Like most families in 2020, we imagine this year has included quite a bit of extra "together time" inside your home. And as weather gets cooler, no doubt most folks will spend more time indoors. Together. All of you. Again.
But don't fret - there are ways to avoid feelings of stir craziness this winter. Fresh air and new surroundings are a great way to refresh and recharge! One of our favorite ways to do this is a family ski trip. Choosing the right place for your family - ages, activities and skill levels - makes all the difference! Read on for our list of the best ski resorts for families.
Park City Mountain Resort, Utah
Located just 35 minutes from Salt Lake City airport, the super easy access makes Park City one of our top picks for families. With 7,300 acres of terrain and 330 trails, there is plenty of ground to cover. On the slopes they offer half and full day lessons for children starting at age 3, as well as lessons for teens and adults. After a day on the slopes, there are two mountain resorts to explore with activities like an Alpine coaster, mining tours, or a winter zip line. Park City Mountain is part of the Vail Resorts family, so it's included in the Epic Pass. For 2020 this pass not only gives you access to their many properties and ski runs around the country, it gives you priority on reservations - super helpful with covid limitations in place. Park City Mountain Resort is set to open for the season November 20th, and passes are available for purchase now.
Beaver Creek Resort, Colorado
Beaver Creek is located in the breathtaking Rockies of Colorado, and known by many as one of the best resorts for beginners. You can explore 1,800 acres of terrain on three distinct base areas, including some of the longest beginner runs in the country. Head to the base of the mountain or the village around 3pm and enjoy free cookies every day, then put on your skates and enjoy endless fun at the village rink. Beginners will spend time at Haymeadow or Red Buffalo Park which are kid-friendly areas with fun things like an interactive teepee, ice cream parlor and candy cabin right on the slopes! Beaver Creek ski school even offers a guarantee on kids lessons - if your child is not skiing/riding one of the beginner areas (depending on age) by the 3rd consecutive day of lessons, then the 4th day is free! Better yet, they're offering 15%-20% off on lessons for the 2020 season. Beaver Creek is also on the Epic Pass, giving you options for multiple trips this winter!
Smugglers Notch, Vermont
Rated the #1 family-friendly resort in the East by Ski magazine, Smugglers Notch has so much more to offer than just skiing (tubing and arcade games and laser tag, oh my!). Also ranked in the top ten best ski resorts for beginners, their ski school offers uniquely designed kid-friendly programs. Within the ski curriculum, age groups are divided by small increments based on the developmental stages of children, offering students more intentional and appropriate lessons. And children 6 weeks to 3 years who are not yet ready to ski or ride can enjoy their day at Treasures Child Care Center. When the family needs a break from the slopes, Smugglers Notch offers daily family friendly activities that include bonfires, bingo, magic shows and so much more.
Keystone Resort, Colorado
If your family is made up of avid skiiers, then Keystone is for you. With over 3,000 acres of terrain over three mountains, there are 135 trails on-site! While Keystone is mostly known for its intermediate or expert ski options, there is skiing available for all skill levels and still plenty to do for the youngsters. They have a daily Kidtopia schedule with things like cookie time and meet and greets with the avalanche dog team, not to mention it's five acre skating lake and fun sleigh rides. Keystone announced it's opening November 6th for the 2020 ski season, with standard health protocols in place. Reservations are required.
Northstar California Ski Resort
Tahoe is truly a beautiful area to ski, and Northstar's family-friendly atmosphere makes this a great all-around option. This North Lake Tahoe resort, located in Truckee, CA, features 100 trails over more than 3,100 skiable acres, with plenty for everyone in the family to explore. Spend time on the slopes all day, then enjoy time together by group fire pits with hot chocolate and complementary s'mores for a family apres ski. Have some family members needing a day off from the slopes? Enjoy ice skating and snow tubing while you enjoy the elements in a more laid back atmosphere. Similar to Beaver Creek, they offer a ski guarantee for children's ski lessons, so you can have confidence in building your child's skill level by the end of the trip. Another member of the Epic Pass, Northstar also gives pass holders priority access to reservation days. Winter season 2020 opens November 20th.
Have more questions? Ready to book? Send us a note and we'll get you ski ready this winter!
Seeing the "big stuff" on a dive is always exciting. Let's be honest, that's the goal for most people! When planning dive travel, the question we get asked most often is "Where do I go to make sure I see big animals while diving?"
While there is a chance to see the large exciting animals in a lot of different places, seeing them is unfortunately never guaranteed. If you only have a few days of a vacation to dive, we recommend choosing locations where you can increase your chances for incredible encounters. When time is limited, we want to maximize your experience. Below is our top 5 list for dive destinations. These places not only boost your opportunity for encountering marine megafauna, they are also great places to travel with family, and offer other great vacation activities.
My oh my the remote islands of the Galapagos are exciting! Experience over 27 species of sharks. Dive with penguins and lizards at the same time! See seals and whale sharks too! You can choose from either liveaboard diving or land based diving. Liveaboard diving (you literally live aboard the boat over a period of days as you cruise to various dive spots) provides you better encounters as you can go to more distant and remote islands. You can also pair this with land based tours to explore the islands. Also consider pairing it with an extension to Ecuador or Peru and see the grand sights of Machu Picchu!
2. Southern & Eastern Africa
Southern and Eastern Africa have incredible marine wildlife and a wide range of great diving locations. From migrating whales, to schools of ragged tooth sharks, to mantas and whale sharks, opportunities for viewing large animals abound! In Cape Town, South Africa you can cage dive with great white shark. As you travel up the East coast of South Africa from Cape Town, you can see migrating whales from June - November. These same whales can then be see further up the coast in Mozambique from July-December. Experience the Sardine Run off the eastern coast of Africa in June/July as well as the ragged tooth sharks that make their appearance in Sodwana Bay later in the year. If you want to see whale sharks and Manta Rays, then head north out of South Africa into Mozambique during the summer months (winter there) you can have encounters with these PLUS whales all on the same dive! And let's not forget the beautiful islands of Zanzibar, Mauritius and Seychelles, which are all just a quick flight from Johannesburg and have a ton of great marine life to experience. And since you've made the long flight out already, consider adding a few days for an African safari post dive and experience the amazing wildlife Africa has to offer both above and below the water's surface!
If you have ever seen a picture of clear emerald waters, beautiful beaches that stretch as far as the eye can see, combined with luxurious overwater bungalows, then chances are it was a picture of the Maldives. The Maldives is a collection of thousands of islands in the Indian Ocean in South Asia. It has become one of the best global diving locations because of its warm, clear waters, beautiful coral reefs, white sand beaches and rich marine life. The presence of whale sharks, mantas, hammerheads, eagle rays and multiple shark species is very common, and chances are very high you'll have the unforgettable animal encounters you're after. It is a bucket list trip for many people. But don't be afraid of price - it is possible to visit the Maldives on a budget!
If you know anything about Hawaii, its presence on our top 5 list shouldn't come as a surprise. Even if you have never been, you have probably seen idyllic images of all the wonders of Hawaii, large animal encounters included! Whale watching is a year-round option with 18 different species of whales occupying the warm Hawaiian waters. Plan for winter whale watching to increase your chances as many whales move south from Alaska to the warmer waters that time of year. Also enjoy amazing encounters with manta rays off Kona Island in late spring, summer and fall.
You may have heard of the "Big 5" as it relates to safari animals, but the Bahamas is home to their own "Big 5." It is the only country to declare their entire marine habitat a shark sanctuary. The Bahamas are home to 40 species of sharks including the five big predators: bull sharks, tiger sharks, hammerheads, Caribbean reef sharks, and silky sharks. You will have to island hop in order to see them all, but if you love sharks, then the Bahamas should top your list.
Have more questions? Send us a note and we can talk through your goals, vacation preferences and budget to find your best dive destination!