Treat the kids to sleigh rides, ice-skating and roasting marshmallows around fire pits on a family ski holiday stateside
1. Snowmass, Colorado
The first thing to know is that 95 per cent of Snowmass is schlep-less ski-in ski out accommodation. It’s also the third largest stand-alone mountain in the USA – bigger than all of Australia’s ski areas combined. There’s plenty of fun activities for families, including the Breathtaker Coaster forest luge, Ullr Nights with marshmallow roasting, free ice-skating, indoor rock climbing, bowling and the billion-dollar Snowmass Base Village development, which has kid-friendly eateries. It also has a 2,300-square-metre facility, The Treehouse, which combines childcare services with ski school programs.
2. Northstar, California
Northstar’s long green and blue runs and kid-friendly activities such as ice-skating and village tubing make it a great option for families. And with more than 1,200 hectares of terrain, they can progress together in family-designated learning zones. During the winter season, head over to The Village at 4pm and warm-up with a free s’more by the fire pits around the ice-skating rink, offered on a first come, first served basis.
3. Buttermilk, Colorado
Calling all beginners! Aspen Snowmass has not one mountain, but four, and Buttermilk is one of North America’s best to learn how to ski. The base area underwent a $34 million renovation in 2022, creating a one-stop shop for passes, rentals and ski school, with an eatery with the learn-to-ski area on the doorstep. The family drawcard isn’t just the cruisy wide-open slopes, or the terrain parks used for the X Games, but the 700 square metre The Hideout, a kid-tastic centre with jungle gyms, activities and skiing for kids aged from two-and-a-half to six-years-old.
4. Jackson Hole, Wyoming
From wildlife tours and sleigh rides through an elk refuge to ice-skating, snowmobiling and snow castles, Jackson has families well and truly covered. It’s located near the authentic western town, Jackson, which has lots of family-friendly eateries. Plus, you can do a snowcoach tour to see the geysers and hot springs at Yellowstone National Park while you’re there.
5. Telluride, Colorado
Home of Butch Cassidy’s first bank robbery, Telluride’s main street resembles a set from a wild west movie, with saloons and clapboard-fronted stores, with kids able to learn about mining history at the Telluride Historical Museum between ski lessons. A free gondola linking the town and mountain village runs all day, and there’s plenty of beginner terrain as well as off-slope adventures including sleigh rides, ice-skating and snow shoeing.
6. Beaver Creek, Colorado
Kids will love being handed a warm cookie when they step off the slopes at this Colorado resort at 3pm each day. The Beaver Creek Candy Cabin, located at the top of two chairlifts, is also a winner. There’s a dedicated family learning area, Red Buffalo Park, for beginner and intermediate skiers, and you can ride a sleigh to dinner at three atmospheric on-mountain restaurants. For kid-friendly convenience, The Osprey in Beaver Creek Village is the closest hotel to a chairlift in North America.
7. Diamond Peak, Nevada
This Lake Tahoe resort offers free lift tickets for kids aged six and under, interchangeable parent passes and slope-side parking just steps from the chairlifts. Located above Incline Village, the resort has a separate learning area for the littlest skiers and riders, miles of perfectly groomed slopes, beginner terrain park features, and magnificent views over the lake
8. Keystone, Colorado
Kids aged 12 and under receive a free day of skiing when you book two or more nights at this Colorado resort, just over 100 kilometres’ drive from Denver, plus an extra day of free skiing for each additional room night booked. Keystone also offers a Keystone Adventure Pass, with complimentary activities such as ice-skating, yoga and indoor tennis when you book two or more nights’ lodging at hotels including Keystone Lodge & Spa directly through the resort.
9. Big Sky, Montana
With sleigh rides, dog sledding and ziplining, this resort in Montana’s southern Rockies offers big fun for families both on and off the slopes. It has big terrain (nearly one football field per skier!) for all levels of expertise with no lift lines; from wide-open groomers to challenging steeps. There’s a full service day care program at the Lone Peak Playhouse at the base of Big Sky Resort’s slopes. It also offers big value, so it’s no wonder it’s being discovered by more Australian families.
10. Breckenridge, Colorado
There’s plenty to please the whole family in Breckenridge, which is part of Vail Resorts’ Epic Pass. Younger and novice skiers can enjoy the wide, gentle trails at the base of Peak 8 and 9, while off the slopes there’s ice-skating, an alpine slide, a mountain-top children’s museum and lots of family-friendly dining spots. The handy EpicMix app tells you the vertical feet your family covered on the slopes, and for older kids skiing without their parents, it will also reveal where on the mountain they last checked in.
11. Crested Butte, Colorado
Crested Butte’s Kids’ Night Out program lets parents hit the town while the kids visit the resort’s Adventure Park, which has a Zero Gravity BagJump, rock-climbing wall and bungee tramps, along with dinner and games. The resort, also part of Vail’s Epic Pass, has trails especially for kids, including one that winds through the trees.