A family ski vacation is a perfect recipe for making memories that’ll last for years to come and inspire future generations of ski trips. What better way to elevate your experience than by traveling internationally to a country easy to access via driving or a short flight from the US, and renowned for its unique culture, reliable snow and variety of resort destinations.
Canada has multiple claims to fame in the skiing world such as the infamous Powder Highway and it is the birthplace of snowcat and heli-skiing. But on top of those, there are numerous reasons why it is the perfect ski destination for families.
While the country may be a magnet for skiers looking to heighten their adventure, it is also home to many world-class, family-friendly resorts. Perfect for all ages and levels of skiers and riders, these resorts are generally less crowded than other domestic and international destinations, offering a stress-free and safe on-mountain experience for families. Check out our list of the top 9 resorts in Canada to bring along the entire family to help you narrow your search for an unforgettable ski vacation.
Big White is a Canadian, family-friendly ski resort you ought to consider when planning your trip. The resort’s slogan for what makes them different holds up against their annual average snowfall of 24.5 feet: “It’s the Snow.”
With an uphill capacity of 28,700 skiers per hour and 16 lifts, the resort likes to guarantee its guests the wait for lift lines to never be more than a few minutes, even on the busiest days of the year. There are 119 designated trails with a breakdown of 18% beginner, 54% intermediate, 22% expert and 6% extreme levels.
If you plan to enroll your kids in lessons, you’ll be comforted by the Flaik tracking system the resort implements which enables you to always see where they’re at on the mountain.
When you aren’t hitting the slopes, other activities for the family include horse-drawn sleigh rides, snowmobile tours, cross-country skiing, trips to the tubing park and more. To add to the fun, starting in early January and through the end of March, the resort hosts free carnival nights in the Village Center Mall on Saturdays with games, face painting, popcorn and more.
The village is entirely ski-in, ski-out and combined with the complimentary on-mountain shuttle navigating around with the fam is made simple and you’ll easily be able to locate everything Big White has to offer.
The Big Three Resorts in Banff and Jasper to the north are no strangers to having fun for the whole family. Out of the Big Three, Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise and Mt. Norquay, Banff Sunshine stands apart as a family favorite. There are enchanted forests and beginner groomers for those just starting out, progressive steeps and bowls with plenty of snow.
Banff Sunshine also has a variety of programs designed for kids, from daycare to lessons on the mountain, that will keep them occupied and having fun while the rest of the group goes off in search of secret stashes or more advanced terrain. Ski daycare lessons are offered for kids ages 3-5 then 6-12, and daycare off the mountain begins for little ones ages 19 months old.
The breakdown of terrain at Banff Sunshine is 137 runs with 20% beginner, 55% intermediate and 25% advanced, making this a solid choice for a learners’ mountain. Those are spread out across 3,358 acres and you’ll be able to explore all areas with the 12 lifts, including one heated bubble quad which is perfect for chillier days.
Marmot Basin located outside of Jasper on the other hand may have more to offer in terms of advanced and expert skiers but still takes care of members of the fam who may just be starting to learn. Their mountain is also on the smaller end with only 7 lifts and a magic carpet, specifically geared towards beginners.
Terrain breakdown over the 1,720 acres is 30% beginner, 30% intermediate, 20% advanced and 20% expert with a large variety to choose from between groomers, alpine bowls and chutes, trees and moguls, depending on what you’re looking for.
Their childcare options are similar, open to 19-month-olds up to 6-year-olds and having the option to include a ski lesson during the day as well. Banff Sunshine boasts its “storybook scenery and postcard adventures,” while Marmot Basin notes the lack of crowds, excellent value and scenic Jasper National Park surrounding the resort. Whichever you opt for, both are sure to provide you and the fam with one-of-a-kind experiences and incredible snow.
Kimberley is another British Columbia resort that boasts uncrowded slopes, making it simple to keep track of all members of your family while exploring. If you and your family encompass a range of different abilities, splitting up won’t be a problem on the mountain since all the runs funnel down into two main base areas.
So, linking up after part of the group gets turns in the glades, 12 different runs to choose from along with the existing 68+, while others are practicing their form on beginner runs will pose fewer challenges compared to a larger resort. Families also appreciate the friendly staff, from folks working in the rental shops to lift operators, reviews say they tend to be friendly and kind, fostering a welcoming environment for beginner skiers.
OnTheSnow.com rates the resort as having the best beginner terrain in Canada, which makes it an easy choice, especially if your family includes any first-time skiers. There are only 5 lifts on the mountain, something that helps contribute to minimal crowds. Other activities families can do together include s’mores snowshoe tours, enjoying the Canadian wilderness off skis and with a sweet treat in the middle, and skiing under the stars which is offered from January through early March.
Families will love their ski vacation at Mont Tremblant, a self-contained resort located in Quebec with a vibrant village that’s free of cars. With 102 different trails, evenly split between beginner, intermediate and advanced, there is something for everyone when it comes to skiing.
Off the slopes, families can enjoy a visit to Brind’o Aqua Club, a center for water fun with slides, games, hot tubs and a fitness club if the adults are looking to sneak in a quick workout.
More fun can be had with the live music performances every Saturday from mid-February to mid-March in the Place Saint Bernard at the base. Additional family-fun winter activities include fat biking, ice skating and dog sledding.
Panorama is known for its vast areas for groomers accessible from nine chairlifts, set up strategically to spread skiers out on the mountain. Keeping that in mind, learning at this mountain is ideal with less crowding and more wide-open areas to become comfortable with skiing or snowboarding.
Among the 2,975 acres of terrain, their runs divvy up to be 15% beginner, 35% intermediate, 20% advanced and 30% expert levels. After a long day of learning or exploring advanced terrain, families can relax in the slopeside pools or hot tubs, all of which have free access for guests of the resort.
Childcare is available in the resort’s base village for kids starting 18 months to 5 years old, an excellent resource if parents are looking to spend time on their own out on the slopes. For those really looking to step up the adventure, the resort also offers snowcat rides for a cat skiing experience, or the option to try heliskiing with the nearby RK Heliski outfitter.
The winter fun doesn’t have to stop at alpine skiing– the resort also has a Nordic Center where guests can rent snowshoes, cross-country skis and fat bikes to explore over 12 miles of trails which are also dog-friendly in case you want to bring your four-legged family members as well.
Known for its big snow and an even bigger selection of terrain, Revelstoke is a ski resort in the northern interior of British Columbia that makes for a great candidate for family vacations. While the majority of its terrain does fall into the advanced category, beginner skiers have terrain dedicated to them as well as learning areas and magic carpets.
One of Revy’s biggest claims to fame is hosting the longest descent in North America, a run that’s over nine miles from top to bottom. That may sound daunting to individuals new to the sport, but skiers of all abilities are able to take a swing at the record-breaking vertical. Beginners would take The Last Spike green run all the way down and more experienced skiers may opt for something more challenging.
The breakdown of the resort’s 75 runs is 12% green, 43% intermediate and 45% advanced which combined adds up to a total of 3,121 skiable acres. These options paired with an average of over 34 feet of snow every year guarantee that from the learner and tubing hills to extreme glades runs, visitors are sure to have a blast.
Revelstoke has a childcare option as well for kids from ages 18 months to 6 years old that are affordable. These also include the option to add on a group lesson, a nice touch for younger members of the family who are learning to ski but might not have the stamina to spend the entire day on the mountain.
The lodging in the town of Revelstoke also varies in price depending on budget and you don’t need to worry about getting to the base since there’s a shuttle that most hotels offer free passes for when you book your stay. Options for après and meals off the mountain are abundant with 40+ dining options in downtown Revy, so finding something for the picky eaters in the group is possible while parents kick back and relax with a cocktail to end the day.
SilverStar sets the “gold standard” for family vacations and was voted the #1 resort in Canada’s Okanagan region. The resort has a kids-first mindset, one that’s visible with the rows of pastel rainbow buildings, mid-village along the mountain, and the number of activities available to families aside from downhill skiing.
Located in the Monashee Mountain Range, the resort averages almost 23 feet of snow each season for its 132 different trails. The variety on the mountain helps to accommodate skiers who may just be learning and their parents who are in search of fresh pow.
If you’re looking to enroll your youngster in a lesson, reviews say kids feel very comfortable with the resort’s ski school and tend to see an increase in ability and confidence, results that will make the ski vacation more enjoyable for everyone. When you aren’t skiing or if you’re catering to non-skiers, families especially will appreciate the tubing hill for kids and the 10+ family-friendly activities offered by the resort. These range from riding mini snowmobiles to events with live music in the base area.
Silverstar is considered great value and a perfect mountain for first-time skiers, particularly because of the lack of big crowds in lift lines and on the slopes while you’re there.
As the second largest ski area in Canada with 4,270 acres along with plenty of ski-in, ski-out lodging directly accessing the base village, Sun Peaks is perfect for the whole family. This British Columbia resort also tends to see fewer crowds (even by Canada’s standards) creating a quiet environment in the village during the evenings and less congestion on the mountain. It’s not unlikely for skiers to experience wide-open runs all to themselves.
Sun Peaks provides a wide variety of lessons, from private to group, specifically with kids in mind whether this is their first-time skiing or they’re looking to work on a particular technique like bumps or freestyle tricks in the terrain park. The base village’s design makes lesson drop-off, rental pick-ups and lunch breaks easy and central from the walking route to the lifts.
If you plan to bring along the youngest members of the family, Sun Peaks is also unique with its childcare option at the Sundance Kids Center, at the base of the Sunburst Express chairlift, for any non-skiers between the ages of 3-5 years old.
Part of the resort’s ability to minimize crowds is due to its abundance of intermediate terrain, especially in comparison to some of the other top resorts in North America. But, with a terrain breakdown of 10% beginner, 58% intermediate and 32% advanced/expert, plus activities like horse-drawn sleigh rides, Nordic skiing and snowshoe tours, there’s plenty to keep all members of the family busy and tuned in to their sense of adventure.
These two peaks combined make up the largest resort in North America, coming in at 8,171 acres of skiable terrain. On top of having so much space on the mountains to explore, families can enjoy additional activities offered by the resort like the Whistler Sliding Center, Ziplining and the tube park.
If the youngsters want a break on the mountain, there’s the Magic Castle and Tree Fort for them to run around in and burn off extra energy. The terrain breakdown of the mountain is 18% beginner, 40% intermediate, 35% advanced and 7% expert, plus the Big Easy Terrain Garden is specifically designed for kids who want to send it.
Whistler Village is known for its pedestrian-only village with bumping nightlife and a variety of restaurants and family-friendly options from morning to night. This gives an added layer of convenience for a morning stroll to breakfast or looking for a spot for dinner with a bunch of little ones. There’s also Teddy Bear Daycare in the village for children ages 2.5-5 if you’re in need of childcare during your visit. Lessons for skiing and riding through the mountain also start for ages 3 and up as another option.
Choosing to plan your ski vacation with any of these 9 resorts is a guarantee for family fun and priceless memories on and off the slopes. Ski.com can’t wait to help you plan your next family ski trip. Contact us today to get a quote and set your next big Canadian ski vacation in motion!
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