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New England gets a lot of snow. It’s bad for commuters, but great for skiers and snowboarders. And New England has some of the most family-friendly ski resorts in North America. They’re not to be missed, so pack up the kids and head to one of the region’s family-friendly ski areas.
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Here in New England, our winters are long and usually quite snow-filled. So our family philosophy is if you can’t beat the snow, you might as well join in the fun! What better way to do that than enjoying one of the amazing ski resorts in the area?
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These 10 ski resorts in New England are known for their family-friendliness, and some are an easy day trip from Boston.
Located on the backside of the mountains near Stowe, Vermont, about a four and a half-hour drive from Boston, Smugglers’ Notch is the most family-friendly ski resort in New England.
Why It’s Family-friendly
From its childcare for non-skiers aged six weeks old to three years old to their Snow Sport University beginning at age two and a half years old on up, Smugglers’ Notch is THE place to go in New England for kids to learn to ski or snowboard. Kids under age five get free lift tickets.
Our kids began skiing here at age three years old. One of my favorite things about the lessons is that they do their best to maintain consistency with instructors, so kids really progress. My kids became quite proficient skiers at Smugglers’ Notch. At the end of each ski lesson day, while kids wait to be picked up by parents, kids are entertained with music, a movie, or a magic show while enjoying a hot chocolate and a snack.
As one of the largest ski areas in New England, this ski resort is great for all ages. It is especially ideal for toddlers to teens, as well as for multi-generational families.
Our first trip included a non-skiing grandparent, and there were plenty of activities – including cross-country skiing -to keep her busy. They also had accommodations to fit our party of seven.
Après ski is amazing for the whole family. From family entertainment to a weekly carnival with the Smuggs’ mascots, hot chocolate bonfires to evening fireworks, there is so much to do at Smugglers’ Notch. Evening snow tubing, a two-level FunZone open daily, as well as indoor swimming and hot tubs, there is something for everyone.
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TravelingMom Tip: For parents who want a date-night, babysitting services are available as well as a Kids Night Out, so parents can enjoy dinner. Be sure to check out the very unique snow-shoe dinner, where you ride up the lift, enjoy a catered dinner in a warming hut, and snow-shoe down under the stars with a guide.
Accommodations are on the property, and many are ski on/ski off.
When you mention Jay Peak Resort to a New Englander, two words come to mind – WATER PARK. And while it does have an amazing water park, it is just as great for skiing. About four and a half hours from Boston, Jay Peak makes for a wonderful family ski vacation.
Why It’s Family-Friendly
From its “Jay Care” program for non-skiers ages six weeks to 12 years old, to its small group ski lessons for kids starting at age four, it is a great place for skiing or snowboarding lessons. Kids under age six get discounted lift tickets.
Jay Peak’s lessons are split, starting inside on their indoor equipment including a carpeted ski/ride ramp to get beginners comfortable before heading outdoors to the ski area. Kids also learn in many ski areas, including sculpted terrain and tree skiing. Group lessons for kids are for ages four to 12.
The Jay Peak Pump House is an indoor water park area to enjoy after a long ski day or on a day off. With plenty of water slides, an activity pool, a lazy river, and a surfing simulator called a Flowrider, there is much to do to keep the fun going. Afterward, families can enjoy the family arcade, a movie theater with family-friendly movies, and an indoor skating rink.
Most lodging is ski-on/ski-off. It’s a great option for preschool to school-age kids or older. Visit their web site for more information.
About a three and a half to four-hour drive from Boston, Sunday River is one of New England’s wonderfully family-friendly ski resorts for all ages. With eight peaks, this larger resort has plenty of ski areas for families, right near one of New England’s most picturesque towns, Bethel, Maine.
Why It’s Family-Friendly
For the smallest non-skiers, Sunday River has a daycare for kids ages six weeks to six years. Skiing and snowboarding lessons are for kids ages three to 12 years old. Kids under age five get free lift tickets.
One of the fun experiences is to ski to “Eddy the Yeti’s” cabin and hang with Eddy and Betty, the two yeti mascots of Sunday River. Being one of the largest ski areas in New England with a variety of terrain, Sunday River is great for toddlers to teens and adults.
Family-friendly activities include nighttime fireworks to fire dancers, snow tubing races to indoor swimming and ice skating, the resort has a lot to keep the kids busy on non-ski days or after a day on the slopes. There is also a week each year with a children’s festival.
The property also has several family restaurants, including one called Camp, which has a famous kids’ buffet.
Nearby Bethel, Maine has a movie theater, bowling alley, and a gem museum. There is lodging available on the property as well as several accommodations close to Sunday River.
4. Bretton Woods – Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
One of our family’s favorite ski resorts is Bretton Woods, about two and a half hours from Boston in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. If you ask my kids why they’ll tell you because of the candy store at the top of the Zephyr High-Speed Quad, for when you get a candy hankering.
Where to stay: Omni Mount Washington Resort
Why It’s Family-Friendly
Bretton Woods offers daycare for the non-skiers ages two months to five years old. For the preschoolers who may not feel ready for skiing or snowboarding lessons, there is a ski and snow play as part of it. Kids ages four and under get free lift tickets with a paying adult.
Bretton Woods has a wonderful Hobbit Ski School for kids ages four-12 years old and a Hobbit Snowboarding School for kids ages six-12 years old.
Our kids loved the lessons from the excellent instructors. There are plenty of green and blue slopes for newer skiers, as well as family slopes, which means speed skiing is not allowed. There are also advanced slopes for those seeking more of a challenge. Bretton Woods is ideal for preschool-aged kids on up to teens and adults..
Bretton Woods has much to offer families après-ski. Kids will love the opportunity to ride on a mini snowmobile in the Kids Snowmobile Park right at the Bretton Woods base. My son had so much fun, he didn’t want to stop. There is also a family snow tubing hill, carriage and sleigh rides, and even a “kids only” après-ski parties at the Kids’ Alpine Club, with clowns, storytellers, and musicians.
Accommodations are available at the beautiful and historic Omni Mount Washington Resort, which offers several programs and perks for kids, or you can rent slope side or nearby
Bretton Woods is also centrally located around 30 minutes from Cannon Mountain, 45 minutes from Black Mountain and Cranmore Mountain Resort if you stay near those areas.
5. Okemo Resort – Ludlow, Vermont
For a Vermont experience that is a bit closer to Boston (about two and a half to three hours away), Okemo is one of our favorite resorts for families. We love it because its bigger size offers many ski areas for a range of skiing abilities, but it remains family-friendly with a lot for families to enjoy. It is an easy weekend getaway from Boston.
Why It’s Family-Friendly
Okemo offers slope slide childcare for kids ages six months to four years old. They also host a Kids Night Out for kids ages six months to 12 years old. This resort is a great option for toddlers all the way up to teens because there is quite a range of terrain and ski/snowboard lessons from ages three to 14 years old. Children ages seven and under get a free lift ticket.
Two of my favorite features of this resort are the dual chair lifts up the central slope. And on those chilly ski days, I love their six-person heated lift, with the signature orange cover.
Okemo is owned by Vail, so it is on the Epic pass system, which is a single pass you can buy and access several resorts across the country. Other New England resorts on the Epic pass include Attitash, Wildcat Mountain, Mount Snow, Stowe, Mount Sunapee, and Crotched Mountain.
My kids absolutely love Okemo’s Mountain Coaster, which is available for an exhilarating ride down the mountain even in the winter! They also have great festivals even in the winter, often with great entertainment. There is also snow tubing, indoor swimming, and ice skating available.
Jackson Gore Lodge has a great restaurant, or there are plenty of cafeterias and restaurants in several of the lodges at various points on the mountain.
Several accommodations are available including ski-on/ski-off condos and properties in the Jackson Gore Village.
6. Sugarbush Resort – Warren, Vermont
About three and a half hours from Boston is another one of our favorite resorts, Sugarbush. It’s not far from Killington but better for families. It is also just 15 minutes from another famed ski resort, Mad River Glen. It is one of the largest ski areas in New England (not to be confused with Sugarloaf, the largest ski area in New England.) Known by its signature red barn base area, Sugarbush is an excellent weekend getaway for families.
Why It’s Family-Friendly
Sugarbush offers daycare for non-skiers ages six weeks to six years old. They have an excellent ski and ride school for kids ages three to 12 years old. It has quite a range of ski areas and terrain, so it is great for toddlers through teens and adults. Kids ages six and under get a free lift ticket.
There are plenty of restaurants and meal options on property, many with the signature quality Vermonters put into their food. Vermont is known for excellent breakfasts, and you will find a great one at the Rumbles Bistro and Bar on the property, one of our favorites!
Sugarbush has an indoor kids adventure zone with a bouncy house, trampoline, games, toys and more. You can also book a family sunrise or sunset cabin cat ride and watch the sunset over Lincoln Peak. There is also snowshoeing indoor/outdoor year-round pools and hot tubs, and a family-friendly mad scientist escape room.
TravelingMom Tip: The original Flatbread Pizza Company is nearby at the Inn at Lareau Farm and is a great family-friendly restaurant option après-ski, with high-quality ingredients in a very cozy ambiance. To get a reservation, you have to stand in line to give your name (they start taking names at 4 p.m., so get there around 3:30 p.m. or earlier), but it is well worth it.
There are accommodations available at Sugarbush including rooms at the inn, resort condos, and on-site properties.
For more information, check out their web site.
Stowe is a beautiful New England town with a renowned ski resort. It is one of the largest ski areas in New England.
It is definitely family-friendly and has much for families to do. There are options for the youngest snow bunnies in your family. But more than 50% of its trails are intermediate, 29% are expert, and 16% beginner according to its website, so I think Stowe is better for older kids and teens than to toddlers.
Owned by Vail, it is also on the Epic Pass.
Why It’s Family-Friendly
Stowe Mountain Resort offers childcare for kids ages three months to four years old. Ski and ride lessons are available for kids ages 3- 12 years old. Kids ages four and under get free lift tickets.
One of the reasons I say Stowe is especially teen-friendly is because of their Stowked Teen Camp. While many resorts put 13-year-olds and above with adults in lessons, Stowe has a dedicated camp just for teens, ages 13-16 years old who are capable of blue/black terrain. This gives them an opportunity to ski/ride and take lessons with kids their age, at their level of skiing. This is something my older son will be totally stoked for in a few years!
There are several kid-friendly activities on the property, such as an Adventure Center, that includes rock climbing areas for kids under 12 and kids over 12. There is also a game room, indoor swimming, ice skating, sleigh rides, and kid-friendly activities that change daily.
Stowe has plenty of on-site restaurants and activities on site. There is also The Village at Spruce Peak, an area full of dining, shopping, markets, and activities, reminiscent of some of the bigger resorts in the west.
8. Loon Mountain Resort – Lincoln, NH
Another gem of New Hampshire’s White Mountains, just about a two-hour drive from Boston, is Loon Mountain Resort. It is a great family ski resort option for families who want a bigger resort, closer to Boston, with a lot for kids of all ages, and can easily be a day trip.
Why It’s Family Friendly
For kids not old enough or quite ready for the slopes, Loon Mountain offers daycare for kids from six weeks to six years old. Three-year-olds can get an intro to skiing with a program that includes learning indoors and in an outdoor ski area. Lessons are also offered for kids ages four to 14 years old. Kids ages five and under get free lift tickets.
The learning environment for the youngest skiers includes wood carved animals and a kid-sized steam train, with a terrain area. Loon Mountain’s thoughtful ski and ride program and kid-friendly terrain parks make it a great ski resort for toddlers on up to adults.
With several lodge areas for an after-ski hot chocolate and meal, there are plenty of places to enjoy a treat after a day of lessons. My kids love to enjoy the snow tubing, and the little ones love the tot tubing area for kids seven and under. There is also ice skating and snowshoeing on the property.
TravelingMom tip: We like to stay at the Holiday Inn in Lincoln, NH, which is simple but quite nice. Our room had an electric fireplace and a Jacuzzi tub. There is an indoor pool and a nice continental breakfast. It is also located perfectly to ski at Bretton Woods on a Saturday (about a 35-minute drive) and Loon on Sunday.
9. Mount Sunapee – Newbury, New Hampshire
Another family-friendly ski resort under a two-hour drive from Boston, making it an easy day trip, is Mount Sunapee. Also owned by Vail, Mount Sunapee is on the Epic pass like Okemo and Stowe.
Why It’s Family-Friendly
Mount Sunapee has a childcare center for kids ages one to five years old. For kids aged three to four, you can add an hour ski lesson to get them used to the mountain. Ski and ride lessons are available for kids ages four to 12 years old. Kids ages four and under get free lift tickets.
This mid-sized mountain has a warm, friendly ambiance that has a beginner area separate from the main mountain, with five lifts leading to 13 trails. It is like a mini mountain just for beginners, which is perfect for younger kids to learn in a more relaxed environment. The website offers a lot of tips for getting your kids ready for their first ski/snowboard lesson, which I find very helpful.
There are some advanced trails and a few terrain parks for more experienced skiers. I think Mount Sunapee is great for preschool to teenagers, beginning skiers, or anyone who would like a ski day on a bigger mountain close to Boston.
There are a few dining options on-site, a classic New England lodge with a fireplace, and a pub. But there are not much in the way of activities outside of skiing.
If you choose to make it an overnight, there are several nearby bed and breakfasts, cottages, and inns on the Mount Sunapee website.
10. Pat’s Peak – Henniker, New Hampshire
For a smaller family-friendly ski resort only an hour and a half from Boston, Pat’s Peak is worth a mention. It is smaller in size than others on this list, but it is a great family-friendly option for a day trip from Boston.
Why It’s Family-Friendly
Pat’s Peak offers childcare for the non-skiing tots ages four months to six years old. Their ski and ride lessons are available for kids three years to 14 years old. With 50% of their ski areas listed as novice, this is a great resort for kids to learn to ski. They also have 20% intermediate and 20% advanced, so for more experienced teens or adults, there are slopes to challenge you while the younger kids are in lessons.
What I like about Pat’s Peak is that this resort has been family-owned for 55 years. They also offer homemade food in their lodge cafeterias and pub. Now that is something this mama can get behind! This resort is great for preschoolers to teens and anyone learning to ski, or anyone looking for a family-friendly ski resort close to Boston.
Pat’s Peak has a pub and cafeterias onsite, and kids will love to get one of their famed giant M & M cookies. There is also snow tubing on the property, and snowshoeing is available.
There are nearby inns, bed and breakfasts and airbnb available, but Pat’s Peak is also driving distance from Boston. Check them out on their web site.
HONORABLE MENTION: Wachusett Mountain – Princeton, Massachusetts
You don’t have to drive all the way to the Berkshires to get a ski day in Massachusetts. Though Jiminy Peak and Butternut Resorts are often what comes to mind when thinking of family-friendly ski resorts, Wachusett Mountain should not be overlooked if you are in the Boston, Rhode Island or even Connecticut areas and looking for an easy family-friendly ski day. Only about an hour’s drive from Boston, about one and a half hours from Rhode Island, and two hours from Connecticut, this resort is a wonderful place for a family ski day.
Why It’s Family Friendly
Wachusett has excellent ski and ride lessons for kids ages 4-12 years old. My kids loved the lessons here. To transport the kids from check in to the slopes and back, they put them in a tractor-drawn sleigh, and they wave at the skiers as they go by.
There are also family-friendly slopes, where speeding is not allowed. A warming hut with apple cider donuts and coffee is also one of our favorite traditions. Night skiing is also available.
Though it is a smaller resort, it has snowmaking machines, so the slopes are often open.
There is a great restaurant at the base lodge and a pub. The lodge is small but cozy, with fireplaces to warm up.
Looking for what to take on your next ski vacation? Check out this amazing ski trip packing list!
Looking for more ways to enjoy your skiing vacation? Check out this mom’s guide to après ski.