Terry Ward | Special to USA TODAY
Ask anyone who’s been skiing with little kids – or even suited them up on a snow day, for that matter – and they’ll tell you that enjoying winter with little ones is a lot of work. It’s worth it, though. So if you’re planning to hit the mountains for winter vacation, opt for a family-friendly ski resort that makes things especially easy for kids and parents.
With perks like supervised childcare, kid-friendly ski trails and learning areas and plenty of alternative winter activities like onsite snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and tubing, these are the best U.S. ski resorts from coast to coast for families who can’t wait to hit the slopes.
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1. Snowmass, Colorado
One of the four ski mountains that make up Aspen Snowmass, Snowmass covers the most terrain, with 3,342 acres of powdery perfection accessed by 20 chairlifts and 98 trails. But those superlative numbers aside, what parents love most about Snowmass is how easy the resort makes it for families looking to get kids hooked on skiing or snowboarding.
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Base yourself at the ski-in/ski-out Viceroy Snowmass and you can get your rental gear right onsite. Then catch the complimentary shuttle to the Treehouse Kids’ Adventure Center, a Colorado-themed wonderland for little ones at the foot of the mountain in the town’s scenic base village. The facility welcomes kids from eight weeks to four years old for fully supervised childcare and activities, as well as group lessons for beginners aged two to four on the bunny hill and magic carpet just out the door. Snowmass’s children’s ski school is one of the most renowned in the country.
2. Beaver Creek, Colorado
Another family favorite among the best ski resorts in the U.S. is Beaver Creek, a kid-friendly Colorado mountain that mixes a luxurious stay with a top-notch children’s ski and snowboard school focused on teaching kids to venture confidently forth.
With the ski-in/ski-out The Ritz-Carlton Bachelor Gulch as your base, you can get your rentals and lift tickets right onsite and catch the chairlift just steps from the resort’s legendary après-ski terrace (where there are nightly s’mores sessions, of course, in addition to bottles of bubbly popping on repeat).
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The newly opened McCoy Park at Beaver Creek is 250 acres of snowy terrain with 17 trails, almost all of them for beginners, accessed by two chairlifts. There are even easy tree runs in McCoy Park where skiers who are still gaining confidence off the groomed runs can test their turns in the powder.
3. Snowbasin, Utah
Less than an hour north of Salt Lake City’s international airport, Snowbasin boasts 111 trails spanning an incredible range of terrain. Younger skiers at this kid-friendly ski resort love Bear Hollow Woods, a tree-skiing zone that’s just for kids, while double black diamond runs offer a real challenge for expert skiers. There’s even a NASTAR course for some friendly family racing against the clock.
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Kids are divvied by age and ability level for group classes with the mountain’s Snow Sports School, considered one of best in the country. Private lessons are also available.
4. Smugglers’ Notch, Vermont
Named after a pass at the base of Vermont’s towering Mount Mansfield, Smugglers’ Notch ranks high among the best ski resorts for kids in New England. Spread across three mountains, the resort has kid-friendly ski terrain as well as a ton of other family favorite winter activities like ice skating, a tubing hill that’s illuminated at night, indoor swimming pools and roughly 20 miles of snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trails.
There’s even a 26,000-square-foot indoor playground where the kids can go wild with laser tag, a bounce house, mini golf, air hockey and more. Opt for a ski-in/ski-out condo rental in the base village to simplify your family ski vacation.
5. Sunday River, Maine
Another New England go-to for family skiing, Maine’s Sunday River ski resort has 135 trails and glades that stretch across eight peaks. The kid-friendly mountain is known for having some of the East Coast’s most wide-open terrain, making it ideal for beginners to ski in comfort, even on crowded days.
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Sunday River feels like a true winter wonderland with tons to experience off the slopes throughout the season, including fireworks, fire dancer performances, magic shows and the awesome Après Aglow Winter Trail. Set behind the ski-in/ski-out Grand Summit Hotel, the special trail is an atmospheric spot to stroll along a half-mile path through snowy woods illuminated with twinkling lights.
6. Taos Ski Valley Resort, New Mexico
New Mexico’s largest ski resort is another tried-and-true favorite with kids and parents in a state that might not first come to mind when you think of mountain fun. But you can ski the Rockies in New Mexico just two hours from the airport in Santa Fe at the independently owned Taos Ski Valley Resort.
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The ski resort stays open to skiers and snowboarders into the first week in April and you’ll find most of the groomed green and blue trails on the lower front side and back side.
Consider staying 20 minutes from the mountain in the town of Taos at El Monte Sagrado, which has a gorgeous saltwater swimming pool for après ski fun as well as a spa worth treating your ski legs to after a day on the mountain.
7. Palisades Tahoe, California
California skiing is at its best at Palisades Tahoe, the resort formerly known as Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows. This excellent family ski resort gets more than 400 inches of annual snowfall a year packed in between its 300 sunny days.
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And while there’s lots of expert and extreme terrain across the mountain resort’s 6,000 skiable acres (Tahoe’s largest terrain), beginner runs count for 25% of the two mountains that make up the resort. In short, there’s a little something for every skier style to enjoy and find challenging here.
When you’re not shredding the mountain with the kids, go for a scenic drive around Lake Tahoe, which looks particularly sapphire-hued with a snowy backdrop. You can try some snow tubing at the resort or go or sledding at the many hills in North Lake Tahoe.
8. Boyne Mountain Resort, Michigan
Boyne Mountain Resort is easily one of the best ski resorts for families in the Midwest thanks to its many options for on- and off-mountain fun. The mountain has 60 trails and 415 skiable acres accessed by 12 lifts. And since there’s only 500 vertical feet of drop here, there’s plenty of easy terrain for beginners.
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