Not far from Mary Jane's leg-busting bumps, Colorado's Winter Park Resort is quietly upping the ante when it comes to family-oriented amenities. Curbed Ski is all for bluebird powder days and extreme steeps at mountains like Silverton, but sometimes you need a place where the whole family can have a good time. Cue the magic carpets, s'mores, and little red wagons. We break down the top 10 family perks at Winter Park, just don't forget the hot chocolate and hand warmers.
The Top 10 Family Perks at Winter Park:
1. Little Red Wagons: Throughout the Winter Park base area there are little red wagons, otherwise known as kiddo chariots. At first glance you might pass these babies by, but stop, grab one (or two!) and pile the kids and all their gear inside. As an easy way to transport little screaming Johnnie from the car to the lift, these wagons help kiddos save their energy for skiing and just might save your ski day.
2. Magic carpets: Most resorts have learning areas with magic carpets, but Winter Park has three (the Comet, Meteor, and Spirit) in a concentrated area called Sorenson Park. That means that you'll never feel crowded or stressed and you will have plenty of room to coax your little one down a basically flat run.
3. Discovery Park: Once your kiddo masters the magic carpet, head to Discovery Park for lift-accessed beginner terrain. It's still pretty flat up here, but Discovery Park is perfect for newbies with wide open trails and forgiving snow. And whether you hit up Discovery Park or Sorenson Park, kids under 5 always ski free.
4. Ice Skating with Seals: If skiing was a disaster (oh geez, one of those days) and the kids need to work out some extra energy, head to the small ice rink near the Zephyr Mountain Lodge. It's free if you bring your own skates (or you can rent them) and there are even plastic seals that kids can use for balance or as a trusty chair to sit in as you whirl them around. The ice rink is open from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm everyday.
5. Village Cabriolet: If you need to waste some time, take your kids on the open-air gondola called the Village Cabriolet. While most people use the lift to access the free parking lots, wise parents know that the Cabriolet is like a much-cheaper trip to Disneyland. Better yet, dress your mini-me in ski clothes and hit the playground at the base of the Cabriolet for hours of free fun.
6. Musical xylophones: Winter Park has scattered xylophones around the base area so your kid can pound away on the instruments to their heart's content and all you'll hear will be a lovely ringing.
7. S'mores: Nothing beats s'mores in the mountains and Winter Park got the message with free s'mores by the fire on Wednesdays through April 16. From 4:00-5:00 pm the resort hands out all the fixin's for free. Get their early because it's first come, first served.
8. Mini Terrain Park: If you have a little ripper who just can't get enough snow time (lucky you!), take them to the mini terrain park at the base, called the Bouncer. There are usually two rails (or boxes) and a mini jump that only require a small walk. Our suggestion? Let the kiddos tire themselves at the park while you après on a nearby patio. Parenting win.
9. Coca-Cola Tubing: With sunset as early as 4:30 pm, it's nice to have evening activities for kids. The Coca-Cola Tubing part has four lanes, a covered conveyor lift ride, and a warming lodge with restrooms and gourmet hot chocolate. The tubing hill is lit up so Friday through Sunday, kids can make laps until 8:00 pm.
10. Willie's Adventure Club: If you've done everything you can think of but still need a break, Winter Park has you covered with the Willie's Adventure Club. On weekends and throughout the holiday season from 4:30 to 9:30 pm, kids from 2 months to 14 years enjoy a night of games, sledding, snacks, and movies while parents take a night off. The kids dinner is included and the whole evening only costs $80 per child.
-All photos by Jason Barber