It’s hard to imagine a childhood that doesn’t include at least one magical memory in snow. As guaranteed family fun goes, it’s a surefire crowd-pleaser for all ages—the snowballs and snowball fights, snow angels, snow-people, sledding, and, of course, skiing and snowboarding. Arguably there are more variables and challenges with planning a family ski trip than, say, a holiday to a sandy beach. Loads of gear, inclement weather, altitude changes, to name a few.
But when you make it through the wintery flight or icy drive and onto the mountain, you find rich rewards and the possibility for fun and happy memories is limitless. Here are a dozen of the best family ski resort destinations that are incredible for every member of the family—don’t forget to buy your passes or lift tickets ahead of time for great savings!
The 12 Best Family Ski Resort Destinations
1. Vail, Colorado
For families experienced on the slopes, it’s hard to beat the legendary Vail Ski Resort, two hours from Denver. The ski school instructors are dependably fantastic with even the youngest children, and there is tons of diversity in runs, plus Kids Adventure Zones, where small skiers and snowboarders will have a blast (lift tickets are free for those under 4).
Other attractions include ice bumper cars, winter ecology snowshoe tours (for ages 10 and over), horseback riding in the winter wonderland, and the hands-on children’s museum Imagination Station, appropriate for ages 2 to 12. Vail offers plentiful condos and accommodations to fit multiple generations. Some hotels, such as The Hythe, have suites and residences, as well as a nightly happy hour for a family-friendly affair of gratis s’mores makings to roast over the fire pits.
2. Stowe, Vermont
With two magic carpets on its dedicated beginner mountain, Spruce Peak, perfect for newbie skiers of all ages, the Vermont classic Stowe Mountain Resort has long been known for being extremely user-friendly with children. Nearby, low-key Smugglers’ Notch Resort offers slopes for both less confident and more experienced skiers along with snow tubing (and kids 5 and under are free). The quaint town feels particularly fairytale-like in the wintertime and there’s also ice skating, snowmobiling, and gondola rides. Perhaps most compelling of all is the nearby Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream Factory (free samples are included in the interactive half-hour tours). Bluebird Tälta Lodge is a fun hotel option that has an indoor pool, sauna, and some rooms with bunk beds.
3. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
Nestled adjacent to the spectacularly craggy Grand Tetons, Jackson Hole Mountain Resort has a reputation for being one of the most challenging mountains in the U.S. But despite having prolific advanced runs, its beginner offerings are wonderfully accessible, fun, and fantastic for kiddos. There are beautiful slope-side hotel options with ski-in/ski-out access, such as the Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole, but if zooming down the mountain isn’t your family’s only interest, then a stay right on the iconic and happening Town Square—complete with skating rink—is a great decision.
Hotel Jackson is a longtime family-owned fave with excellent connections to help book exciting activities such as Call of the WYld dogsled tours, pulled by adorable Alaskan huskies. The Cloudveil is a newer arrival with ultra-comfy and chic rooms, a large hot tub, a partnership with Black Tie Skis for super convenient ski valet services, and a free shuttle to the mountain where the gear will be waiting. Make time for awe-inspiring safari-style wildlife tours with Jackson Hole EcoTours, tubing at Snow King Mountain (in town), and sleigh rides through the National Elk Refuge.
4. Traverse City, Michigan
The beautiful so-called Cherry Capital of the World, with its lake beaches and vineyards, is actually a surprising—though not to Midwesterners—destination for wonderful winter skiing and snowboarding. Just outside of town, Crystal Mountain is just that place. Kids aged 6 and under plus adults 80 and over get unlimited free skiing on the 59 runs (27 of which are open for night skiing!), glade areas, magic carpets, and terrain parks. There are lessons available with expert instructors as well as a Retired Not Tired program for those above 55 years old—a true multi-generational place—and the mountain even runs an affordable gear exchange program aimed at constantly growing kids.
The resort has a slew of stay options for both small and large families, from condos and cottages to bungalows and MountainTop ski-in/ski-out homes. When you’re not playing on the slopes, there are horse-drawn surrey rides, art classes, snowshoeing, and fat tire snow biking to experience.
5. Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania
Just an hour and a half from New York City, Big Pocono rises up to 2,133 feet and draws active snow-loving families from not only the tri-state state area but nearby cities including Philadelphia. Besides convenience, complimentary lift tickets for kids 5 years old and under plus new high-speed enclosed lifts, an expanded terrain park, and enhanced sustainable snowmaking capabilities are a few of the big draws of Camelback Resort.
Even if children—or adults—aren’t keen on strapping on a snowboard or skis for children’s or family lessons, the mountain is home to a massive snow tubing park with a whopping 40 lanes and Galactic Nighttime Disco Party Tubing. Thrill seekers will also love the 4,500-foot mountain coaster that cruises at top speed down Camelback’s steep slopes. There are 453 guest suites, including luxury condos and lofts on the hotel’s top two floors, which can be combined and configured for up to 14 guests, and have fully equipped kitchens and mountain-view balconies.
6. Park City, Utah
With a reputation for having the greatest snow on Earth, Utah is an incredible place to both learn to ski or snowboard and hone your skills. Park City is known for having early snowfalls and a powdery pack that sticks around well into the spring. Ski devotees will love Deer Valley, where boarders aren’t allowed, and the grooming is famously flawless. Montage Deer Valley is a super-luxe resort with ski-in/ski-out access and a dedicated mountain outfitter that can arrange the family’s rentals and lift tickets as well as naturalist hiking excursions, snowshoeing, dog sledding, sleigh rides, and an alpine coaster, while the property also has an excellent children’s program for ages 5 to 12.
In town, Waldorf Astoria Park City gives guests slope-side access to the largest ski resort in the U.S., Park City Mountain (where lift tickets are free for kids 4 and under), alongside a Little Miners Camp experience that turns your guest room into a throwback setting with a teepee, lanterns, and stuffed animals.
7. Whistler, British Columbia
This renowned ski destination on Canada’s West Coast is also all about fun, making it the perfect place for a family in which some members are serious about hitting the slopes while others are seeking a different kind of snowy magic. Whistler Blackcomb has not only a snow school that’s called the best in North America, but an adaptive sports program for those with disabilities, a Family Zone where the traffic flows slower, and two children’s play lands, one castle-themed and the other a tree fort. The town is full of other excitement, too, such as snowmobiling—with Mini-Z snowmobiles for children on a specially designed track—an entertaining fire and ice show, and Bubly™ Tube Park.
In the wintertime, Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler offers complimentary s’mores and hot chocolate stations, plus free cookies at the ski concierge, as well as festive (also gratis) experiences such as Do You Want to Build a Snowman and Expedition North Pole. Another attractive perk: Kids under 5 eat free at the hotel restaurants.
8. Snowmass, Colorado
Two free ice skating rinks, night tubing on illuminated lanes, a thrilling alpine coaster, daily afternoon s’mores, and 3,300 acres of terrain that prioritizes beginners. Snowmass is the super family-friendly sister to Aspen, where the 25,000-square-foot Aspen Snowmass Ski & Snowboard School facility and instructors ensure positive learning experiences for all ages in the Rocky Mountains. In the heart of the village, the recently renovated Viewline Resort Snowmass, Autograph Collection, offers guests a dedicated ski concierge to make it easy to get the crew to the lifts and back, while Limelight Hotel Snowmass has ski-in/ski-out village plus large pet- and family-friendly rooms and suites and a 54-foot indoor climbing wall.
9. Portage, Wisconsin
Just three hours by car from Chicago, Cascade Mountain in Portage, Wisconsin, is a haven for snow seekers and powder hounds from young to old. The medium-sized resort offers free skiing for kids aged 12 and under with the purchase of an adult ticket, so it’s easy on your wallet as ski trips go. That gets you access to 47 trails and four terrain parks, plus an 800-foot chute for snow tubing, and the tubing hill even has a magic carpet, which is like a conveyor belt delivering kids back to the top for more shriek-filled descents. Twenty miles south of Wisconsin Dells, there are plenty of approachable chain hotels in the area, but for a family, the best bet may be an Airbnb rental, ideally with a jacuzzi.
Switzerland in the winter feels like a storybook coming to life, perhaps no more than the charming chalet of Gstaad and its beloved Gstaad Palace, open since 1913 and serving up serious fairytale vibes. The storied luxury hotel’s architecture alone is enough to make a child swoon, but the skiing nearby is next level, definitely for families with plenty of experience on the hill. A new run at Glacier 3000 is one of the steepest in the world, but it’s not all crazy—there are 61 cable cars that give skiers access to 155 miles of slopes, sledge runs, and winter walks in the Bernese Alps. The Palace has a winter kids club for ages 5 to 12—think gingerbread house making, cookie decorating, and a kids’ disco, as well as a 20,000-square-foot spa where children can have a sleeping beauty massage or fairy princess manicure.
In the Swiss Alps, an hour and a half from Zurich, another option is the hidden jewel town of Andermatt, sitting 4,747 feet above sea level. Andermatt Ski Resort (now accepting Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass) has a world-class downhill as well as cross-country skiing and snowshoe hiking, horse-drawn carriage ride, and off-piste free riding. The Chedi Andermatt offers spacious family suites plus The Chedi Bear Club for littles aged 4 to 12 for treasure hunts, baking in the chef’s kitchen, and jewelry making.
11. Lake Tahoe, California
California, where you can surf and ski in one day, has quite a few snowy mountains, but none as epic as what’s found around picturesque Lake Tahoe, which straddles the border of Nevada. It has a whopping 15 ski resorts, which makes it a veritable playground for snow sports that take advantage of literally hundreds of lifts. The hardest part is choosing where to ski or snowboard since there’s truly something for every ability level.
Palisades Tahoe (formerly Squaw Valley Resort) is the largest and its village is typically thrumming with live music and happy screams from kids on a bungee-jump tramp or at SnowVentures, where there’s tubing and mini snowmobiles. Kids 12 and under can ride the aerial tram to High Camp for free. Northstar California Resort is another favorite, where world-class instructors specialize in teaching kids to love sliding on snow. The Ritz-Carlton, Lake Tahoe is the only ski-in/ski-out property and features two- and three-bedroom residences, while the kid-friendly Desolation Hotel in South Lake Tahoe—with fire pits and fireplace-studded townhouses—is just five minutes on foot to Heavenly Ski Resort.
12. Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Originally known for its healing hot springs as opposed to its snow, this high Rocky Mountains town is now the place to take your kids if you fantasize about them winning a gold medal. Three hours from Denver, it’s been dubbed Ski Town, U.S.A.® since it has produced the most Winter Olympians of any North American town. Many of those Olympians are now instructors at Steamboat Ski Resort, where littles as young as 2 years old can take private Whippersnapper lessons. A massive renovation has produced a fresh area called Greenhorn Ranch dedicated to novice skiers and riders, too.
For even more fun amid the trademarked Champagne Powder® snow, track down the snowcat–turned–taco truck called Taco Beast, or book the family a Haymaker Sleigh Ride Dinner, which involves cuddling up on a moonlit horse-drawn sleigh ride from the cozy-chic Steamboat Grand hotel, where condos and penthouses come with kitchens and plenty of hangout space for kids and adults alike.