Having just returned from a phenomenal family ski vacation at Keystone Resort, I can attest firsthand that Keystone, owned by Vail Resorts, makes families a number one priority. In addition to the fabulous mountain activities, Keystone offers families fantastic off-mountain options — including their sleigh ride dinner, a very special signature dining experience.
The dinner takes place at an authentic western homestead, built in the early 1800s in the Soda Creek Valley. Our trip started with a bus ride from the Adventure Center in Keystone’s Lakeside Village. Once at the ranch, we boarded a sleigh pulled by Bert and Ernie, two Percheron draft horses. A light on the wagon illuminated the falling snow; my daughters remarked that it looked like we were in a snow globe. During the half-hour ride, the wranglers set the mood by sharing the history of mining in the area and their knowledge about the horses, sprinkled with a little cowboy humor.
Multiple times are available; I recommend doing the 4:30 ride in order to enjoy the sunset. Although wool blankets are provided, dress warmly, especially for the ride home after the temperatures plummet.
Once we arrived at the cabin, which is completely powered by solar panels, the kids were able to pet the horses and take pictures. A fire in the wood stove and the friendly staff welcome guests into the cozy structure, which seats about 40. The tables are set with kettles of beef barley stew, homemade biscuits with honey butter, and carafes of hot chocolate (with a complimentary shot of peppermint schnapps or amaretto to warm up the parents).
Keystone is one of the most family-friendly resorts in North America. Click here to find out why.
Entree choices include grilled steak, chicken, salmon and a vegetarian option. Hot dogs are available for younger kids. All entrees are served with garlic mashed potatoes and steamed veggies. The wine selection was surprisingly good for a cabin in the middle of nowhere, and reasonably priced. Of course, the meal would not have been complete without warm apple pie and ice cream, served in Western-style pewter dishes.
Chef Chris came out to check on everyone during the meal and shared the recipe for his barley stew, which was a nice touch.
Local legend Randall McKinnon has been performing at the cabin for 24 years. He does a great job entertaining the group with familiar country and western songs. Randall really connected with the kids, particularly when teaching them the verses and hand motions to “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain.” By the time he sang his finale of John Denver’s “Rocky Mountain High,” everyone was singing along.
Ciao Bambino’s expert Family Vacation Consultants offer comprehensive trip planning services, including itinerary development, hotel selection and booking, and activity and guide recommendations. Request assistance on our Connect with a Travel Advisor page.
Editor’s note: Keystone Resorts provided the signature sleigh ride dinner experience for Sandy as part of a media package. As always, our opinions are our own on Ciao Bambino. Photos courtesy of Keystone Resort and Sandy Pappas.
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