Home to a giant snow fort, Keystone is one of Colorado’s most family-friendly & affordable ski resorts.
Families rule at Keystone Resort! With easy access from Denver, Keystone is the perfect vacation spot for a day or even, a week. The mountain offers 3,000 acres of perfectly mixed beginner, intermediate, and advanced terrain, plus an award-winning terrain park. The ski and snowboarding school has some of the best rates and options that I’ve seen, as well as friendly child care for the younger ones. My daughter talked about her day at the center all night long! The resort sponsors family-focused activities every day that appeal to all ages. And the best part? Most of them are free!
KidTripster Tip: To save the most on lift tickets, purchase them online at least seven days in advance. If you're heading up to the mountain at the last minute, you can still save, if you order tickets online up until midnight on the night before you ski.
Photo courtesy: Julia Vandenoever
What to do besides skiing & snowboarding?
Two words: snow fort. Perched on top of Dercum Mountain is the world’s largest snow fort, complete with tunnels, slides, colorful lights, and a little Toddler Town area. The resort also boasts tubing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ice skating, snowcat tours, and my favorite - free cookies every day at 4 p.m. at Dercum Ice Rink in River Run Village. Plus, don’t forget about Kidtopia, a space just for kids to play, color, and explore. Check the Keystone website for a list of daily activities from snowball launches, avalanche dog meet-and-greets, dance parties, and ice cream with Keystone’s mascot, Ripperoo.
KidTripster Tip: For the little tykes who aren’t quite big enough for the main tubing hill, head over to the Keystone Nordic Center for a smaller, sledding area. It’s just as much fun!
Parents, want some time to yourself? Take your child to Kidtopia’s Kids' Night Out on Sundays. For $95, your child gets dinner, plus arts and crafts, movies, and a night sky exploration! My daughter was exhausted by the time I picked her up!
Photo courtesy: Vail Resorts
Where to eat?
Nearly every restaurant in Keystone is family-friendly. My all-time favorite breakfast burrito is at New Moon Cafe in River Run Village. Its eclectic decor and comfy couches make it the perfect spot to start your day. For a laid-back dinner, head to Kickapoo Tavern. It’s at the base of the gondola and serves up favorites, like burgers and salads, and a heaping mound of nachos which can be a meal on their own!
Or opt for one of Keystone’s dining experiences. Ride a gondola high above the slopes to Der Fondue Chessel, a fondue restaurant, sitting at more than 11,000 feet. Dance along to Bavarian music while enjoying all that cheesy goodness. It’s a lively atmosphere that satisfies all your senses and your appetite! Reservations recommended.
My other favorite dinner involves a horse-drawn sleigh ride through a winter wonderland to a cozy cabin. A guitar player will sing your favorites (requests encouraged) while you savor hearty dishes, biscuits, and Dutch apple pie and homemade ice cream for dessert. My daughter danced so much that she feel asleep on the sleigh ride home! Cost: Youth (3 and under) $11; Youth (4-12) $43-63; Adult $94; prices increase during the holiday season.
Photo courtesy: Vail Resorts
Where to stay?
Staying in River Run Village is the best option for families, especially if anyone wants to take breaks during the day. All the condos are close to the lifts, hopping après spots, family-friendly restaurants, and shopping. Plus, the kitchens in each unit make it easy to whip up a quick snack before getting back out on the slopes. Some units even have hot tub access, so be sure to check before booking.
KidTripster Tip: Some of the one-bedroom condos come with bunk beds in the living room. These units are great options for budget-conscious families.
There are five other villages in Keystone, all accessible by a free shuttle. Lakeside Village offers ice skating, waterfront dining, and, at the Keystone Lodge and Spa, you’ll have a spa and dog-friendly rooms. Mountain House is near one of the children’s ski schools. West Keystone is near the Nordic Center and dining at Keystone Ranch. East Keystone is quieter but still very close to River Run Village, and North Keystone is a quiet area near the Keystone Conference Center.