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A Snowstorm of Vacation Fun

Three Ski Destinations for Your Next Snow-Filled Escape 

I remember sitting in my daughter’s class a few years ago listening to the dozen or so preschoolers talk about snow. Some had seen it firsthand, a badge they wore with honor, while the ones who hadn’t listened closely with mystified facial expressions. Even as adults, we never lose the feeling that snow is magical, which is probably why snow-filled vacations hold such an enticing allure. Floridians may need to endure a long drive or plane ride in pursuit of snowy peaks, but a chilly challenge can be worth the trip. Orlando Family Magazine is your snow patrol source; here are our destination picks for your snow bunny squad…

Smugglers’ Notch Resort, Vermont

Three mountains tower over a self-contained village at Smugglers’ Notch Resort (smuggs.com) where a bevy of winter snow sports and recreational activities keep families hopping from early December through early April. Besides ski schools and day camps available for kids three and up, the resort offers a Mom/Dad and Me program, which gives parents the chance to learn techniques from an instructor to motivate their child through fun ski games that speed up the training process.

From daring slopes to a beginner “bunny” hill with an unintimidating conveyor lift, Smugglers’ is poised to cater to the varied abilities of all skiers and snowboarders. The older set will love the resort’s full-day teen program, which features a half-day of skiing followed by an afternoon adventure session that includes ice climbing, outdoor survival skills classes, and trips to the treetop obstacle course. Off the slopes, the resort features family nature treks, art classes, arcade, indoor heated pool, indoor fun zone packed with climbing inflatables and games, as well as more than 12 miles of snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trails. Lessons and equipments are available onsite.

Lodging in this three and four-story condominium style resort offers the convenience of a full kitchen inside 600 units from studio-size all the way up to five-bedrooms. In addition, several onsite restaurants scattered throughout the cozy village offer plenty of eat-in or take-out options for your hungry snow angels. It’s a ‘park your car and forget about it’ type of vacation that your family will remember for a lifetime!

Snowbird Resort, Utah

Hop a flight to Salt Lake International Airport, then drive 40 minutes with your bundled-up brood to arrive at Snowbird (snowbird.com), a 2,500-acre resort with 85 runs serviced by 10 chairlifts and an aerial tram that zooms its passengers to Snowbird’s highest point, Hidden Peak, where the high-speed tram docks at 11,000 feet elevation. Besides the Mountain School, which offers a wide variety of ski and snowboard lessons and camps for all ages, the resort also features Camp Snowbird, a daycare program for children 6 weeks to 12 years old.

Ski conditions are typically top-notch thanks to the world-renowned dry Utah powder snow that falls at an average rate of 500 inches annually, but the resort’s location inside the Wasatch-Cache National Forest in Little Cottonwood Canyon also makes it an ideal locale for other recreational activities, including guided snowmobiling and snowshoeing tours. Snowbird offers private and small group heli-skiing trips as well.

The resort’s accommodations are spread across four lodge areas and offer a range of choices from hotel rooms to condominium style units, many with ski-out/ski-in access and heated outdoor pools. In the winter, the resort features 8 dining choices ranging from quick/casual to upscale (ideal for a mom and dad date night). Perhaps the greatest perk of this all-season resort is the Cliff Spa, where parents can take a well-deserved respite to enjoy the pampering services offered inside the spa’s 21 treatment rooms. This adults-only spot is a fabulous place to enjoy the picturesque mountain vistas from the rooftop pool and hot tub.

Cataloochee, North Carolina  

Located about 35 miles from Asheville, NC, the Cataloochee Ski Area (cataloochee.com) in Maggie Valley features 17 lighted slopes that are blanketed with snow thanks to a high-tech snow making system that ensures a snowy run regardless of whether a single flake ever falls from the sky. With beginner, intermediate, and advanced slopes, Cataloochee offers five lifts including two moving carpet lifts ideal for beginners. The area’s twilight and night skiing and snowboarding are big perks; but so too is the tubing park, Tube World, where families can giddily zoom down six snowtubing lanes serviced by a convenient carpet lift. Tube World is open from mid-December through the first of March, weather permitting.

While Cataloochee doesn’t offer its own lodging, there are dozens of nearby options as well as many more in Asheville. Be sure to check out the Drive, Slide & Stay Packages online for savings on lodging, lift tickets, and lessons, which are offered in groups for skiers and boarders four and up.

Ready for a snowstorm of family fun? If a lack of ski gear and garb is holding you back from a wintery-white adventure to these sites or others, keep in mind that all resorts rent equipment, including helmets for little ones, and many also rent ski pants and jackets.

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