Sometimes, the family road trip is a whole lot more peaceful in theory than in reality... more >>
Winter in the MidwestLet it Snow
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow, where Out West is the playground to bring your children to this winter season. From sledding, to ice skating to becoming a daredevil downhill, a family ski vacation is about introducing children to an active lifestyle, and giving them the experience that is sure to be a lifetime sport.
Your kids will look forward to family fun in the snow with you, and will evolve to ski with their friends and eventually a family of their own. There are so few pure experiences where your kids can enjoy the clean, crisp air and run and play freely. This season, head to Vail and Telluride, which has fun for the entire family.
VAIL is a family friendly town, which just got a whole lot friendlier with the new Four Seasons hotel. For years the family experience has been dominated by Beaver Creek, with its ski-in, ski out, extensive children’s ski school and warm chocolate chip cookies waiting for you right off the slopes. With the ice rink in the middle of town and plenty of family friendly dining options, it was and is a picturesque, almost Disney experience for a family retreat. In Beaver Creek, the Park Hyatt is perfectly situated at the base of the mountain with its swimming pool and hot tubs looking up at the slopes. Mom and Dad were always relegated though to second-tier entertainment, or taking a 30 minute ride to Vail for the primo restaurants and scene.
With the arrival of the Four Seasons, families now have a true full-service experience in Vail Village, at the center of all of the fun. And the Four Seasons rolls out the red carpet for the kids, which makes this your vacation too.
Where Vail was once a painful place to trudge around the kids with all their gear, the new Four Seasons Ski Concierge, located at the Vista Bahn gondola, can take care of the dirty work. By storing your skies, shoes and arranging for lessons, the army of orange jacketed Ski Concierges awaiting your arrival at the bottom of the slopes have changed the whole experience with children in Vail.
For beginners, Golden Peak is ski school central; sign them up here for lessons and soon they will have a busier social schedule than yours. For children who are not as apt to ski, next door to the ski school is Vail’s only day care, Small World Nursury, which takes children as young as 6 months from 8-6pm for indoor and outdoor playtime, while Mom and Dad are on the slopes. At around $85/half day or $120, it’s comparatively easy on the pocket. For those staying at the Four Seasons, the hotel has a Kids Program that runs from 9-5, with no additional fee.
Each day you are in Vail, après ski at the Red Lion will be replaced by fun family time in the 85 degree heated pool and kids hot tub at the Four Seasons. No need to feel a chill though; the pool attendant will wrap you up with a heated towel and robe when you emerge from the pool to sit around the fire and have hot chocolate and smores. The Holiday Inn experience this is not.
For dinners, Vail offers many family friendly options. Besides the new restaurant at the Four seasons where children five and under eat for free, have an upscale family meal at Larkspur. During the day, they also have a takeout spot which is convenient for quick bites when the kids are at ski school. With a dedicated children’s menu with items ranging from organic chicken tenders to veal scaloppini for more sophisticated palates, this is their intro to fine dining. Afterwards, soak in Vail Village atmosphere with the kids before tucking than into bed, as snug as bugs, before you hit the Vail nightlife scene.
The next day, stay in Vail Village, or if you want a change of scenery, venture to Beaver Creek to put the kids in ski school there. As with all of our itineraries, you can slow it down and spread the itinerary out over days. After a full day of skiing, if you’re in Beaver Creek, stay to take in some early evening ice skating in the Village before heading for an early steak dinner with the kids at the Beaver Creek Chop House. If you’re going here on any holiday weekend, a reservation will be a must. Menu options here are very basic, but always crowd pleasers with the kids. If the kids want something more low-key, or you are heading out on the town for dinner later, do casual family pizza night at Vendetta’s on the earlier side, before the riff raff arrives.
For your last day in Vail, hit Adventure Ridge, which has full-on sledding, kids snowmobiling, bungee trampoline and every other activity you can do in the snow. This is a full-on affair, which will keep you and the kids busy all day. If the kids are skied out, then bring them to Lions Head, where you can get story time in at the Lions Head Public Library, or ice skating in near the Arrabelle. Lunch at Tavern on the Square at the Arrabelle, enjoying a leisurely family day. Otherwise, check out the new Solaris in Vail Village, which is a complex of ice rink and upscale bowling alley called Bol and movie theater, Cinebistro. With gourmet food at both the theater and bowling alley, Vail shows you how it should be done. Schedule some good pool time back at the hotel and in the living room for some family games by the fireplace. The Four Seasons has an entire game room complete with pool table and ping pong, making it an easy place to park the kids. After a weekend in Vail, the family ski vacation is one which you will make a fixture on your vacation circuit.
There’s a saying in Telluride that, “It isn’t easy to get here, but it’s even harder to leave”. Telluride is the family destination, where you will return to over and over again, making this a tradition for your family retreats. It’s a place that you start out by staying in a hotel, but eventually buy a condo or if you’re lucky, gorgeous Telluride home of your own. You’ll be here summer, spring, winter and fall, all of which are the perfect time to take in this Rocky Mountain High.
A destination for the elite, Telluride finds a way to still exude a laid-back vibe. With its authentic country western charm and warm sincere welcome, this is as historically cultural as the U.S. gets.
Check into The Peaks, which is the go-to family destination hotel. With its ski-in, ski-out right onto a green run and stunning mountain views, it’s the most full-service for those with young children. If your kids are a little older, The Capella is a more elegant, and better-appointed boutique resort.
Skiing is the most evident draw to Telluride, with some of the best runs for beginners and intermediate skiers. Mountain Village is where to post-up for all the family activities, which take almost no effort at all to access from this central location. Right next to the gondola are ski rentals and lessons, which make this as easy as it gets to set the kids up for ski school. For a full-day of ski school, your kids will be on their own for lunch with their new-found friends, or for half-day lessons, gather the family in Telluride town. Head to La Cocina de Luz, for the highest quality organic Southwestern cuisine. You really can’t go wrong with a quesadilla, or their homemade guacamole. Save room for dessert though at The Sweet Life, an old-fashioned ice cream parlor and candy shop that would put Willy Wonka to shame.
With your sugared up kids, explore the country western downtown by moseying on over to the Gravity Works, to burn off some of that energy on the rock climbing wall. Or, hit the slopes again with the family, skiing until the last runs at 4pm. Apres ski with the kids means heading back to Mountain Village, and fueling again with a crepe from the La Creparie in the main square, preferably after you do some bungee trampoline.
For dinner that night, head to the 9545 Restaurant & Bar, at the Inn at Lost Creek. Here, in an upscale restaurant scene for families, your child will table hop and catch up with their new-found friends. Return home to the hotel and post up in their living rooms, for some serious family game time until the comfortable tiredness takes over and you all head to dreamland.
The days in Telluride will be a combination of skiing, along with lunch and other fun family activities. To grab something quick and easy, stop by La Tapatia Taco Truck back in town, next to the Telluride Bistro where you can feast on every type of taco or burrito imaginable. Follow it with a hot chocolate at the Steaming Bean, or to be really indulgent to the kids, at Telluride Truffle. If the kids want a mellow afternoon, or the conditions are too cold to ski, head indoors to the Historical Museum, located on the main strip on Colorado Boulevard. Afterwards, head to the Telluride Public Library, and spend the afternoon visiting foreign and pretend lands through their very respectable collection of books. For early evening, catch a movie at The Golden Nugget, a historic building that now houses the local theater. For dinner, head over to Rustico, for a nice family meal of pastas in a rustico setting.
Telluride is best enjoyed at a very leisurely place, so you can easily space out all of our recommendations over the course of the week. If you do only have a long weekend, ski again the last day with the kids, enjoying the best green runs and very good blues and blacks for your daredevils who have moved up to the next level. Enjoy a family lunch at La Pizzeria, for the best pizza on the whole mountain. Afterwards, if you’re all skied out, then head to the Mountain Village Ice Rink for some fun family skating time.
For your last family dinner, be treated like you are part of their family, at La Piazza, a sister restaurant to La Pizzeria, but with more fancy food. After all, your world travelers are going to be exposed to fine dining around the world. Or, take your family up to Allred’s, for a last look at the stunning Telluride, where you called home for the past few days. You can talk about your next trip back to this little old Western town.