We were looking for a destination for a family ski trip this year. And, since I haven’t been skiing in at least 12 years, I had no idea where to start. We ended up renting a small “ski in ski out” townhouse right on Camelback mountain. We love private home rentals, a la AirBnb, VRBO, Homeaway, etc., when traveling, especially for larger family gatherings. There’s something about actually sharing a living space that makes a family vacation that much more intimate and fun. We love having the option of going out to eat a night or cooking in. And let’s be honest, no family vacation is complete without my moms world famous breakfast casserole. Email me for the recipe!
If you’re not in the routine of skiing, or it’s your kids first time skiing, it can feel like there is a lot to do between the genius idea of going, and actually shredding down the mountain. Or the bunny slope. Here’s what I learned as we put our trip together:
WHERE TO GO: So many options. I couldn’t find anything that really compared the ski resorts and conveyed the benefits for families, so I created this snazzy chart for you. And, let’s be honest, I’m an amazing chart maker. More on where to go later…
Please note – all of these mountains have gear rental and lessons for you and your kids. Here are some other details that may be helpful:
|MOUNTAIN NAME||KIDS LIFT TICKET PRICES (Weekend rates based on age)||DISTANCE FROM PHL||
|Camelback Mountain||< 5 = FREE
6-18 = $49
19+ = $67
|Jack Frost/Big Boulder||< 6 = $10
Youth (7-17) = $45
18+ = $60
|Montage||< 4 = FREE
Youth (5-17) = $44
18+ = $52
|Elk Mountain||< 5 = FREE
6-12 = $50
12+ = $37- $67
|Spring Mountain||< 5 = FREE
5+ = $48
|Blue Mountain||$57 All ages rate||2 hrs||
|Shawnee Mountain||Kids <46” tall = FREE
0-18 = $50
18+ = $65
GEAR: We booked our kids ski lessons (including rental) through Camelback Mountain in advance since it was a holiday weekend. We booked gear for the rest of us from Alpine Ski Rental which is right outside the entrance to the mountain. If I were to go again, I’d get all of our gear from Alpine Ski Rental. It’s a bit less expensive than the mountain, plus it was SO MUCH easier getting in and out here than the rental shop at the mountain itself. Alpine had gear as small as it comes, even the tiniest cutest little skis I’ve ever seen for my 2.5 year old. Plus, they rent apparel you may not have like ski pants, jackets, etc. so if you don’t have that stuff you can add it to your gear rental easily. Plus, they have a stock of hats, googles, hand warmers, and anything else ski related for purchase. It’s a family owned business and the crew here was so super friendly and helpful. Highly recommend.
WHERE TO STAY: You can either pick which mountain you prefer, and base your lodging plans around that, or the other way around. For us we decided to ski at Camelback because we also wanted to do the indoor waterpark in the same weekend. And then we decided to rent something close versus staying at the resort itself. This was a partly budget related decision and also so that we can all spend more time together. Rooms at the resort for all of us would have been a fortune. If I were to go back with just my family of four though, we’d likely stay at the resort. Camelback is one of the few mountains that has on site lodging – meaning they offer decent hotel/ski packages. Plus the resort experience makes you feel like you really got away.
- Have a plan for who ski’s when and who is running point with the kids. My husband and I took turns (with some additional coverage from family) so that each of us could have a turn skiing.
- Check out alternatives for gear rental. Either to bring from home or near the mountain. We did and it saved us so much time waiting in line when we got there. Because nobody has time for that!
- Definitely check out AirBnB’s or other rental services. You usually save some money and can still access the mountain (or a resort lodge) services easily.
- This one is obvious: Get there early. Parking was crazy. Lines were crazy. We were at Camelback (rumored to be busiest mountain) on a holiday weekend – but still. Solid and obvious tip for keeping kids happy and getting the most out of your day before…..NAP TIME!
Check us out on Facebook, at our newly created Philadelphia family adventurer community group.