Colorado’s Winter Park Resort: A Family-Friendly Place to Ski and Play

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The Village area at Winter Park Resort in Colorado
Photo Credit: Breeze Leonard
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It isn’t just the breathtaking views, famed terrain, or the fact that it’s home to North America’s highest six-passenger chair lift that makes Colorado’s Winter Park Resort a perennial #1 top pick. With activities such as ski biking, ice skating, snow tubing, and night snowcat tours, it is one ski resort you can easily enjoy, even if skiing isn’t your jam. Get ready to dive into all the reasons why Winter Park Resort is the hot spot to “ski and play” for families of all ages.

Every year families travel to Winter Park Resort in Colorado for fun winter activities on and off the slopes. While the resort is known for great ski terrain, scenic views and the highest six-passenger chairlift in North America, it also offers many other winter attractions.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Did you know that you can rent your ski gear? The Ski KITs are rented at 90% off of the retail cost and shipped directly to your destination with free shipping and returns. This is a great option for families with kids who grow out of their ski gear each season. Kit’s include jackets, pants, goggles, gloves, and optional snow boots. See all rental options here.

With activities such as ski biking, ice skating, snow tubing, and night snowcat tours, Winter Park is a resort you can easily enjoy, even if skiing isn’t your jam. In addition, it’s a short two-hour drive from Denver international airport and is known as one of the top Colorado ski resorts. 

Get ready to dive into all the reasons why Winter Park Resort is the hot spot to “ski and play” for families of all ages.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Check out the Amtrack Winter Park Express, which is a great way to get from the Denver Union Station to the base of Winter Park Resort without having to rent a car and driver to Winter Park. Plus, it’s a fun experience for the kids. Be sure to check the schedule ahead of time, because they only run for a couple of months during the winter.  

 

Where to Stay at Winter Park

Choosing where to stay is half the battle when planning a vacation with a family. Our two main concerns when booking our accommodations are location and space, especially on a family ski trip. I’ve learned the hard way that walking for long distances with kids and all their ski gear is not for the faint of heart! So finding someplace near the slopes and lifts is very important to us.

Have you seen how much stuff you need to take a family on a ski vacation? We try to find places to stay that have enough room to accommodate our family of five and all of our winter gear. Here are two rooming options near the Winter Park ski area. For other lodging options visit here.

Read more: The Ultimate Family Ski Trip Packing List

Zephyr Mountain Lodge

Winter Parks Resort base lodging makes it easy to get from your room to the slopes. We stayed at the Zephyr Moutain Lodge during our visit. The size of the rooms and the location made this our first lodging choice for families.

Pros: Closest accommodations to the slopes and it’s within walking distance to all the shops and restaurants in the resort village area.

Cons: You have to pay per night for parking. The hot tubs were filled every night with adults, making it not very family-friendly.

The Winter Park lodge room
We loved how our room at the lodge had space for us to all store our winter gear. Photo credit: Breeze Leonard

 

Winter Park Vintage Hotel

The Vintage Hotel is one of the lodging options near the slopes. However, it’s not attached to the Winter Park village area and is further away from the Ski School than Zepher Lodge.

Pros: Choose from standard hotel rooms or studio rooms (which include a kitchen area). FREE parking. Great reviews.

Cons: The hotel does not offer ski-in/out. Not as close to the lifts as the Zephyr Moutain Lodge.

Skiing and Snowboarding

Many skiers and snowboarders come to experience Mary Jane mountain, which is Winter Park Resort’s famed terrain. It’s known for its bumps and spectacular tree skiing. If you have experienced skiers in your group, they’ll really love skiing in this area of Winter Park.

Another reason skiers love Winter Park is the Parsenn Bowl, home to “North America’s highest six-passenger chairlift ascending to breathtaking 360-degree vistas.” You’ll also want to visit the terrain parks, which are great for beginners or experts.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Always buy your lift tickets ahead of time. They’re more expensive if you buy them when you arrive.

Looking up the hill at the base of the mountain
My 11-year-old gearing up for a day on the mountain. Photo credit: Breeze Leonard

 

Ski School

Whether you’re visiting Winter Park as first-time or seasoned skiers, I also recommend at least a day of ski school. For first-timers, ski school is the way to go. Learning the basics of skiing or snowboarding will set you up for success on the slopes. And even for kids who have skied/snowboarded before, a refresher lesson is going to help as they get back into the swing of things.

Each year, we schedule for our two younger kids (ages 8 and 6) to attend ski school on their first day back on the mountain. Not only does this help them to recall what they’ve previously learned on other ski trips, but it gives mom and dad (and any older kids) a day on the mountain without watching little ones. Our kids loved attending ski school at Winter Park. Their instructors were great and we felt that our kids were in good hands. Our 6-year-old got to a level 3 on her first day of ski school!

SheBuysTravel Tip: Don’t wait until you arrive at schedule your kids for ski school. These classes fill up fast, so be sure to book well in advance.

Kids learning how to put on skis at ski school.
Our 6-year-old learning how to put on her skis at Ski School. Photo credit: Breeze Leonard

 

Where to Eat

We love playing in the snow together, but at the end of a long day on the slopes, we’re all excited to find a place where we can sit and eat a delicious meal. Here is a list of places to eat in Winter Park, and we’ll share with you our personal favorites.

  • Sunspot Mountain Top Lodge – you must ride the gondola to eat at the Sunsport which is located at 10,700 feet elevation. This is one restaurant you won’t want to miss when visiting Winter Park. Plus, the margaritas are delicious!
  • Doc’s Roadhouse – this restaurant is located closest to the gondola.
  • Derailer Bar – This was a popular place to refuel during the day. The eatery serves burgers, sandwiches, and salads and was a fun place to watch the skiers swooshing down the hill.
  • Lime – If you’re headed off the mountain and are in the mood for Mexican food and margaritas, this is your spot!
  • Vertical Bistro & Tap – American bistro style menu items.
  • Lunch Rock – Dining at over 11,000 feet; the restaurant has several wonderful lunch menu options.
The Sunspot dining room
The Sunspot restaurant is lunch/dinner with a view. A must-visit! Photo credit: Breeze Leonard

 

More Personal Favorites

  • Pizza Pedal’r – We ordered pizza from here twice during our visit because it was so delicious. We called our order in ahead of time and took the pizza back to our room. I highly recommend a relaxing pizza night during your visit.
  • Waffle Cabin – Our family ate breakfast in our room each morning but after stopping into the Waffle Cabin to check it out I was sad that we missed eating here. This would be a great place to have breakfast with the family.
  • Goody’s – You’ll find some classic breakfast items here but my kids were really excited about their crepes and ice cream.
  • City Pop – We took the kids here to get a bag of gourmet popcorn for our car ride back to the airport and they loved it! City Pop also sells chocolates and other yummy treats.

SheBuysTravel Tip: There are places in the village to buy a few grocery items and alcohol. However, Fraser is about a 20-minute drive from the resort and there you’ll find a Safeway which is a great place to stock up on groceries and any personal items you might need.

The front of the lunch rock.
Enjoy a meal at Lunch Rock, which is located at 11,000 feet up the mountains! Photo credit: Breeze Leonard

 

Après-Ski Activities for the Family

Riding the Gondola

Get ready for a breathtaking view! Riding the gondola to the top of the mountain was one of the highlights of our trip. The kids could not contain their excitement as we rode higher and higher. From the gondola, you can watch the skiers and snowboarders as they shred their way down the mountain. No matter what age you are, from babies to grandparents, this is an experience everyone in the family should do!

SheBuysTravel Tip: Riding the gondola is free for foot passengers after 4 pm Thursdays – Saturdays.

Riding the gondola up the mountain at Winter Park
Riding the gondola is one of my family’s favorite things to do. The view up the mountain is breathtaking! Photo credit: Breeze Leonard

Snow Tubing

Get ready to scream and laugh a lot! Snow tubing is one of my all-time favorite activities when taking a winter vacation. Honestly, I have just as much fun as the kids do. This is another great activity that the family can enjoy together.

Winter Park snow tubing
Photo credit: Winter Park and Carl Frey

Snowshoe Tours

For families with kids ages eight and older, you can take a fun two-hour snowshoe tour. It is a great way to explore the ski areas, the lifts and even the forest! They have a “nature walk” and “summit show” tour that happens daily and a “moonlit” snowshoe tour on the weekends. For the best deal book this tour at least seven days in advance.

Snowcat Tours

You do not have to ski to have an awesome winter vacation at a ski resort, and this activity is one of the reasons why. You can explore the mountains by taking a 90-minute snowcat tour. The tour can hold 13 guests at a time and kids ages two and under are free as long as they sit in a parent’s lap. It’s strongly recommended to book this tour in advance since it’s a popular family-friendly activity.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Book the Vasquez Ride S’Mores Snowcat Tour to enjoy exploring the mountain at night. After the tour, your family will enjoy s’mores and beverages under the stars. 

Snowcat tour at Winter Park Resort
Photo credit: Winter Park and Carl Frey

Ski Bike Tours

You no longer have to wait for summer to go biking on the mountain! You can book a Ski Bike Tour during your visit to Winter Park. This activity requires kids to be 14 years or older.

Ice Skating

Being from Texas, my family does not get the opportunity to ice skate very often. You can only imagine how excited my family was to see that the Winter Park Resort village had an ice rink. We spent a fun hours together on the ice laughing and falling a lot. They do have ice skating trainers that the kids can push around to help them learn how to skate. By the end of the night, I was the only one left using a trainer!

The ice rink at Winter Park Resort
We had the whole rink to ourselves and we loved ice skating at night under the stars. Photo credit: Breeze Leonard

 

Snowmobiling 

This may not be an activity that the whole family can enjoy but if you have older children or you can sneak away for a while and let grandparents watch the kiddos, this is such a fun experience!

The Village Playground

Don’t forget to check out the playground area if you’re visiting Winter Park with little ones. I spent a morning at the playground with my six and eight-year-old kids while my eldest daughter and her dad hit the slopes.

The Winter Park playground
Our younger girls loved playing in the snow on this playground. Photo credit: Breeze Leonard

After you see this list of summer activities you’ll be planning a visit to Winter Park after the snow melts!

  • Alpine Slide (longest alpine slide in Colorado)
  • Rocky Mountain National Park guided hikes
  • Mountain Biking
  • Outdoor Wall Climbing
  • Kids Rope Courses
  • Putting Courses
  • Disc Golf
  • White Water Rafting
  • ATV tours
  • Zip Lining

Kids’ Night Out

Planning a date night while on vacation with the kids can be nearly impossible. However, it’s totally possible at the Winter Park Resort. Check out the Camp Idlewild Kids’ Night Out, where kids between the ages of 6-12 can enjoy a night away from their parents. An evening of crafts, movies and pizza will entertain them while mom and dad sneak off for a date night. Our kids did not experience Camp Idlewild, but I would love for them to participate next time so my husband and I could have dinner at the Sunspot.

Why It Works for Families

Skiing is an awesome experience, but it’s not always a sport that everyone enjoys. Or perhaps you’re a family with little ones under the age of two, so you’ll be spending more time off the mountain. Don’t worry! One of the reasons we love Winter Park is because you can enjoy vacationing here even if you don’t ski during your visit. In fact, we really took the time to enjoy ourselves both on and off the mountain because even though my family loves to ski, our vacations are centered around enjoying our time with one another.

We would start and end our day gathered together playing games in front of the fireplace, laughing and watching it snow. During the day we would enjoy skiing, eating and explore the resort village area. So even if you’re not planning to ski, I’d still encourage you to visit Winter Park with the family.

SheBuysTravel Tip: Our favorite souvenir is having professional family photos taken on our vacations. Check out Flytographer.

For more information visit winterparkresort.com and check our other posts on planning a family ski vacation.

Willie the Winter Park mascot
Our girls got to give Willie a high-five as he was walking through the village area. Photo credit: Breeze Leonard