We’re all about ski trips with kids on Ciao Bambino … but did you know that ski resorts can be just as much fun in the summer as in the winter? It’s true! The mountain scenery and pristine surroundings take on a totally different look when the snow melts, inviting adventure activities of all kinds. Here are 10 fantastic North American ski resorts for a summer holiday with kids.
Thanks to its jawdropping turquoise glacial lakes and majestic Canadian Rockies scenery, Banff is as much a draw in summer as in the cold months. In addition to water fun such as rowing, rafting and float trips, the area’s natural hot springs attract visitors all year round to bask in the warm, soothing water. Exploring the mountains on horseback is a beloved tradition here as well; choose either a half-day ride or a full-day version with a barbecue lunch. End the trip on a high note with a tour of the Athabasca Glacier, a vast plain of ice that you can explore on foot as well as on wheels.
This giant among ski resorts has a handful of attractive new offerings on its summer slate. Kids will love the just-added ropes course (ages 2-11) and the zipline as well as the tubing run that will open July 4. This is biking country, and mountain bike trails are plentiful, as is hiking. Race down the 3,000-foot Alpine Slide, one of the longest in the world; take a spin on the lifts for spectacular views over the mountains; play a round of disc golf; scale the climbing wall … the possibilities are nearly infinite here.
A favorite summer escape for locals in the know, Lake Tahoe is the spot for families who crave time on the water. Catamaran cruises, stand-up paddleboarding, jet skiing, kayaking — if it means getting wet, you can do it here. When it’s time to dry out, settle in for a beachside movie or concert, or traditional land activities like hiking and biking. If you have a mini gourmand or fashionista, shopping and dining at Tahoe are excellent as well.
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This time of year in Whistler, it’s all about the adrenaline rush. Adventurous kids can try off-roading, bungee jumping, whitewater rafting and other daredevil pursuits. Professional pilots steer passengers along the Olympic bobsleigh, luge and skeleton routes — the thrill of a lifetime! See the region’s stunning mountains and forests via a helicopter or a floatplane, or embark on a wildlife tour for a close-up look at black bears and other fauna. And don’t miss the Peak 2 Peak Gondola 360 Experience, where a glass-bottom gondola whisks you between summits with a full-circle view along the way.
Ski-loving families, rejoice: You can hit Mount Hood’s slopes even at the height of summer. The area offers one of the longest ski seasons in North America; typically there’s snow through Labor Day. While Timberline doesn’t offer the endless variety of activities or the bells and whistles that larger resorts provide, there’s plenty of old-fashioned summer fun off the snow. Spend a day mountaineering with a guide, biking the downhill trails or simply trekking through the beautiful backcountry.
This all-star family ski destination holds just as much appeal when the weather heats up. Kid-friendly activities like gold mine tours and gold panning give a nod to Breck’s mining-town past, while more traditional outdoor pursuits include fly fishing, hiking, horseback riding, summer dogsledding, moonlight rafting and more. Zipline or try the Gold Runner Coaster in the resort’s Fun Park. And if you’re there for the 4th of July, enjoy a 10K trail run, a mountain bike race and the Main Street parade, all capped off with live music and fireworks.
One of the best things about a summer stay at Big Sky is its proximity to that most classic of family vacation spots: Yellowstone. Just an hour from the resort, the park makes an easy day trip with kids. Build on the adventure with Big Sky’s signature Lone Peak Expedition — an off-road truck and a tram bring guests to the summit, which offers unreal views of three different states, two national parks and even the Tetons on the clearest days. Back down at the base, kids will make a beeline for Adventure Mountain, a maze of bungee trampolines, a giant swing, gemstone mining, bouldering and more.
Rather than asking what there is to do here with kids, a better question would be what there isn’t. Falconry? That’s covered. Dune buggies? Those too. From water and land sports to innovative ropes courses and games like paintball and mini golf, you could spend weeks here and never get bored. Tremblant’s pedestrian village and ample play areas make it the resort especially ideal with young ones. Special summer events such as shooting star-viewing (in August) and a host of kid-friendly music festivals round out the entertainment.
Stowe comes alive with family-friendly events in the summer months. From June’s Bikes, Bevs & Beats Festival to the Hot Air Balloon Festival in July, there’s something to appeal to all ages and interests. In addition to the goings-on about town, the resort opens its brand-new Zip Tour Adventure in late June 2016 — a series of ziplines that runs from the peak of Mount Mansfield to its base (kids 10 and up only). For something a little more sedate, try a horse-drawn carriage ride a game of tennis or a fishing excursion on the river.
As one of America’s original summer playgrounds, Lake Placid and the Adirondacks are rich in warm-weather pursuits. With literally hundreds of trails, some gentle enough for kids, hikers are spoiled for choice. The region is a paddlers’ paradise as well — miles of rivers and acres of lakes invite canoeing, kayaking, rafting and more. And because some areas of the lake are reachable only by boat, there’s perhaps no better way to experience it than to board a classic wooden Chris-Craft or a pontoon for a cruise as the sun begins to sink toward the trees. Try to beat fellow boaters to the first-come, first-served dock and fire pit for s’mores under the stars.
What a list! Our expert ski moms share kid-tested favorites. Check availability and get one-on-one support >
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