This is a sponsored conversation with Vail Resorts, they provided us with lift tickets and Ski school lessons. All opinions are my own.
Keystone Colorado with Kids: Winter Edition
We see very little snow in Texas. In the years we’ve lived in Central Texas I can count on one hand the times it’s snowed, two of them have been in the past two months. Back in November John was learning about Winter weather at preschool and started talking non stop about snow and throwing snowballs at everyone. We decided it would be fun to plan our first (of hopefully many) family ski trips. What a fun first snow experience it would be for him to have a real big snow, not the light dusting that happens here on rare occassion. So we started planning and working out the logistics. This was going to be our first time flying as a family of 4 and there seemed to be so much more to plan and pack for.
We decided on Keystone Colorado, we had skied there once before while dating and remembered it to be a fun spot. Bonus was while I was researching where to go I noted that they had some great kid activites we could take advantage of. We booked our tickets and hotel, scheduled a rental car WITH car seats, because treking 2 car seats was just too much for our inaugral family flight. Of course 2 days later Austin was covered in a blanket of snow that lasted 48 hours, closed schools and kids spent hours making snow angels and building snowmen. So much for first snow being in Colorado! Once the sun came out and the snow melted, the obsession was there for snow and not the kind that was going to melt the next day.
Where to Stay:
Keystone Resort has over 1,500 lodging units varying from hotels to condos to bed & breakfast-style accommodations. There is something for everyone and tons of great settings for families. Condos will allow you the ability to prepare and cook your own meals in a more home like setting. We personally love this option but for this stay decided to stay in a hotel.
Where to Eat:
For a nice lunch break we stopped in to Zuma and grabbed some yummy sandwichs and stew. Everyone was super please with their choices. Even Mary was a huge fan of their kids grilled cheese. I had the Turkey sandwich complete with shaved smoked turkey breast, Gruyere, sprouts, cucumber, honey-dijon dressing on honey-oat artisan bread. It was pretty awesome.
Mountain Top Cookie Shop was a favorite spot for sure. When we stopped in the entire shop was filled with the smell of warm fresh cookies. John went for the rainbow M&M® cookie and I was so happy to see my all time favorite Molasses cookies! With at least a dozen different cookies to chose from you are going to find one you love. Bonus you can check out their website and have their awesome cookies shipped to you at home now.
Just a few doors down you will find the Snack Shack, selling Fro-Yo, bulk candy, hot dogs and lots of quick grab and go options to fuel you up whiel skiing. We stopped in for a few gummie candies and bottles of water.
One spot that we revisit every time we come to Keystone is Pizza 101, located just down the road from River Run Village. You can call ahead and order. There is no seating in the restaurant, but you are welcome to take your pie across the parking lot to The Goat and enjoy it in their seating with the accompaniment of a few adult beverages. Familes are welcome.
Were kind of big on pizza and like to find fun and unique places when we travel. Another fun spot is Beau Jo’s in Idaho Springs which sits about 45 minutes from Keystone on 70 if you are driving in from Denver. The salad bar is great and I love that they use old claw foot cast iron tubs as their bar. Don’t fill up there, the pizza is awesome and that oversized crust, well there is a bottle of honey to drizzle on it when your ready for dessert. They have a gluten free pizza option on the menu too. Now you may have seen Beau Jo’s before on tv for their pizza challenge. You have 1 hour to eat a 14lb pizza, the 20″ diameter pizza is very massive, the depth of this pizza is over 3″ tall. It is stuffed with meats, cheese, and vegetables. No if you finish the pie, you get the Free Meal, T-shirts, pictures on Wall of Fame and $100 cash. If you can’t finish it, your meal will cost you $75!
What to Do:
Well the obvious is ski of course! Keystone has over 3,148 acres of superb skiable terrain, make up 131 groomed trials. Something for everyone no matter what their experience level is. I love that there is even a family trail called the school yard, a green level that is great for families to ski together along. Keystone also offers night skiing, along 9 of their trails (the largest night skiing operation in Colorado).
Kidtopia is Keystones Children’s focused activity center. Kidtopia fort is located at the top of the mountain and is full of slides, rope climbes and tunnels. Kids of all ages and even some adults can be seen having a great time together. Kidtopia headquarters located in the Keystone Village is a great place to take a break from the snow and cold, warm up and get in some indoor play time. We striped off our boots and ski gear and joined other families for some time crafting and playing with toys. Kidtopia Headquarters is a great place (quiet, suprisingly) for nursing moms to sneak off to for a cozy chair to sit and tend to baby and their restrooms are equiped with traditional changing tables! Make sure that you check the daily schedule for Kidtopia, you would hate to miss a parade, milk and cookies night, scavenger hunt, kid yoga or family game night. There are tons of great activities, note that there may be an additional charge for certain activites.
Ski and Ride School was just what we wanted for John to experience. The hubs and I both learned to ski as teenagers and while we enjoy it, I wouldn’t say we’re going pro anytime soon. I have always been amazed at the little kids out there skiing with no poles. They are amazing! We signed John up and my inital thought was it would be for a few hours in the morning and then he would be finished. Nope! We dropped him off at 8:30 and signed all of the permission forms. Made sure they knew he didn’t have any allegies and my cell number in case of an emergency. John had no issue with drop off, turns out the instructor Cal, was also from Austin and he and John really hit it off. They were throwing snowballs at each other as they made their way to pick out John’s skis. I made sure to ask for a intenerary before leaving because I totally wanted to spy on him. Mid morning they rode the gondola lift midway up the mountain with their instructor and treked about 100 yards over to the fenced Ski and Ride school area. They learned how to put their skis on, how to walk in them and then went inside to take a break. They have restroom breaks (have to be 3 years old and potty trained to attend ski and ride school), have a snack and play inside a bit. They also practice riding up the little sidewalk lift for the school. Then they come down the mountain via gondola for lunch (choice of Subways sandwichs, goldfish and lemonade). After lunch they make there way back up the mountain and practice skiing down the small bunny hill within the fenced area of the ski school. I have to say I was so excited to see him participating! I snuck off, didn’t want to distract too much, but from what the instructor told me they practice their skiing and then head inside for restrooms, snacks and coloring time until pick up at 3:30. When you pick them up you head inside the school to drop off their boots and helmets and retrieve their personal items from their cubbies. While I could tell he was tired he was in a great mood and ready for more fun. Also at pic up you have the option to purchase a 5×7 professional print of your child in their ski gear, I didn’t care the cost ($20) I was buying that adorable photo where the photographer actually got my child to make eye contact with the camera! Overall Ski school gets an A+.
There are two places that you can go tubing at Keystone. At the top of the main mountain right next to the Kidtopia snow fort or the Nordic center. The Nordic Center has a family hill and is great for families with smaller children that are not tall enough (42″) to ride on the mountain top tubes. Things to keep in mind, Each rider must sit in their own tube, no children with parents. You pay by the hour (mountain top $32, nordic center $16) and may need to reserve a time. Times can be reserved for mountain top at the base of the gondolas. John loved tubing but he did it at the end of the day and he was cold. I promise he is having a good time in this picture.
How to make your stay even better:
There are 150 red wagons in Keystone village. May people will use them to haul their skis. I used them to haul my kid. He was more than happy to sit back and be pulled all over the village rather than walking.
Play the FREE games- There are oversized chess boards, checkers and connect 4 games in the village centers. We had fun playing with the huge checker pieces.
Looking for other great adventures, check out our other family travel guides.