With fresh powder and fresh waffles, Sunday River is a family favorite any day of the week.
Located near the Maine-New Hampshire border, Sunday River offers some of the most impressive and diverse skiing in the area. While nearby Sugarloaf is technically higher, skiers at Sunday River will be impressed with its 135 trails, 15 lifts, 8 peaks, and varied terrain for skiers and snowboarders alike.
My kids loved so many things about this mountain. My 9-year old snowboarder raved about the terrain parks, and my 11-year skier enjoyed the challenge of navigating with a trail map. They both loved the gondola on the main lift, Chondola, which kept us warm during the windy afternoon. We were pleasantly surprised that the lift lines were never longer than a few minutes.
As the mom, I appreciated all of the kind lift attendants and ski patrollers, who pointed us in the right direction several times. Given the size of the mountain, I was worried about getting separated from my kids; but with a clear plan, we were able to stay together and ski terrain that made all of us happy. Sunday River has everything from a beginners’ area with a magic carpet to dozens of double-black diamonds. Our favorite trails were Lazy River and Sunday Punch, both intermediate runs that let us gain speed in some sections and cruise along wide vistas in other sections.
If parents would like some adult-only ski time, kids (6 months to 6 years) can spend time in day care or ski with an instructor as part of the Tiny Turns or Mogul Munchkins programs. Reservations are recommended, but walk-ins are accepted, if space is available.
What to do besides skiing?
While we were happy to ski all day, the resort offers an impressive number of other activities to keep your kids busy, including tubing, zip lining, and ice skating.
Where to stay?
My kids and I chose the Grand Summit Hotel, located right at the base of the mountain with ski-in/ski-out access. Our suite included a bedroom and living room with a murphy bed as well as a kitchenette. Parents who ski with kids know that schlepping the gear on and off the mountain can be a real struggle, but the hotel staff made my life easy with valet parking and ski check. Other hotel amenities included a fitness room with a sauna, arcade, game room, and my kids’ favorite - an outdoor heated pool and hot tub. Relaxing there at the foot of the slopes brought our après ski game to a whole new level.
Where to eat?
If there's one thing my kids love as much as they love skiing, it’s a buffet. The hotel restaurant, Camp, offered both kids’ breakfast and dinner buffets. Breakfast included oatmeal with all the toppings, pancakes, bacon, and more bacon for my kids. Cost: Youth $10; Adult $15.
The kids’ dinner buffet offered tacos (my son’s favorite) and chicken fingers (my daughter’s favorite) plus huge platters of fresh fruit and vegetables.
We ate lunch on the mountain at South Ridge and Barker Food Courts. Having stood in long lines in my ski boots balancing trays of food in other crowded resorts, I was so impressed with how quickly we moved through the line and found a table. At $30/family, the meal was a tad expensive but definitely convenient.
KidTripster Tip: Across from Barker Mountain Lodge, check out the Waffle Cabin that sells hot, fresh waffles, dipped in cinnamon sugar and drizzled with melted chocolate. This treat immediately became our sweet afternoon tradition. In my daughter’s own words, “heaven!”
Sunday River is easily accessible from all major eastern metropolitan areas, though some of the driving is on winding mountain roads through quaint Maine towns. Driving times are about 2-1/2 hours from Bangor, 1-1/2 hours from Portland, and 3 hours from Boston.
Emilie Brand Throckmorton lives in Maine, where she loves being active with her very energetic kids. They are, for the first time this year, faster than their mom on the mountain.
This writer received a complimentary stay and some activities for the purpose of this review. However, all opinions expressed are solely her own.