It was just a few short months ago that the kids had never had the experience of snapping their boots into a pair of downhill skis.  After a recent move to Colorado though, that all changed.  With so many iconic ski resorts nearby, we didn’t delay making plans for some family skiing.  In just a few day trips to local resorts that catered to skiing for beginners, they were making runs on their own.

Even though I skied a lot growing up, it’s been so long that I felt I was skiing for the first time again. (Yeah, it’s been SO long that a ski instructor told me the equipment I used back then is now used for wall décor in ski lodges!?!?)

And because it’s been so long, getting ready for that first trip was just a little intimidating.  Where to go, how to figure out lessons, and how many lessons?  Would I need lessons?  Can the kids really ski at this age – and will they like it? What do we need to bring?

With a little planning and research, we had an amazing first season and learned enough to make next season even better!

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First, Find The Right Ski Resort

Living in Colorado, there is no shortage of places to go – almost too many.  So I needed to focus on a few things in my research:

  • lift ticket prices
  • resort amenities (restaurants, equipment rentals, kid-friendly activities)
  • location
  • good skiing for beginners and families

Keystone Resort landed a top spot on our list when I came across Kidtopia. Not only are there indoor activities located at the base of the mountain, but there is an ENORMOUS snow fort at the top.  This resort clearly has kids in mind!

We live close enough to the resort to make it a (long and exhausting) day trip, but there are many lodging options available nearly every Colorado ski resort – check out local and chain hotels, airbnb, and lodging options right on the resort.

Start Planning Your First #Ski Season with the #Kids with These Tips Click To Tweet

Next Up: Finding Lessons in Skiing for Beginners

{Day Trip #1} Ski School for the Kids

The Epic SchoolKids Pass program is the best place to start if you live in Colorado.  Through Vail resorts, kids in Kindergarten through 5th grade get free ski passes, one beginner lesson, and one equipment rental.   These are good at Vail, Breckenridge, Beaver Creek, and Keystone resorts. If you can take advantage of this, I highly recommend it.  The deadline to sign up is usually early October.

The lesson is specifically focused on skiing for beginners – anyone who has never put on a pair of skis.  This exactly where our kids needed to start.

After check-in at the school, the kids are whisked off for equipment fittings.  Parents can head over to buy gondola passes and watch the ski lessons in action at the top of the mountain.  There is a discount on gondola passes if you have a child enrolled in ski school that day.  Just show your receipt to receive the discount!

/ Money-saving tip / Buying lunch and snacks at the ski lodge can get expensive, so packing your own lunch can save you a lot of money.

In the spirit of saving money where where we can, I packed up our lunches for the day.  Buying food for 5 of us, especially at places like ski lodges, can get expensive. And if we were going to do this often, we needed to find savings where we can. It turned out that lunch is included for the kids in ski school, and they get plenty of snack breaks throughout the day.

Skiing for the first time is a family adventure! Lessons we learned in family skiing for beginners: where to go, essentials to pack, and how to save money.
Ski School @ Keystone Resort, with amazing mountain views

{Day Trip #2} Family Ski Lessons

A group lesson for the family is a cost effective alternative if you can’t get the Epic SchoolKids Pass.  We did a private lesson back at Keystone with my sister and her husband, and with 7 of us, it ended up being a great deal on lessons. Since we just did a half day lesson, we added a lift ticket for the afternoon, which was super affordable when purchasing with a lesson.

Our instructor was patient, informative, and fun to learn from.  Our small group had few skiing for the first time and some with a little more experience.  He accommodated the varied skill levels in our group so we could all learn at our own pace.

Lunch was not included in our lesson this time, but my attempt at saving some money on lunch was foiled again.  The thought of clomping all the way to the parking lot in ski boots made for an easy (but expensive) decision to get lunch at the lodge.

Skiing for the first time is a family adventure! Lessons we learned in family skiing for beginners: where to go, essentials to pack, and how to save money.
This time we got in on the fun too!

{Day Trip #3} Hitting the Slopes On Our Own

After two lessons for the kids and one for us, we were ready for a day on our own!  For our third trip of the year, we headed to the other side of the valley and skied at Breckenridge.  We are still on the green (easy) trails, but there were plenty of options for us that day.

/ Money-saving tip / This time we rented equipment from a local place before heading up to the mountains.  This option is a lot cheaper and doesn’t require the extra time at the resort to get the equipment. (Just make sure you have room in your car for all the gear!)  Rentals don’t include goggles, though, so I recommend buying those even if you plan to ski only a few times.

And I finally did it.  I cracked the code and we brought (and ate!) packed lunches.  The secret?  Carry lunch with you in backpacks!  The kids each had their CamelBak backpack (bonus – easy access to water!) and each carried their own lunches.

Ready to plan a #family #ski trip? Tips & advice for a memorable season! Click To Tweet

So what do you need to bring?

Fortunately, not very much!  This is one of the few activities we do that doesn’t require consulting an extensive packing list.  You don’t want to carry too much with you on the slopes, and you probably don’t want to trek back to the car for anything (like your lunch!).


  • skis, boots, and poles
  • typical winter gear (warm coats, snow pants, hats, and gloves)
  • ski goggles
  • ski helmet
  • base layers
  • backpack (we have and love the 2.5L Osprey Synchro 10 and the 1.5L Osprey Rev 6 hydration packs for the kids – not only great for hiking, but we found they are perfect for skiing too!)
family skiing for the first time: recommended gear
1.5L Osprey Rev 6 for smaller kids
family skiing for the first time: recommended gear
2.5L Osprey Synchro 10 for bigger kids and adults

In Your Backpack

  • sunscreen
  • water – either a small bottle (there are refilling stations around the resort) or a hydration pack
  • lunch
  • tissues
  • lip balm

We are always looking for new activities we can do together as a family.  Tell me about your favorite family activities in the comments!

Skiing for the first time is a family adventure! Lessons we learned in family skiing for beginners: where to go, essentials to pack, and how to save money.

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