Sometimes you want to ski for a day; sometimes, you want to ski for a week (or more). Here are some family-friendly destinations:
New Hampshire resorts offer a variety of family events. Bretton Woods Family Fun Week, December 26-30, includes ski parties, sing-a-longs and sledding, and a Winter Festival at SKI NH areas January 29. Gunstock, Loon Mountain, King Pine, Tenney Mountain and Waterville Valley have "Take Your Daughter to the Snow Week", January 31-February 6. For more information on various New Hampshire resorts, call (800) 88-SKI-NH or click on www.skinh.com. Mount Washington Hotel & Resort, near Bretton Woods, has a new King of the Mountains Kids Kamp, with such winter activities as sledding, ice skating and snowshoeing, as well as indoor fun, for kids ages five to 12. Bretton Woods has the Hobbit Ski and Snowboard School, for children ages four to 12. The Babes in the Woods play and ski readiness program, for kids three to five years, gently introduces winter activities; the nursery program is open to kids two months to five years. For information on Mount Washington or Bretton Woods, call (800) 258-0330 or visit www.brettonwoods.com.
Smugglers' Notch is so confident that children will enjoy their stay that they guarantee kids fun. Smugglers', in Vermont, has five- or seven-day FamilyFest packages which include full day snow sports (skiing or snowboarding) for kids 3-12, with equipment rental and special events as well. The package is even free for kids December 3-24 and January 23-February 6. Also, during these times, child care for babies and toddlers 6 weeks-2 years, is free. Call (800) 451-8752 or visit www.smuggs.com.
Sunny Bromley Mountain in Manchester, VT, four hours from New York City, also has extensive kids' programs, with a newly expanded child care center for children 6 weeks to 6 years, and special ski and snowboard programs, Bruce the Moose Mighty Moose for 3- to 5-year-olds and Pig Dog's Mountain Club for 6- to 12-year-olds. Bromley has special "midweek escapes" where kids 12 and under stay and ski free. For more information, call (800) 722-2159 or visit www.bromley.com.
The Berkshires are a bit closer, but still offer top-notch skiing. Jiminy Peak, in the midst of a $10 million expansion, has added more trails at every ski level, a new quad lift and the remodeled Hendricks Lodge. The rope tow has been replaced by a "Wonder Carpet" lift, resembling airport moving sidewalks and giving beginners new comfort. Non-Speed Zones keep visitors happy by eradicating reckless and discourteous skiing. Jiminy Peak has special $12 lift tickets on December 20, January 3 and 10, February 28 and March 13. Jiminy Peak's SKIwee program for children four to eight and Explorer program for ages nine to 12 are available daily. The Jiminy Cricket Children's Center, for ages 6 months and up , costs $5/hour; reservations are suggested. For information, call (413) 738-5500 (ext. 341 for children's center) or check out www.jiminypeak.com.
One of the ski areas closest to the metropolitan area, Sterling Forest is only 35 miles from the George Washington Bridge. Last year's new snow-making machines ensured snow on all trails. Sterling has a Junior Development Program for skiers ages 5-18 lessons, every Saturday and Sunday in January and February, from 10am-1:45pm are $180. Fourth graders can enjoy free class trip on weekdays: rental, lift ticket and beginner lesson, all free; reservations are required. Sterling will also have a special January 3-5; lift tickets are $8, rentals $10, beginning lesson is free. Call (914) 351-2163 for more information.
Snow tubing has expanded at Ski Windham, with new tubing lanes and tubes. The new GET Skiing program debuts, promising Guaranteed Easy Turns and targeting lapsed skiers with a special trial offer: use of new short, shaped skis, lift ticket and pro assistance, all for $25. Ski Windham, in the Catskill Mountains, has 34 ski and snowboard trails. For information, call (518) 734-4300 or click on www.skiwindham.com.
Belleayre Mountain, in Highmount, NY, is close enough for a day trip, and the resort participates in New York State's 'Learn to Ski, 1-2-3' program (see listing below). Lodges nearby Belleayre also offer Ski Free/Stay Free family packages, with free lift tickets, beginning lessons and lodging (with parents) for children under 12. For Belleayre, call (914) 254-5600 (www.belleayre.com); for lodging, call (800) 431-4555.
New York State's 'Learn to Ski, 1-2-3' offers great deals for beginning skiers. Packages are available at several resorts and include: three full days of skiing complete with lessons, rentals and a coupon booklet. The downhill/snowboard package is $69.95; the cross-country package is $49.95. Reservations are required, and first lesson must be taken by March 1, 2000. First and second lessons must be taken at the same ski area, but the third lesson can be scheduled at any of the participating resorts. Children 14 and under who complete their third lesson earn a Governor's Learn to Ski gold medal. The following resorts are participating:
Downhill/snowboard - Catamount, Mt. Peter, Sterling Forest, Belleayre, Bobcat, Holiday Mtn., Hunter Mtn., Ski Plattekill, Ski Windham, Royal Mtn., Willard Mtn., Big Tupper, Gore Mtn., Oak Mtn., Snow Ridge, Titus Mtn., West Mtn., Whiteface Mtn., Dry Hill, Woods Valley, Bristol Mtn., Four Seasons, Greek Peak, Labrador Mtn., Song Mtn., Toggenburg, Kissing Bridge, Ski Tamarack, Cockaigne, Holiday Valley, Peek'n Peak and Swain.
Cross-country - Lapland Lake, Pine Ridge, Bark Eater, Cunningham's, Friends Lake Inn, Garnet Hill, Gore Mtn., Mt. Van Hoevenberg, Salmon Hills, Oak Hill Farms, Tree Haven Trails, Four Seasons Onondaga County, Parks/Highland Forest Park, and Peek'n Peak. further info, contact each individual resort.
Just an hour and 15 minutes from New York City, the small Thunder Ridge, in Patterson, NY, caters to families, with 40 percent of the trails devoted to beginners. Day packages are $50 for adults, $45 for children 12 and under, and include a lift ticket, equipment rental and one-hour lesson. For non-skiing children, there is babysitting on Monday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday, for $4/hour; reservations are not required.
Big Boulder and Jack Frost Mountain, in the Poconos, PA, offer "Kids c'n Ski or Ride" with professional instruction and supervised indoor and outdoor play. The programs are for kids ages 3-8 in skiing and ages 6-8 in snowboarding. Both mountains have snow tubing, with Jack Frost also offering Saturday night tubing. For more information, call (800) 468-2442 or visit www.big2resorts.com.
Helmet up! Skiing is not the only winter sport where children should wear helmets. According to the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, children under age 12 should wear helmets while sledding as well. The Academy has published a free brochure, "Sledding: Have Fun, Be Safe". For a copy, call (800) 824 BONES.