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What’s the best part of a ski day? Après ski! Find out what après ski is, how to make the most of your time off the slopes, and where to find the very best après ski fun for families.
A family ski vacation is about so much more than skiing. It is an opportunity for everyone in the family to challenge themselves while having fun. Ski resorts are known for more than skiing and snowboarding. There’s sledding, snow tubing, snow biking, enjoying live music on a sunny deck and soaking in slopeside hot tubs as snow flakes float from the sky. And, don’t forget roasting s’mores by the fire! Many of these activities are best enjoyed after a day of skiing, during a time known as après ski.
So, What is Après Ski?
History of Après Ski
The Europeans are known for having invented après-ski. The custom originated in Norway and was quickly adopted in France. The term translated from French is “after ski.” This fun tradition comes from the history of ending a long, cold, hard day with mulled wine and friends.
The tradition of après ski crossed the ocean to North America in the early 20th century and is here to stay. Ski towns around the country now offer many varied après ski opportunities for skiers. Family ski resorts such as Aspen, Vail, Park City, Jackson Hole and Whistler all offer a whole world of fun things to do when you’re not skiing.
Après Ski Today
To today’s skiers, the après scene can come in many forms. To the young party crowd, it may involve happy hour libations at ski bars. Or, it may mean craft beer, margaritas and nachos on a ski deck.
But to a family, it may take the form of relaxing in a slopeside hot tub, on a ski-in, ski-out deck to live music and warm sweet s’mores.Or, for those active families who aren’t looking for relaxation after a day’s skiing, it may mean post-ski snow tubing, sledding, ice skating or riding snowmobiles.
For mom, it may mean an afternoon at the local spa or taking a break on a sunny deck. But to everyone, après ski starts when you kick off the ski boots.
Where to Find Unique Après Ski Scenes for Families
We’ve rounded up unique après ski ideas and the most fun things to do when you’re not skiing. You’ll find enjoyable family fun at all of your favorite ski resorts for kids.
Nordic Snowcat Adventure at the Breckenridge Nordic Center
Breckenridge Nordic Center’s fun-loving staff and its state-of-the-art Prinoth Snowcat offer a unique family adventure. The snowcat provides a heated, all glass cabin so you can experience the forests of Breckenridge in comfort with a stop for après ski s’mores and hot chocolate at one of the destination huts. Available during ski season Wednesday through Sunday at 4 p.m. for $75 per person; reserve by calling 970-453-6855.
Water Play at the Cascade Indoor Waterpark
Greek Peak Mountain Resort, Cortland County, New York
This indoor water park is kept at 82 degrees year round and is a spacious 41,000 square feet. The water park offers activities for everyone, with a wave pool, indoor and outdoor hot tubs, wading pool and more. It is conveniently attached to the eco-friendly Hope Lake Lodge in the Finger Lakes Region of New York, just a shuttle ride to and from Greek Peak Mountain Resort. Families can wind down from a long day on the slopes with a relaxing time by the pool.
Roasting marshmallows over the fire is a fun way for families to après ski together after a day of winter fun. Many, many ski hotels offer s’mores roasting, but Snowmass takes it to a while new level. Every day from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., guests can find s’mores carts near the fire pits in Base Village and the Snowmass Mall. These carts offer specialty fixings such as stroopwafels, white chocolate, mint chocolate, pretzel crisps, peanut butter cups and gingersnap cookies.
Vail Après Bell Ringing
Winter 2019-2020 this new après tradition highlights the fun expe,riences visitors can encounter in the course of a day on Vail Mountain. At 3 pm every day bells in both Lionshead and Vail Village toll to signify the start of après. The bell towers that dot both villages, toll first and loudest. Dozens of smaller bells lining the streets of town subsequently toll. This bells are a harmonious sound to signal that Vail Après has started.
Magical Snowy Ice Castles Lit in Sparkling Colors
Dillon, Colorado; Edmonton, Alberta; Excelsior, Minnesota; Lake Geneva, Wisconsin; Lincoln, New Hampshire; Midway, Utah
Typically après ski activities are about relaxation; this one is not. But it is so unique, and located within thirty minutes of several ski resorts, that we decided to include it. These magical twinkling castles built of ice are straight out of a fairy tale. The acre-sized castles feature maze-like tunnels, slides, crawl spaces, thrones, slot canyons, and towers that are all made of ice and illuminated at night with beautiful, color-changing LED lights. Kids will feel like they stepped into a fairy-tale world.
You can find Ice Castles locations within a 30-minute drive of various popular ski resorts, including Park City and Deer Valley in Utah; Breckenridge, Copper, and Keystone, in Colorado; Loon Mountain in New Hampshire; Afton Alps in Minnesota; and Grand Geneva in Wisconsin.
Warm Chocolate Chip Cookies Served with White Glove Service
Beaver Creek, Colorado
At Beaver Creek Resort in Colorado, every afternoon is après with warm chocolate chip cookies handed out at the base areas. Chocolate chip cookies steam from silver platters offered by servers in white jackets, white chef hats and white gloves. It certainly makes that hard work at ski school worth it for the kiddos, as they enjoy their warm treats before even getting their ski boots off.
Family Ski Hotels Offering Fun Family Après Activities
Limelight Hotel Ketchum
Sun Valley, Idaho
Limelight Hotel Ketchum hosts happy hour, daily, as well as family-friendly live music Thursday through Monday from 6–9 p.m. But it’s the lounge’s adjoining kids room that makes moms swoon. The room is full of old-fashioned toys. Also offering books, seating for crafts/creation, blocks and building toys. In addition, there’s a large television and gaming system paired with comfy bean bag chairs.
Park Hyatt Beaver Creek
Beaver Creek, Colorado
Après ski at the Park Hyatt Beaver Creek commences on a sweet note with the legendary s’mores happy hour. Grown-ups and children alike warm up and thaw out around a fire pit on the patio with incredible mountain views! Here enjoy s’mores made with assorted flavors of puffy house-made marshmallows. The hotel also offers the ultimate turndown service. Kids will enjoy this personal tent, equipped with a snuggly sleepy bag and a faux fire pit to stay “warm.”
Snowpine Lodge offers après options nightly. Options include stargazing on Fridays, sledding on Saturdays, family movie nights on Sundays. Then there’s S’more making (and eating!) on Monday’s, Kids Table Tuesdays, and more. Daily après includes fireside chats, cookies and hot chocolate, and kids programs in The Little Nest.
Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa
Beaver Creek, Colorado
Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa features live music nightly from 4pm-9pm all winter long and the lobby is usually bustling with families. Kids can borrow a wide variety of board games from behind the Front Desk. There’s also an extensive schedule of complimentary après kids activities during the ski season. These include face painting, cookie decorating and family-friendly movie screenings. In addition, most Saturdays in the winter the resort hosts a Nature at Night program with a Walking Mountains naturalist leading hands-on programs such as how to track Colorado animals in the snow.
Schweitzer Mountain Resort
Bonner County, Idaho
Schweitzer Mountain Resort is unique in that the entire resort is on private land. This means, if you buy a beer or a glass of wine from a Schweitzer outlet, you can take it to go anywhere on the mountain. So parents can grab a local IPA, then head to the outdoor campfire with the kiddos to make s’mores. Or head to Gourmandie, order a glass of wine and watch the kids play on the snow in the heart of the village.
Montage Deer Valley
Park City, Utah
Montage Deer Valley offers snowshoeing and snow tubing onsite for families, and a complimentary s’mores hour from 4:00 – 5:00 P.M. But conveniently located nearby is also Olympic Park with a real bobsled! The signature Comet Bobsled ride gives riders the opportunity to experience the official 2002 Olympic Sliding Track including speeds over 60 mph and notable g-forces.
No matter what your family is sure to grow and develop important skills on your ski trip, in addition to having a bonding time together.
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