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Resort Guide 2023

Top 10 Most Family-Friendly Resorts in the East

The ideal family trip might be different for everyone, but there's one consistent quality: a place that feels warm and welcoming.

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Ski families know that if you want to keep the kids coming on vacation with you into their teens and beyond, teach them to ski. It’s among the best family bonding activities out there, sure to keep them active and off of their phones while getting outside in a beautiful and inspiring setting.

Resort Guide 2023: Top 50 Resorts in North America

All ski resorts welcome families, but some are better suited to providing a great vacation for the whole brood. From convenient lodging to reputable ski schools and everything in between, these are the most family-oriented ski areas in the East according to the 2023 SKI Magazine Reader Resort Survey.

The Most Family-Friendly Ski Resorts in the East

No. 10: Sugarloaf Resort, Maine

Score: 8.42
Other Strengths:
Challenge, Snow
Weaknesses:
Access, Nightlife

Sugarloaf Family RG23
(Photo: Courtesy of Sugarloaf Resort/Jamie Walter)

What Readers Say

“I grew up skiing here, and my family still lives here. I have always loved it, and I will always be a Sugarloafer, even after moving out West.”

“The resort has a friendly feel. The terrain is varied and grooming is good although as with may New England resorts recently the snow is unpredictable.”

“This resort is excellent for all abilities from beginner to experts and has a laid-back, friendly vibe. I consider this my home resort.”

No. 9: Magic Mountain, Vt.

Score: 8.45
Other Strengths:
Value, Local Flavor
Weaknesses:
Nightlife, Lifts

(Photo: Courtesy of Magic Mountain)

What Readers Say

“I absolutely love this place so much. The fact that it’s not on any huge passes is such a boon for me. (It’s on Indy, but that’s different.) I taught my son to ski here two years ago and I’m taking my daughter for her first winter on skis this season. The staff are patiently and friendly, and the prices are really reasonable for a young family of 4. As long as you don’t need anything super fancy, Magic hits the spot.”

“Ultimate place to take your kids skiing. It’s cheap, has the old-school vibe that’s so hard to find these day, and the people are so darn friendly. Also, you can bring whatever you want the to lodge and no one bats an eye.”

“Magic never disappoints. My parents took me here when i was a toddler and it’s where I learned to love skiing the trees. Still do! The glades are still awesome, and you can always find snow between storms. But overall I just love the old-school feel of the place and can’t wait to get my little guy on skis when he’s old enough.”

No. 8: Jay Peak, Vt.

Score: 8.60
Other Strengths:
Terrain Variety, Challenge
Weaknesses:
Access, Nightlife

Jay Peak Family RG23
(Photo: Courtesy of Jay Peak)

What Readers Say

“Terrain to rival the Rockies, tons of snow, less than two hours from Montreal, amazing value, water park for endless family fun.”

“Jay is great for families, groups, and anyone looking for great times on snow. This is really the best terrain in Vermont. The glades, steeps and bumps are a blast.”

“Such a great resort. It’s not just the skiing, which is totally awesome and fun for all levels, but all of the additions at the base like the water park, ice rink, restaurants, and hotels have turned Jay into a real family destination.”

No. 7: Mont Tremblant, Qué.

Score: 8.94
Other Strengths:
Après, Lodging
Weaknesses:
Access, Value

Tremblant Family RG23
(Photo: Courtesy of Mont Tremblant)

What Readers Say

“You’re always feeling welcome at Mont Tremblant, the staff and the vibe is just super cool and European. We love it there. We’ve taken our kids a few times (we live in upstate NY) and it’s always such a fun and different ski vacation, from the food (delicious, SO much better than the US resorts) and lodging to the scenery and the skiing itself. It really is a great family trip, feel like Europe without having to spend all the money and travel time!”

“It is European skiing experience you can drive to! The village is fantastic, lodging options are endless, food is fantastic. Just a happy vibe from the moment you arrive.”

“I brought my wife and three kids last winter, we drove from Ohio. I wasn’t expecting much from the skiing, I had heard it can be icy and super cold, but we were pleasantly surprised by the quality of the snow, the awesome villages, the restaurants. And they LOVE kids. So friendly and accommodating. We will be back.”

No. 6: Holiday Valley, N.Y.

Score: 8.94
Other Strengths:
Lifts, Access
Weaknesses:
Challenge, Snow

Holiday Valley Family RG23
(Photo: Courtesy of Holiday Valley/Ashley Baron)

What Readers Say

“Holiday Valley has three of the nicest lodges of any Eastern ski area. They are continually improving their already great lift system. They have state of the art snowmaking and snow grooming. A great family-oriented ski area.”

“Holiday Valley is the full package—they have it all in every category. No shortage of great skiing, places to eat, nightlife, things for kids to do, and all in an adorable twinkly-light little town. What’s not to love about Holiday Valley and Ellicottville?”

“Holiday Valley is another western New York ski area that is a reasonable drive from the Cleveland, Ohio area. It has enough terrain to keep things interesting for a couple days. If you have young children it will keep them entertained for as long as you want to be there. Combine it on a weekday with a day at Holimont (one ridge over) and you could spend four or five days entertained. Couple that with the town of Ellicottville and they call it the ‘Aspen of New York.’ If you are so inclined there is even a casino within a half hour of these two areas that has very affordable lodging along with a package program. Not a bad deal!”

No. 5: Wachusett Mountain, Mass.

Score: 8.95
Other Strengths:
Access, Grooming
Weaknesses:
Lodging, Nightlife

Wachusett Family RG23
(Photo: Courtesy of Wachusett Mountain)

What Readers Say

“I love going to Wachusett for early- and late-season riding because their snowmaking really makes for fun terrain. Everybody is so friendly, the mountain is beautiful, the food and staff are great. It’s such a good family mountain and I’ve learned a lot about skiing in New England from riding lifts with the retired skiers when I’m out getting first tracks on weekday mornings. Just a really cool local place that I try to go 1-2x a week during the week.”

“It’s owned by a local family who cares about the place. I personally witnessed one of the owners walking around and picking up trash off the ground during a New Year’s Eve midnight ski event. The owners care about the place, and so do all the employees who work there.”

“I learned to ski with my kids this year so this was our first season going to Wachusett. I was impressed from the moment we arrived. We went throughout the season. Lines were sometimes an issue but great places attract crowds—it was never unpleasant though. The staff is fantastic and the conditions were always the best they could be (it’s New England and there isn’t much anyone can do about the ice—they groom and cover it as best they can but by lunch it’s skied through and pretty slick). They have a good variety of food options and some après, but it’s really the family vibe that shines through. You can tell that the owners value their customers and the experience which is huge in any industry, but especially in this one which has seen such tremendous growth in the past few years.”

No. 4: Mad River Glen, Vt.

Score: 9.05
Other Strengths:
Challenge, Local Flavor
Weaknesses: Grooming, Lodging

Mad River Glen Family RG23
(Photo: Courtesy of Mad River Glen)

What Readers Say

“You might not associate Mad River with families and kids, but they have the best kids programs around, the BEST instructors and the friendliest and most welcoming staff. Teach your kid to ski here and they’ll be skiing circles around you before you know it.”

“The Single Chair makes you one with the mountain and the music at the bottom and mid-station are worth the ride in and of itself. The staff is happy and helpful from the greeters and parking guys on in. The ski school is special, with kids skiing lines like no where else and adult programs that you can afford and learn from even after 65 years of skiing. The food is real and reasonably priced. Nowhere else compares to Mad River Glen!”

“My now-teenagers learned to ski here and both are ski racers with their high school team. Awesome kids programs and just a great mountain to test your skills.”

No. 3: Waterville Valley, N.H.

Score: 9.06
Other Strengths:
Access, Guest Service
Weaknesses:
Nightlife, Lifts

Waterville Valley Family RG23
Kids Venture Kamp ends the season with a Kids Kamp Parade down White Caps. (Photo: Courtesy of Waterville Valley)

What Readers Say

“Great mountain! Warm family atmosphere, I always feel welcome when I’m there!”

“Grew up skiing & racing at Waterville Valley. Moved onto Stowe and now back going to WV with my young family. Could not be happier. Great mountain for a family. Ski school, daycare, everyone is friendly. Good value. Will be getting a season pass for the family over the next year or so. Wish there was more good lodging!! Places need a refresh. Impressed with what the Valley does have to offer. Really happy I gave it another go.”

“The best family friendly ski resort I’ve visited. Excellent terrain with great grooming and an easy drive from three different airports.”

No. 2: Bretton Woods, N.H.

Score: 9.08
Other Strengths:
Grooming, Guest Service
Weaknesses:
Nightlife, Challenge

Bretton Woods Family RG23
(Photo: Courtesy of Bretton Woods)

What Readers Say

“Best for families. Easy access to slopes and well-defined areas where you can let your kids roam. Best scenery with White Mountains across from resort.”

“Bretton Woods is the perfect family destination for skiing! The mountain has trails for all levels of skiing. All of the staff from the parking lot, to ticketing, to the lifts, and all of the services are incredibly friendly and helpful. The condos on the mountain or across the street are roomy, clean, and exactly what you need after a great day on the slopes.”

“It’s a family-friendly resort with owners and staff that truly love the resort and do their best to make it a top-quality ski resort, starting with best grooming and ending seamless operations (most staff, very good organization of car and liftline traffic, investing into resort through better lifts, etc.). It’s just scenic resort with good variety of skiing and glades.”

No. 1: Smugglers’ Notch, Vt.

Score: 9.53
Other Strengths:
Terrain Variety, Guest Service
Weaknesses:
Lifts, Nightlife

Smuggs Family RG23
(Photo: Courtesy of Smugglers’ Notch)

What Readers Say

“Family friendly. Lots of local flavor. We have been regular users for over 20 years. Love the variety of skiing, grooming, lodging, and how we are pleasantly treated.”

“Grew up skiing at Smuggs. It’s Eastern skiing the way we knew. All kinds of conditions to master and challenging terrain and sidecountry skiing. Lifts are old fashioned double chairs but, they manage the skier density on the slopes perfectly so even on crowded days the trails are safe. The main resort village is awesome for family stays and beginners. Great place for a family vacation with kids.”

“Smugglers’ Notch is a wonderful place whether you are just a beginner or a very good skier. The ski school is great and we can rent equipment at a very reasonable price. The staff is very accommodating and warm. We feel like we are at home and warmly welcomed every time we go to the place. The condos are lovely and clean and the shuttle bus from thec ondo to the ski hills is exceptionally efficient. We all love going to Smuggs!”