If you’re looking to kick back with the kids this winter, catch our drift: A snow-covered getaway could be more family-friendly (even with toddlers!) than a beach vacation. But where can you stay comfortably without sacrificing a big chunk of your savings?
Our 10 favorite family winter resorts may make you want to fly north this winter.
The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa, Beaver Creek
The staff seems to have thought of everything. Childproofing supplies? You can pick them up at check-in along with a Westin Family Travel Journal and Local Activity Guide for the kids, giving them hints for exploring the destination. Place to store all your family’s wet gear? A valet will whisk away your skis and warm up your boots for free when you come off the gondola or shuttle from nearby Beaver Creek ski area. Extra hand in the morning? The Westin’s car-pool service will drive your child to and from lessons at The Ranch, Beaver Creek’s incredible ski school that features tepees, wagons, and other Wild West-themed obstacles for beginners. If you can’t resist checking out your 3-year-old’s first lesson (but don’t want her to see that you’re around), you can peek out of the school’s huge panoramic windows.
Beaver Creek ski area has plenty for your clan to do together, too, like tubing, ice-skating, sleigh rides, afternoon cookie breaks, and a Thursday night fireworks display. When you add that to the Westin’s new Family Programming (movie and crafts night, Kids Eat Well menu, heated outdoor pool, and supervised kids’ club activities like building snow forts and learning about the area’s Native American culture), you’ll find that there’s barely enough time to sleep in the super comfy Heavenly Beds or cribs. All guest rooms were recently renovated too. Winter rates start at $254 per night.
Keystone Resort, Colorado
The resort’s Kidtopia program is ridiculously fun: Your family can hop on a gondola to what’s billed as the world’s largest snow fort—it took two weeks to construct—and play in its slides and tunnels. After you’re done, take advantage of the loads of other free Kidtopia activities—like scavenger and parades—daily both around in the resort and in the club’s “headquarters.” And from February 19 to 21, 2016, the resort is hosting a special Kidtopia Experience weekend featuring a concert by the Grammy Award-winning band The Okee Dokee Brothers. Winter rates for a one-bedroom condo start at $199 per night; kids 12 and under ski free with a two night stay.
Jackson Gore Inn, Ludlow, Vermont
It’s in a great location. The Jackson Gore Inn is just a snowball’s throw away from all of the fun family happenings at Okemo, a mountain that ski buffs flock to for its 121 lush trails. A top-notch ski school rents pint-size gear and puts kids on the bunny slopes starting at age 2. Families can get a free, personalized tour of the mountain by visiting Okemo’s Ambassador desk. Even if your family doesn’t ski, Jackson Gore is still one of the best family winter resorts. Right outside the front door, kids can climb on and crawl through the “ant hill,” a giant mound of snow.
There are three snow-tubing runs, and some tubes link together so you can slide down as a family. And kids ages 5 to 12 can enjoy a 20-minute, guided snowmobile tour on a Polaris kids’ snowmobile. An outdoor rink rents skates and hosts family events like disco skating parties. The excitement continues after dark with moonlit snowshoe treks or Vermont Institute of Natural Science raptor encounters. Winter rates start at $150 per night plus kids age 6 and under get free lift tickets.
The Lodge at Suncadia, A Destination Hotel
The holidays are snow much fun here. A tree-lighting ceremony on Thanksgiving weekend kicks off Winterfest, a month-long celebration with horse-drawn-sleigh rides, Jack Frost storytimes, s’mores roasting in the outdoor fireplace, cookie-decorating classes for the kids, and — the sweetest of all — elf tuck-ins. “The elves come to a family’s room to read the kids a story and bring them a trinket,” says Mike Rayburn, director of sales & marketing. All this, of course, is in addition to the lodge’s regular wintertime activities, including cross-country skiing for kids 5 and over, ice-skating, and snow-tubing. An indoor pool with waterslides and mommy-and-me spa treatments are also part of the fun. Winter rates start at $169 per night.
Camelback Resort, Tannersville, Pennsylvania
If your family loves to snowtube, Camelback is the place to go. It’s home of the biggest snowtubing park in the country with 42 lanes and 2 “magic-carpet” lifts so you spend more time sliding and less time climbing. Kids need to be at 33 inches to tube with an adult and 44 inches to go in a tube of their own. The resort’s lodge itself opened last spring and features several suite-style room layouts to accommodate larger families. But what makes it really unique: Aquatopia, its massive indoor waterpark with activities for kids of all ages. Winter rates start at $199 per night, including water-park admission;
Crystal Mountain Resort & Spa, Thompsonville, Michigan
You’re getting a bargain here. A spacious “Hamlet” room with a microwave, a fridge, and a toaster goes for as low as $139 per night. Plus, the activities are free or cheap: There’s a Scavenger Hunt and Photo Scavenger Hunt as well as family campfires (all free activities at the Park at Water’s Edge), horse-drawn-surrey rides as well as nighttime snowshoe hikes. “The kids love to do owl calls on the hikes,” says Janice Davidson, recreation director. What’s more, there are 58 slopes with lessons starting at age 3. A unique feature we love: Kids in ski school wear color-coded vests to designate if they have a food allergy or any other special condition. A new Alpine ski and snowboarding complex, called the Backyard, features eight new trails served by a triple chairlift. Winter rates start at $119 per night.
Trapp Family Lodge, Stowe, Vermont
This place is frozen in time. The Austrian-inspired retreat is still serving up the same charming family fun it did when it was founded in 1950 by the Von Trapps (of The Sound of Music fame): potato-sack races in the snow, homemade cider, nature tours, maple-sugaring lessons, sledding, building snow forts, and sing-alongs.
The rooms are nicely decorated, though they’re not stuffed with antiques that you have to worry the kids might break. There are cross-country and snowshoeing trails on site, and if your clan wants to go downhill skiing the resort is about a ten-minute drive from the slopes at Stowe. Hot chocolate and homemade doughnuts welcome guests at check-in. Rates start at $225 per night.
Resort at Squaw Creek, Lake Tahoe, California
At the base of Squaw Creek Mountain—about five miles from Lake Tahoe—this resort offers plenty of family fun whether your kids want to ski or not. Ice skating, horse-drawn carriage rides, sledding, and snowman-building are among the family activities. If you’d like to catch some time on the slopes, the Mountain Buddies program provides supervised (often outdoor) children’s programing for kids ages 4 to 12. All 400-plus guestrooms were renovated last year; fireplace suites—with one to three bedrooms and a fridge, microwave, and dishwasher—are ideal for families. Winter rates start at $239 per night.
Woodloch Pines, Hawley, Pennsylvania
Don’t ski? Then this all-inclusive resort is a great choice because it emphasizes other kinds of classic winter fun, with more than two dozen activities being offered daily. Some unique picks: extreme snowtubing, Cupcake Wars competitions, outdoor family Olympics, and a snowy scavenger hunt. “It’s our version of The Amazing Race,” says marketing director Rory Ofee. “Kids and parents work together looking for clues all around the resort, and we see which family gets done first.” Winter rates start at $118 per adult per night (including meals and activities); kids ages 6 and under are free.
Omni Mount Washington Resort, Brettonwoods, New Hampshire
If you’re serious about teaching your kid to ski, this is where to stay. The resort is just a two-minute shuttle ride away from the Hobbit Ski and Snowboard School at Bretton Woods, which offers full-day instruction for kids as young as 4. Plus, Bretton’s nursery takes care of children from 2 months to 5 years so you can hit the slopes. But if your whole gang wants to stick together, there are plenty of options. Horse-drawn sleigh rides, ice-skating, tubing, scavenger hunts, and a Kids snowmobile park (for ages 5 to 13) are among the offerings. Winter rates start at $229 per night.