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Top Ten Family Ski Resorts in New England

For the best family skiing in New England, see our favorite family ski resorts in Vermont, Maine and New Hampshire, plus Massachusetts. We have skied the major ski resorts in the East. These top New England ski resorts offer great ski trails and lifts, snowmaking and grooming, kids learn to ski programs, family friendly lodging and dining, and activities from après ski and tubing to horse drawn sleigh rides, fireworks and torchlight parades.

Stowe is best saved as a destination once your kids get bigger, and everyone can do justice to this vertical venue. The legendary Front Four on Mansfield will humble even the most boastful of teens. You will love summit dining at the European-style Cliff House via gondola. Non-skiers in the family can exercise the credit cards at boutiques up and down the Mountain Road in Stowe. Stowe Mountain Resort is five star with an interconnecting gondola whisking Mansfield skiers across the Notch to Spruce Peak's slopes and Village and the luxury hotel with spa, outdoor pool and ski concierge at The Stowe Mountain Lodge.

Maybe it takes a husband and wife team to understand what families need on a ski trip. Diane and Tim Mueller have created this top family ski resort in Vermont. Okemo has lots of mountainside lodging including the expansive Jackson Gore Inn, a friendly staff, superb on-mountain cuisine and all the lesson programs your family should require. Okemo’s mountain scene will captivate you with lovely pastoral views of the Vermont river valley, speedy lifts including two bubble covered chairlift, and exceptional snowmaking and grooming to keep you coming back, like the SUV-loads of families who have already discovered their so-coined “Okemo-difference.”

Sunday RiverSunday River
This Maine resort makes serious snow, pretty much guaranteeing your whole gang good skiing from November to April. With eight interconnected peaks, 820 acres, and modern lifts, night skiing, and two ski-in ski-out hotels book-ending the vast terrain - you are in a happy place. Sunday River is family friendly with events all winter long, a base to peak Chondola with Peak dining select evenings, and excellent lesson programs. The resort rounds out its offerings with outdoor heated pools, a zip line, cross-country and dog sledding, tubing and fireworks on weekends and holidays. The funky town of Bethel is great for browsing off-beat shops, or grabbing a bite off mountain via the free Mountain Explorer shuttle. Did we mention mascots Eddy & Betty the Yeti? Your kids will love the River too.

Bretton WoodsBretton Woods
How can you go wrong staying at the elegant Hotel Mount Washington for a winter getaway. Skiing at Bretton Woods, NH’s largest ski area, is a treat for the skis and the eyes, featuring well-groomed snow, a good variety of glades, and dramatic views of the highest peak on the Eastern Seaboard, Mount Washington at 6,288’. Recently added glades and terrain parks bring some edginess and excitement to Bretton Woods otherwise elegantly groomed scenic trails. There is plenty of terrain served by 10 swift lifts and a beautiful new base lodge, plus one of the country's best Canopy Tours.

Bretton Woods’ Family Center continues to improve upon their reliable Babes in the Woods daycare and Hobbit ski programs. If you like to skinny ski, The Nordic Center and trails are just awesome. Days are filled with outdoor adventure, followed up with supervised kids’ parties into the evening, Mom and Dad might actually find time for the Presidential Spa, adult après ski, dinner and dancing in the Mount Washington Hotel's century-year old speakeasy, The Cave. Omni Mount Washington Resort is ideal for families.

Smugglers NotchSmugglers’ Notch
If you are looking for the ski program du jour, Smugglers’ Notch Resort is the leader in the family programming. Whether its learning to turn with your child in their unique ‘Mom & Me’ lesson, or teaching your ‘Little Rascal,’ to start skiing at age two, Smuggs’ has thought up the most innovative instruction in snow country. This northern Vermont resort continues to re-invent the family ski experience, and hoard the family awards because of it. Condominiums flank the slopes of the beginner terrain on Morse Mountain. Resort guests find tons to do in the Village after the lifts close from the Fun Zone to snow tubing. Smugglers’ is also home to treasures of tricky terrain on Madonna Mountain for expert parents who want to drop in after they drop off their kids at ski camp or day care. Just be prepared for long chairlift ride chats on the dawdling double chairs.

Sugarloaf is one big mountain, with one strong allegiance. Families appreciate loyalty and the folks at the Loaf are as legion as they come. The warm welcome you receive here separates this Maine mountain oasis from the others both spiritually and geographically. The 1,053 acres of terrain here is hearty (biggest in the East), and so is the social life so far north – drawing skiers to its snowy pulpit. Sugarloaf throws weekly themed parties for families in the rustic but real base village, where Bag Burgers and  brews and tunes are served by Sugarloafers. A cast of woodsy Sugarloaf mascots like Amos the Moose, Blueberry Bear, and Pierre the Logger keep your kids smiling, making up for the long “are we there yet?” drive to The Loaf.

KillingtonDespite Killington’s reputation as a sprawling beast of a resort, the recent improvement of Ram’s Head and Snowshed Family Adventure Center make the Big-K more amiable for families. Killington's six mountains of terrain are covered in super snowmaking power allowing them to open first in the East in October (2014-2011) and ski until May. Killington has something for everyone in your pack. Bear Mountain is devoted to freeskiers and riders with all the parks and pipes your gen-y’er could whine for. While Killington peak has more classic trail skiing. There is plenty of lodging at Killington from the on mountain Killington Grand Hotel and condos to inns and motels along the Mountain Road. A side trip to sister resort Pico is ideal for families looking for one single panoramic peak with un-crowded trails funneling to a friendly base. Pico has a Vermont-syrupy flavor - the antithesis of big-brother Killington, the Big K and Beast of the East.

In Vermont's beautiful Mad River Valley is this one great ski resort made up of two mountains - Lincoln Peak and Mt Ellen. Sugarbush offers challenge on au natural Castlerock, classic groomed runs like Jester, bumps on Steins and FIS and plenty of family friendly terrain and kids ski and snowboard camps too. Lodging at Sugarbush's on mountain Clay Brook Inn in Lincoln Village is super convenient for families with an outdoor heated slope view pool, you can walk to ski camp, childcare, the lifts, dinner and après ski. Sugarbush also has lots of condos and charming inns like The Pitcher Inn throughout the Mad River Valley, Waitsfield and Warren.

Loon Mountain Resort
Loon MountainEasy to get to off I93, Loon is a great family area with on mountain lodging, with excellent learning programs. Loon offers skiers and riders three separate peaks, the highest at 3,050', modern lifts and two base areas. Parents will like the beautiful White Mountains views, kids will like Loon's terrain parks. For slope side resort hotel lodging, the Mountain Club at Loon is the place. Après ski at Loon, the town of Lincoln is your playground with movie theatre, shopping, ski shops and family restaurants. Or stay on the mountain, send the kids to Loon's Adventure Center with climbing wall and toys, while you enjoy Paul Bunyan's pub.

Attitash & Wildcat
New Hampshire's third largest ski resort, Attitash and sister ski resort 20 minutes away Wildcat make for a great weekend of family skiing in the Mt Washington Valley. AttitashAttitash has two big interconnected mountains for skiing and riding, with everything from long winding trails like Tightrope to exciting glades, and a monster pipe. The whole family will enjoy Attitash for its diversity and its proximity to North Conway's shops, dining and amusements. At nearby Wildcat, on the same lift ticket, the views of Mt Washington are spectacular. Attitash has a full service ski resort has a huge Learning Center, plus an on mountain Attitash Grand Summit Resort Hotel with an outdoor heated pool. Or stay in the quaint town of Jackson at The Wentworth or Eagle Mountain House, or one of many inns, motels or resorts in North Conway.

Mont Tremblant Quebec - Over the Border
TremblantWhile not in New England, Tremblant is worth the drive for New Englanders. Tremblant is like Disney on snow with animated architecture, a European ski village, and a very cheery ski school staff. Its like visiting the Alps without the airfare. The 654-acre ski area offers three sides of skiing and riding, speedy lifts, and scenery of Lac Tremblant. Families will love the lively pedestrian village, the multitude of restaurants and shops, and La Source - the indoor water park for a family après ski swim. Adults will find the best après ski this side of the pond. Tremblant gets busy on weekends and holidays due to it proximity to Montreal, but that's just more joie de vivre!

Massachusetts mention: Jiminy Peak
For folks from the south (southern New England that is), you can’t beat Jiminy Peak for proximity. With a beautiful Village Center, Children's Learn to Ski and Ride Center, all-suite Country Inn lodging, and well-groomed terrain served by a six-pack chair, Jiminy Peak Resort in Massachusetts is a top spot for young families from south of the Vermont border.

Wildcat New Hampshire

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All Stories by Heather Burke
All Photography by Greg Burke
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