Imagine a place where the air is crisp, the people are warm, and pure white snow blankets the expansive Rocky Mountains. Something feels different here, it’s unlike any other mountain vacation we’ve had as a family. Maybe it’s the altitude, or maybe it’s the energy of an adventure awaiting us… either way we are filled with excitement and ready to explore Colorado!
With over 300 inches of snow per year, Colorado is the quintessential destination for an amazing family ski/snowboarding vacation. There are 29,500 acres of white, powdery slope across the state – making it an ideal location for all levels. Are you a beginner, looking for lessons on a bunny slope? Check. Or maybe you are an expert wanting a thrill down a double black diamond with moguls? Check.
Across Colorado you will find many resorts, though some manage to stand a notch higher than the others. Our family bonded over new experiences, made memories, and started traditions at two of the best family-friendly resorts in Colorado- Beaver Creek and Keystone!
Beaver Creek Resort
Beaver Creek Resort is nestled within the White River National Forest, and is an international destination. Prepare to feel pampered from the moment you arrive -with a world-class ski village, outstanding service, free warm cookies, family fun both on and off the mountain, and excellent mountain maintenance, it’s easy to feel spoiled.
The Osprey is an intimate and luxurious alpine retreat, and the closest hotel to a chair lift in North America! We were charmed with a stunning suite that left you speechless in the best way possible. Make yourself a cup of coffee in the kitchen and sit by the warm fire while watching others ski down the slopes and go up the chair lift. The Osprey at Beaver Creek provides a Colorado vacation unlike any other you have experienced.
Our suite had a full kitchen, washer/dryer, chic decor, two balconies (with a front row view of the Strawberry Express chair lift), two bedrooms, and two bathrooms. One bedroom has two jaw-dropping sets of bunk beds with four double beds. The second spacious bedroom has one king size bed with an on-suite bathroom – a large soaking tub, perfect after a day on the slopes, and a beautifully tiled shower.
It may be below freezing outside, but don’t let that stop you from taking a dip in the pool or hot tub. This was our kids favorite part of the day – there is just something a little extra about getting into a steaming hot tub with snow covering the ground. There is also a sauna and steam room. The Osprey truly is a an oasis, and it will leave you immediately planning your next visit back!
Skiing/Snowboarding – This one might sound obvious (haha). Grab your Epic Pass and head out to grab your rental equipment. Renting gear can be time consuming, so get there early. I would allot about 45 minutes to this, so bring snacks for the kiddos. My husband chose to ski, and myself and our two daughters decided to snowboard. Since we had never snowboarded before, we got a private lesson for our family. This was by far one of the most rewarding experiences we have ever done on a trip to date.
Learning something new together as a family was incredibly rewarding. We learned together, cheered each other on, and bonded in a way I cannot put into words. Our instructor’s name was Florence and she was amazing. I was skeptical about a 4 and 6 year old in freezing temps learning a sport – but it was an instant hit because of Florence. All of the instructors have big personalities and that makes learning fun and exciting. It really shaped our first day on the mountain and was a big influence for my kids to have fun. I would highly recommend a lesson, especially if you have never participated in winter sports before.
One of the things EVERYONE remembers about Beaver Creek is cookie time! ! Cookie Time at Beaver Creek is an institution. Every afternoon at 3 p.m., the silver trays arrive at the bottom of the slopes with their chocolately goodness. It’s the perfect reward after a great day of skiing!
Ice Skating – In the center of the village is a beautiful ice skating rink. Beautiful colored lights are projected onto the ice, and the rink itself is surrounded by beautiful trees dawned in twinkling lights. It feels like something out of a movie. Bring you own skates or rent them there. I appreciated the option to rent ice grips for the bottom of your shoes if you didn’t want to skate but still be on the ice with your littles. Ice bikes are also available during certain time slots.
The Village – Beaver Creek offers world-class shopping with a view. Après ski go hunting for some unique souvenirs from fashion boutiques, high end sports apparel, jewelry stores, art galleries, and more. It is stroller friendly and there is plenty of seating around fire pits for snuggles with the kiddos and some hot chocolate.
Spruce Saddle – Conveniently located at the top of Centennial Express Lift, Spruce Saddle not only offers delicious food to refuel, but a stunning view! My children said the burgers were the best they have ever had, the spicy chicken sandwich is packed with flavor, and the delicious chili is sure to warm you up. Everything we ordered was delicious and warm. Make a reservation using EpicMix App on your phone, and be prepared to show proof of vaccination before entering (they will give you a sticker for your EpicPass so you do not need to show the card after your initial visit).
Citrea – Located next to the ice rink in Beaver Creek Village, Citrea is an upscale Mediterranean eatery. Citrea uses fresh local ingredients and has an extensive wine list. Every single thing we ordered was delicious. The staff was top notch and the restaurant was very high energy. The pizza is a must try when visiting, it is reminiscent to the flavors from Italy. You cannot beat the location and service here, and the food speaks for itself!
Located just 70 miles from Denver, Keystone Resort is a popular choice for visitors and locals alike. Keystone resort has more than 3,000 acres of skiable terrain which spread across three peaks – my favorite part was the beginner slopes are located at the very top of the mountain. This is a unique opportunity for beginners to have a chance to soak the best views in Colorado. The altitude at Keystone’s summit is over 12,000 feet – so be sure to stay well hydrated when you visit (our family did not have any trouble with altitude sickness thankfully).
Something of significance that sets Keystone apart is their Kids Ski Free program! If you are staying at any of Keystones Resort Lodging for at least two nights your kids 12 and under ski free for one day! That is huge for people traveling with children.
The options for Keystone Resort Lodging are endless. We stayed at Keystone’s Dakota Lodge in a two-bedroom two-bathroom condo with a fully equipped kitchen, fireplace, and balcony. In addition to condo-style rooms, Dakota Lodge has ski lockers and a year-round hot tub and heated pool (pro-tip, use the hot tubs in the morning – they can get filled up in the late afternoon). Keystone Resort has over 800 condos to choose from based on your family’s needs.
We had a great view of the slopes from our balcony, which was particularly exciting at night. Keystone offers night skiing until 8pm, and we could see people coming down the mountain from our couch (this was particularly fun since we were also watching the Winter Olympics at the time). The Dakota Lodge is located within a short walk of the River Run Gondola located at the base of Keystone Resort, making this a very convenient location (especially after a day on the slopes walking back with kiddos!).
The Dakota Lodge is also centrally located to River Run Village. River Run Village is the newest base area at the resort and known as the heart of Keystone Colorado. Here you will find boutique shops, world class restaurants, and of course the River Run Condos. The Ski School also meets here. Needless to say, this is a pretty amazing spot to stay on your trip!
Skiing/Snowboarding – You can’t visit Keystone without hitting the slopes…. okay yes you can, but why not?! We had a second private family lesson for snowboarding, and our instructor was Nick. I have nothing but glowing and positive things to say about our time with him. He was so patient and understanding, encouraging and truly made my daughter feel comfortable on the board.
The slopes at Keystone are very well maintained, and have the best views in Colorado. At that altitude, you can see the Rocky Mountains go on for miles – which really makes the experience that much more exhilarating.
Snow Tubing – Keystone is home to the highest tubing hill in the world at 11,640 feet! We were unable to take part ourselves, as this does fill up fast (make reservations in advance!), but we had a great time watching others.
Playground Fun – There were two playgrounds within walking distance of our condo, and this was fun for everyone. The girls got to run around and zoom down snow-covered slides, while us parents got to sit and relax for a bit.
Ice Skating/Sleigh Rides – Our family did not have the time to fit in either of these activities, but I do feel it is important to take note of all Keystone has to offer! The sleigh ride looks particularly magical!
Summit House – Aptly named, the Summit House is located on top of Dercum Mountain. The food here is delicious and had fairly quick service for prime lunchtime on a weekend. They offer everything from snacks to full meals and a wide range of beverages (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic). The portions are large, and the food reenergizes you for the second half of the day on the slopes! You will need to make a reservation beforehand, and be prepared to show proof of vaccination if over the age of 12.
Big Horn Bistro – If you are looking for dining with a view, I would recommend Big Horn Bistro. Located in Keystone Lodge & Spa, the Bistro offers breathtaking views of the Keystone Lake and mountains. No vaccine card required.
The Crepe Stand – An icon in River Run Village, the Crepe Stand is a popular spot. They offer both sweet and savory options, and it was very hard to make a choice! I ultimately went with the Buffalo Chicken and it was delicious. I would recommend visiting early, it gets very crowded towards the end of the day and the wait can be long.
If you have any questions about Beaver Creek or Keystone please send me an email! Until next time…