Where to stay
We’ve stayed in Park City, a vibrant winter wonderland village, at various mountain base lodges, homes nearby Powder and Snowbasin, and the suburbs of Salt Lake City. Over the years we’ve found with so many mountains, we don’t like to be locked into one or two. Plus, we love skiing Little and Big Cottonwood – being close is a must. This led us to Sugarhouse, Utah.
Sugarhouse, Utah is a trendy town for young families and those in love with all things local. Sugarhouse offers plenty of first-class dining options (where they expect kids), a walkable Main Street district, Sugarhouse Park with tons of family-friendly things to do, a movie theater with lounge chairs and where blankets to cuddle up with are welcome, and affordable accommodations. Most important – Sugarhouse is 30 minutes from Little and Big Cottonwood mountains and Park City mountains.
- Book a vacation rental or AirBnB. Skiing requires laundry, spacious accommodations, and relaxation time. There are a lot of great options available for an affordable price.
- Book ski lessons for the kids (non-avid skiers) if you want them to learn and you really like to ski. We love skiing as a family and love skiing in general. Booking lessons for a few days is a nice balance. When we don’t, we’ve found the days are short on the mountain and complaints tick up. While this is fine for a couple days, it’s not okay everyday. Lessons make everyone happy.
- Plan for a 2 days of skiing and 1 day off schedule. The kids can get tired of the ski day routine and the off days give a chance to explore the destination, making the most out of the trip. Find ideas below!
- Pack lunches for ski days. A good AirBnB will have Tupperware and a cooler available. $15 ski lodge burgers and chicken fingers add up fast!
Utah mountains we love
Okay, we love all the mountains in Utah. However, there are some that have great perks for kids and parents worth noting.
At Brighton Mountain kids ski free. You read that right – with an adult ticket they ski free. Plus at Brighton, the crowds are not as large as other Canyon resorts. Brighton makes for a nice weekend choice when other areas are insanely busy. They offer plenty of lifts and varied terrain.
Snowbird is my favorite mountain for the terrain, long runs, excellent camber and back bowls. Lucky for me, Snowbird offers one of the best ski schools we’ve used in the area. Drop the kids off from 9am-3pm and they’ll enjoy a day with an energetic instructor learning skill-improving tips while gorging themselves on hot cocoa. Snowbird has an excellent secondary beginner area called Baby Thunder, separate from the base of the mountain traffic funnels. Here, the kids can move away from the magic carpet and rip it all day long.
My other favorite mountain is located in Ogden. Snowbasin is well worth the drive from Park City or Salt Lake City. A luxury resort where you’ll find a lodge like no other with leather sitting rooms, marble restrooms and food worth overpaying for. Their deck rivals Deer Valley’s and is great for end of the day sun soaking. The mountain offers sprawling terrain with multiple expert areas separate from the crowds. Strawberry Ridge is a must for expert skiers. As for the ski school, you’ll get top-notch all day. Our children claimed this to be the best day of their lives!
Solitude offers excellent terrain and lots of tree skiing. Like Brighton, here you’ll find less crowds. The snow sports school was ranked #2 by our kids. At pickup they didn’t want to leave. This is a big deal after 5 hours on the mountain. Reservations and check-in was a seamless experience.
If it’s a groomer day, Deer Valley will not disappoint. Okay, Deer Valley never disappoints. The trails are meticulously groomed (pure corduroy), they offer excellent lodge services, including little things you wouldn’t expect – like warm chocolate chip cookies at the lift! Their deck is especially quotable. I’ve found myself saying on gorgeous sunny days “It’s a Deer Valley sort-of deck day” and everyone gets it. If the whole family is beginner to intermediate we highly recommend Deer Valley for the overall experience factor.
What to do on non-ski days
On our ski trips we find our kids do well with 2 days of skiing and one day off. Below are a few off-day options we love:
- Check out The Crater in Midway (short drive from Park City). This funky beehive looking rock formation houses a hot spring for swimming and soaking. Plan to spend about 1 hour. The drive to The Crater is incredibly scenic. $14pp.
- Woodward Recreation Park in Park City offers awesome long-run tubing tracks, a mini ski experience, and an indoor jump park complete with bike and skate ramps. Plan for 2-3 hours. Rates range from $39 – $100pp for select or open access.
- Discovery Gateway Children’s Museum located in downtown SLC, it’s a favorite spot. The museum has two huge floors of interactive play installations. We usually pick this on a super cold day. From climbing to building to farming and science there is something to check everyone’s box. Plan for 3 hours. $12.50 pp.
- Crystal River Hot Springs is well worth the 1 hour drive from SLC. The 22,0000 year old natural hot springs range from 105 – 134°F and contain the highest mineral content found in the world. This equates to a ‘relaxing once in a lifetime’ experience. They also have water slides and cold springs. Plan for 3 hours. $12-$14pp.
- At Antelope Island State Park hike the park’s back-country trails and take in spectacular views. Antelope Island is home to free-ranging bison, mule deer, bighorn sheep, and pronghorn (antelope). Plan for 2 hours. This is a great stop on the way to Crystal River.
- Indoor rock climbing at Momentum Millcreek.
- Spend the afternoon exploring Park City Main Street area. You have to do this!
- Sugarhouse Park playground and sledding, Cinemark Theater (cozy lounge chairs where the kids can bring blankets).