Fantastic Family Ski Resorts in Canada & the USA – 2023/24 Season Update

Family looking out at the mountains Whistler

It’s not exactly a secret that North America is home to some of the best ski resorts in the world. Famous for their long runs, spacious resorts, and areas blessed with gorgeous mountain views, the ski resorts in the US and Canada have earned their place on the bucket lists of travelers looking for a getaway in the snow.

Long gone are the days when ski lovers had to travel to the European Alps for a chance to practice their favorite winter sports. Nowadays, European snow adventures flock to the US and Canada to try out the American experience first-hand!

With over 400 resorts located in these two North American countries, it is no easy task to decide which ones to visit for a snow adventure.

From the narrower meadows in the East to the expansive terrain and powder-filled bowls in the West, plenty of ski resorts will please ski lovers seeking great snow, fantastic après ski accommodations, and charming base towns for unforgettable getaways riding the slopes.

Read on for a list of the best ski resorts in the US and Canada that deserve a place on every skier and future skier’s bucket list.

This post is part of our series discover the USA

9 Best Family Ski Resorts in the US and Canada

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Epic Pass” refers to Vail-owned resorts and is a multi-resort, all-season pass that goes on sale BEFORE the northern hemisphere ski season starts; a limited number are sold in advance from the Spring before offering avid skiers the best possible rates and many other perks. Note there are exclusion dates.

1. Vail, Colorado (USA)

  • Base Elevation: 8120 ft (2475 m)
  • Summit Elevation: 11570 ft (3527 m)
  • Vertical Drop: 3450 ft (1052 m)
  • Closest Airport: Denver International – 120 miles
  • Epic Pass
  • Ski Season: Approx. November 9, 2023 to April 21, 2024

Vail is probably the best-known ski resort in America, and with good reason.

With over 5,200 acres worth of skiable terrain, fine shops and restaurants, and staggering mountain views, it isn’t hard to figure out why Vail tops many skiers’ bucket lists. Add a lively cultural scene and a bustling nightlife, and you’ve got the perfect recipe for a perfect winter playground!

USA & Canada Family Ski Resorts - Vail

Even though Vail is no longer the biggest ski resort in the US, it still holds its place as the jewel in the Colorado crown for skiers of all levels and one of the best spots on the planet for world-class winter sports.

Aside from having trails for beginners, intermediate, and experts, Vail boasts seemingly endless back bowls and a decent lift system comprising 31 chairlifts and two gondolas.

After skiing, you can enjoy plenty more activities to cap off the day – Vail was built for ski tourism, so they know what it takes to keep visitors happy when it comes to après ski opportunities and lodging!

For more fun in the snow with kids, allow some time in your itinerary for a day at Adventure Ridge, think snow tubing and a ski mobile track (though we hear rumor it won’t be open 2023/24)

The downside of Vail, is the crowds and the cost.

Where to stay: The Arrabelle at Vail Square, a RockResort is the height of Vail luxury with lift access on your doorstep, or try this spectacular 2-bed apartment close to the lifts.

2. Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia (Canada)

  • Base elevation: 2,140 ft (653 m)
  • Summit elevation: 7,160 ft (2,182 m)
  • Vertical drop: 5,020 ft (1,529 m)
  • Closest Airport: Vancouver International – 85 miles
  • Epic Pass
  • Ski Season: Approx: November 23, 2023 to (est) May 21, 2024

Located just 2 hours from Vancouver, Whistler is a favorite when it comes to ski resorts in Canada.

This jumbo-sized resort is the biggest ski resort in North America, spanning a whopping 8,100 acres to accommodate skiers and snowboarders of all levels of ability. Whether you’re a newbie, intermediate, or a daredevil, you’ll definitely find your place at one of Whistler’s six alpine bowls and 200 trails.

USA & Canada Family Ski Resorts - Whistler

Whistler Village is right on spot, with the finest hotels and restaurants where you can enjoy some après-ski fun and relaxation before cozying up for a well-deserved rest before venturing out on the powder for another day on the slopes.

The mountain village is also home to a few museums and galleries to satisfy your cultural vein if you manage to pry yourself from the slopes for a few hours.

An added value when planning a winter escapade to Whistler is the easy access to Blackcomb, another famed Canadian ski area. A quick ride on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola will take you back and forth from one site to another, in case those 8,100 acres are not enough for you to tackle!

Where to stay: We love the central location and luxury of Pan Pacific Whistler Village Centre,or with a group, try this superb luxury ski in/out townhouse with a hot tub that can sleep up to 7.

3. Palisades Tahoe, California (USA)

  • Base elevation: 6,200 ft (1,890 m)
  • Summit elevation: 9,050 ft (2,760 m)
  • Vertical drop: 2,850 ft (870 m)
  • Closest Airport: Reno-Tahoe (NV) – 47 Miles
  • Ikon Pass
  • Ski Season: Approx November 22, 2023 to May 29, 2024

Formerly named Squaw Valley Alpine Meadows, Palisades Tahoe is located in the Lake Tahoe region on the California-Nevada border. With a full range of prime accommodations and amenities, it is one of the leading ski sites in the world, especially after hosting the 1960 Winter Olympics.

USA & Canada Family Ski Resorts - Palisades

More than 6,000 acres of skiable terrain suited for all levels guarantee a full-fledged Winterland adventure in an incredibly beautiful setting. If it’s your first go at the slopes, you’ll find a fabulous ski school where kids from as young as three can start learning tricks, and there are lessons available for the little ones at Tahoe Kids.

Access to Alpine Meadows is easy, and there are a number of winter activities available other than skiing, including ice skating, snowshoeing, sledding, and snowmobile tours.

Palisades Tahoe offers many pluses at the base Village and High Camp, including a lagoon, a hot tub, and the Olympic Museum. Fine après-ski and nightlife options are plenty in the area as well, so grab yourself a babysitter for a night out too!

Where to stay: Try the Village at Palisades Tahoe for easy lift access at Olympic Valley, or rent a family lodge at nearby Lake Tahoe for larger groups and a gorgeous setting.

4. Lake Louise, Alberta (Canada)

  • Base elevation: 5,400 ft (1,646 m)
  • Summit elevation: 8,650 ft (2,636 m)
  • Vertical drop: 3,250 ft (990 m)
  • Closest Airport: Calgary International Airport – 120 miles
  • Ski Season: Approx November 3, 2023 to est May 5, 2024

Less than an hour’s drive from Banff, you’ll find Lake Louise, one of Canada’s most cherished ski resorts, perfect for the whole family.

Its location in the heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountains provides some of the best runs and epic views for skiers of all ages and abilities, sloping down Sulphur and Rundle mountains.

USA & Canada Family Ski Resorts - Lake Louise famous Fairmont Hotel

Besides being home to 4,200 acres of skiable slopes, Lake Louise also has an array of off-the-slopes attractions. Among them are fine restaurants, winter carnivals, ice sculpture exhibitions, ice lake skating as well mineral hot springs!

Don’t miss out on visiting Banff Springs Hotel, a truly majestic Scotting-style establishment with French touches. Built in 1885 and still functioning, it features a splendid ballroom and other characteristic features of a grand hotel from back in those days.

After skiing, venture out to the Jonhson Canyon ice trail to see frozen falls or go ice skating on Vermillion Lakes.

Ski Big 3

Where to stay: It’s hard to look past the utterly iconic Fairmont Chateaux Lake Louise, but if that’s a little out of budget, try the much more affordable Lake Louise Inn 2 kilometers from the lifts.

5. Park City, Utah (USA)

  • Base elevation: 6,900 ft (2,103 m)
  • Summit elevation: 10,026 ft (3,056 m)
  • Vertical drop: 3,100 ft (945 m)
  • Closest Airport: Salt Lake City International – 37 miles
  • Epic Pass: Yes
  • Ski Season: Approx. November 17, 20232 to approx April 11, 2024

Having merged with adjacent Canyons Resort, Park City is one of the largest ski areas in the US and the second largest in North America at 7,300 acres.

Offering great slope and off-slope experiences for everyone, Park City has become a favorite winter playground for both luxury seekers and lovers of the simpler things in life. With 60% of its trails deemed for beginners and intermediates, this resort is ideal for a family ski trip or traveling with companions of all ages and ski levels.

USA & Canada Family Ski Resorts - Park City

There are lodging accommodations for all budgets as well as a varied collection of bars and restaurants, drawing visitors from all corners of the world to this resort in Utah.

Nordic skiing, snow biking, tubing, dog sledding, and even paddleboard yoga classes inside a crater make this destination pretty unique, not to mention that it is one of the two resorts where you can ski right into the base town when you’re done with the mountain for the day!

Where to stay: An ideal sport for renting an apartment, try this spacious 5 bed if you’re traveling in a group, or for a touch of mountain luxury, the Waldorf Astoria Park City

6. Big White, British Columbia (Canada)

  • Base elevation: 5,059 ft (1,542 m)
  • Summit elevation: 7,608 ft (2,319 m)
  • Vertical drop: 2,549 ft (777 m)
  • Closest Airport: Montreal-Mrabel International – 64 miles
  • Epic Pass: No
  • Ski Season: November 23, 2023 to approx April 7, 2024

Big White is a wonderful family ski resort known for providing astounding mountain vistas, excellent snow, and state-of-the-art technology to make your stay even more enjoyable. Here, you’ll find a nice mix of beginner, intermediate, and expert terrain spread along 2,700 acres.

Recent improvements include an ample modern check-in building, new cabins on the gondola, and a Magic Carpet lift to make it easier for newbies who are learning the ropes. Moreover, the equipment rental shop has acquired a laser system that can scan your foot measurements to give you a perfect fit.

USA & Canada Family Ski Resorts - Big White BC gorse drawn carriage in the snow

With plenty of lodging and après-ski options, you won’t be lacking in things to do at Big White. Plus, if you want to do other sports as well, ice climbers, snowboarders, tubers, and dog sledders have designated areas to do their thing.

39 acres of slopes are lit at night for night owls, something that does not happen in many ski resorts in the United States and Canada. Sloping down the mountain for night skiing is a unique and breathtaking experience that you won’t soon forget, if ever!

Where to stay: You won’t find any of the big chains in Big White, just plenty of cozy vacation homes with direct access to the slopes, making it one of the most family-friendly ski resorts in BC

7. Breckenridge, Colorado (USA)

  • Base elevation: 9,600 ft (2,926 m)
  • Summit elevation: 12,998 ft (3,963 m)
  • Vertical drop: 3,398 ft (1,036 m)
  • Closest Airport: Denver International – 104 miles
  • Epic Pass: Yes
  • Ski Season: Estimated November 11, 2022 to end May, 2024

Breckenridge is the place to go if you’re looking for a mix of great skiing and a wide range of snow sports for the entire family, with a long season.

Being so close to Denver, it is one of Colorado’s most visited ski resorts, thanks to its excellent snow and amazing 5,300 acres of terrain for all levels of ability.

Moreover, Breckenridge is a very charming town with a vibrant apres-ski scene that offers a varied gamut of restaurants and bars that run from the most laid-back dives to the high-end establishments.

USA & Canada Family Ski Resorts - Lake Louise

Breckenridge was not always a picturesque ski base village in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Once a mining town like many others in the state, it managed to revamp itself into a sought-after tourist destination and ski resort after the mining boom puttered out.

Today, it features ski schools for beginners and back-country tours for advanced skiers and snowboarders. You can enjoy guided walks among its historic buildings or check out a few museums in town. A special touch is Breckenridge sleigh rides, which are available throughout the season, weather permitting.

If you’re visiting with the kids, they’ll have a blast at the Mountain Top Explorium, which hosts a small planetarium, a hands-on play lab, and a Colorado wildlife exhibit. It is not the cheapest resort town for families in Colorado, but one of the most varied for skiers and non-skiers alike with a range of child care options too if you’re traveling with young children.

Where to stay: Residence Inn by Marriott Breckenridge is a superb central choice, or try Breck Inn is still within walking distance to the lifts.

8. Mont Tremblant Ski Resort, Quebec (Canada)

  • Base Elevation: 755 ft (230 m)
  • Summit Elevation: 2871 ft (875 m)
  • Vertical Drop: 2116 ft (645 m)
  • Ikon Pass
  • Ski Season: Approx. November 23, 2023 to April 14, 2024

Despite the fact that Quebec is known to be the home of many of the best skiers in Canada, eastern skiing resorts are still not as much in the winter tourism spotlight as their western counterparts.

Mont Tremblant Ski Resort is a great example of what eastern Canada has to offer. Located only 82 miles from Montreal, this is one of the best family ski resorts in Canada with 102 trails spread over 665 acres of skiable terrain, 22 designated for beginners, and over 170 for the pros.

USA & Canada Family Ski Resorts - Mont Tremblant Quebec Lady on skis

The charming village at the base of the mountain offers a nice range of luxury lodging options, a fine gastronomical scene, and high-end boutiques and shops in a European-like setting.

As for off-the-slopes things to do around town, there are more than enough to keep you entertained, including ice skating and fishing, winter walking trails, fat-biking on the snow, and a climbing wall for children.

Trasmblant’s Snow School offers multi-lingual lessons by the day, week, or season for kids 3 to 12 and youths 13 to 17 in private, semi-private, and group settings.

Where to stay: Hotel Quintessence is the height of luxury, close to the lifts, or try great value Hotel Vacances Tremblant

9. Whiteface Mountain, NY (USA)

  • Summit Top Elevation: 4,836 feet (1,474 m)
  • Summit Base Elevation: 3,006 feet (917 m)
  • Summit Vertical Drop: 1,830 feet (558 m)
  • Closest Airport: Burlington – 73 miles
  • Ski Season: approx November 24, 2023 to est April 30, 2024

With more than 90 trails spread over 288 skiable acres, Whiteface is considered a top-notch winter sports area in the northeast US and the only ski area in the region to have hosted the Winter Olympics (1932 and 1980).

Besides offering a healthy mix of runs for all levels of abilities that make Whiteface a great spot for a ski vacation with the family, there are many other attractions for the whole clan to enjoy in the adjacent Lake Placid base village and its surroundings.

Little kids 4-6 years old can be signed up for Cub Camp for a snowsports introduction, or enroll your 7 to 12-year-olds in Junior Adventurers to hone their ski and snowboard skill levels.

Ice skating at the famous “Miracle on Ice” rink, bobsledding on the hair-raising track, and visiting the Olympic Museum are only a few of the off-slope activities on the menu.

Warmly lit Lake Placid’s brick shops and restaurants come alive in the late afternoon in preparation for a few hours of fine après-ski enjoyment, so make sure you set time aside for that too!

Where to stay: The gorgeous Whiteface Lodge is a must if the budget will stretch, or an affordable nearby option is Maple Leaf Inn Lake Placid.

Have you ever taken a winter vacation at one of these ski resorts in the US and Canada? Please tell us about your experience in the comment section below!

Best Beginner Slopes in the USA For Kids

If the big resorts feel a little overwhelming for beginner skiers and those just getting on their skis or snowboards for the first, we recommend you also consider:

  • Beaver Creek Resort, Colorado: Boasting three dedicated beginner areas with gentle slopes, including the newly opened McCoy Park, which offers 16 mostly beginner runs at a pretty decent elevation, so you still get those spectacular mountain views.
  • Heavenly Mountain Resort, California – with two short chairlifts and a magic carpet, this Lake Tahoe resort makes an excellent West Coast choice for beginners; with a ‘Green Run Guarantee,’ they’ll have you skiing in 3 lessons of the fourth is on them. (If all else fails or skiing isn’t your thing, the nearby tubing hill is always great fun!)
  • Brighton, Utah – One of the oldest ski resorts in the US and also renowned as one of the most affordable, it’s the perfect place to don your skis for the first time. Under 6s can ski free here, and half-day tickets are offered if you just want a taster session on the slopes.
  • Grand Targhee, Wyoming – A brilliant beginners’ spot with an excellent Mountain Sports School for kids AND adults. With the spectacular backdrop of the Teton Mountains, this is one of the best family ski resorts in America on a budget.
  • Dollar Mountain, Idaho – Just 2 miles from Sun Valley proper, this beginner hill offers newcomers the opportunity to learn on gentle green runs before hitting the larger slopes We also love the outdoor ice rink in Sun Valley.
  • Mount Bachelor, Oregon – Set on a dormant volcano, over 15% of the skiable terrain here is dedicated to beginners. The Ski or Ride in 5 is a great program for all ages and abilities.
  • Sunday River, Maine – for those on the East Coast, this is a great place for kids to get started with skiing, with several moving carpets and dedicated practice slopes.

Best Beginner Ski Resorts in Canada For Kids

North of the border, here are a few more ideas for those looking to don their skis for the first time and get a taste for the slopes with some of the most spectacular mountain scenery Canada has to offer!

  • Bromont, Quebec – with several easy, wide, and manageable slopes, including easy valley runs and a moving carpet, over 22% of the trails here are great for beginners. They can take children from as young as 3 with group lessons, semi-private, and private lessons offered.
  • SilverStar, British Columbia – enjoying an incredible 115 kms of slopes in the Monashee Mountain range, over 55% of SilverStaer is classified as blue and green, and the ski-si-ski-out village set-up makes this charming town a unique experience for beginners.
  • Canada Olympic Park, Alberta purpose-designed for beginners, you can ski the entire hill with four people movers in operation.

More Ski and Winter Travel Inspiration

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