahead, reserve your boots and/or skis at a shop on the way to the mountain. Tell them your child’s size and they’ll have your skis waiting for you. They will likely be a better price, and can probably sell you discounted ski area tickets. Not always, but make sure to ask. You get more one on one attention and you know they’ve reserved what you need. It still eats into your time on the snow as you’ll need to spend a little time making sure the skis fit. But it’s worth it, especially if you are skiing for a few days. This way you only have to do this once and it’s like you have your own skis for the stay. If you can, time it so you are picking up your skis the night before you’ll need them so you can spend your whole day on the hill without stopping to fit your skis. Use the morning to eat a longer breakfast if you like.
Renting boots and skis at a place near home
This is a nice option if you have a place near you at home that rents skis. If you are flying or spending a day just driving, make sure to compare what it will cost you to what it would cost you near or at the mountain. Even if you are not skiing, if you are spending a few days to get there and back, you’ll still have to pay for those days. You’ll also need to schlep them, either in the car or on the plane. The nice part is you can pick them up at your leisure early enough before your trip so that you are not eating into snow time.
Renting boots and skis for the season
This is my personal favorite and what I do every year. For about $100, I get my daughter fitted at Miller Ski and Sports in Warwick, New York in August. I get an early bird discount, and as soon as the first snowfall, they’ll have her skis ready and I’ll have them for the whole season. Bring them back at the end of the season and you are good. If you are going to ski more than three or four times in the year then it’s definitely worth it to have this option.
Now, you do have to schlep them the same as you do when you own your skis, so that is a consideration. And if your kids can carry their own skis, or you don’t mind, that’s not a problem, but if you are a single mom like me, I used to have to make sure I could carry my skis as well as my daughters. A double ski bag solved that problem for me. But the benefits to renting skis for the season from a local shop are you get one-on-one attention, you get your own skis for the season as if you owned them, and you can get fitted at your leisure.
The only time I’d say this really wouldn’t work for you is if your child is such a high performance skier, or in the racing program that he needs his own, top of the line skis. Now when I was a ski instructor, we had racing teams come after school and about half of them had season rentals and they seemed fine enough. But again, if your kid is racing and needs the best of the best and you can afford it, then ski swaps or buying new might be a better bet.
Finding gear at ski swaps
Every ski area and community usually has some local ski swap, usually in the late summer or early Fall. Parents of kids who belong to the local ski programs often run these ski swaps hoping to make better use of the short lived fitting of perfectly good ski boots and skis. Aside from that there are also online places to try. Ski swaps or used gear sites take a little more effort to find just what you want, but you can get some awesome deals on ski products. They also often have other things like pants, gloves and jackets, also expensive gear that children grow out of. Here are some sites to try. Many of the big, local ski swaps can offer both used and new gear.
This is the easiest one of course. You have several options. In person or online. If you have ski shops near you, by all means check in, and do so in the Fall when the boots first come in, or end of season to see if you can get lucky on next years. I’d be a little careful with boots though for end of season deals, as kids feet do grow. So end of season is good for skis and clothes, but boots for children, you don’t want to have a growth spurt over the summer that will ruin your new boot purchase. Don’t wait too long past Christmas though to purchase as pickins get slim.
There are of course, ski shops on the mountain itself but if you wait until then, plan on paying top dollar–and getting what you get. You really want to do your research if you are buying new, so picking out of whatever’s in the shop doesn’t seem smart to me. Unless you shatter your boots on the mountain (which I have done once in my life–it was amazing to see your boots just shatter around your feet–they were old) I can’t imagine a reason for something like boots or skis right on the mountain. Maybe I’m wrong but someone will have to convince me why that makes total sense.
Here are some links to some very decent sources of gear. A lot of little local shops also carry gear so I recommend doing your homework.
Located in the southwest corner of the volcanic Long Valley Caldera on the eastern edge of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountain Range; Mammoth Mountain reaches over 3,500 skiable acres and a 3,100ft vertical drop.
The mountain is blessed with over 400 inches of snowfall a year and it’s the highest elevation in California at a neck-bending height of 11,053ft.
The modern resort has world class terrain options, and an ski season that can sometimes last into July.
Waterville Valley is a nice, quiet, uber-family friendly resort nestled in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. The best part of the resort is that everything is right there where you need it, no need for driving around. In the winter there’s skiing on four different peaks, and in the summer there’s plenty to do as well.
It has a town square, places to dine, pool, fitness centers, shopping and has that special, New England country resort feel. It’s a little bit dirty dancing, a little bit Tremblant, but on a smaller scale.
There are 50 trails, 4000 foot elevation and plenty of terrain parks. There’s also the option of going Nordic to break up the week. You can also take the kids tubing and even dog sledding.
It’s a great place to reconnect with family and the outdoors.