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Grab the kids and head for the mountains - Lesley Quinn picks ten of the best family-friendly ski resorts for adventures on and off the slopes. Cheerful children guaranteed.

nassfeld family

Sit back and relax while we help you find the ultimate winter destination to show the kids some adventure! From thrill walks and bungee jumps for the adrenaline junkies, to reindeers and fantastic beginner slopes, for chilled out tots, these resorts have everything you need to keep the kids entertained...

 

Snowmass, Colorado, USA

Best for US adventures

Climbing treehouse snowmass.jpg

As the name suggests, Snowmass is a huge resort, and the perfect hub for multi-activity winter ski trips. 

Kids can register to be VIKs (Very Important Kids), a pass that gives them access to a wide range of fun stuff as well as traditional ski school and entry to The Treehouse adventure centre. Back on the mountains, the 'Mass has 3,300 acres of ski space to explore, including terrain parks and freestyle areas that will suit teenagers.

Most hotels are ski in/ ski out, great for getting as much snow time as possible. Leave space for starlight skiing, mountain concerts and hot air balloon rides across the peaks.

gosnowmass.com

 

Saalbach, Austria

Best for skiing together

Saalbach toboggan family.jpg

'Skicircus Saalbach Hinterglemm Leogang Fieberbrunn ski area' may be a bit of a mouthful, but this resort is as jam-packed with adventure as its title is with names. This is Austria's most family-friendly mountain offering, and of its 268 kilometres of ski slopes, 140 are wide blue pistes - perfect for families with younger children.

That doesn't mean there aren't exciting adventures to be had in Saalbach, though. Take on the Skicircus Circuit, which challenges you to make it around the entire ski area in just one day. Head to Snowmobile City, an area reserved for trying out skidoos on set trails, go night-time tobogganing or get behind the wheel of a snow cat to try your hand at piste-bashing.

saalbach.com

 

Alta Badia, Italy

Best for multi-activity

Alta Badia kids skiing.jpg

If your brood is big on adventures but not so great on the attention span front, a multi-activity winter holiday is the perfect way to keep them entertained. In Alta Badia you can take them ice skating, rock climbing, horse riding, museum hopping, sledging or even to explore a mysterious bear cave.

It's also the perfect resort for introducing keen young skiiers and boarders to their first tricks and jumps - the Movimënt Parks are snow parks just for kids and teenagers that are so fun and well-designed they'll make you jealous you can't have a go. Plus, Alta Badia's accommodation is great value for money and its classic Italian fare will be a big favourite with even the pickiest eaters. 

altabadia.org

 

Trysil, Norway

Best for all ages

tRYSIL SURFING.jpg

Norway has a reputation for challenging mountain skiing and far-flung ski touring, but the popular and snow-sure resort of Trysil is a paradise for skiers of all ages. Long, wide slopes are great for learners, there are excellent dedicated children's slopes that stay open for night skiing and an award-winning snow park will challenge confident snowboarders looking to push themselves.

And unlike any other resort we've heard of, your family can learn to surf as well as ski in Trysil. The ski-in, ski-out Radisson Blu hotel's enormous indoor adventure area boasts a climbing wall and an indoor FlowRider© surfing wave pool, perfect for whiteout days or fun-filled evenings.

trysil.com

 

Cairngorms, Scotland

Best for weekends away

Cairngorm reindeer centre.jpg

Skications are the new staycations, don't you know. Scotland's Cairngorms National Park is perfect for a family snow holiday or long weekend without having to leave Britain (and without the hefty Alpine price tag).

Three of Scotland's five ski centres are based in the park, and a mix of natural and manmade snow areas and varied backcountry areas for touring means there's something for all abilities here, as well as an excellent ski school. If you aren't hitting the pistes, knacker the kids out by flying down a set of 14 zip wires through pine forests or take them for cuddles at the lovely Cairngorm Reindeer Centre. 

cairngorms.co.uk

 

Le Lavachet, Tignes, France

Best for Learning off-piste

Le Lavachet Bun J Ride.jpg

This is Tignes, but not as you know it. Lavachet is the more laid-back and chilled out side of the party favourite, making it perfect for families keen to enjoy the world-class ski area without the obligatory late-night après scene thrown in.

A 24hr bus takes you to busier Val Claret and Le Lac villages in five minutes - from here access 300 kilometres of slopes, including dedicated beginners' zones, Le SPOT (Skiing the Powder of Tignes) a monitored off-piste area perfect for introducing confident kids to off-piste, and the Bun J Ride, a cross between extreme skiing and a bungee jump that'll liven up even the most bored teen. 

tignes.net

 

Big White, Canada

Best for keen skiers 

Big White fat biking 2.jpg

There's big fun to be had in Big White, Canadaís largest ski-in, ski-out resort - even Main Street becomes a viable ski run come winter. Big in both name and numbers, the resort has a massive 3,000 acres of terrain with snow to suit the greenest beginner or the keenest mini off-piste enthusiast, with pistes and trails ranging from easy greens to waist-deep powder runs. 

You can even swap your skis for fat bikes for a different way to explore the backcountry with your gang. Keep an eye out for Big White's spectacular 'snow ghosts' - ice-caked trees - as you fly past. There are great family acommodation deals on offer and Big White does a fine line in hearty comfort food. 

bigwhite.com

 

Orcieres, France

Best for early learners

Orcieres France family.jpg

Orcieres Merlette 1850 in the Southern French Alps is perfect for sending your kids to their very first ski lessons, as the resort includes a safe snow garden to practise in. Then they can graduate to the two large beginner zones, one at the base of the pistes and one on one on the snowy plateaus, the latter allowing ski newbies to taste high-altitude skiing and cut their teeth on longer descents.

There's plenty for the grownups to explore while the kids are in lessons - head out on 50 ski runs or make a beeline for the challenging snow park. Off the slopes, send your small adrenaline seekers on the longest zipline in Europe or down the mountain on a massive multi-person toboggan.  

orcieres.com

 

Murren, Switzerland

Best for trains and thrills

Murren Schilthorn Thrill walk.jpg

If you conjured up the most picture-perfect perfect ski resort we bet it'd look exactly like the pretty Bernese village of Murren. For starters, the small village centre is traffic-free and easy to navigate, and the ski area is ideal for beginners, with runs perfectly suited for improving their confidence. 

Off the pistes there are century-old trains to ride through the mountains, high-altitude thrill walks and paragliding, or take a day trip to the panoramic view at Jungfraujoch, the 'top of Europe' at 3,454 metres. Oh, and James Bond lovers of all ages will love Piz Gloria, the filming location for On Her Majesty's Secret Service. 

madeinbern.com

 

Hakuba, Japan

Best for exotic culture

Hakuba Snow Monkeys hot pool.jpg

Situated at the heart of the Japanese Alps and a previous host of the Winter Olympics, the resort of Hakuba is home to an incredible variety of alpine terrain that suits everyone from total beginners through to experts, and rewards lovers of off-piste with the powder days of their dreams.

This is the ideal destination for energetic older kids keen to ski or board hard each day - there's an area lift pass covering 10 different zones available. Small foodies and aspiring David Attenboroughs will love Japan's exotic cuisine and wildlife, too - visit snow monkeys as they relax in their own private hot springs or jump on the bullet train to explore Tokyo's sushi joints for a few days. 

hakubatourism.jp