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Resort Guide 2022

The 10 Most Family-Friendly Resorts in the East

The family ski vacation is many things to different people, but they all have one thing in the common: A welcoming vibe where families of all ages feel right at home.

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East Coast skiers bringing their families to the slopes are among the most passionate and dedicated on the planet. And like resorts in the West, some Eastern ski areas at better at accommodating families than others. No one will be surprised at the year’s No. 1 in this category—it’s held the title for as long as the current editors at SKI can remember—but there are some new and noteworthy additions this year. With no further ado, here are the 10 most family-friendly ski resorts in the East, according to the 2022 Reader Resort Survey.

10. Whiteface Mountain Resort, N.Y.

Score: 8.29
Other Strengths:
Après (#4), Nightlife (#4)
Weaknesses:
Grooming (#19), Service (#18)

What Readers Say

“Whiteface/Lake Placid is special! They hosted the Olympics is this beautiful Northern New York town, it boggles the mind. The people there are great, on my last visit I was lucky enough to meet the ‘Mayor of Whiteface,’ Barb from Wilmington.”

“Whiteface: Two Olympics is all you need to know, but there is so much more. With the Bear Den lodge you are all set for kids and beginners. Often known as IceFace, it can be fast, but when the snow is great you will have about the best day you can have on any slope anywhere. Everything flows into the main valley but when the Summit lift is open you can spend all day on a variety of trails with limited lift lines. The combination of Olympic history, views forever and all the off-mountain activities your entire family could need only 15 minutes away in Lake Placid, Whiteface is a perfect winter ski trip destination. Skyward is an amazing trail to let it rip and feel like an Olympian. Wilmington Trail gives you a view to take your breath away and a 2-mile ride to take your legs away. But the real secret stuff is the north-facing trails of Little Whiteface. Essex and Upper Northway will be firm and fast even when everything else has turn to mushy spring skiing.”

“Whiteface used to be referred to as ‘IceFace.’ In the past few years they have upgraded their snowmaking, grooming and added a new chalet at mid-station. I don’t know if they hired some genius or Mother Nature has just cooperated, but the skiing has been fantastic. My family skied over 40 days this year and never was there a bad day. Whiteface is worth every penny. The food has drastically improved as well. The beer selection has always been good.”

9. Stratton Mountain, Vt.

Score: 8.34
Other Strengths:
Dining (#4), Grooming (#5)
Weaknesses:
Variety (#18), Value (#18)

What Readers Say

“Excellent snowmaking and grooming, as well as lift system servicing a variety of terrain. Convenient ski-in, ski-out lodging is plentiful. Terrain suitable for all levels of skiers.”

“The folks you meet in the resort become your friends — both fellow skiers and staff. The mountain operations staff do a great job with creating snow when Mother Nature takes a break and maintaining the conditions each night.”

“You would be surprised how accommodating they are at Stratton — from kids skiing/boarding lessons, friendly lifties, and perfectly groomed trails.”

8. Jay Peak, Vt.

Score: 8.43
Other Strengths:
Snow (#1), Challenge (#2)
Weaknesses:
Access (#19), Dining (#17)

"Jay Peak Top 10 Activities"
Photo: Jay Peak Resort

What Readers Say

“I LOVE Jay Peak. I was able to go a handful of times — what held me back initially was the price. I didn’t have a season pass so I could only visit when I got discounts on lift tickets. But every time I’ve gone to Jay, I had a really fantastic experience and wish I had the chance to go more.”

“Ja-POW is a real saying and when you can get to Jay Peak on a powder day you won’t be able to walk the following day. I have never skied so hard as I have done at Jay Peak. Miles of terrain, amazing glades, and the tram is truly unique.”

“Name another mountain in the North East that averages over 350″ per season. I’ll wait. Seriously though, Jay’s home. Anybody who braves the cold and the drive is just as stoked to get after it as I am and that makes them family.”

7. Mad River Glen, Vt.

Score: 8.61
Other Strengths:
Value (#1), Local Flavor (#1)
Weaknesses:
Grooming (#20), Access (#17)

What Readers Say

“A truly unique experience! Great ambiance, fantastic lifties, friendly staff, the best local microbrews on tap, affordable, family friendly, with programs designed to develop awesome little rippers and world-class free skiers. The amount of kids as young as 2 on the mountain blows my mind!”

“Mad River Glen is not a ‘resort,’ it is mountain community with the spirit of adventure and enthusiasm. The terrain is as challenging as anywhere in the U.S. and the ongoing maintenance activities are constantly improving access every year. And it is not just for ‘experts;’ our ski school is tremendous and the trails (not highways) are not crowded. The Single Chair is iconic and really brings us close to the mountain itself. The views are spectacular and when we’re done the pub is best, with real food cooked by real people. There’s nowhere like it.”

“Low stress, easy to be myself, no fancy people. My kids found it to be a wonderful and challenging playground and found plenty to challenge them as they grew up year after year. Same people there every year feels like family. Kids don’t get lost with only one base lodge.”

6. Okemo Mountain Resort, Vt.

Score: 8.71
Other Strengths:
Grooming (#4), Snow (#5)
Weaknesses:
Après (#16), Challenge (#15)

Okemo Family
(Photo: Vail Resorts)

What Readers Say

“Best in the East for terrain, snowmaking, terrain variety, length of season. It has excellent grooming and few match its natural snowfall, especially its lake effect snow, which can make for surprising powder days. Top to bottom and five peaks make it a blast. Crowds used to be a problem, but now that all mountains price out the masses and provide amenities that cater more to the rich only, it is hard to compare it to what I would call a real crowd. Fun as hell, in any case.”

“Okemo is a mountain I take my family back to year after year because the lodging options are great, the skiing is great, the off-mountain dining and activities are excellent, and the staff are incredibly friendly. My family and I drive over 8 hours from our home, past numerous other ski resort options, just to visit Okemo.”

“We went to Okemo several times this year. Each time we had a superb time in snow quality, staff courtesy, superb lift experience, and resort adherence to COVID-19 health protocols. The town of Ludlow is a superb ski town and the resort is a fantastic challenge, although the Jackson Gore side of the mountain is vastly superior in quality and experience than the old base mountain. Okemo is a gem of a ski area that has continued with the tradition of excellence of the previous owners, with Vail now in charge.”

5. Mont Tremblant, Qué.

Score: 8.81
Other Strengths:
Après (#1), Nightlife (#1)
Weaknesses:
Snow (#19), Lifts (#13)

What Readers Say

“This resort is the best one-stop resort in eastern Ontario and West Quebec. Lots of space and terrain for all skill levels. Tons of venues and alternate activities.”

“Tremblant is very close to us in Ontario. Over the years Tremblant has grown in many amenities and is so diverse for everyone in the family. The terrain is kept very well whether you’re an expert or beginner. The nightlife is fantastic with the French après ski.”

“Spent a week, got there by bus with our ski club. Enjoyed hot tub after riding all day. The village gives the feel like you are in Europe.”

4. Holiday Valley, N.Y.

Score: 9
Other Strengths:
Lifts (#1), Dining (#1)
Weaknesses: Challenge (#16), Variety (#13)

Holiday Valley Family
(Photo: Holiday Valley)

What Readers Say

“Great resort with something for everyone, from beginner to advanced. Probably the best ski resort in southwest New York and the best day/weekend trip for someone like me from Ohio who wants good skiing without a flight or day-long drive. Ellicottville, New York, is a great place with small-town feel while maintaining a relatively large selection of nightlife and restaurants. Everyone is so friendly, too!”

“It’s technically ‘East Coast,’ but Holiday Valley is really easy to access from the Midwest, and as such, it’s the best drivable option for those of us in Ohio, Pennsylvania, etc. Holiday Valley has a great family vibe and plenty of decent runs. Not too shabby for 4 hours from flat-ass Ohio!”

“This is my favorite resort in my area. Grew up skiing here. It grew with me. It is like family with the people who work there and the friends I ski with. Awesome ‘lake effect’ snow, meticulous grooming, and a good variety of terrain. Not the most vertical but the most for the vertical it has! It is the gold standard that I use for comparison and recommendations to others.”

3. Wachusett Mountain Ski Area, Mass.

Score: 9.04
Other Strengths:
Access (#1), Lifts (#3)
Weaknesses:
Variety (#20), Lodging (#20)

Wachusett Family
(Photo: Wachusett Mountain)

What Readers Say

“Just a great place to go to. They treat the kids so well, after all they are the next moneymakers. Great staff, great owners that seem to care about everyone. Best move I ever made, coming here!”

“For what it is, a modest sized ski area proximate to the urban agglomeration of Eastern Massachusetts, WaWa is a gem: from the beautiful setting, to the on-hill product (lifts and snowmaking) to their ski school, junior race program, and guest services. Among the New England ski areas that our family has skied at, it belongs to a very small handful that actually serve food that goes beyond the usual chili/hot dog/burger/limp salad fare. I know, because our kids were in their race program for several years, and we did not have to stop by Dunkin’s on the way there! Yes, it does get very busy at times, but this year’s reservation system helped even out the crowds.”

“Great local family-friendly mountain and has NASTAR racing. They always have great snowmaking and grooming that rivals any of the bigger mountains in New England.”

2. Hidden Valley Resort, Pa.

Score: 9.13
Other Strengths:
Grooming (#1), Access (#2)
Weaknesses:
Challenge (#19), Dining (#19)

Hidden Valley Family
(Photo: Hidden Valley Resort)

What Readers Say

“Hidden Valley is a great family resort. It has a much different vibe than its sister resort Seven Springs. It focuses more on being a family mountain than a destination reality like Seven Springs. It’s pretty chill overall — both in feel and terrain. It’s small and not particularly challenging, but it has a few harder runs that are enjoyable. It’s a great place to learn due to its family focus or if you’re looking for a more relaxing day. If you compared it to music, Hidden Valley is more easy listening with a few rock songs in the mix while Seven Springs is rock and roll. Runs are short, as are the lift rides. They have a really good snowmaking system and aggressively make snow. I think their system has better technology with the TechnoAlpin guns and fans. Seven Springs has a mix of HKD lances mostly, and most of them are older.”

“We have a townhouse in Hidden Valley and love the family experience we have had in the 3+ years we have owned our place. It is not the most challenging of resorts, doesn’t have a huge list of restaurants, clubs and bars (sadly) but our kids can safely ski with their friends and have the best experience in the area. My husband and I started skiing again after many years away from the sport and we love it. The snowmaking and grooming at this resort is fantastic! Recommend it highly!”

“We own a condo at this resort and chose it because we believe it is the best destination and convenient to Pittsburgh. It is by far the most family-friendly resort in our area. It is a safe and easy place to learn. There is always a ski patrol available. We were comfortable letting our young kids explore the mountain on their own and now they feel like it’s their backyard. Everyone is friendly and looks out for each other.”

1. Smugglers’ Notch, Vt.

Score: 9.73
Other Strengths:
Grooming (#1), Service (#1)
Weaknesses:
Lifts (#14), Dining (#9)

Smugglers' Notch Family
(Photo: Smugglers’ Notch)

What Readers Say

“Smuggs continues to provide tremendous skiing, value, local vibe flavor — all in a family-friendly environment. Tremendous terrain offers options for families of skiers with different skill levels. Fantastic grooming — even on days where the weather/snow was not cooperating. I was always able to find challenging runs. Appreciate all their efforts to keep everyone safe during COVID times.”

“This resort is hyper focused (in a great way) on families and children. I started bringing my son to Smuggs 10 years ago at the age of 3 to learn how to ski. Not only was the ski school staff completely tuned in to the children and their needs, but every lift operator has 100% attention on kids and safety. While I no longer need to worry about my kid , I love watching how instructors and lift operators respond to the little ones. Intuitively knowing when they need to slow the lift or give a little help. I never worried about my kid when I dropped him off at ski camp for the day.”

“We’ve been going to Smuggs for 25 years and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a resort with the best programs for children and the best terrain for expert skiers and nonstop après ski fun. Our entire family has loved the Smuggs experience and our grown children still look forward to coming to Smuggs whenever time and jobs permit.”