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When I meet people who have never considered a ski vacation over winter, I’m always excited to share the wonderful benefits of this invigorating experience. Because, a ski vacation offers so much more than just cruising down a hill! And, if you haven’t tried to ski, why not give it a shot? It’s a great vacation idea during Covid-19 times as well. Much of your time is spent outdoors and the mountain even makes dining outdoors so easy. Here a few different ways to enjoy the best of what a winter vacation has to offer.

Annie sits with her snowboard while wearing snowboarding helmet and goggles

Give skiing or snowboarding a try

Just try it! Skiing, and my personal favorite, snowboarding, are sports that can be enjoyed at any level. If you have any athletic ability at  all–you might pick up on skiing quickly. You have two skis to easily balance on, and poles to keep you up. Snowboarding might take a few more tries to “get down,” s if your trip is a short one, you might want to practice on a bunny hill close to home before hitting the mountain. However, once you figure out snowboarding (you’ll feel like an ice-skating fish for a minute), the learning curve is shorter than skiing. You’ll be shredding in no time!

Don’t like to ski?

No big deal! If you still want to exercise, just not so vertically–snow shoeing and Nordic (cross country) skiing are incredible options! Just hit the local rental shops and they can set you up with all you need. You will experience nature’s winterscape like never before. And you will earn your hot tub time in spades!

Bloody Mary sits on a table looking out over the snowy mountain during apres-ski

Someone needs to grab the après-ski table

Since you’ll be spending a few days or more on your vacay, you’ll have time for a shopping day. And perhaps squeeze in a little spa time in the morning. Your skiing friends will love you because around 2:30/3PM, you’ll grab the best seat on the sunniest deck for skier watching. The vibrancy one can witness at the bottom of a ski hill is the most mood altering experience. In the up direction! And honestly, there is nothing better than a cold one on a bluebird day. By spring, most people ditch their coats and quit skiing even earlier. I can smell the suntan lotion now.

Bringing your kids on a mountain ski trip

A winter vacation is arguably one of the best vacations for kids. Even if your kids aren’t athletic, they might really surprise you. Some kids you wouldn’t expect naturally take to skiing. Or, you just might have a little shredder on your hands. I always say start with skiing and then move to boarding once they are proficient skiers. It’s fun to be able to ski well and board well, too.  Most importantly, enroll them in lessons! I rarely see a good outcome from parents trying to teach their own kids to ski. The average daily cost of ski school depends on which ski area you visit. The price you pay, my family has found, is so well worth it. You’ll have a day of skiing with your partner (lunch/sun-deck/a little vino), when you’d be paying a babysitter anyway, and your kids will learn the right technique from a pro while having fun on the mountains, making new friends!

The stories you’ll share over an early dinner will be priceless. I think about the buddy my daughter Jeannie made in Vail at ski school. Every child in her group spoke only Spanish, no English. She ended up making a great friend and managed to form a friendship despite the language barrier. She ended the day full of sunshine, hit the sheets early and probably got the best sleep of her life, dreaming of tomorrow’s next adventure with her new found friend. Or the time my oldest daughter accepted fresh baked cookies with her group from a Vail employee in disguise – Downhill Gold Medalist Lindsay Vonn!

Three child skiers pose for a photo on the slopes with Lindsey Vonn

Kids grab a cookie from undercover ski instructor Lindsey Vonn

Other ski-town winter activities to be enjoyed with your kids

  • Explore the town-go souvenir shopping.
  • Ride the gondola! Meet up with skiing family and friends while taking in the majestic mountain scenery. The perfect photo op!
  • Hit the local library (story time is so much fun at a different library)!
  • Go ice skating–most areas have great in-town rinks with hot cocoa brewing just steps away.
  • Dog sled tours–many Rocky Mountain resorts offer this awesome, “mush-y” activity. 
  • Make a splash–and don’t forget the swim suits! Bouncing between a heated pool and hot tub is soo much fun! 

Recommended: Hit the Adventure Park! Many ski resorts have Mountain Adventure Parks which feature many activities besides skiing, like ice skating, tubing, high-flying trampolines and even winter coasters winding through the trees. Our personal favorite, Adventure Ridge at Vail Resorts, offers all of these and more.

Budget Tips for Your Ski Trip 

Yes, a ski trip to the Colorado/Utah Rockies is going to cost you. But keep an eye out for specials–you’d be surprised how the costs drop early (before Christmas) & late season, after Spring Break. You can ski for free in Crested Butte, CO (one of my all time favorite mountain towns/ski areas ever) over Thanksgiving!

Plan before you go

Use Google Flights to play around with the best dates/cheapest costs to fly to a destination. Maybe you have some miles saved up. Another great way to get ready for that mountain vacation? Taking some time to make some turns before hitting that mountain resort is good planning at its best.

Check out sites like VRBO and AirBnB to find places to stay in your price range. A ski vacation must – find a place with a kitchen. There are times when you will be too tired to go out for a meal. Especially if you Apré, and head home by 5:30pm, you’ll want to throw in that frozen pizza or nuke a plate of nachos around 8pm. 

Save time and money

  • Reduce expensive ski lesson time before hitting the more expensive slopes by practicing before your trip. This will help lessen anxiety about getting up on your skis, especially if it’s been awhile, get your body ready, and give you experience on the mountain.
  • Apré ski is a great time to take advantage of cheap drinks and appetizer specials.

PRO TIP: Invest in lessons from the get-go! A seasoned professional will start you off on the right foot (ha ha) and show you the best places on the mountain–for you. And the hot tub post ski day feels really, really good. If you have a local ski hill, beef up on lessons at smaller, nearby resorts. You’ll be a bit more seasoned before you arrive at your destination, while saving $$ on lessons! 

Plan your meals

  • Make breakfast before you go. Egg sandwiches happen to be our family favorite. Oatmeal. Whatever! 
  • While I personally love eating lunch on the mountain–many pack in some pretty fabulous lunches. Not only for budget concerns, but the hardcore skiiers don’t want to waste unnecessary time waiting in line for a hot lunch. I personally love the lodge meet-up for the time to reflect on the day, warm up and recharge. 
  • Bring snacks. Peanut M&M’s are my fave–they travel so well in the coat pocket. 
  • Hard candies are great on the lift. Buy and  pack some old school Brach’s Butterscotch or Cinnamon candies before you leave on your trip. 

See you out there! ??

Looking out over the vast snow-covered mountain with pine trees and ski tracks

UPDATE: The mountains are getting fresh powder, as we speak! My favorite app to keep track of the latest snow conditions all over the world? OpenSnow. I upgraded to the paid annual ($29.99) for detailed 10 day snow forecasts–however, the free version will give you the latest details on who has the best snow now.

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