12 of the best ski resorts for families in the United States

by Paul Joseph  |  Published January 5, 2021

The US is a hugely diverse country offering a stunning variety of world class ski destinations stretching from coast to coast. And for families seeking a skiing adventure, many of America’s ski resorts offer an array of child-friendly facilities – from day care to ski schools to equipment rentals – that ensure kids of every age can enjoy the captivating experience of hurtling down the slopes amid some of the world’s most scenic mountainous landscapes.

Kids on the slopes at Utah’s Alta Ski Area (Photo: Rudi Riet via Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0)

But the family focus at these resorts often extends beyond the snowy terrain. Many of them also provide services such as day care, soft play areas, and fully supervised kids-only meal times, allowing parents to indulge in more adult-oriented activities and pursuits. If you’d like to plan a ski vacation of a lifetime with your loved ones and are looking for the best resort to visit, we’ve picked out 10 that are tailored to families.

Alta Ski Area

Rising 2358 ft. from an old silver mining town to the top of Mount Baldy, Alta Ski Area offers guaranteed snow year-round. While it may have reputation for its big mountain skiing facilities, two-thirds of the Albion Basin and Collins Gulch cater for beginner to intermediate skiers, making it perfect for families. The Alf Engen Ski Schools offers half-day and full-day ski programmes for kids, or 45-minute lessons for under-fours, while little ones from 2 months to 10 years can also enjoy a ski-free day at the Alta Children’s Center as part of your family package. Other notable child-friendly amenities include the Alta Lodge Kids Club, which provides daily après skiing with activities and dinner, allowing parents to enjoy their evening in the Sitzmark bar and dinner in the dining room. Meanwhile a fully-stocked gameroom in the Snowpine Lodge comes complete with foosball, pool, ping pong, karaoke, and classic arcade games.

Alta, Utah www.alta.com

Alta Ski Area

(Photo: Alta Ski Area)

Keystone Resort

With plenty of ski-in, ski-out lodging, as well as convenient extras like free designated family parking and complimentary gear wagons, Keystone Resort was designed with families in mind. Located 70 miles from Denver, it also boasts the longest ski day in Colorado, with slopes open until 8pm on weekends. The resort’s playground paradise – Kidtopia – features the world’s largest snow fort, as well as a daily line-up of free, family-focussed activities like scavenger hunts and adventure walks. Night-time activities include sleigh-rides and ice skating, and the resort’s 15 restaurants will impress even the pickiest of eaters.

Summit County, Colorado www.keystoneresort.com

Keystone Resort

(Photo: Keystone Resort)

Northstar California Resort

Offering a wintry wonderland of family fun for all ages, Northstar Ski Resort offers over 3,000-acres of skiable terrain, with trails for all levels. Teenagers will enjoy testing the jumps and bumps of the terrain parks and ski lessons are available for all children over three years old. The Village, set around a 10,000 ft. ice-skating rink, offers a range of dining options, from waffles to Mexican grills. Visitors can even make their own Lake Tahoe souvenirs at pottery and candle-making workshops. To top it off, Northstar has created its own ‘S’moresmobilie’, a dedicated daily delivery service of complimentary s’mores.

Truckee, California www.northstarcalifornia.com

Northstar California Resort

(Photo: Northstar California Resort)

Big Sky Resort

Situated in the Northern Rockies, just 50 miles from Yellowstone National Park, Big Sky offers quieter slopes with beginner-friendly terrain. There’s a huge choice of accommodation, from slope-side condos to ski-in, ski-out lodges with hot tubs and pools. The resort offers daycare for children over six months, and a full spa, fitness centre and daily yoga for adults. Cross-country skiing is popular here, as well as snowshoeing and winter hiking. Other child-friendly off-slope adventures include The Nature Zipline, a bungee trampoline and a giant swing, and dog sledging.

Big Sky, Montana www.bigskyresort.com

Big Sky Resort

(Photo: Big Sky Resort)

Sun Valley Resort

Built in 1936, Sun Valley was the first-ever ski resort built in the United States – and it also boasts the world’s first chairlift. Updates have been made since then, but it still retains the distinctive character of a traditional family resort. Families can choose from two mountains, with slopes for every skill. Big kids and more experienced skiers will love ‘Baldy’ Mountain, which offers some of the best groomed runs in the world. Younger skiers and snowboarders can enjoy the more modest 600 vertical ft. Dollar Mountain, and its three terrain parks. Other family-friendly activities include sleigh rides, ice skating, ice shows and a cinema.

Sun Valley, Idaho www.sunvalley.com

Sun Valley Resort

(Photo: Sun Valley Resort)

Smugglers’ Notch Resort

Located in Vermont, Smugglers’ Notch offers family-friendly skiing breaks for every season. The resort boasts 78 trails, including the only black diamond run in the east, sprawled across three mountains – linked by eight lifts. Thoughtfully designed ski and snowboard programs help kids get to grips with the slopes, and therapeutic recreation is provided for those requiring special assistance. Other mountain-side activities include tubing, snowmobile tours and airboarding. FunZone 2.0 provides 26,000 square ft. of kids entertainment, with indoor playgrounds, arcade games and climbing walls. For teens, a supervised centre provides a ‘no parents sanctuary’ until 8pm, with Xbox 360, pool tables and music.

Jeffersonville, Vermont www.smuggs.com

Smugglers' Notch Resort

(Photo: Smugglers’ Notch Resort)

Deer Valley Resort

For a family-friendly skiing break with a little luxury, Deer Valley Resort offers fine dining, boutique shopping and five-star accommodation, all with skiers’ comfort in mind. Reserve your energy for the slopes with thoughtful touches like ski valet services and an on-site Cadillac shuttle. Ticket sales are limited too, guaranteeing less queuing time. The Deer Valley Resort Ski School offers top-notch coaching for children, along with itineraries that include mascot-spraying contests and snow cone making. Adrenalin-seeking teens will love the snowmobiling tours, as well as the après-ski offering of skating, bowling, billiards and
arcade games.

Park City, Utah www.deervalley.com

Deer Valley Resort

(Photo: Devin Stein via Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

Diamond Peak Ski Resort

Boasting unrivalled views of Lake Tahoe, Diamond Peak Ski Resort is a good value family-friendly base with a range of groomed slopes, open glades and cross-country skiing. At 655-acres, the mountain is more modest than its neighbours, which makes it easier to navigate its 30 runs. The resort is wallet-friendly too, with lift ticket offers, Flex passes and affordable lessons with limited child-to-instructor ratios. There’s plenty of accommodation to choose from too, including the 422-room Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, with a year-round heated swimming pool, wading pool for kids and two whirlpools.

Incline Village, Nevada www.diamondpeak.com

Diamond Peak Ski Resort

(Photo: Diamond Peak Ski Resort)

Heavenly Mountain Ski Resort

This sprawling 4,800-acre resort spans two states – Nevada and California – with an impressive 97 named runs to choose from. Those who aren’t interested in skiing, can take the Heavenly Gondola 3.9 kilometres to the Adventure Peak for snowtubing and guided UTV tours. The resort is just as popular for its off-slope entertainment, which includes movie screenings, magic shows and ice skating. Finding accommodation is a breeze, with more than 10,000 beds within walking distance to the resort’s four portals.

South Lake Tahoe, California www.skiheavenly.com

Heavenly Mountain Resort

(Photo: Travis Wise via Flickr / CC BY 2.0)

Wilmot Mountain Ski Resort

Ice castles, hot-chocolate trails and snow-sculpting contests: these are just some of the off-piste activities families can look forward to at this inclusive, friendly resort in Wisconsin. Families have 23 runs to choose from across the 120-acre site, for beginners through to expert. It’s the tubing that really sets this resort apart, though, with 22 lanes stretching over 1,000 ft. Child-care programmes with skiing and snowboarding cater to children aged three to six. The resort doesn’t offer its own lodging, but there are plenty of hotels close by, with The Abbey Resort and The Cove at Lake Geneva two of the best.

Wilmot, Wisconsin www.wilmotmountain.com

Wilmot Mountain Ski Resort

(Photo: Wilmot Mountain Ski Resort)