No Lift Passes or Ski Gear Needed
The best part: In summer, no matter which ski resort you choose, you won't need an expensive lift pass or ski gear to have a good time. It doesn't cost anything to hike.In Maine, for example, you can stay at Sunday River (sundayriver.com), where rates begin at $95 a night, and introduce the kids to the Appalachian Trail. You don't even have to hike uphill if you prefer not to, nor should physical challenges keep anyone in your gang from getting outdoors.
Get a ride to the network of trails on Mount Crested Butte via ski lifts. The resort's well-regarded Adaptive Sports Center (adaptivesports.org) now boasts a ropes and challenge course open to people of all physical abilities.
Northstar-at-Tahoe (northstarattahoe.com) offers Northern California's largest mountain bike park, which, like its hiking trails and picnic spots, is accessible via chairlift.
If you don't have a full week, plan a long weekend. Look for deals that will give you a needed break during the day or in the evening. The same folks who do such a good job of teaching kids winter sports also offer summer adventure camps. If parents sign up for golf school at Stratton Mountain Resort, for example, the kids' camp is free. (Visit stratton.com.)
Smugglers' Notch in Vermont (smuggs.com) seems to add more bells and whistles to its children's programs every year. This year, kids and teens can hone their singing, dancing and songwriting skills, while toddlers will love the new playground facilities and the pirate who tells jokes at breakfast.
Everyone will be thrilled with the four water playgrounds, which include eight pools and four slides. There are organized programs for kids as young as 6 weeks old. While the kids are happily occupied, parents can join "Big Kids Camp," kayaking, mountain biking and trying ropes courses.
Many Summer Activities Offered
Resorts now entice vacationing families by offering a growing array of activities that are either free or part of inexpensive packages.
At Keystone Resort, just a 90-minute drive from Denver, kids and teens can golf for free every afternoon with a paying adult—including junior rental clubs, golf cart and balls. Stay at Keystone and your gang gets a passport that covers all kinds of other freebies: fly-fishing clinics, mountain bike clinics, yoga classes and nature walks.
One day a week, kids get a free pizza lunch. On Wednesday nights, kids can gather around the fire pit for s'mores and stories. (You must book with Keystone: keystone.snow.com.)
Winter Park, Colo. (winterparkresort.com), where generations of Denver kids have learned to ski, boasts more than 600 miles of interconnected mountain bike trails, as well as Colorado's longest Alpine slide (26 turns) and an 18-hole mountaintop disc golf course. Four-day packages, including lodging, a whitewater trip and park pass, can be had for less than $800 for a family of four.
Don't forget the bike helmets—and the camera.
Check out these ski resort events.