9 New England Ski Resorts That Cater to Families

Places to ski with kids in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine
Photo courtesy of Loon Mountain Resort

Despite the expense, the cold, and the gauntlet of gearing up kids, family ski trips are tough to beat. Skiing is one of the few sports where kids can quickly learn to meet—or in our family, surpass—parents' ability, and conquering a tough slope or cruising together down an easy one are the stuff of great and lasting memories. That said, not all ski resorts make it easy for families to deal with real parenting needs while on the slopes, but we found some gems that do. A few weeks ago, we covered great nearby spots for first-time skiers within an hour of Boston, and this week we venture northward to find resorts in New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine that cater to families with plenty of green slopes, daycare, lots of food options, condo-style lodging, and more. Here are our picks.

Under 2 hours from Boston...


Sunapee's well-groomed trails are great for little learners. Photo courtesy of Mount Sunapee

Mount Sunapee Resort, New Hampshire
Billed as the closest big mountain to Southern New England, Sunapee is often families' first stop after conquering Massachusetts' slopes. Besides proximity, what people love most about Sunapee is its "corduroy": While powder and bumps are fun when you're zipping around solo, with kids in tow, you'll be thankful for Sunapee's ultra-smooth and uniform runs, produced by constant snowmaking and grooming.
Trails: 66 runs (26% beginner)
Ski school? Yes: Group and private lessons are available
Slopeside childcare: Mother Goose Child Care for ages 1 to 5
Fave kid-friendly food spot: Summit Cafeteria off the Sunapee Express lift offers breakfast and lunch by a cozy fire.
Where to stay: Right at the entrance to the ski hill, Mountain Edge Resort and Spa offers family suites and "ski and stay deals."

Under 2 1/2 hours from Boston...


The spring cardboard box race is a family favorite. Photo courtesy of Loon Mountain Resort

Loon Mountain, New Hampshire
With a wide range of terrain ranging from easy greens to challenging black diamonds, Loon also has a lot of family programming on the calendar, including Independence Weekend in January, 'Smores parties for kids in February, and fun spring events like Cardboard Box races and an 80s party.
Trails: 61 runs (20% beginner)
Ski school? Yes: Group and private lessons are available.
Slopeside childcare: Loon Children's Daycare for ages 6 weeks to 6 years
Fave kid-friendly food spot: Try the BYOB (Build Your Own Burrito Bar) at the Governor Adams Lodge at the west end of the Main Base parking lot.
Where to stay: Kids love the game room, indoor/outdoor pool, and other amenities at the slopeside Mountain Club.

Waterville Valley Ski Resort, New Hampshire
Waterville Valley prides itself on being more than a downhill haven, with a nordic center, a great skating rink, lots of snowshoeing and hiking, and a charming, centrally located town square that makes it easy to keep track of multiple family members or other groups.
Trails: 60 runs (15% beginner)
Ski school? Yes: Group and private lessons are available.
Slopeside childcare: Full-service childcare for ages 1 and up
Fave kid-friendly food spot: The Coyote Grill is a great, lively dinner spot that can easily accommodate large groups.
Where to stay: Outfitted with 1, 2, and 3 bedrooms and full kitchens, Town Square Condominums are steps from a skating rink and cross country ski trails, and a short shuttle from the downhill ski area.

Under 3 hours from Boston...


After skiing, there's lots more to do at Okemo. Photo courtesy of Okemo Mountain Resort

Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
New Hampshire's largest ski area is surprisingly manageable for families. A painstaking snowmaking and grooming system as well as updated chair lifts make a day on the slopes fun for all, and the amazing views make for spectacular family photos.
Trails: 97 runs (25% beginner)
Ski school? Yes: Group and private lessons are available. 
Slopeside childcare: Babes in the Woods Nursery for ages 2 months to 5 years
Fave kid-friendly food spot: The Slopeside Pub is perfect for lunch or apres ski with a hearty kids' menu and great buffalo wings.
Where to stay: Half the draw of a trip to Bretton Woods, the storied Omni Mount Washington Resort is a true haven for children with pools, a snowmobile park, kids' apres ski parties, and plenty of family rooms and suites to choose from.

Okemo Mountain Resort, Vermont
Okemo has always been a magnet for families. A snowboard-friendly Superpipe, a tubing park, a skating rink, a nature program, and even an indoor golf park offer extra fun for kids.
Trails: 121 runs (32% beginner)
Ski school? Yes: Group and private lessons are available.
Slopeside childcare: Penguin Playground Daycare for ages 6 weeks to 4 years
Fave kid-friendly food spot: Don't miss the oven-fired goodness at the Vermont Pizza Company, inside the Clock Tower base lodge
Where to stay: Families in-the-know take advantage of the third-night-free packages at any of Okemo's lodging properties; we're fans of Solitude Village, which features indoor/outdoor pools, ping pong, and 2- or 3-bedroom options, centrally located between the Clock Tower base area and Jackson Gore ski area.

Stratton Mountain Resort, Vermont
With the highest proportion of beginner trails of all the resorts we feature here, Stratton is serious about developing young skiers. The cute village at the mountain's base features a skating rink, funky shops, and sweet stores galore for kids who tucker out from skiing on the early side.
Trails: 97 runs (41% beginner)
Ski school? Yes: Group and private lessons are available.
Slopeside childcare: Full-service childcare for ages 6 weeks to 5 years
Fave kid-friendly food spot: To warm up from the cold, scope out a cozy corner booth at Grizzly's and order a pizza to share or surprisingly good grilled cheese and hot dogs off the kids' menu.
Where to stay: With hard-to-find 4-bedroom condos, the Landmark is perfect for big families or multiple groups and just steps from the mountain.

Under 4 hours from Boston...


A mini snowboarder learns the ropes at Smuggs. Photo courtesy of Smuggler's Notch Resort

Sunday River, Maine
At Maine's most popular ski resort, families can always find a ski-and-stay deal that's as (if not more) affordable than any in the northeast. A prime time to go is during the annual Children's Festival at Sunday River in January, when there are special activities and stay-free deals for kids. A highlight: Find mascot Eddie the Yeti's home in the Enchanted Forest Trail on North Peak.
Trails: 135 runs (21% beginner)
Ski school? Yes: Group and private lessons are available.
Slopeside childcare: Someday Bigger Day Care for ages 6 weeks to 6 years
Fave kid-friendly food spot: Don't miss the famous Nachos at the Foggy Goggle on the third floor of the South Ridge Lodge.
Where to stay: The slopeside Grand Summit Hotel has 3-bedroom suites and just about the coolest hot tub, offering a view of the slopes. Additionally, there are seven nearby condo complexes to choose from.

Stowe Mountain Resort, Vermont
Considered by many to be the best all-around ski resort in the east, Stowe is just about as luxurious as it gets when it comes to New England skiing. But aside from the fancy base camp lodge and cushy gondolas, Stowe also has a terrific beginners' section that's separate from the hard stuff but still very accessible for parents who want to check in on their kids during ski school.
Trails: 115 runs (16% beginner)
Ski school? Yes: Group and private lessons are available.
Slopeside childcare: Resort Cubs childcare for ages 3 months to 3 years
Fave kid-friendly food spot: The swanky Stowe Bowl is a super-fun escape with great eats and eight bowling lanes that are popular with families.
Where to stay: For the ultimate luxury experience (with your own ski valets!), check into the Stowe Mountain Lodge; for slightly less fancy, but equally family-friendly digs, Stoweflake is our pick.

Smugglers' Notch, Vermont
Ski magazine's perennial pick for the best family skiing in New England, Smugglers' Notch (aka Smugs) is not much farther away than Stowe but feels lower key. It has the Northeast's only triple black diamond, but also plenty of well-groomed greens and—cue the kids' jaw drop—a new 26,000 square foot indoor playground facility.
Trails: 78 runs (19% beginner)
Ski school? Yes: Group and private lessons are available.
Slopeside childcare: Treasures childcare center for ages 6 weeks to 3 years
Fave kid-friendly food spot: Try Riga-Bello's for mouthwatering pizza or pasta and Ben and Jerry's Scoop Shop for a treat.
Where to stay: All five condo complexes are a short walk or quick shuttle to the slopes; the new North Hill condos feature access to an indoor pool with a children's splash play zone.

 

 

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