So, you’re getting *the* question of the season from your family: “What are we doing for winter break?”. If you’re looking to bring the whole crew to the mountains, we’ve got the tips and tricks you need to keep the smiles going all week long. Read on to start planning your best family vacation yet!
What do kids want out of a Colorado winter vacation? Mountain views, easy snow access, and hot tubs! Here are a few lodging recommendations that check all three boxes:
- The Vintage: slopeside, dog-friendly, *and* you get to ride the Cabriolet into the Village
- Zephyr Mountain Lodge: close to the Gondola in the heart of the Village
- Fraser Crossing Founders Pointe: beautiful views of the resort and skating pond
Ski + Ride Lessons
(Psst: for first-timers, lessons are the best way to access the magic carpet area, so young learners can become more familiar with their form before heading to the lift.)
Perfect for kids ages four and up, our Ski + Ride School pairs kids with expert instructors who meet them where they’re at. Choose between half and full-day lessons, and group or private instruction to help your young skier or rider get the most out of their time on the mountain. New confidence, friends, and memories included. (Psst: for first-timers, lessons are the best way to access the magic carpet area, so young learners can become more familiar with their form before heading to the lift.)
Some Tips for Kids at Ski + Ride School:
- Rentals and lift tickets are not included in your lesson. Set your family up for success by booking in advance and showing up at least 30 minutes early to get fitted for rental gear.
- Make sure to apply some sunscreen before the lesson begins. Even in the winter, sunburns can happen!
- Lunches are included in full-day lessons, and kids in any lesson will get snack, water, and bathroom breaks throughout the day.
- We recommend kids come dressed in warm base layers, wool socks, gloves or mittens, neck gator, jacket, and snow pants. Goggles and helmets are required—you can find them around the Village at outlets like Zero Creek Gear House, or you can rent them through our two rental shops at the base. (Psst: helmets are included for free with every gear rental, so if you’re already grabbing skis or a snowboard, you’re covered!)
Extra Credit: Generally, kids tend to do better when they go solo at Ski + Ride School (versus having family members watching). So, take the day to carve your own turns or head over to Sundog Taproom for a pint while your littles learn the basics. Trust us, they’ve got this!
Skiing + Riding
Looking for some fun on the slopes after your lesson? Here are our favorite ways to get kids started on the mountain:
- Gemini Express: The Gemini Express is on the Winter Park side of the mountain, right near the base, and is an excellent way to access beginner terrain like Discovery Park.
- Galloping Goose: On the Mary Jane side of the mountain, you’ll want to try the Galloping Goose for your young skiers and riders looking for some practice laps. (Bonus: no lift ticket is required to ride the Galloping Goose!)
- Ski & Ride Guides: For intermediate and advanced skiers and riders of any age, a Ski & Ride Guide will take you on a tour of all the best spots on the mountain. Your family loves to ski the trees? Want to seek out powder stashes? A day out with a Ski & Ride Guide will help you craft the perfect mountain adventure.
When it’s time to get onto the mountain, getting your youngest geared up and ready to go can feel like a black diamond run all on its own. Fortunately, when you rent gear at the resort, you and your whole family can benefit from convenient access to the Gondola, free gear storage, and easy swaps. Below are a few tips to make getting geared up easy breezy:
- Zero Creek Gear House is by far the most convenient gear rental house on the mountain. Come check it out in the heart of the Village.
- Prebooking is the best way to save– helmets and poles included in every rental!
- Looking to make gear transportation simple? You can use the red wagons around the Village for easy towing of your gear and kiddos.
- If you want your gear to come to you, you can try Ski Butlers and have your kids get fitted for their gear from the comfort of your slopeside lodging.
Tubing: Day or night, snow tubing is the perfect way to have a little fun after the ski boots come off. We recommend prebooking both daytime Tubing (available every day of the week) and GlowNight Tubing (running Thursday-Saturday nights all winter) as spaces can fill up quickly!
Mountaintop Après: Looking for fun after the lifts close? Enjoy live music, stunning views, and drinks at Sunspot Mountaintop Lodge every Thursday-Saturday night. This is a family-friendly event, so take a free ride up the Gondola after 4pm and let your littles grab some hot cocoa and a cookie.
Snowcat and S’Mores Tour: If you have s’mores aficionados in your family, the Snowcat and S’Mores Tour is a great way to mix adventure with comfort and marshmallow-roasting skills. Climb inside a heated snowcat cab and learn about the mountain while you take in sunset views—then have some hot cocoa and s’mores around a fire at Lunch Rock before heading back down.
Nature Snowshoe Tour: Recommended for children six and over, this beautiful walk through on-resort snowshoe trails is perfect for kids who want to try something new and active. Plus, it’s a good way to add variety to your mountain getaway.
Parry’s Parade: Ever followed a big puppy through the resort? Now’s your chance! Every Saturday starting at 2:45 PM, meet Parry and friends at Sorensen Park and parade through the base. All are welcome to enjoy this free, festive afternoon parade. High fives, dance moves, and good vibes abound.
SnoGo Ski Bike Tour: For adventurers 14 and over, our SnoGo Ski Bike Tour is a great way to try something new while exploring the mountain.
One of our not-so-secret pro tips for families on the mountain: download our app! The Winter Park Resort app is a great way to keep track of your kids on the mountain, access to our trail map, lift times, and more.
What To Eat
There’s plenty of delicious food at the resort, but these tried-and-true menu staples are sure to please even the pickiest eaters:
- Chicken Tenders at Bradley’s
- Quesadillas at the Olympia Outpost
- Pizza at Lunch Rock
- Grilled Cheese at the Wild Spur Outpost
- Loaded Tots at Sundog
- Burgers at Sunspot and Snoasis
- Fresh Waffles from the Waffle Cabin (3 locations around the base and mountain)
Extra Credit: Want to make your snack time an adventure? Take yourself on a hot cocoa tour and try a warm cup everywhere you can find it—which one’s your favorite? You get to be the judge!
Where To Shop
While there’s plenty of adventure to be found on the mountain, there’s just as much to explore in the Village. Here are a few places and ideas for the perfect souvenir:
Pick up a Patrol Pup from select Village retail locations: Bring home your very own Winter Park Patrol Pup! These stuffed animals were created custom to resemble Avalanche Safety Dogs from the Winter Park Ski Patrol Dog Team. (Bonus: proceeds from these items help fund the dogs’ Colorado Rapid Avalanche Deployment training.)
Grab a sweet from Treeline Treats: Whether you’re looking for something sweet, sour, salty or savory, this slopeside candy shop has it all. Fuel for the slopes or a snack for later? That’s up to you!
Find your new favorite hoodie at the Winter Park Logo Store: The Winter Park Logo Store has all the gear you need—plus stickers, magnets, and more!– for you to bring home a piece of Winter Park that you’ll want to wear all season long.
Part of having fun is having your essentials covered. Here are a few good places to know for those just-in-case moments.
Looking for some basic essentials without leaving the resort? Trail’s End Mercantile, located in the heart of the Village, is a convenient stop for snacks and other staple foods, basic medication, and essential supplies. (You’ll also find some pretty great souvenirs inside!)
In-Town Groceries + Pharmacies
The closest grocery stores are Fireside Market + Eatery in the town of Winter Park; Safeway in the town of Fraser; and City Market in the town of Granby. Both Safeway and City Market contain pharmacies.
We are fortunate to have expert urgent care right at the resort base (Denver Health Winter Park Medical Center). While we hope no one ever needs to pay a visit, its convenient location can be a bonus for parents and families.
Looking to expand your horizons? Here are a few kid-friendly stops and activities we recommend around Fraser Valley:
- Charlie’s Frozen Treat Shop
- Sleigh Rides with Dashing Thru The Snow
- Snow Mobile Tours with Grand Adventures
- Dog Sledding at Snow Mountain Ranch
Now that you have the complete run-down on kid-friendly tips for your vacation at Winter Park, it’s time to plan your trip! Check out our latest deals and packages—and we’ll see you on the mountain.