(photo: Keystone Resort)
Skiing and snowboarding are wildly popular winter pursuits, but they sure ain't cheap--especially if you have kids in tow. So when the white stuff falls, truly family-friendly resorts offer ways for parents to save some green. For ski-loving families, nothing may be sweeter than a resort that invites kids to ski for free. Here are five places to find those freebies this winter.
Where: Keystone, Colorado Why: Because more than 25,000 youngsters have skied for free at this kid-friendly resort, whose deal is as no-nonsense as they come, with (unheard of!) no blackout dates. The Deal: Stay two nights at your choice of 35 lodgings (including Keystone Lodge & Spa or the Inn at Keystone) and two kids 12 and under ski and ride free.
Cataloochee Ski Area
Where: Waynesville, North Carolina Why: Because this ski area boasts a gorgeous setting, just outside of Asheville, between the Great Smoky and Blue Ridge mountains, and has a well-earned reputation for delivering affordable family fun. The Deal: With the Kids Stay Free, Kids Ski Free program, kids 17 and under stay free Sunday to Thursday at participating local hotels and ski free on any non-holiday weekday when accompanied by an adult.
Big Sky Resort
(photo: Big Sky Resort)
Where: Big Sky, Montana Why: Because this family-friendly resort boasts an awesome après-ski kids' program with a zip line and bungee trampoline, and everyone's gotta take a dip in the 100-person hot tub at The Summit Hotel Big Sky. The Deal: Kids 10 and under stay and ski free when accompanying adults book the Ski & Stay package. There are six lodging options, including The Summit Hotel.
Where: Steamboat Springs, Colorado Why: Because this Rocky Mountain cowboy ski town pioneered "kids ski free" promos and has led the charge ever since. The Deal: Book the Ski Town U.S.A. Package and you'll save 25 percent on a bundle that includes a minimum of eight nights' lodging and a six-day adult lift ticket. For each adult lift ticket purchased, you'll get a free 12-and-under child's lift ticket for the same number of days.
(photo: Mount Bachelor)
Where: Bend, Oregon Why: Because Mount Bachelor loves beginners. Greenhorns can enroll in the "Ski or Ride in 5" program, voted the best in the nation for novices. The Deal: Stay at least three nights with the Kids Ski Free Lifts & Lodging Package, and you'll save 45 percent on lodging. Plus, kids ski free the same number of days as parents with each purchased adult lift ticket of three or more days.
Where: Killington, Vermont Why: Because kids 6 and under always ski free at Killington with an accompanying adult, and now a special offer lets kids ages 7-12 get in on that free fun, too. The Deal: The Ski & Stay Package bundles lodging and lift tickets. With every 5-day adult lift ticket, you'll get a complimentary ticket for a child aged 7-12. Available Nov. 15, 2013-Apr. 13, 2014; blackout dates apply.