Snow vacations offer much for families to love. These days, every ski destination is kid-friendly and even the glitziest resorts welcome families and offer kids programs. Most places offer daycare for young children and many also offer teen programs. Adults, meanwhile, can easily learn to ski, thanks to new ski gear and great instructional programs. Other snow fun includes tubing, snowshoeing, sleigh rides, snowmobiling, horseback riding, and even dogsledding.
Mont Tremblant: The beast of the Laurentian Mountains, about 90 minutes north of Montreal, Tremblant is the best-known ski destination in eastern Canada. It's also a great place for families and consistently lands on Ski magazine's list of the most family-friendly ski resorts in North America. Families will find a village, shops, and lodgings that include a Fairmont hotel with ski valet, for those who like luxury.
Mont Sainte-Anne: This is a great family ski resort just a half hour from Quebec City. There are many lodging options with ski-in, ski-out access to the slopes. Preschoolers up to age 6 can attend Star Camp, which combines a full or half day of supervision with ski lessons. Kids age 7 to 14 can take ski lessons with small groups of no more than six per instructor.
Snow Valley: Unabashedly kid-friendly Snow Valley offers something for every age, starting with First Tracks daycare for kids 6 months to 5 years. Kids ages 3 to 5 can get an introduction to skiing with a Ski ’n Play package that delivers the winning combo of beginner ski lessons plus indoor playtime. Older kids and adults can get lessons, too, and there's also a tubing hill and snowshoe trails.
Marble Mountain: This place has families covered, from babysitting and daycare for toilet-trained kids and, for older kids, one-hour group lessons. The mountain has 39 runs, including a beginner slope with a magic carpet-style lift.
Whistler-Blackcomb: Site of the 2010 Winter Olympics, Whistler is the best-known ski destination in Canada. The mountain stats are mindboggling, with over 200 marked trails, over 8,000 acres of terrain, nearly a mile of vertical drop on Blackcomb and 5,020 feet on Whistler Mountain. You'll find kid appeal galore, from weeklong kids' camps, a kids-only magic-carpet lift, on-mountain Kids Adventure Zones (called Magic Castle and Tree Fort), and a "Ride Tribe" for teens ages 13 to 17. There’s also snow tubing and a beginner terrain park.
For kids 18 months to 4 years, child care is available and parents are given pagers so they can be contacted quickly.
Big White: British Columbia's second-largest mountain is Big White, a ski-in, ski-out resort village that delivers tremendous ease for families, as it's possible to walk out of your condo and ski over to the base of the mountain. With 188 powdery trails, Big White offers plenty of options for every ability, from bunny slopes to black diamonds, and five alpine bowls. If you tire of skiing, there's also a tubing park, skating rink, and dogsled rides. Hungry? There are 18 on-mountain restaurants, a grocery store, and several fast-food eateries, some of which will deliver to your condo.
You can drop off your little ones at Tot Town Daycare while older kids can take group lessons. For parents who like night skiing, there is also and after-dark daycare program.
Silver Star: This family-friendly gem has 128 trails for every skill level. In DayCare Plus, kids 18 months to 5 years old supervised playtime; those 3 and up can get a one-hour private lesson. Older kids can take half-day lessons or a full day that includes a lunch break, and there's a fun Kids’ Night Out offered three nights a week.
Sun Peaks: Compared to Whistler, Sun Peaks might look small, but its stats would be enviable anywhere else: 121 runs on 3,678 skiable acres over three mountains with a vertical drop of 2,891 feet.
Lake Louise: Arguably the most beautiful place to ski in all of Canada, Lake Louise is not just a pretty face. It's got 145 trails, with at least one green run from every chairlift so families can explore the whole mountain. For young beginners, there's one- or two-hour sessions for kids ages 3 and 4, and full- or half-day lessons at all skill levels for kids ages 5 to 12.
- Edited by Suzanne Rowan Kelleher