Thinking of planning a ski vacation for the whole family? As the winter approaches, it’s time to dust off the ol’ skis and make plans to hit the slopes. But where are the best ski resorts in Colorado for kids? For the out-of-state skier on the hunt for a family friendly ski vacation, one may feel overwhelmed with the many resorts that dot the Colorado landscape. With endless skiing and snowboarding options throughout the Rocky Mountains, it’s no wonder why Colorado is often called “Ski Country USA.” A relatively new Denver-resident, I spent a bunch of time exploring the best ski resorts in Colorado for kids around the area. There are some pretty epic ski resorts with special ski camps and activities for children, all within a short driving distance from Denver. Whether you’re an expert snowboarder looking to shred in the backcountry or a newbie skier learning to navigate the bunny hill with your little ones, the following resorts have something for everyone in the family.
One of my favorite family friendly resorts just a short drive from Denver is Keystone. They have a great Kids Ski Free program which is available to kids under 12 every day the entire season (including weekends and holidays) when you book just two nights of lodging.
Keystone offers free Kidtopia programming throughout the village, with daily events like a parade with floats, dancers, music and free cookies. For a complete list of all the activities happening across the resort, head to Kidtopia Headquarters, located by the Dercum Ice Rink in River Run Village. It’s a free playspace for kids and parents to enjoy board games, a foosball table, giant Lego sets and tons of toys and crafts. This place was my saving grace when my eldest kiddo needed to burn off some energy. We spent a few hours there, making paper snowflakes and running around like lunatics. It’s a great space for a little free indoor play. If parents are looking for a daycare service, the resort has a great daycare program offering ½ day or full day care for the little ones.
Don’t forget to take the gondola up to the top of Dercum Mountain and enjoy the Kidtopia Snow Fort, dubbed the world’s largest snow fort, with slides and mazes. Or speed down the multi-lane hill on a snow tube at Adventure Point. Beyond the plentiful activities and amenities for kids, for me it’s the things that make this resort so family friendly: free front-row family parking and complimentary red wagons to help lug gear to and from the mountain.
Once you’ve worked up an appetite on the slopes, it’s time to decide where to eat. For a unique dining experience for the whole family, make a reservation at Der Fondue Chessel, a fondue and raclette restaurant with Bavarian-style music and a whole lot of lederhosen. Located at the top of the Keystone’s North Peak Mountain at almost 12,000 feet, you must arrive at Der Fondue Chessel by gondola. Floating though the air at night, buddle together under a blanket, makes the experience quite memorable. Kids will enjoy dipping their veggies and bread cubes into Gruyère and Emmentaler Cheeses imported straight from Switzerland. The show stopper is of course, the classic milk chocolate fondu where you can drown your wafer cookies and marshmallows in a muddy bowl of chocolately goodness.
With fancy shops like Prada and Dior, swanky hotels and a private airport for the jet set crowd, it’s clear to see why Aspen continues to be a playground for the affluent traveler keen on experiencing the luxury lifestyle. But, if you’re like me, schlepping a bunch of baby gear in one hand, wrangling a screaming toddler with the other, you may wonder if Aspen is right for you.
Hotels like The Little Nell, a five-star hotel at the base of the mountain with ski-in and ski-out access, roll out the red carpet for even their youngest guests. Their thoughtful family amenities include: cribs, toddler beds, strollers, car seats, highchairs, outlet plugs and toilet locks for safety, infant bath tubs, rattles, games, books and even children’s robes. If you’ve forgotten something, chances are pretty good the Little Nell team can come to the rescue. They also provide children’s room service menus, bicycle rentals and recommendations for babysitting services. Its quality of service, central location, accessibility to the mountain and unlimited snacks and non alcoholic beverages from the mini bar makes a stay at The Little Nell a no-brainer.
For child friendly activities in Aspen, start with a little ice skating, followed by some tubing, snowbiking and roasted s’mores by the bonfire for the Ullr Nights Friday celebration at Elk Camp. The Aspen recreation centers have a host of activities from a climbing wall to a huge indoor pool with rock features. For childcare, parents may want to check out The Treehouse Adventure Center, with Colorado-themed playrooms for kids aged 8 weeks to 4 years old or lessons at the ski school at Hideout at Buttermilk Mountain.
For those parents traveling with older kids or even grandparents, a “must do” on everyone’s hit list should be a visit to Pine Creek Cookhouse. Located in the historic ghost town of Ashcroft some 12 miles outside of Aspen at the base of the Elk Mountain Range, Pine Creek is a high end restaurant serving gourmet mountain cuisine in an epic rustic setting. This restaurant serves up hearty three-course winter meals (like Rocky Mountain Elk Chop) in a cozy log cabin. Beyond the delicious food and woodsy atmosphere, part of the thrill and romance of this place is just getting there. Guests can either cross-country ski, snowshoe, or take a horse drawn sleigh ride (which the kids will love) through the woods to or from Pine Creek.
For my complete story and the list of the other best ski resorts in Colorado for kids, check out Travelocity: https://www.travelocity.com/inspire/family-friendly-ski-resorts-colorado/