David and I have encouraged each other through challenging parenting moments of sleepless nights and diaper explosions with the phrase it only gets easier. Sure, not everything gets easier, just different, but the truth is that the physically demanding part of parenting gives way to other types of challenges as the kids get older. It’s bittersweet, of course, but also ridiculously exciting to see what the girls are capable of as each year passes. This year we can really see how much more capable they are of taking on adventures. We are looking forward to a year of exploring, camping, beach days, and more. We decided to start the year off with something we’ve been looking forward to for quite some time- taking the kids snow skiing for the first time!
We chose a location we could drive to and were planning our trip to Snowshoe when I saw they offered media and review opportunities, so I reached out. That’s when they invited us to come and play in exchange for our honest experience here on the blog.
So we spent this past weekend in Snowshoe, West Virginia. We arrived Thursday afternoon and took full advantage of all the snow fun they have to offer families. Not only was it our first time skiing as a family, it was our first time to Snowshoe as well. I really wasn’t sure what to expect, though I had hear positive things about the resort from friends, so I went in completely open-minded and ready to see for ourselves what it was all about. I’m happy to report the trip was a HUGE hit and we spent half the drive back rehashing our favorite moments from the mountaintop village experience.
Since I write this blog as I would write to a friends, there are a few takeaways from our trip that we relied on to make it a success, and I’m pleased to say that a three day weekend is the perfect amount of time for an inaugural family ski trip with young children.
10 Tips for Taking Kids Skiing at Snowshoe in West Virginia
ONE: Location, location, location… of your accomodations.
Looking at lodging options in Snowshoe can be overwhelming, as there are quite a few options, but I recommend to look at the village map while considering your choices. We stayed in the village at The Seneca, an incredible location that made ski rentals, buses, the slopes (including the kids’ bunny hill), and restaurants all less than a two minute walk. With young children, having a prime location like that makes life SO much easier.
We parked our car (in the below ground parking garage) upon arrival and didn’t get in again until we left on Sunday. We easily were able to walk to everything we needed. Though the place could use an extra layer or two of insulation (wow that wind howls!), it was clean and the location and the over-sized hot tub made the two bedroom condo an ideal fit for our family.
TWO: If possible, take advantage of ski school.
Our kids had never touched skis before. While this meant they were really excited to get their equipment, they didn’t have a clue what to do with it. While David and I certainly could have risked our sanity to try and teach them to make pizza pies and French fries, letting a ski professional take the lead turned out to be a huge blessing. Not only did they kids LOVE ski school (the instructors were so kind and welcoming) and learn the basics of how to put skis on, take them off, and make a wedge to slow down, it gave David and I the opportunity to actually ski ourselves. Since ski school is 9:00 AM- 3:00 PM (lunch and hot chocolate breaks included), David and I were able to explore the whole mountain and stop for lunch too!
THREE: Ensure your kids have the correct gear to keep them warm.
Being cold sucks. Having your kids be too cold to want to participate is really miserable. I know, it’s hard to spend money on clothes for them to wear once before they outgrow, so ask around to see if friends or family have gear you can borrow, but it’s important. From long underwear to waterproof ski bibs, to legit mittens and goggles, the right gear helps them feel comfortable enough to focus on the skiing, not their cold hands or toes, especially in Snowshoe where it can be blustery at the top of the mountain (where the kids’ slopes are).
FOUR: Go to the grocery store before you arrive.
Our condo had a full kitchen and we were so excited to be able to eat some meals there. There is no grocery store comparable to a typical large grocery store (Publix, Food Lion, etc) on the mountain so we hit up the grocery before leaving town to pick up oatmeal, bread, peanut butter, chips, salsa, vegetables, hummus and more to bring with us. It, along with the take and bake pizza we brought with us for the first night, were a huge time and sanity saver. Plus, it meant we only went out to eat when we really wanted to, instead of being forced out of the condo every time our stomach growled.
White Rabbit Market in the village // Lunch on the mountain at Arbuckle’s Cabin // breakfast at The Junction Restaurant in the village // IPA and a brown ale at FoxFire Grille in the village
FIVE: Go Snow Tubing!
Wow, this blew my expectations out of the water- mostly for how much the girls loved it. Tickets are sold for two hour blocks (we chose the 1:00 PM- 3:00 PM time slot and opted for an early lunch). You sit in your tube and are dragged to the top of a hill where you pick any lane you please and go flying down the mountain. The kids could pull their own tubes and loved the freedom of being able to do it all themselves. We threw snowballs at each other on the way up and raced each other on the way down. This was a highlight of the trip and I highly recommend not skipping it.
SIX: Plan your itinerary before you go.
There is so many things to consider (ski school, spa, escape rooms, swimming in the heated pool with water slides, off-road tours, etc). However, if you have kids with you, there are some kinks to work out, as all the activities don’t really consider each other in terms on timing. For example, kids night out begins at 6:00 PM, but for the adventure dining you must arrive at 5:45 PM. And there is catching a bus to consider too. None of it is a big deal, but your itinerary is worth combing over before arrival just to ensure your days run smoothly.
SEVEN: Splurge for a special date night out with adventure dining!
Unique experiences like the back country hut dinner are worth looking into. With the kids at Kids’ Night Out, David and I got away on an adventure date night (fitting, since we were celebrating his birthday!) by taking a Polaris RZR up Cheat Mountain Ridge Trail to a secluded cabin. There, we sipped wine, sat family-style, and ate our home cooked meals while making new friends. Chatting it up with new people in this kind of environment is so much fun for me (and David). Everyone was so friendly, the chef and server included, and the whole evening ended up just special and a lot of fun for us.
EIGHT: Go with the flow and expect meltdowns.
A ski weekend is a busy and exciting time for me, as an adult. For a kid, it can (and will) be too much at times. I feel when I share that our kids loved it or we had an incredible time, I leave people picturing us skipping down the village streets giggling the whole time. While we had a few of those moments, we also had more challenging moments like Kaitlyn melting down because David opened her drink for her (the nerve) or Hailey face-planting in the snow in protest of the lifts closing for the day and her being forced to stop. Expecting these meltdowns helped us take them in stride and roll on.
The last picture was when Kaitlyn told David that her legs had run out of muscles 🙂
NINE: Take time to play as a family on the bunny slope and magic carpet.
Snowshoe has a really wonderful set up for kids and beginners to practice on. The “magic carpet,” a conveyor belt you stand on with your skis that carries you to the top of the bunny hill, was a huge hit for the kids and the two mini-runs that come from it have a gentle slope, perfect for learning and practicing turns. Right beside it is a beginner chair lift which gives the full experience of a chair lift, but in a slightly slower and shorter fashion. We spent a full morning there just as a family and it really helped the girls’ confidence grow!
TEN: Soak in the beauty.
Being on top of the mountain means the sunset makes the entire horizon glow. The focus on all the fun activity is distracting, but taking an extra minute to stop and look around is worth it. The mountains seem to roll on forever and the sunrise and sunset light gives the scene a magical feel. Even driving to and from Snowshoe offers scenery worth gawking at, as the rolling hills and farmland of West Virginia are simply breathtaking.
All in all, I couldn’t have imagined a better experience than what we had taking the family skiing for the first time in Snowshoe. Hailey is hooked and already asking when we could go skiing again before we pulled out of the parking garage. Kaitlyn’s confidence on skis by the third day was both incredible and slightly nerve-wracking. And for David and I to enjoy some skiing ourselves while watching the girls take on something new was awesome. What great memories we are walking away with, as we literally skied, tubed, and rocked ’til we dropped.
You can see more of our adventures in this video:
We’re already brainstorming where our love of skiing might take us to next year… any recommendations?!