Resorts offer easy access to skiing and snowboarding for families. A resort stay gets you close to the slopes so you can make the most of your time. We love a day trip to our local slopes as well, but it is a different type of experience all together. The resort experience offers many benefits for families to maximize adventures.
There is a lot to consider when it comes to hitting the slopes with little ones. There are so many bits to keep track of, so many layers to manage and so many factors to consider. It’s tricky, but these tips will have you ready to turn the chaos into a fun family experience.
Choose your Resort
Bigger isn’t always better. Location is the first consideration. Decide what area works best for your family and look for smaller resorts in the area.
Tip: Not only do smaller resorts mean a smaller price tag for your getaway, smaller resorts can offer the perfect atmosphere when you are skiing and snowboarding with little ones.
Massanutten Resort, in Virginia, recently invited us back to experience the Snow Moon Fest. We found Massanutten to be an ideal family resort for snow sports.
We already know we love Massanutten Resort during the summer (check out our summer adventures here), so we couldn’t wait to check out the snowsports and winter adventures. Massanutten Resort is a small ski resort with 7 lifts and 12 slopes making it a great choice for families. The 1,100 foot vertical is the largest in the area. The summit reaches 2,929 feet, which is nothing to scoff at for the mid-atlantic.
Massanutten has 70 acres of terrain covered in machine-made snow supplementing the natural snowfall. The 14 trails are equally suited for both advanced and intermediate skiers and snowboarders. There is also some terrain for beginners and a terrain park for snowboarders.
Mix it up
With all the adventures a resort like Massanutten has to offer, there is something for everyone. While it is tempting to try and cram in as much as possible, that leads to exhausted, cranky kids and we all know how that ends. Take advantage of the diversity and plan some complementary activities.
Massanutten Resort has a Water Park that is worth a visit in its own right. We love the indoor and outdoor sections. You can read more about our visit to the Water Park here.
Tip: Add other winter adventures to your itinerary to keep the snow fun going beyond the slopes.
In the winter, Massanutten offers snow tubing, an outdoor ice rink and seasonal events for families to enjoy. The snow tubing at Massanutten is another way for families to enjoy the snow without skis or a snowboard. The 16 snow tubing lanes are 900 feet long with a vertical drop of 120 feet. Try the Northern Lights tubing after dark with neon lights.
Plan an eventful trip
We love that Massanutten Resort offers a variety of family events. These events make return trips to the resort even more exciting. Massanutten Resort hosted us this month for a stay during Snow Moon Fest 2022.
The weekend long festival offered us kids’ activities, live music, beer & wine tastings, a 4K on the Fairway Race/Walk, an Arctic Plunge during the day as well as an epic Snow Moon Fest Torchlight Slope Parade complete with a fireworks show at night.
Tip: Check the resort events calendar before booking your trip.
The Snow Moon Fest Torchlight Slope Parade lit up the slopes under the dark new moon sky. Skiers and snowboarders holding huge red torches traversed the slopes illuminating the snow. After the Torchlight Slope Parade we saw an extraordinary fireworks show. We enjoyed the whole incandescent presentation from the ski lodge deck.
Snowsports are good exercise, so plan your lift passes according to your family’s abilities. One of the amazing opportunities with resort skiing and snowboarding is that proximity offers you flexibility in when you hit the slopes. You can do multiple half day passes, or ski one day and do a half day the next day. Whatever works for your kids ages and abilities.
Tip: Quit while you’re ahead. Don’t wait till you’re all exhausted to call it a day.
Ending on a high note ensures you have energy to return gear, get dry, warm, fed before anyone reaches their breaking point. With so many family friendly opportunities, it is a shame to spend your time at a resort nursing an exhausted child out of a meltdown.
Stay one step ahead
Check out the map and make a plan. Ask the employees you encounter (while getting lift tickets, renting equipment, or at ski school) what the best runs are for your kids abilities. Start on the easiest of them and work your way up. Getting off to a positive start can boost your little skiers and snowboarders confidence. This can make a big difference in their experience.
If you can get your rental equipment and lift tickets before you plan to ski or snowboard it will maximize time on the slopes. Your kids won’t get bored and hungry from standing in long lines. You can also all get on the snow sooner. Check with your resort for specific rental info.
Tip: Pick up your rental equipment and lift tickets in advance when possible.
If you plan to ski multiple times during a season, renting from a local shop and bringing them with you can be worth it. Not only will you save on rental fees, but you’ll all get comfortable with your equipment. This also eliminates the time picking up and returning equipment.
Divide & conquer
If you have more than one kid sometimes it pays to take each one on a run by themselves. You will have an opportunity to offer a one on one refresher, teach a new skill or evaluate what levels they can safely ski or snowboard.
It definitely helps if you have a partner, friend or family member who can stay with siblings while you go on a run one kid at a time. If you don’t have that type of support, ski school can be a great way to get your kids some hands on instruction.
Tip: Hands on instruction (by parents or at ski school) is worth it when your kids are beginning or haven’t been in a while.
Sending your kids to ski school also provides us parents some time. Take that time to ski at your level, get in the singles line at the lift, hit up the terrain park, or even get a drink at the lodge.
fuel the adventures
Massanutten Resort has a plethora of dining options both on at the resort and nearby. We plan a sit down meal once a day and the rest of the time we eat on the fly to maximize our adventures.
Picking the right fuel and packing snacks can mean the difference between a fun day skiing and an epic top of the hill meltdown.
Tip: Eat before you play, but also pack snacks or make a plan for easy refueling as you go.
There is mounting evidence that blood sugar can play a role in children’s behavior. Blood sugar instability can cause issues with inattention, hyperactivity, anxiety and irritability. None of which is conducive to a successful ski or snowboarding trip. Some snacks that help regulate blood sugar and are easy to find include nuts & dried fruit, popcorn, cheese or beef jerky.
ski into spring
We adore skiing in the spring. Not only are the crowds less intense, especially during the week, but the weather is more mild. At Massanutten Resort, where we aren’t relying on natural snowfall it is easy to ski in the spring. Keep in mind that the warmer temps can create conditions that are a bit more sloppy. It also means less layers.
Tip: Check resort conditions online before booking a spring ski trip.
Not all spring skiing is created equal. Be sure to check the resort or area you are visiting has good spring conditions.
We also love that skiing when we aren’t going from extreme cold outside to very warm inside. With kids taking all the layers on and off as they go inside and back out always increases the chances we will lose something.
It is always important to protect yourself from the sun on the slopes. It is especially important as you shed all the layers, so be sure to protect yourself.
Enjoy your next ski or snowboarding resort trip with kids
These tips will get you off to the right start on your next trip. Remember that, as with parenting, it is mind over matter. Being in the right headspace for the experience is huge. If you’re ready for things to go wrong it is usually easier to handle them.
Our family likes to talk about what the tough stuff might be and what the fun stuff might be. We find that reminding them of other tough things they have gone through helps. We focus on what we are loving and they usually (although often reluctantly) follow suit. Even when you get knocked down and injured on the first run of the day (yes that literally happened to me!), you can still salvage the situation with a positive attitude, some teamwork and some yummy snacks.
We can’t wait to hear about your next (or first) ski or snowboard trip with kids! Comment below with your experiences or share your tips for snow sports with littles. Happy snow days to all!