Ultimate Guide to Skiing With Kids in the DC Area

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Our snowy weather probably got you thinking about skiing. Maybe you grew up skiing. Maybe you didn’t but want to learn. Maybe you want your kids to learn. Either way, here is the ultimate family guide to skiing with kids in the Washington, D.C. area.

guide to skiing with kids in the DC Area

First, the skiing with kids basics

All of the ski resorts listed here are within a day’s drive (5 hours or less) of Washington, D.C. All offer ski rentals, lessons, and options for children to learn. Finding the place that best suits your family will depend on your children’s ages, your comfort level as a skier, price, distance, and more. We’ve tried to note all the stats you need in this handy guide. Be sure to check details on each resort’s website.

We don’t get much snow here, so what’s with snow making?

No, you don’t need natural snow to enjoy a day on the slopes – though it helps! Many of the ski resorts around D.C. are equipped with snow-making machines that blast air and water through a hose and, well, make it snow. So you will be able to ski at any of these resorts even if you don’t see snow outside, as long as the weather is mostly below freezing (i.e. stays below 32 degrees for at least a good portion of the morning and evening).

That said, skiing can be more fun when the resort doesn’t have to make as much snow — not least because you won’t have snow machines blasting in your face. For each resort, we’ve noted average annual snowfalls and base elevation (how high above sea level the “base” of the ski area is) to give you a sense of your likelihood of finding a natural snow base.

What is a ‘kids program’ at a ski resort?

This is a great option for parents who are just learning to ski! Most ski resorts offer full or half-day kids programs. It is similar to a day at camp or day care, and usually including play time, snack, lunch and nap for little kids, and a group ski lesson. Yes, the staff get your child geared up to ski and help them gear down after! That means you can skip the snow-pants obstacle course and just enjoy your time on the mountain. (Note that because of Covid not everyone is offering this option this winter, but they will be available again hopefully next winter.) Prices listed here are for full day — which for most places is 9 a.m. to about 3 p.m., and almost all will require advance reservations, so check details on the websites for each resort.

Kids can start learning to ski as soon as they can walk and talk, but resorts often have age limits. We waited until ours were 3 years old and that felt like a great age to start.

What is a Parent-Child ski lesson?

Even if you are a good skier, teaching your own child to ski can be a major challenge (trust me). Working with an instructor can give you more confidence to teach your own child. This semi-private lesson for one adult and one child will give you a foundation in being your child’s instructor. We’ve noted whether mountains have a lesson tailored to this purpose.

What do I need to know to start skiing as an adult?

This is easy: Nothing! Each of these resorts has everything you need to ski from scratch. You can rent equipment, get lessons from an instructor, and put your children in a lesson of their own. If you are a true beginner, you don’t need to go far from D.C. because you don’t need much of a “vertical drop” — mild slopes are best for learning and practicing.

skiing with kids in the dc areaThe 10 Ski Resorts:

1. Liberty Mountain Resort, PA

  • Drive time: about 1.5 hours
  • Kids program for kids 4 and up (cost full day weekend: $135) – kids under 3-4 can join private lessons or the childcare center
  • Childcare for 6 months and up — they even have evening hours! (paused this year due to Covid)
  • “Ski with me” parent-child lesson option
  • Onsite hotel: YES with pool and spa (plus 5 different restaurants and a cafeteria)
  • Other (non-ski) Activities: Ice rink, tubing
  • Kids ski free: YES – 6 and under are free with a ticketed adult.
  • Average snowfall: 45 in
  • Base elevation: 570 ft
  • Vertical drop: 620 ft

2. Wisp, MD

  • Drive time: 3 hours
  • Kids program for kids 3 and up (cost full day weekend: $194)
  • Childcare – not equipped for children under 3
  • No parent-child lesson option
  • Onsite hotel: YES with pool (plus 5 different restaurants)
  • Other (non-ski) Activities: Tubing, mountain coaster, x-country skiing and snowshoeing
  • Kids ski free: ALMOST — 6 and under require a $5 processing fee with a ticketed adult
  • Average snowfall: 130 in
  • Base elevation: 2,415 ft
  • Vertical drop: 700 ft

3. Whitetail, PA

  • Drive time: about 1.5 hours
  • Kids program for kids 4 and up (cost full day weekend: $190) – kids 3-4 can join private lessons
  • Childcare for 6 months and up (paused this year due to Covid)
  • Parent-child lesson option: YES – ski with me
  • Onsite hotel: NO, 4 restaurants and a food court, some rentable condos nearby
  • Other (non-ski) Activities: tubing
  • Kids ski free: YES – 6 and under are free with a ticketed adult.
  • Average snowfall: 40 in
  • Base elevation: 865 ft
  • Vertical drop: 935 ft

4. Round Top, PA

  • Drive time: about 1.5 hours
  • Kids program for kids 4 and up (cost full day weekend: $175) – kids under 3-4 can join private lessons or the childcare center
  • Childcare for ages 18 months and up (paused this year due to Covid)
  • Parent-child lesson option: YES
  • Onsite hotel: No; has 2 restaurants and a food court
  • Other (non-ski) Activities: tubing, paintball, ropes course
  • Kids ski free: YES – 6 and under are free with a ticketed adult.
  • Average snowfall: 35 in
  • Base elevation: 755 ft
  • Vertical drop: 600 ft

5. Wintergreen, VA

  • Drive time: about 3 hours
  • Kids program for kids 3 and up (cost full day weekend: $164)
  • Childcare for kids 5 and up.
  • Parent-child lesson option: YES
  • Onsite hotel: YES with pool (plus 5 sit-down restaurants)
  • Other (non-ski) Activities: Ice rink, tubing
  • Kids ski free: YES – 5 and under are free with a ticketed adult.
  • Average snowfall: 34 in
  • Base elevation: 2,512 ft
  • Vertical drop: 1,003 ft

6. Caanan Valley, WV

  • Drive time: about 3 hours
  • Kids program for kids 5 and up (cost full day weekend: $175) – kids under 3-4 can join private lessons or the childcare center
  • Childcare by the hour for 18 months and up.
  • Parent-child lesson option: NO
  • Onsite hotel: YES, with a pool and a spa, 4 restaurants and a food court on site
  • Other (non-ski) Activities: tubing, ice skating
  • Kids ski free: YES – 5 and under are free with a ticketed adult.
  • Average snowfall: 160 in
  • Base elevation: 3,430 ft
  • Vertical drop: 850 ft

7. Elk Mountain, PA

  • Drive time: about 4.5 hours
  • No kids program, but 3 and up can join private or group lessons
  • Childcare by the hour for kids 2 and up (on weekends and holidays only).
  • Parent-child lesson option: NO
  • Onsite hotel: No. There’s a cafeteria and one full-service restaurant onsite. You can find hotels nearby (cheaper than ski resort prices)
  • Other (non-ski) Activities: Nope — this place is for ski-focused families
  • Kids ski free: YES – 5 and under are free with a ticketed adult.
  • Bonus: If you plan to teach your kids to ski yourself, this place is a real steal! A beginner lift tickets (limited to the easier terrain) for only $37 all day.
  • Average snowfall: 60 in
  • Base elevation: 1,742 ft
  • Vertical drop: 930 ft

8. Snowshoe, WV

  • Drive time: about 5 hours
  • Kids program for kids 3 and up (cost full day weekend: $135)
  • Childcare with flexible hours (6 months and up) (paused this year due to Covid)
  • Ski with me parent-child lesson option
  • Onsite hotel: YES – multiple hotels surround the village square with pool and spa (plus 7 sit-down restaurants, 1 fine dining, and a cafeteria)
  • Other (non-ski) Activities: Ice rink, tubing, snowmobile rides, s’mores in the village center, activity nights in the big top for kids with bounce houses and more.
  • Kids ski free: YES – 6 and under are free with a ticketed adult.
  • Average snowfall: 180 in
  • Base elevation: 3,348 ft
  • Vertical drop: 1,500 ft
  • Note, Snowshoe’s learning area is at the *top* of the mountain — it will be colder than the base, and more likely to have good snow (plus it makes for great views).

9. Seven Springs, PA

  • Drive time: about 3.5 hours
  • No kids program, but they do have 1-hour and 2-hour “tiny tots” lessons for kids under 7, starting at $152 an hour
  • Onsite hotel: YES
  • Other (non-ski) Activities: Tubing, a spa, restaurants and other outdoor activities.
  • Kids ski free: YES – 6 and under are free with a ticketed adult.
  • Average snowfall: 135 in
  • Base elevation: 2,240 ft
  • Vertical drop: 750 ft

10. Massanutten, VA

  • Drive time: about 3 hours
  • Kids program for kids 4 and up (cost full day weekend: $150)
  • Childcare: Yes for kids 3-12 (not currently available due to covid)
  • Onsite hotel: YES with pool, water park and spa (plus 5 restaurants and a cafeteria)
  • Other (non-ski) Activities:tubing, curling, escape rooms and other family events
  • Kids ski free:YES
  • Average snowfall: 35 in
  • Base elevation: 2,925 ft
  • Vertical drop: 1,155 ft

Have you been skiing with kids?  Share your experience below!

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