Are you the type of family that enjoys hitting the slopes together…or perhaps doing a little snowboarding or ice skating? If so, you probably know that ski resorts are more than a little pricey during the season, generally November through April. However, not every ski destination charges the prices you find in Stowe or Vail. There are several family-friendly snow destinations around North America that won’t break the budget. Here are just a few:
1. Winter Park, Colorado – Located about one and a half hour’s drive west of Denver, this quiet, unassuming resort offers more than 2700 skiable acres and 134 total runs in its three ski areas: Winter Park, Mary Jane, and Vasquez Ridge. Accommodations and facilities here are very family-oriented, and prices are a fraction of what you’d pay in nearby Vail or Aspen. Winter Park offers a wide variety of condominiums (so you can save money on food), as well as a family swim center, and advance, online-purchased lift tickets that start at just $63 per person per day. (Vail lift tickets start at $105 per person per day.) Winter Park also has one of the world’s largest ski facilities for physically-challenged visitors.
2. Boyne Mountain, Michigan – The Boyne Mountain Resort, located in northern Michigan near Gaylord, has been a favorite of midwestern skiers for years. The resort (and its sister Boyne Highlands) have 850 skiable acres and 60 runs. Accommodations range from the upscale Mountain Grand Lodge and Spa to spacious condos. The resort offers a variety of affordable family packages. Currently, they have a Lift and Lodging special for January 13-16 that starts at $139 per person and includes lodging, a lift ticket, breakfast, free tubing and taxes. Better yet: children age 8 and younger ski and stay free with their parents. If you get tired of skiing, the lodge is also home to Michigan’s largest water park.
3. Big Sky, Montana – Big Sky, located midway between Bozeman and West Yellowstone, offers more than 5500 acres of skiable terrain as well as some of the most scenic vistas of any ski area in America. Developed as a ski area in the early 1970s, Big Sky has 220 ski runs on three mountains. Kids age 10 and younger ski free at Big Sky, and the area has a kids club with daily activities as well as free evening family events in season, such as movies and chances to get to know the ski dogs.
4. Mont Tremblant, Quebec – Quebec’s premiere ski area offers a taste of European skiing without leaving North America. Located in the Laurentian Mountains about one-and-one-half hour’s drive northwest of Montreal, the area boasts 95 ski runs and 600 skiable acres. The resort has been named the Number One resort in the eastern part of North America by “Ski Magazine” for eight years in a row. The town has a charming, European-style pedestrian village and the Canadian dollar’s recent weakness has made prices at Mont Tremblant even more affordable for Americans.
What is your favorite affordable ski destination?