Mountain vacations with kids always sound good in theory. Unless of course, you mistakingly choose a destination with an après ski scene that is more for partying singles, or ski runs that are way too steep or too crowded for little ones, or you have to spend half your day lugging equipment. That’s when your fantasy trip can quickly turn into time spent wondering why you didn’t just opt for a beach and a pool somewhere. Deer Valley, however, is a mountain that caters perfectly to families and ski mountain bliss.
The resort is just 36 miles away from Salt Lake City Airport, a destination that is often a direct flight from major transit hubs (a massive plus for anyone traveling with kids). The mountain is just 10 minutes from the town of Park City, offering a lively restaurant scene and plenty of shopping if you want it. It’s also free of crowds that can plague other resorts. Deer Valley caps the number of lift tickets they sell every day at 7500, so with the exception of the morning rush at the base, the on-mountain lines are mercifully short. Plus ski-valets are at-the-ready to help you unload your equipment and store it for free on-mountain overnight. With a fantastic ski school and an après ski scene that features hot chocolate bars and swimming pools, you are in kid heaven.
But the fun doesn't end once the snow melts. Deer Valley also offers families an active summer escape. From mountain biking and hiking to camps kids will beg to attend, this little slice is paradise all year.
Whether you decide to head to Deer Valley in winter or summer, here is everything you need to know.
Downhill skiing: While 41% of Deer Valley’s over 2000 acres are intermediate runs, beginner skiers will appreciate that every one of Deer Valley’s six mountains offers green trails. It offers the option for families to ride up the lift together and peel off based on different abilities if needed. Flagstaff mountain is a Beginner and Advanced Beginner dream, with relatively easy intermediates thrown in. The peak offers lots of long, cruisey greens, making it the perfect place to teach little ones.
Snowmobiling: Adrenaline junkies will love the two-hour guided tours with Summit Meadows Adventures. The tour starts with a mini-lesson in how to snowmobile, with time to practice around a large flat expanse to get the hang of it. Be aware that while it doesn’t take long to get into the groove, it requires a certain amount of strength and skill, especially on the turns. The tour takes you along hilly, yet groomed trails on over 7,000 acres with jaw-dropping views of the Wasatch Mountains. While younger children are allowed to ride in the front, we recommend the tours for the 10 and up set. Teens over 16 can drive their own snowmobiles (if you can handle that!).
Tubing & Indoor game park: Winter 2019, look for Woodward Park City, which is currently in the works. The fun new spot features seven lanes for day and night tubing. Plus it offers an indoor trampoline park and restaurant for a new level of fun.
Kids Camp: The Children’s Center at Snow Park Lodge transforms from ski school into The Summer Adventure Camp when warm weather hits. They can accommodate kids from two months to 12 years-old. Activities include swimming, biking, hiking and outdoor games. Another plus is the cost at $365 for a week (a steal compared to their ski school prices).
Mountain Biking School: Lifts are set up in the summer to take up hikers and mountain bikers. Adults and kids ages 9 and up who want the adventure of biking through Deer Valley’s incredible trails, can sign up for three hour clinics. For those who want to venture out on their own, you can rent full-suspension bikes on the mountain and get out there.
Horseback Riding: In the winter, Boulder Mountain Ranch offers scenic sleigh rides and in the summer they offer the chance to get riding. Kids ages 6 and up are able to hop on a horse on their own. The Aspen Trail ride offers a one-hour option through the woods that’s great for those just getting started.
Deer Valley’s chicest and surprisingly under-the-radar stay option is the Stein Eriksen Residences. A sister property to the iconic Stein Eriksen Lodge, The Residences are set in a separate mid-mountain location. The property boasts striking contemporary architecture and absolutely gorgeous interiors for 15 free-standing homes and 39 condominium suites.
The intimate property marries the benefits of a hotel — twice-daily maid service, concierge, shuttle service, spa, indoor-outdoor pool, plus their own ski shop and ski valet — with the perks of condo and house-living. The rooms feel like the opposite of hotel rooms, each decorated individually boasting plenty of color, pattern and beckoning furniture. You won’t find any bulky log furniture or wrought iron beds here, with the sophisticated spaces feel like the opposite of the cliché mountain style that plagues so many resorts. Rental options include premium rooms and up to six bedroom homes. The houses are the showpieces here, with some including game, movie and bunk rooms families will flip over. Rooms start at $675 a night at The Residences.
If you are looking to save money and still be in an amazing on-mountain location, check out their sister property, The Chateaux, where rooms start at under $200. European-inspired mountain rooms can be connected to form larger suites which feature kitchens, dining spaces, fireplaces and a fantastic location steps from Silverlake lodge.
Deer Valley Grocery Café: This is the place to stock up your kitchen with delicious treats — pizzas, meatballs, soups, cheeses, wine and made-to-order sandwiches and salads.
Seafood Buffet: One of the most fun and unexpected restaurants in Deer Valley is the Seafood Buffet at Snow Park Lodge. Kids will love the array of crab legs, oysters and fish, plus one of the most delectable dessert buffets around. Children under 5 eat free.
By Sara Bliss