Skiing and snowboarding are great ways to get outside as a family during the winter months. Here are some of the best resorts for families.
Mammoth Mountain (California)
Do you have a budding snowboard superstar in your family? Take him to the resort that made Shaun White famous, Mammoth Mountain. Mammoth's numerous and varied terrain parks have something for every skill level. Newcomers (and their parents) can test the gentle bumps of Disco Park, while serious shredders can take on the massive jumps in the Unbound Main Park. And, of course, there are 150 trails for skiers and riders of all levels. Best of all, Mammoth's unique climate and location mean that the "winter" sports generally don't end until June!
Heavenly Ski Resort, located in beautiful Lake Tahoe, offers a wide variety of childcare options for families. Their group daycare includes several fun and educational activities for kids of different ages and interests, or you can book a nanny to give your kids individual attention all day. Reservations for childcare are required, and the resort recommends booking one to two months in advance.
Park City (Utah)
Just 35 minutes outside of Salt Lake City, Park City is as noteworthy for its natural beauty as for its excellent terrain. Besides skiing and horseback (?) riding, guests can go snowmobiling and tubing. You can also ride the Alpine Coaster, a 4,000-foot roller coaster that uses the contours of the mountain, for an outdoor thrill ride you'll never forget.
Smuggler's Notch (Vermont)
Smuggler's Notch has been voted #1 in family programs by SKI Magazine readers for an astonishing ten years in a row. The resort has accomplished this feat with its unparalleled dedication to offering comprehensive kids' programs and a one-stop approach to customer service. Instead of talking to a different representative for every aspect of your trip - rentals, lodging, childcare - you'll talk to just one person for all your needs.
Many families have been priced out of Colorado's more upscale resorts, as well as the towns that surround them. Steamboat Springs bucks that trend. It's a down-to-earth town with honest folks and affordable amenities. Steamboat is also a great place for kids to learn how to ski or ride, with five kids-only lifts, several kids-only trails, and even a kids-only terrain park!
One of the oldest ski resorts in the Northeast, Sugarloaf has made its name with expansive terrain, exceptional snow quality, and the only above-tree-line skiing on the East coast. Family activities include free game nights and movie nights for kids, plus a tubing park that everyone can enjoy.
Whistler Blackcomb (British Columbia)
Whistler Blackcomb is the biggest ski resort in North America, with an astonishing 8,171 acres of traversable terrain. Its location in the Canadian Rockies ensures powdery snow throughout its long season. New for the winter of 2009 is a peak-to-peak gondola, which ferries skiers a distance of two miles, at an altitude of over 1,000 feet. The resort is likely to be much busier during the winter of 2010, when it will host the Olympic Games.
Giants Ridge (Minnesota)
Tucked away in northeast Minnesota, Giants Ridge is a terrific option for Midwestern families who don't want to travel to New England or the Rocky Mountains. Its top-quality terrain has hosted numerous competitions and Olympic trials. Surrounded by over 2,000 miles of groomed snowmobiling trails, Giants Ridge also offers ice fishing, which has made the region famous.