Want to go dashing through the snow without breaking the family budget? These hot snow spots, near and far, have a flurry of options for learning or improving skiing skills, plenty of activities for kids, plus cool discounts for Mom and Dad. Let this guide help you figure out your peak personality.
For years it seemed Wilmot, Wis., was frozen in time. Not anymore. After being purchased by Vail Resorts last year, this modest Midwest ski slope has made big improvements. A $13 million renovation means three new chair lifts, a new kids’ ski/snowboard school and upgraded terrain park. Best for parents is Wilmot’s completely renovated base lodge. Snuggle up by the fireplace with a hot toddy and a good book. Huge windows overlooking beginner ski slopes mean Mom and Dad can relax in comfort while still keeping an eye on the kids.
If your child wants to go skiing several times this winter, consider investing in a season pass. Wilmot is part of what’s known as the Epic Pass. A kids’ season pass to Wilmot, $329, gets your kid unlimited access to other ski resorts owned by Vail—big Colorado names like Vail, Breckenridge, Beaver Creek and Utah’s Park City.
Want to take it to the next level, but not sure you’re ready for a Rocky Mountain high? Granite Peak, Wis., has a 700-foot drop.
Just about four hours away from Chicago, Granite Peak doesn’t have on-site lodging, but kids will love the 50,000-square-foot indoor waterpark at nearby Grand Lodge Waterpark Resort.
Another great option is the luxurious Glacier Pines Cabins nestled in a forest 45 minutes from Granite Peak. They’re on the way from Chicago, so you could drive up the night before, get up early in the morning and drive over to the ski area for a full day on the slopes.
Ready for a ski adventure with some altitude? To do that, you’re going to need to hop on a plane. Here are two with direct flights:
Think you have to be a one-percenter to visit Vail? If your kids ski at Wilmot regularly, they can ski for free at this Tyrolean-themed town with the Epic Pass. Flights into Denver are plentiful and affordable. From there, it’s a two-hour drive to Vail. Ski lessons start at age 3; snowboard lessons start at age 7. Small World Play School offers daycare and crafts for non-skiing children from 2 months to 6 years. Vail’s Adventure Ridge has a zipline and multi-lane tubing hill, kids’ snowmobiling and ski bikes.
Vail Village has lodging for every budget. One fun choice is The Lodge at Vail, where kids get a free stuffed moose at check-in.
Wyoming’s Jackson Hole Mountain Resort combines world-class skiing with bucket-list National Park adventures—just one mile from Grand Teton National Park and an hour to Yellowstone.
Stay at a condo or vacation home run by Jackson Hotel Resort Lodging, and for each adult lift ticket and equipment rental, your child (under 14) will get that same number of day lift ticket and equipment for free.
Need a break from the slopes? Spend a spa day at the super swanky Four Seasons Jackson Hole or take a day to plow through Jackson Hole’s western-themed stores, 30 art galleries and world-class restaurants.
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