The Best New England Ski Resorts for Families

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Here in New England, our winters are long and usually quite snow-filled. So our family philosophy is if you can’t beat the snow, you might as well join in the fun!  What better way to do that than enjoying one of these amazing New England ski resorts?

SheBuysTravel Tip: After you book your ski vacation, consult our ski trip packing list so you have everything you need for a fabulous trip!

Smugglers' Notch is one of the best new england ski resorts.
Smugglers’ Notch’s mascot Mogul Mouse says “cheese” to all the families on the slopes! Photo credit: Smugglers’ Notch Resort

1. Smugglers’ Notch Resort – Jeffersonville, Vermont

Located on the backside of the mountains near Stowe, Vermont, about a four-and-a-half-hour drive from Boston, Smugglers’ Notch is the most family-friendly ski resort in New England.

Why It’s Family-friendly

From its childcare for non-skiers aged 6 weeks to 6 years old to the Snow Sport University beginning at age 2 and a half, Smugglers’ Notch is THE place to go in New England for kids to learn to ski or snowboard. It’s also one of the many ski resorts across the country where some kids ski free. Here, it’s kids 5 and under.

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.

Our kids began skiing here at age 3. One of my favorite things about the lessons is that the resort does its best to maintain consistency with instructors, so kids really progress. My kids became quite proficient skiers at Smugglers’ Notch. At the end of each ski lesson day, while kids wait to be picked up by parents, kids are entertained with music, a movie or a magic show while enjoying a hot chocolate and a snack.

As one of the largest ski areas in New England, this ski resort is great for all ages.  It is especially ideal for toddlers to teens, as well as for multi-generational families.

Our first trip included a grandparent who doesn’t do downhill skiing and there were plenty of activities – including cross-country skiing – to keep her busy. They also had accommodations to fit our party of seven.

Accommodations are on the property and many are ski on/ski off.

Smuggler's Notch is one of the best new england ski resorts for families.
With lower and slower-moving lifts and amazing instructors, Smugglers’ Notch is a great place for even the youngest to learn. Photo credit: Keri Baugh

Après Ski

Après ski is amazing for the whole family. From family entertainment to a weekly carnival with the Smuggs’ mascots, hot chocolate bonfires to evening fireworks, there is so much to do at Smugglers’ Notch. With evening snow tubing, a two-level FunZone open daily, as well as indoor swimming and hot tubs, there is something for everyone.

SheBuysTravel Tip: For parents who want a date night, babysitting services are available as well as a Kids Night Out. Be sure to check out the unique snowshoe dinner, where you ride up the lift, enjoy a catered dinner in a warming hut and snow-shoe down under the stars with a guide.

Jay Peak Resort is one of the best new england ski resorts for families.
Jay Peak Resort’s après-ski options include an amazing water park area the kids love! Photo credit: Jay Peak Resort

2.  Jay Peak Resort – Jay, Vermont

When you mention Jay Peak Resort to a New Englander, two words come to mind – WATER PARK. And while it does have an amazing water park, it is just as great for skiing. About four and a half hours from Boston, Jay Peak makes for a wonderful family ski vacation. Most lodging is ski-on/ski-off.  It’s a great option for preschool to school-age kids or older.

Why It’s Family-Friendly

From its “Jay Care” program for non-skiers ages 6 weeks to 12 years old, to its small group ski lessons for kids starting at age 4, it is a great place for skiing or snowboarding lessons. Kids under 6 get discounted lift tickets.

Jay Peak’s lessons are split, starting inside on indoor equipment including a carpeted ski/ride ramp to get beginners comfortable before heading outdoors to the ski area. Kids also learn in many ski areas, including sculpted terrain and tree skiing. Group lessons for kids are for ages 4 to 12.

Spaces are limited so you need to call 802-327-2104 to reserve childcare and lessons in advance.

Après-ski

The Jay Peak Pump House is an indoor water park area to enjoy after a long ski day or on a day off. With plenty of water slides, an activity pool, a lazy river and a surfing simulator called a Flowrider, there is much to do to keep the fun going.  Afterward, families can enjoy the family arcade, a movie theater with family-friendly movies and an indoor skating rink.

Additional activities include indoor skating, indoor climbing and a family arcade in the Pump House.

Sunday River Resort is one of the best new england ski resorts for families.
Kids can search for Eddy the Yeti’s cabin at Sunday River Resort. Photo credit: © Nick Lambert 2018 / Sunday River Resort

3.  Sunday River – Newry, Maine

About a three-and-a-half to four-hour drive from Boston, Sunday River is one of New England’s wonderfully family-friendly ski resorts for all ages. With eight peaks, this larger resort has plenty of ski areas for families, right near one of New England’s most picturesque towns, Bethel, Maine.

Why It’s Family-Friendly

For the smallest non-skiers, Sunday River has a daycare for kids ages 6 weeks to 6 years. Skiing and snowboarding lessons are for kids ages 3 to 12 years old. Kids under 5 get free lift tickets.

One of the fun experiences is to ski to “Eddy the Yeti’s” cabin and hang with Eddy and Betty, the two yeti mascots of Sunday River. Being one of the largest ski areas in New England with a variety of terrain, Sunday River is great for toddlers to teens and adults.

Après-ski

Family-friendly activities include nighttime fireworks, fire dancers, snow tubing races, indoor swimming and ice skating. The resort has a lot to keep the kids busy on non-ski days or after a day on the slopes. There is also a week each year with a children’s festival.

The property also has several family restaurants, including one called Camp, which has a famous kids’ buffet.

Nearby Bethel, Maine has a movie theater, bowling alley and a gem museum. There is lodging available on the property as well as several accommodations close to Sunday River.

Bretton Woods is one of the best new england ski resorts for families.
Our kids love skiing the family-friendly slopes at Bretton Woods. Photo credit: Keri Baugh

4.  Bretton Woods – Bretton Woods, New Hampshire

One of our family’s favorite ski resorts is Bretton Woods, about two and a half hours from Boston in New Hampshire’s White Mountains. If you ask my kids why, they’ll tell you because of the candy store at the top of the Zephyr High-Speed Quad, for when you get a candy hankering.

Where to stay: Omni Mount Washington Resort

Why It’s Family-Friendly

Bretton Woods offers daycare for non-skiers ages 2 months to 5 years old. For preschoolers who may not feel ready for skiing or snowboarding lessons, there is a ski and snow play area. Kids ages 4 and under get free lift tickets with a paying adult.

Bretton Woods has a wonderful Hobbit Ski School for kids ages 4 to 12 and a Hobbit Snowboarding School for kids ages 6 to 12.

Our kids loved the lessons from the excellent instructors. There are plenty of green and blue slopes for newer skiers, as well as family slopes, which means speed skiing is not allowed. There are also advanced slopes for those seeking more of a challenge. Bretton Woods is ideal for preschool-aged kids up to teens and adults.

The “kids only” après-ski party gives kids and parents some time to relax at Bretton Woods.
The “kids only” après-ski party gives kids and parents some time to relax after a day on the slopes! Photo credit: Courtesy of Omni Mount Washington Resort /Bretton Woods

Après-ski

Bretton Woods has much to offer families après-ski.  Kids will love the opportunity to ride on a mini snowmobile in the Kids Snowmobile Park right at the Bretton Woods base. My son had so much fun, he didn’t want to stop. There is also a family snow tubing hill, carriage and sleigh rides and even “kids only” après-ski parties at the Kids’ Alpine Club, with clowns, storytellers and musicians.

Accommodations are available at the beautiful and historic Omni Mount Washington Resort, which offers several programs and perks for kids, or you can rent slope side or nearby

Bretton Woods is also centrally located around 30 minutes from Cannon Mountain, 45 minutes from Black Mountain and Cranmore Mountain Resort if you stay near those areas.

Okemo Resort is one of the best new england ski resorts for families.
Okemo Resort is one of our favorites for skiers of all ages and levels – and the six-person “bubble” lift has heated seats! Photo credit: Keri Baugh

5.  Okemo Resort – Ludlow, Vermont

For a Vermont experience that is a bit closer to Boston (about two and a half to three hours away), Okemo is one of our favorite resorts for families. We love it because its bigger size offers many ski areas for a range of skiing abilities, but it remains family-friendly with a lot for families to enjoy. It is an easy weekend getaway from Boston.

Why It’s Family-Friendly

Okemo offers slope slide childcare for kids ages 6 months to 4 years old. They also host a Kids Night Out for kids ages 6 months to 12 years old. This resort is a great option for toddlers all the way up to teens because there is quite a range of terrain and ski/snowboard lessons from ages 3 to 14 years old. Children ages 7 and under get a free lift ticket.

Two of my favorite features of this resort are the dual chair lifts up the central slope. And on those chilly ski days, I love the six-person heated lift, with the signature orange cover.

Okemo is owned by Vail, so it is on the Epic pass system, which is a single pass you can buy and access several resorts across the country. Other New England resorts on the Epic pass include Attitash, Wildcat Mountain, Mount Snow, Stowe, Mount Sunapee and Crotched Mountain.

Apres-ski

Traditionally, my kids absolutely loved Okemo’s Mountain Coaster, which is available for an exhilarating ride down the mountain even in the winter! They also have great festivals even in the winter, some with entertainment. There is also snow tubing, indoor swimming and ice skating available. 

Jackson Gore Lodge has a great restaurant, or there are plenty of cafeterias and restaurants in several of the lodges at various points on the mountain.

Several accommodations are available including ski-on/ski-off condos and properties in the Jackson Gore Village.

Sugarbush is one of the best ski resorts in new england for families.
Sugarbush’s offers amazing family-friendly skiing, accommodations and quintessential Vermont-style dining. Photo credit: Keri Baugh

6.  Sugarbush Resort – Warren, Vermont

About three and a half hours from Boston is another one of our favorite resorts, Sugarbush. It’s not far from Killington but better for families. It is also just 15 minutes from another famed ski resort, Mad River Glen. It is one of the largest ski areas in New England (not to be confused with Sugarloaf, the largest ski area in New England.) Known by its signature red barn base area, Sugarbush is an excellent weekend getaway for families.

Why It’s Family-Friendly

Sugarbush offers daycare for non-skiers ages 6 weeks to 6 years old. The ski and ride school for kids ages 3 to 12 years old is excellent. It has quite a range of ski areas and terrain, so it is great for toddlers through teens and adults. Kids ages 6 and under get a free lift ticket.

There are plenty of restaurants and meal options on property, many with the signature quality Vermonters put into their food. Vermont is known for excellent breakfasts, and you will find a great one at the Rumbles Bistro and Bar on the property, one of our favorites!

Apres-ski

Sugarbush has an indoor kids adventure zone with a bouncy house, trampoline, games, toys and more. You can also book a family sunrise or sunset cabin cat ride and watch the sunset over Lincoln Peak. There is also snowshoeing, outdoor year-round pools and hot tubs.

SheBuysTravel Tip: The original Flatbread Pizza Company is nearby at the Inn at Lareau Farm and is a great family-friendly restaurant option après-ski, with high-quality ingredients in a very cozy ambiance. To get a reservation, you have to stand in line to give your name (they start taking names at 4 p.m., so get there around 3:30 p.m. or earlier), but it is well worth it.

There are accommodations available at Sugarbush including rooms at the inn, resort condos and on-site properties.

    Stowe Mountain Resort is one of the best new england ski resorts for families.
    Stowe is a beautiful resort in one of New England’s loveliest towns, with much to offer families. Photo credit: © COPYRIGHT JESSE SCHLOFF PHOTOGRAPHY 2018, courtesy of Stowe Resort

    7.  Stowe Mountain Resort – Stowe, Vermont

    Stowe is a beautiful New England town with a renowned ski resort. It is one of the largest ski areas in New England.

    It is definitely family-friendly and has much for families to do. There are options for the youngest snow bunnies in your family. But more than 50% of its trails are intermediate, 29% are expert and 16% beginner according to its website, so I think Stowe is better for older kids and teens than for toddlers.

    Owned by Vail, it is also on the Epic Pass.

    Why It’s Family-Friendly

    Stowe Mountain Resort offers childcare for kids ages 3 months to 4 years old. Ski and ride lessons are available for kids ages 3 to 12 years old. Kids ages 4 and under get free lift tickets.

    One of the reasons I say Stowe is especially teen-friendly is because of its Stowked Teen Camp. While many resorts put 13-year-olds and above with adults in lessons, Stowe has a dedicated camp just for teens, ages 13-16 years old who are capable of blue/black terrain. This gives them an opportunity to ski/ride and take lessons with kids their age, at their level of skiing. This is something my older son will be totally stoked for in a few years!

    Apres-ski

    There are several kid-friendly activities on the property, such as an Adventure Center, which includes separate rock climbing areas for kids under 12 and kids over 12. There is also a game room, indoor swimming, ice skating, sleigh rides and kid-friendly activities that change daily. Outdoor activities include ice skating and sleigh rides.

    Stowe has plenty of on-site restaurants and activities on site. There is also The Village at Spruce Peak,  an area full of dining, shopping, markets and activities, reminiscent of some of the bigger resorts in the west.

    Stow offers a variety of lodging options, including slopeside and inns and hotels in the town of Stowe.

    8. Loon Mountain Resort – Lincoln, NH

    Another gem of New Hampshire’s White Mountains, just about a two-hour drive from Boston, is Loon Mountain Resort. It is a great family ski resort option for families who want a bigger resort, closer to Boston, with a lot for kids of all ages, and can easily be a day trip.

    And, it has the Kanc 8 ski lift, which is called the Northeast’s most technologically advanced ski lift! It fits 8 persons, travels at 18 feet per second, and will get you to the top much easier and faster! Find out about this new feature here.

    Why It’s Family Friendly

    For kids not old enough or quite ready for the slopes, Loon Mountain offers daycare for kids from 6 weeks to 6 years old. Three-year-olds can get an intro to skiing with a program that includes learning indoors and in an outdoor ski area. Lessons are also offered for kids ages 4 to 14 years old. Kids ages 5 and under ski free.

    The learning environment for the youngest skiers includes wood-carved animals and a kid-sized steam train, with a terrain area. Loon Mountain’s thoughtful ski-and-ride program and kid-friendly terrain parks make it a great ski resort for toddlers up to adults.

    Après-ski

    With several lodge areas for an after-ski hot chocolate and meal, there are plenty of places to enjoy a treat after a day of lessons. My kids love to enjoy the snow tubing, and the little ones love the tot tubing area for kids seven and under. There is also ice skating and snowshoeing on the property.

    SheBuysTravel Tip: We like to stay at the Holiday Inn in Lincoln, NH, which is simple but quite nice. Our room had an electric fireplace and a Jacuzzi tub. There is an indoor pool and a nice continental breakfast. It is also located perfectly to ski at Bretton Woods on a Saturday (about a 35-minute drive) and Loon on Sunday.

    Loon Mountain Resort is one of the best New England ski resorts for families.
    Loon and Mount Sunapee Resorts offer great ski options for all ages and abilities, but especially for kids. Photo credit: Keri Baugh

    9.  Mount Sunapee – Newbury, New Hampshire

    Another family-friendly ski resort under a two-hour drive from Boston, making it an easy day trip, is Mount Sunapee. Also owned by Vail, Mount Sunapee is on the Epic pass like Okemo and Stowe.

    Why It’s Family-Friendly

    Mount Sunapee has a childcare center for kids ages one to five years old. For kids aged 3 and 4, you can add an hour ski lesson to get them used to the mountain. Ski and ride lessons are available for kids ages 4 to 12 years old. Kids ages 4 and under get free lift tickets.

    This mid-sized mountain has a warm, friendly ambiance that has a beginner area separate from the main mountain, with five lifts leading to 13 trails. It is like a mini mountain just for beginners, which is perfect for younger kids to learn in a more relaxed environment. The website offers a lot of tips for getting your kids ready for their first ski/snowboard lesson, which I find very helpful.

    There are some advanced trails and a few terrain parks for more experienced skiers. I think Mount Sunapee is great for preschool to teenagers, beginning skiers or anyone who would like a ski day on a bigger mountain close to Boston.

    Après-ski

    There are a few dining options on-site, a classic New England lodge with a fireplace and a pub. But there is not much in the way of activities outside of skiing.

    If you choose to make it an overnight, there are several nearby bed and breakfasts, cottages and inns on the Mount Sunapee website.

    Pat's Peak Resort is one of the best new england ski resorts for families.
    Cozy, family-owned Pat’s Peak offers snow tubing fun for more family fun in the snow. Photo credit: Courtesy of Pat’s Peak Resort

    10.  Pat’s Peak – Henniker, New Hampshire

    For a smaller family-friendly ski resort only an hour and a half from Boston, Pat’s Peak is worth a mention. It is smaller in size than others on this list, but it is a great family-friendly option for a day trip from Boston.

    Why It’s Family-Friendly

    Pat’s Peak offers childcare for the non-skiing tots ages 4 months to 6 years old. Children ages 3-6 can participate in Cub’s Club with an advanced reservation booked online.

    Their ski and ride lessons are available for kids 3 to 14 years old.  

    With 50% of the ski areas listed as novice, this is a great resort for kids to learn to ski. The ski area also has 20% intermediate and 20% advanced, so for more experienced teens or adults, there are slopes to challenge you while the younger kids are in lessons.

    What I like about Pat’s Peak is that this resort has been family-owned for 55 years. They also offer homemade food in their lodge cafeterias and pub. Now that is something this mama can get behind! This resort is great for preschoolers to teens and anyone learning to ski, or anyone looking for a family-friendly ski resort close to Boston.

    Apres-ski

    Pat’s Peak has a pub and cafeterias onsite, and kids will love to get one of their famed giant M&M cookies. There is also snow tubing on the property and snowshoeing is available.

    There are nearby inns, bed and breakfasts and Airbnb available, but Pat’s Peak is also driving distance from Boston.

    Wachusett Resort is one of the best new england ski resorts for families.
    My kids love the wagon ride at Wachusett Resort. Photo credit: Keri Baugh

    HONORABLE MENTION: Wachusett Mountain – Princeton, Massachusetts

    You don’t have to drive all the way to the Berkshires to get a ski day in Massachusetts. Though Jiminy Peak and Butternut Resorts are often what comes to mind when thinking of family-friendly ski resorts, Wachusett Mountain should not be overlooked if you are in the Boston, Rhode Island or even Connecticut areas and looking for an easy family-friendly ski day.

    Only about an hour’s drive from Boston, about one and a half hours from Rhode Island and two hours from Connecticut, this resort is a wonderful place for a family ski day.

    Why It’s Family Friendly

    Wachusett has excellent ski and ride lessons for kids ages 4-12 years old. My kids loved the lessons here. Kids are transported from check in to the slopes and back on a tractor-drawn sleigh, and they wave at the skiers as they go by.

    There are also family-friendly slopes, where speeding is not allowed.  A warming hut with apple cider donuts and coffee is also one of our favorite traditions. Night skiing is also available.

    Though it is a smaller resort, it has snowmaking machines, so the slopes are often open.

    Apres-Ski

    There is a great restaurant at the base lodge and a pub. The lodge is small but cozy, with fireplaces to warm up.

    There is no onsite lodge, but Great Wolf Lodge New England is very close by.

    Keri first tasted travel on a college choir tour to Europe and was immediately hooked. She lived abroad twice, traveled to over 30 countries, and was a professional Cast Member at Walt Disney World Resort and for an educational travel company, before having kids. Once they came, she wanted to keep traveling and has done so since her oldest was three months old. Keri loves traveling with kids because you have to slow down, take breaks, and sometimes live like a local. It teaches kids flexibility, patience, and risk-taking, and it opens their eyes to the world. Keri moved abroad a third time to London for a year, when her kids were ages 4, 1 and 1. Her family travels several times per year, to Europe, the Caribbean, Hawaii, Disney and Orlando, and on ski vacations in New England and out west. They take regular weekend getaways all over New England, where she is based. Keri is a stay-at-home mom and owns the family travel blog Bon Voyage with Kids to inspire families to enjoy the journey of traveling with kids. Keri has been a planDisney Panelist 2023 for Disney Vacation Club and Walt Disney World and as a family travel expert, she is regularly interviewed in major domestic and international news media and travel publications.
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