Roger Lohr, editor of www.XCSkiResorts.com.
October 6, 2010

Plan to gather up the kids and head to the hills during the school breaks next winter. No need to head to warmer climes - winter can be snowy, yet mild, and perfect for a family vacation with plenty of activities such as cross-country (xc) skiing and snowshoeing.

According to our experts at XCSkiResorts.com, the nation's top xc ski resorts are exceedingly family-friendly with lots to enjoy together both on the snow and off. What families want and need is exactly what an cross-country ski vacation delivers: multi-generational participation, quality time, and shared memories.

Cross Country skiing for familiesThere are special touches such as talent shows, treasure hunts, child-friendly classes, and family style meals to help your xc ski vacation become the perfect memorable getaway with your loved ones. Families can find resorts that offer the perfect combination of carefree atmosphere and picture-perfect views together with beautiful lodging, family dining, and expertly groomed trails and learn how they can enjoy the winter outdoors together. Perhaps a family staying at the alpine slopes might want to spend part of a day of their vacation on the xc ski trails for a change of pace.

The following are top suggestions:

EAST
Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe, Vermont - One of the most famous family resorts where the hills come alive with the "Sound of Music." In the Green Mountains of Vermont, Trapp Family Lodge is a paradise for families with a fitness center, an indoor pool and the Mountain Kids Club provides playtime, craft time, and movies for kids.

Smuggler's Notch Resort in Smuggler's Notch, Vermont - This resort has a dynamic lineup of family programs with 1,000 acres of alpine ski resort with teen centers, kids camps and FunZone play area, resort village with shops and restaurants, condo lodging, and walk-to free shuttles. There's also xc ski and snowshoe trails, winter walking, ice skating, and more. Recognition for family focus at Smuggs has been awarded by numerous magazines.

Pineland Farms in New Gloucester, Maine – This working farm in southern Maine features separate trails for xc skiers and snowshoers with kid-sized equipment and sleds, an outdoor ice skating rink for day or night and self-guided farm tours including to a view of how cheese made on site.

Mohonk Mountain House – New Paltz, New York – This Victorian castle resort located 90 miles north of New York City offers complimentary gear to overnight guests to accommodate xc skiers or snowshoers as young as three years old. A stay at Mohonk Mountain House includes bountiful breakfast and lunch buffets, a four-course dinner, Afternoon Tea and Cookies; complimentary resort activities such as yoga and fitness classes, swimming in an indoor heated pool with underwater sound system, weekend Kids’ Club, guided nature walks, ice skating in an open-air Pavilion, and xc skiing, snow tubing, and snowshoeing.

Lapland Lake Ski & Vacation Center in Northville, New York - Weekends feature nightly bonfires and the kids love to play Napa Kikku, which is a Finnish game on ice with a sled and a pole. Kicksleds, tubing, ice skating, and parents use pulk sleds to pull the kids along the xc ski trails.

CENTRAL
Palmquist’s “The Farm” in Brantwood, Wisconsin - As the name implies, this xc ski center is a farm that offers kid-friendly animals such as rabbits, horses, cats, and dogs. There are tubes and sleds to use on sliding hills and an ice skating pond, plus horse-drawn sleigh rides and kids rental ski equipment. The Treasure Hunt for kids is a big hit.

Maplelag Resort in Callaway, Minnesota - Run by a 3-generation extended family, this resort has families coming back year after year. They serve family style meals and host a talent/variety show, which is fun for families whose performances feature everything from jugglers and family skits, to jokes, musical instruments, and German beer drinking songs. The show is followed by the Saturday Night Dance, which offers an eclectic collection of music for dancers of all ages.

WEST
Vista Verde Ranch in Steamboat Springs, Colorado - Here's the best of both worlds with backcountry guided xc skiing in addition to groomed trails. They have programs to engage kids and teens, sleigh rides, cooking classes and evening entertainment. The indoor riding arena offers horseback riding and lessons as another option for something different at Steamboat.

Lone Mountain Ranch in Big Sky, Montana - There are programs for outdoor youth adventures that include activities animal tracking, snowshoeing, tubing, snow kickball, obstacle Olympics, finger painting, and scavenger hunts. Parents will love the cuisine, massage, and xc skiing on picturesque trails.

Swan Mountain Ranch in Swan Lake, Montana – There’s a cabin that sleeps 10-15 for only $225 per night for the family that prefers do-it-yourself entertainment. The main lodge also has a movie theater and game room and there’s an outdoor hot tub, tubing, ice skating, and of course xc skiing and snowshoeing. Take a trip to nearby Glacier National Park for a memorable day.

Snowshoeing

Montecito Sequoia Lodge in Kings Canyon National Park, California - Visit giant trees in Sequoia National Park and Monument. There is a daylong program for children, which has a break for the family to join together during lunch. The kids build igloos, go tubing and xc skiing or snowshoeing on nature hikes to see and learn about animal tracks. At night there is a dance, karaoke and bingo.

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