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Family Resort for Winter Activities in Driving Distance?

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Seattle, Washington
posts: 2
reviews: 13
Family Resort for Winter Activities in Driving Distance?

Our kids are 10, 8 and 4 and we're finally ready to take them out for their first winter activity trip. We live in the Seattle area and want to stay in driving distance. We've never skied before and with needing to manage 3 kids of various ages we're looking for something reeealy easy for beginners. I'm looking for a relaxing resort type experience for a 2 night stay that would have a sledding or tubing hill, beginner ski lessons and a non-crowded bunny hill, maybe ice skating. Looking for suggestions.

We have access to Passport discounts and I've looked into a very reasonably priced room at Suncadia Resort but not sure if this place would be the right fit. The tubing hill has a 42" minimum height requirement and my daughter was measured at 38.5" 2 months ago and I don't think she's able to grow 3.5 inches in a 5 month period. I also didn't find specific ski lessons for beginners on their website, just info that they have skis for rent and a lot of cross country ski and snowshoe trails.

Thanks for sharing any of your own experiences!

Washington
Destination Expert
for Seattle, Family Travel
posts: 5,468
reviews: 16
1. Re: Family Resort for Winter Activities in Driving Distance?

Hi Chereya,

When I first read your post, I immediately thought of Suncadia, it's a wonderful family resort. That said, to be clear, you understand that Suncadia does not have downhill skiing. You can access downhill skiing at nearby Snoqualmie Pass.

At Suncadia, you will find most of the winter activities you seek, and they have an indoor pool which is great for the kids. You could easily do all the winter activities that Suncadia offers and skip the downhill skiing for this trip, if you like. With regard to the tubing hill, and your daughter's height, most managed tubing hills will have those restrictions, for liability and other reasons. Another option is to skip that completely and pick up a snow sled or flyer - ie; Costco has some currently that are cheap, you'll have them for many uses and seasons.

Snoqualmie Pass does have downhill ski instruction for beginners. But, it is quite popular, and I assume you are planning your trip for a weekend. Slopes will be crowded - that's just a fact with most resorts, but like all ski areas, there are dedicated areas for new skiers.

http://www.summitatsnoqualmie.com

One other note - when are you planning this trip? Snoqualmie Pass and Suncadia are at relatively low elevations, so planning is key, as snow is not always a "given". The elevation of Snoqualmie Pass is 3022 ft.

Another option - though just for downhill skiing, as it does not have all the amenities that Suncadia has is Crystal Mountain Ski area. There are condos to rent close to the hill - though expect nothing fancy, most are 70's era with minimal improvements. In my opinion, the instruction and quality of rental gear is a step up from Snoqualmie Pass. My choice when staying at Crystal is Alta Crystal Resort. 7 miles from the ski area, but with units geared for families, a fun outdoor pool, games and activities, it's low key and rustic and just pretty great.

http://crystalmountainresort.com

http://www.altacrystalresort.com

Let me know if either of these meet your needs. If you are interested in other downhill ski areas further away, I am happy to help.

Seattle, Washington
posts: 2
reviews: 13
2. Re: Family Resort for Winter Activities in Driving Distance?

Thanks so much for your input, IslandGrl! I'm looking at a 2 night stay, Sunday and Monday nights at the end of January. After posting, I've been doing more digging around online and had come up with the same suggestion that you did: stay at Suncadia and drive over to Snoqualmie for a few hours. Today I'm looking into what kind of beginner options there are over there. I also ran across some construction photos for the Silver Fir Lodge at Snoqualmie but no info on when it would be completed.

Seattle, Wa
posts: 2,233
reviews: 20
3. Re: Family Resort for Winter Activities in Driving Distance?

You don't need to access the Silver Fir lodge--that's not where lessons will start. You'll take lessons at Summit Central or Summit West (you'll have to look to see who has Monday lessons). Monday would be GREAT as the Summit ski areas are an absolute zoo on weekends and can be very intimidating for beginners who don't know where to go, what to do, etc.

Ainwa gave excellent advice. As you can see, WA just doesn't have the kind of destination winter resorts many other places have--with the exception of Crystal Mt, which has limited facilities (and not what you want ie ice skating and tubing), our ski areas are day use only. This is nice for us local skiers as it means we don't get the mobs that might otherwise come, but it does mean that most of us that want a more "resort" type experience head to Whistler or elsewhere.

Edited: 2:28 pm, October 24, 2013
seattle
Destination Expert
for Seattle
posts: 14,760
reviews: 83
4. Re: Family Resort for Winter Activities in Driving Distance?

what about Whistler? A little bit of a drive but everything is right there. Its worth considering.

Washington
Destination Expert
for Seattle, Family Travel
posts: 5,468
reviews: 16
5. Re: Family Resort for Winter Activities in Driving Distance?

Welcome to the world of snow sports Chereya! Glad we can help. The end of January will be far more reliable for snow coverage at the Pass. You never know what the Snow Gods will bring, but I have been feeling for sometime that 2013/2014 is going to be an AWESOME snow year.

My family has had a motto for the 50 years that "the family that skis together stays together". I think skiing/boarding is one of the best family activities ever. You spend the day outside, are athletic, then evenings are cozy around the fire and everyone is exhausted. It doesn't get better than that. My boys are all in their 20s, and still hang with us on the slopes.

You are also wise to enroll your kids in lessons. Best to get them started out right, with a professional. I see too many kids and parents just miserable as they try to save a buck and think they can teach themselves. The goal is to enjoy snowsports and become a lifetime skier or boarder. Trust me, the lessons pay off. There are packages and programs geared for the beginner. Depending on the personality of your children, both traditional group lessons, small group lessons and semi-private can work. There will be more information available as the season opens. Also talk to your kids (or you decide) about whether they want to downhill ski or snowboard. Both are good, pros and cons to each.

Vancouver, Canada
posts: 14,613
reviews: 46
6. Re: Family Resort for Winter Activities in Driving Distance?

Its not exactly what you are looking for, but I'm going to put this on the table for consideration:

Whistler is a top winter destination and a great idea, but because of the huge shadow cast by Whistler, people often forget our other ski destinations in the immediate Vancouver area.

The city of Vancouver has three ski hills. The closest one, Grouse, is literally 20 minutes from downtown (as in Burrard and Robson in the heart of the city to the base of the hill), with Cypress and Seymour only about a 45 minute drive. So while there is no on hill accommodation for these ski hills, you are all the amenities of a major city at your finger tips, as well as all the various winter activities at these three locations.

Another overlooked destination is Hemlock Valley.

http://www.hemlockvalleyresort.com/

http://goo.gl/maps/7rbjS

This is a small hill and to be completely honest, its the only one around here I haven't skied, so I have to go with third party feedback that its a great little hill. It doesn't have all the activities you are looking for, but it would be a fairly inexpensive option and you are close to Harrison Hot Springs!

A bit further out but, IMO, absolutely perfect for your requirements is Manning Park.

http://www.manningpark.com/?q=node/79

Manning has all the things you are looking for in a quieter setting than the international ski destination that is Whistler.

Washington
Destination Expert
for Seattle, Family Travel
posts: 5,468
reviews: 16
7. Re: Family Resort for Winter Activities in Driving Distance?

Oh Vancouverite67 I love Whistler - it's definitely my "go to" resort. Their ski instruction is consistently rated one of the tops in North America. Their kid's ski/board school rocks! But, for a simple two night vacation close to home, I think this family has better options.

Vancouver, Canada
posts: 14,613
reviews: 46
8. Re: Family Resort for Winter Activities in Driving Distance?

Just wanted to put the options on the table. OP may decide it is too far, fair enough. :)

Kingston, Washington
posts: 152
reviews: 22
9. Re: Family Resort for Winter Activities in Driving Distance?

+1 for staying at Suncadia and skiing at Snoqualmie. As always, the snow is the "unknown". I believe that each of the Hills at Snoqualmie offer lessons. I think that East or West are the best for beginners. Alpental has great instructors but more difficult slopes.

10. Re: Family Resort for Winter Activities in Driving Distance?

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