If you're looking for a winter vacation idea, snow skiing can be a great choice. There are terrific packages at skiing resorts throughout areas of the U.S. where the terrain is mountainous and snow is plentiful. No matter what part of the country you live in, there's sure to be a great skiing destination that's within driving or flying distance.
Packages at Popular U.S. Skiing Destinations
If you're familiar with your favorite ski resort you can build your own ski package, but many services offer ski vacation deals that take a lot of the guesswork out of the process. Consider looking into services like Ski.com, Snowventures, and Snowpak.com when scheduling your vacation, or simply check out package availability at the resorts you'd like to visit. The ski-oriented vacation packages described here are based on representative pricing and availability for the 2013/2014 season; options and rates may vary.
Steamboat Springs, Colorado
Ski the legendary champagne powder at Steamboat Springs, often referred to as Ski Town, U.S.A., with their current deals and packages. Steamboat's unmatched tree skiing and wide open cruising runs offer whole-family fun, from small-fry beginners to black diamond daredevils, and the town's proud ranching heritage shines like a polished silver lasso belt buckle.
Lake Tahoe, California
Test the slopes first for Lake Tahoe skiing deals at Northstar California. Typical packages include four nights and two or three days skiing at the Northstar Resort Condominiums, starting at $132 per night. The condominiums are just a short walk to the lift shuttle, and close to the Village at Northstar, with shopping, movies, dining and more. Stay two or more nights and receive two lift tickets per room. Northstar consistently garners accolades as a top family resort, with over 60 percent of its trails catered to the intermediate skier. Don't miss the snow tubing and ice skating on the year-round rink in the Village.
Take a long weekend and go north to Lutsen for lodging paired skiing. Lutsen is best-known for its wide open cruiser runs and family-friendly activities spread liberally around its four mountains. The postcard views of Lake Superior are on the house (or at least included with the cost of your room).
If you live in the Midwest or Eastern part of the country, Michigan is a great location for skiing. Score a sweet deal at Indianhead Mountain Resort for three nights lodging free with the purchase of a three-day lift ticket, with a two-person minimum. This popular resort on the western edge of Michigan's Upper Peninsula is directly in the sights of lake-effect snow from Lake Superior and routinely sees over 17 feet of white each season.
The Beast of the East roars during the winter with great package deals. See Killington.com for specials like a five-night, five-day week of skiing and boarding for $85/person.season. The mountain is blessed with over 250 inches of natural snow each year, covering a perfect blend of terrain on 200 trails to satisfy newbies to experts. Don't miss events like the Vermont Holiday Festival in December.
Sugarloaf is a New England/Maine tradition and you can find great packages at Sugarloaf.com. For example, the Classic Ski Week package gets you five nights lodging at an on-mountain condo (or area hotels) and five days skiing starting at $355/person. From the only lift-served above-treeline skiing in the east to gently-sloped ramps for beginners, Sugarloaf's terrain, reliable snowfall, and hometown village scene make it a fan favorite.
Choosing Ski Vacations
Of course, there many other places to ski in the U.S. and around the world. You can find snow skiing resorts worldwide, and it can be difficult deciding which resort to visit. A little research can save you from choosing the wrong destination for your family.
How to Get There
Depending on where you live, you may have the opportunity to simply drive to a local resort and spend your week or weekend on the slopes. For quick and easy trips, this might be the best option. If you don't live near a mountain range you'll have to fly, which opens up more skiing vacation opportunities. You can choose to stay in the States, choosing between east coast and west coast resorts, or you can venture to other locations in North America or look overseas at resorts in countries like Europe, Australia or Chile. Because of the more extensive planning required, you may want to set aside a week or two for this type of vacation.
Snow skiing vacations can get expensive. Set your budget beforehand, accounting for factors like lodging, travel, lift tickets, equipment rentals, food and other vacation expenses like souvenirs. Some resorts offer half-day lift tickets, night skiing, or bunny hill passes for considerably less than a full-day pass. Smaller resorts may offer fewer total lifts and can afford to charge less for passes. You can also check if local hotels offer discounts for stay-and-play deals, in which lift tickets are included with a multiple-night stay.
Ski resorts often provide maps with information about their trails, including the difficulty of the runs. If you're a beginner choose a resort with a wide selection of beginner-level trails, and if you're an advanced skier, choose a resort with trails that will challenge your abilities. You'll also want to consider whether the resort you choose offers ski lessons. If you or someone you're traveling with would benefit from lessons, make sure that's an option.
If you're traveling with kids, make sure the resort you're visiting offers family-friendly skiing options. Some resorts offer child care, others offer ski camps for kids, while still others offer other kid-friendly options like tubing, ice skating and tobogganing.
Packing for a Ski Trip
When packing for a ski trip, make sure that you have thick socks, gloves, waterproof ski pants and jackets, base and intermediate layers, and appropriate ski boots. Always include more layers than you think you need because it's easier to take off a layer if you get too hot than to add a layer you don't have. Also, make sure you have ski goggles and a ski helmet. These will protect your head and eyes from injury and discomfort.
If you plan on using your own ski equipment, pack your skis and poles in an appropriate travel case to keep them safe and protected. Finally, make sure you pack clothing and shoes for your time off the slopes. It can be easy to forget that you'll need pajamas, a bathing suit, and other casual clothing.
Finding Snow Skiing Vacations
It may seem like a lot of work to plan a ski vacation, but careening down the slopes in the fresh air will make the vacation worth the trouble in the end. Take the time to read up on several destinations before making your choice.