Juggling a family ski vacation can be easier than you think—if you choose your location wisely. While numerous resorts offer family packages and specials for children, you’ll be hard-pressed to find one that fills your day-to-day planning with ease and magic like Northstar. With everything from licensed child care to a self-contained village to kid-friendly restaurants, this resort is the place to go if you’re planning a ski vacation with your family.
Here are 10 reasons why Northstar delivers an experience that you and your kids will cherish for a lifetime.
1. Ski School for Families and Children of All Ages
Northstar is one of the few resorts in the world that teaches tiny tykes how to ski and snowboard. Beginning skiing or snowboarding lessons are available for children as young as three years old, as well as a variety of lessons for skiers and snowboarders of all ages and levels, including adults.
Although group lessons can be fun for making friends and socializing, Northstar’s Ultimate 4 lessons have no more than four individuals in a group, all of whom are placed by level. This means plenty of attention from the instructor.
For families who ski or snowboard at the same level, you can also sign up for half- or full-day private family lessons, which is a fantastic way for you and your crew to step up to the next level together. If your family is in the process of perfecting the art of short, controlled turns, don’t forget to collect your EpicMix Control Freak badge.
Snowboarders are also in luck because Northstar is home to the Burton Academy, which offers lessons, including state-of-the-art Burton demo equipment as well as GoPro video analysis for all levels of riders. Lunch is included with most lessons as well as hot cocoa and cookie breaks for children. Adding rental equipment and lift tickets to any lesson is simple when you book online.
2. Licensed Child Care
Vacationing with children too young to ski? Don’t let that stop you. Northstar’s Minors’ Camp is the only licensed childcare facility in North Lake Tahoe and offers a fun and safe haven for 2- to 6-year-old children. All-day and morning childcare options are available, both including lunch and snacks and a ton of play areas (indoor and outdoor!) and activities that will keep the little ones entertained while you enjoy your slope time. There’s even a free parking lot right outside with ski shuttle to and from the lifts. Plus, all-day childcare goes until 4:30, so you’ll have time for après.
3. Slopes for Everyone
Northstar is home to 100 total runs and a whopping 73 are geared toward beginner and intermediate skiers. The milder slopes are also naturally separated from the more advanced terrain.
Stick to green runs by taking the Big Springs Express Gondola, while smooth blues can be found off the Highlands Gondola, Comstock Express, and Vista Express. Expert terrain is accessed off of Martis Camp Express and Backside Express.
Kids will be overjoyed that there is not just one but seven terrain parks to choose from, designed with downsized jumps and features for skiers and riders making their initial foray into freestyle. If you or your kids venture in and hit a fun box, be sure to collect your EpicMix Bold Box badge.
4. Self-Contained Village
Northstar’s base village is sort of like a giant playground for kids of all ages (including children at heart). Boasting numerous lodging options as well as more than a dozen restaurants and plenty of outerwear stores, boutique shops, and spas, there is also an ice rink with fire pits and even a movie theater. The village is pedestrian-only and everything is within easy walking distance.
5. Kid-Friendly Restaurants
Northstar’s many culinary offerings cover everything from fresh sushi to Mexican, farm-to-table small plates, and gigantic burgers. But your best bet for kids has got to be Rubicon Pizza, situated right in the village. The long list of creative pie options, salads, and local beers can be appreciated by parents, while the kid’s menu contains mini-pies, cheese ravioli and more for discerning young palates. Save room for a warm (and gigantic!) chocolate chip cookie. Another solid choice situated right in the Village, Tavern 6330 offers a broad range of seasonally fresh and tasty steaks, salads, and cocktails as well as an expansive kids menu.
6. Ice Skating
The outdoor ice skating rink is the centerpiece of Northstar Village. Surrounded by fire pits and lined with lights for skating under the night sky, it’s a popular way to while away an evening, with skate rentals on-site.
7. Free Afternoon S’mores
This gooey handful is another unique Northstar treat. Park your family by the ice rink fire pits at 3:30 every afternoon for a delivery of free s’mores makings.
8. Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing
While zipping downhill with gravity on your side is a thrill, exploring the slopes at a slower pace makes for great family bonding time. The Cross-Country, Telemark, and Snowshoe Center at mid-mountain rents skis and snowshoes for all sizes (ages 5 and older) and offers gliding lessons.
9. Bungee Trampoline
If your kids are filled with energy and are showing no signs of slowing down, head to the Overlook to let them jump it out in style on the bungee trampoline.
10. Arts and Crafts
A fantastic indoor option can be found at The Villager Candle Shop, Pottery, and More, a craft shop where artistic individuals of all ages can get creative painting pottery, making candles or mosaics, and even stuffing and dressing their own teddy bears. There is no better souvenir to remember a family trip by than the one you made yourself.
Northstar California also hosts a wide variety of family-friendly events, especially around the holidays. Check out their events calendar and start planning your trip now!
Featured image provided by © Vail Resorts