This charming, northern Michigan ski resort is ideal for families who are new to the slopes.
Winter in Michigan can be rough. Really rough. Long, gray, and cold. Native Michiganders call it the season of hibernation - a time when most families stay indoors, hiding from bitter cold, watching the snow pile up on the windows, and avoiding dangerous, black ice. In the spring, neighbors emerge again, and everyone marvels at how the children have grown.
As a family of homebodies, I can’t say that we really mind this routine. Ironically, for as much as we love to travel, home is our favorite place to be. But as a parent, I’m determined to push my kids (and myself) to experience new things. For that reason, I decided that it was time that we all learned to ski.
Boyne Mountain Resort proved to be the perfect place for our first ski trip as a family. Between the lovely grounds, fun amenities, and friendly instructors, we were quickly transformed into a skiing family. No more hibernating for us (or at least, not as much)!
Photo courtesy: Boyne Mountain Resort
Where to stay?
Boyne Mountain Resort offers nine lodging options, all with different amenities. Our family stayed at the Mountain Grand Lodge and Spa. Mountain Grand Lodge is large and welcoming with a concierge service, spa, and more. If you’re planning to visit Avalanche Bay, Mountain Grand Lodge is a good choice, as it connects directly to the indoor water park.
Our room, the Salzburg Suite, was spacious and well-appointed. Spanning two floors, it offered two bedrooms, two full bathrooms, bunkroom, kitchen, fireplace, and balcony. It easily sleeps eight and would sleep 10, if you opened the sleeper sofa. Our kids were thrilled with the bunkroom with two bunkbeds. My son immediately called dibs on the top bunk, which thankfully didn’t cause any fights since there was another top bunk for his sister. They don’t have a TV in their rooms at home, so having the top bunk and a TV was a real treat.
The master bedroom was beautifully appointed with a king bed, TV, and amazing view of the village and slopes. The bed was especially comfortable, and we all slept well. While the lodge is charming, know that it could use some updates. Rates start at $342/night.
KidTripster Tip: If you stay at the Grand Mountain Lodge, ask for a room with a view of the slopes. I loved watching the groomers prepare the slopes each night for the next day.
What to do on the slopes?
As first-time skiers, we had no idea where to start, so lessons from Boyne’s SnowSports Academy were a must. The staff at Skier Services was friendly and walked us through every step. Private lessons are available for skiers (3 and older). Cost: Starts at $87/hour. For a complete listing of lessons, both private and group, for all levels, click here. Night skiing also is available.
As beginners, we had to rent all of our equipment. Again, Skier Services came to our rescue. The rental staff moved us through the process quickly, and soon we were geared up and heading outside for our lesson. Our instructor, Devin, was wonderful with the kids. He emphasized to just have fun and not overthink it. Devin started with the basics: learning to glide on one ski, using big movements, and keeping your skis in a wedge shape. We moved from the magic carpet to the bunny hill and eventually to the chair lift. I was amazed at what my kids could do, and I credit it all to Devin. His teaching style and energetic attitude kept the kids motivated and having fun, not an easy task for a two-hour lesson. My favorite part of it all? As I was chatting with Devin after the lesson, I turned around to find the kids on the magic carpet, confidently heading up for another run completely on their own. I was sure that they’d want to head straight for lunch, but instead they skied for another hour.
KidTripster Tip: The ski staff suggests one pair of good, wool socks. Doubling up on cotton socks will actually make your feet colder as the cotton absorbs moisture and doesn’t wick it away.
KidTripster Tip: If you take a ski lesson, consider tipping your instructor. This wasn’t mentioned anywhere, but after our lesson, it seemed like a natural thing to do. Since we weren’t prepared, we used the ATM in the main lodge, put money in an envelope, and walked it back to Skier Services.
Boyne Mountain caters to snowboarders, too, with seven terrain parks, including Riglet Park for first-time boarders and Ramshead Park, Boyne’s largest park.
If you’re not a family of first-time skiers or boarders, no worries. With 415 acres and 60 runs, you’re sure to find the right fit. One-day lift ticket cost: Youth (5 and under) Free; Youth (6-12) $48; Youth (13-18) $58; Adult $68. For additional lift ticket options, click here. Night skiing also is available. Ski passes for beginners using the beginner area/Boyneland Lift are free and can be picked up at the lift ticket window; black out dates and restrictions do apply.
KidTripster Tip: Bring a credit or debit card. While you can charge most things back to your room, the lockers in Skier Services only take cards. We learned this the hard way and had to trek all the way back to our room after we were geared up.
What to do off the slopes?
Options abound at Boyne. As for the kids’ favorite activity, it was a tie between Avalanche Bay Indoor Water Park and the heated, outdoor pool. At Avalanche Bay, they spent most of their time playing basketball with their Dad and floating around the lazy river with me. In a move that surprised me, they both tried the Rip Zone surf simulator with various degrees of success. If you’re looking for adventure, try The Big Couloir, Michigan’s first ProSlide SuperLOOP with the steepest drop in the industry. We weren’t up for it, but maybe after a few more visits, we’ll work up the nerve. If you have teens, I’m sure that they’ll be down for the challenge. Same-day cost: Youth (3-10) $27; Adult $33. Discount tickets available online in advance.
The outdoor, heated pool was a huge draw and such a novelty for us. Swimming outside amidst the snow was so cool. The kids loved it and thought it was hilarious to walk through the snow barefoot and then jump into the pool. My husband and I were happy to watch them from the hot tub. We spent a good couple of hours there between skiing and dinner. The outdoor pool and hot tub are available to hotel guests only.
If you have a crafter in the family, be sure to check out Fritz’s Snow Fort. It offers fun, complimentary activities like making handprint wreaths and adorable holiday ornaments plus storytime. It also has a small play area for kids to burn off extra energy.
KidTripster Tip: Check out the Mountain Messenger as soon as you check in. (It’s also available online here). Mountain Messenger is a week-at-a-glance planner for all the activities at Boyne, like s’mores, kid crafts, family movies, and more.
Want more? Tubing is available for guests (ages 5 and up). Cost: $20/person/hour. Groomer rides are 30 minutes and seat one adult or one adult and two small children. Cost: $50. I call shotgun! Also on the list of options, you’ll find cross-country skiing, fat tire biking, snowshoeing, ziplining, and horse-drawn sleigh rides.
If you enjoy nightlife, Snowflake Lounge offers live music and is open until 1:00 am.
Finally, though we’ve only experienced Boyne during the winter, I was surprised to learn about all of its summer activities. We look forward to taking the scenic chairlift rides, hiking, swimming, and kayaking. Summer in Michigan is pretty wonderful, and now our family has a new destination to enjoy.
Photo courtesy: Boyne Mountain Resort
Where to eat?
You won’t go hungry at Boyne, that’s for sure. There are 18 dining options ranging from a quick bite at Cafeteria to a steak dinner at Everett’s. Find a full list of dining options here.
We enjoyed Forty Acres Tavern the most. It’s in the heart of the village and easy to get to from the slopes or Mountain Grand Lodge. It has a fun, kid-friendly atmosphere, and the food is reasonably priced. Our kids inhaled their lunches. Forty Acres has a interesting story behind its name. In 1947, Everett Kircher purchased 40 acres of land for $1; the property later became Boyne Mountain Resort.
If you’re tired and looking for a bit of downtime, Boyne has you covered there, too. Order dinner to go from Trophy Room Pub and Pizzeria and turn on your in-room fireplace and a movie. With a gorgeous view of the slopes at night, it’s a relaxing way to end the day.
KidTripster Tip: If you order room service, call early. It can take a while for your food to arrive, and we all know how tortuous that wait can be if you have kids who are overly hungry.
Finally, don’t miss Spielladen candy store with its large assortment of candy at reasonable prices. We admit, we stopped twice!
Photo courtesy: Boyne Mountain Resort
Boyne Mountain is about a 3-1/2-hour drive from Detroit. It’s a one-hour drive from Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City. Boyne Mountain Airport is only available for those with private planes.
KidTripster Tip: Northern Michigan is full of appealing, small towns. We recommend checking out the area on your way in or out of the resort. For more information, click here.
Megan Moore Inchauste lives in West Michigan with her husband, four children, and dog. She's currently homeschooling her youngest children to allow for more travel and learning around the world
This writer received a complimentary stay for the purpose of this review. However, all opinions expressed are solely her own.