Colorado has a number of ski resorts, but Keystone, located 75 miles from Denver, is ideal for families. Located in Summit County, Colorado, the resort has more than 3,000 acres of skiable terrain including three peaks, five above-tree-line bowls and night skiing.
For kids, they have one of the best “learn to ski” programs in the country. Instructors are not only very-hands on, but they try innovative methods to make it easier for kids to learn. So not only will the kids learn the basic skills to get them started, but the instructors make the process fun, so kids want to come back day-after-day (and season after season). Keystone families come back year after year, often because the kids love the ski programs so much.
Where to stay
There are plenty of spots to stay—ranging from condos to hotels—but those traveling with kids will really enjoy The Springs. The outdoor hot tubs, heated outdoor pool, game room, movie room, pool table, board games, DVDs and toys are great for kids of all ages. The nice part is that there are shuttles that run throughout the Keystone properties, so it’s easy enough to get around.
What to do
Ski school is an excellent way to get kids learning the ropes, while giving mom and dad a chance to do their thing. Then once kids are ready to hit the slopes, Keystone has a great kids ski free program; kids 12 and younger can ski and ride for free every day, all season long with two or more nights of lodging booked through the resort.
For parents who want to unwind after a day on the slopes, the Keystone Lodge & Spa is a good choice. If you’re muscles are in need of some serious work, be sure to book the deep-tissue or hot stone massage. Both are excellent at working through the kinks. Make sure to bring your swim suit as there an indoor/outdoor heated pool, Jacuzzi and sauna and steam rooms.
One of the ways Keystone is different from other resorts, is that they have a kids’ program running year long. Kidtopia has daily activities for kids ranging from village parade and fireworks, family game nights, hands-on-learning activities, ice cream parties and meeting Keystone’s Ski Patrol rescue dogs. Then they have stand-alone programs, the Kidtopia Signature Event Series, throughout the year including The Kidtopia Spectacular, in November and December, which welcomes the holiday season with a mountaintop celebration and lighting ceremony of the world’s largest snow fort. The Kidtopia Culinary Festival, held in February, appeals to the youngest of foodies and ranges from healthy snack programs to create-your-own waffles. The Kidtopia Music Experience, held in March, begins the spring skiing and snowboarding season and incorporates live outdoor performance by family-friendly acts. These programs are a great way to break up the day—and of course are great for kids with short attention spans. There’s too much to do for boredom to set in.
One of the most popular non-ski activities is snow tubing. There are six lanes—each one is slightly different on how steep and fast tubers ride. Families can link up and go together (up to four tubes can interlink) or everyone can go solo. It’s a great activity for members of the family who don’t ski or for families with kids who want to take a break from skiing.
There are two ice rinks at Keystone. The 7,200 square-foot Dercum Square Ice Skating Rink is a smaller, more centralize rink located in River Run Village. But for a really special time head to the five-acre Keystone Lakeside Village Rink. It’s the largest Zamboni-maintained outdoor ice skating rink in North America.
This is the place to go to try your hand at snow shoeing, cross country skiing and other non-ski adventures. The trails are well-maintained and kids can try their hand at these popular activities without committing to an organized tour. Families can stay for as long—or short—as they’d like. Be sure to stop at the café for the all-you-can eat soup buffet.
Where to Eat
Alpenglow Stube the highest AAA Four-Diamond rated dining experience in North America. The lunch experience begins with two gondola rides to the top of Keystone’s North Peak at 11,444-feet elevation. The views are simply amazing—the restaurant is ideal for an upscale lunch or a fancy dinner. There are a variety of sharing plates—the Brussel sprouts are a favorite—as well as plethora of main entrees, including duck confit, steak frites and pasta dishes.
The sleigh ride dinner is a Keystone tradition and very popular (make reservations in advance). A horse-drawn sleigh takes guests through the snow and to a 1800s-era homestead where a cowboy serenades with his guitar while guests enjoy homemade soup and biscuits, a choice of steak, salmon, chicken or pasta, and dessert. The sleigh ride back is even more majestic as the sky is filled with stars and the moon guides the horses.
Another good option is the Bighorn restaurant; it’s located in the Keystone Lodge and has a nice kids’ menu as well as a variety of options for adults. Views of the mountains make this one hard to beat.
New Moon Café is great for a casual breakfast. They serve up breakfast sandwiches, egg burritos, waffles, and breakfast bowls.