By Summer Tularosa

A family ski trip is about more than just spending a few days together, and the right trip can build a love of skiing and outdoor sports that will last a lifetime.  While any ski trip can be a family vacation, targeting a resort or mountain that caters to kids and families will help ensure that everyone has a great time.

Green means “go” for kids: A mountain that offers plenty of green circle runs is a must, and the longer those runs are, the better.  Lugging a 75-pound child and his 30 pounds of ski equipment up a mountain or even onto a chairlift isn’t much fun, so a long run cuts your “carrying and climbing” time and gives you more actual skiing time.  Kid-friendly resorts often offer new chairlift seats, too, which they can lower while you board and make it less likely that you’ll slip or lose your grip.  Old-school lift chairs can and will drag your kids up a mountain, but climbing aboard is a little more nerve-wracking for both parent and child if the lift has a fixed grip.

Onsite children’s programming is a must: Some kids can spend an entire day going up and down the mountain, while others will tire out after a few runs.  The best ski resorts for kids are the ones that address the needs of those “part-time” skiers and offer plenty of other activities.  Childcare centers or programs are great for parents, too; they provide a safe place to leave the kids when mom and dad want to tackle a more advanced slope or hang out together in the lodge.

Lessons designed exclusively for kids: While every mountain and resort out there offers lessons, the best family ski destinations provide fun and engaging instruction just for kids.  Patient teachers who run through the basics every day and have seen everything can help make sure your little ones really “get it” before they climb aboard a chairlift for the first time.  Lessons taught by someone other than mom or dad are a must for tweens and teens, who may be more likely to take instruction from someone “official.”

These tips are designed to help you choose the right, kid-friendly mountain and pack your bags for the best possible family ski vacation. 

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