Ski trips are special. For me, they are emotionally tied to annual vacations out west when I was a child, so they bear extra meaning. Additionally, I love that they are activity-focused. The full days spent in fresh air and beautiful scenery while gliding down a mountain lead to a happy and wrung out feeling as I pull off my robot boots in the late afternoon. Then there is the hot tub, the apres ski beverage, and the jovial replay of the day’s events (how crazy were those moguls?!) over a cozy dinner. Add in the extra blessing of now getting to watch my girls come into their own on the mountain, and you have my recipe for an ideal family trip.
We’ve taken the girls to Snowshoe WV and to Deer Valley, which were both great trips. This year we were invited to come experience Solitude Mountain in February 2020 and it was super exciting for a couple reasons. First of all, I had never skied Solitude before and a new experience always fires me up. Second, we love the direct flight from Charlotte to Salt Lake City. It’s an easy flight and upon arrival, you’re just 20 minutes from the slopes (as opposed to Colorado-which I love as well but where you still have to take a 2 hour shuttle ride after landing). And third, the girls ages really excited me for this trip. With some ski experience under their belts, plus now being 8 and 5, I had hopes of us all truly being able to ski together on this trip. Spoiler alert- it happened!
So I hope this breakdown of our days is helpful for you in planning your own ski adventure. If you’re looking to plan a trip for your young family, Solitude Mountain Resort is a great option in my opinion. And here’s why:
- The size of the village is accessible to all leg lengths. The village is cozy. It has everything you need (a handful of restaurants, a spa, a store, condos) and nothing more, which makes it ideal for families. Our kids were able to easily walk everywhere- to dinner, to the slopes, to the shuttle- even in ski boots!
- The condos are large, which makes cooking meals and getting good sleep (both vital when traveling as a family) easy and enjoyable. Want to eat out too? Solitude offers options from pizza (so good!) to gourmet dining (that is still kid-friendly).
- Ski school class sizes are ideal. Maybe we lucked out with a good week? Perhaps, but both Hailey and Kaitlyn were signed up for ski school and both ended up with a semi-private lesson (one instructor to two kids). They also had a great time, and not just because of the hot chocolate they were served!
- There are runs to suit everyone. Unlike Deer Valley, not everywhere on the mountain is accessible to green-slope only skiers, but Solitude Mountain has exciting green terrain (including trees!), a great variety of blues, and plenty of black runs for people up for a challenge.
If you are looking to plan a trip and have any questions, comment below and ask away. And now I’m excited to recap our trip to Solitude Mountain with you…
Day One: Travel Day
When we booked our flights from Charlotte to Salt Lake, we realized we had two options- leave late afternoon/early evening, or to get up before the crack of dawn. We chose the later to minimize flight delay possibilities and to have time to get settled in Utah once we arrived. The girls groaned a little when we woke them up at 5:00 AM, but by the time we were in the car, the excitement took over.
We parked in our favorite off-premise parking (The Parking Spot- which I highly recommend) and made it through security with no issues. Our seats on the plane were all spread out (because we refused to pay an $200 to guarantee we were together), but knowing there were screens on board, we weren’t worried. The girls ended up being able to sit together, and it was fine. They were plugged into the kid area of the seat screen options and were happy as can be. File this under why it’s a great idea to limit screens for kids. We use them when we need them (ie: travel) and they work like a charm because the kids are so enthralled.
We landed and grabbed an Uber (we were able to fit all our stuff in just carry-ons which was really nice). Knowing there wasn’t a grocery store in the Solitude village, we had our driver take us to Whole Foods to grab lunch and groceries. The kids were pretty worn out and whiny at this point, but perked up when we started to head up the mountain. We checked into our condo and they were back to full-blown excitement. We stayed in a two bedroom, two bath condo. It was super spacious, had a well-stocked kitchen, was very clean, and it had bunk beds in the second bedroom (along with a queen bed as well). It was the perfect set up for our family!
We unloaded our things, put the groceries away, set out to wander the village a bit, then decided we were all worn out. We came back to the condo, where we discovered they had all the Harry Potter movies on DVD. We got cozy, made some snacks, roasted sausage and potatoes for dinner, and relaxed through the evening, ending in early bedtimes for us all!
Day Two: Ski School at Solitude Mountain Resort
I was impressed when the girls slept until 6:30 AM Utah time (8:30 EST). Still, it gave us plenty of time for a relaxed morning, so we brewed coffee, the girls played Barbies, and we had a leisurely breakfast. At 8:30 AM we got into our gear and walked to the shuttle, which was about 5 yards from the entrance of our condo building. The shuttles run constantly, so it’s nice that there is no strict time on when you have to be ready. We took the shuttle to the Moonbeam Basin (which is literally a two minute ride- max). There we went to the rental shop to be fitted for boots, skis, and helmets.
The process was quick, then we walked up the staircase to the entrance of the ski school to drop off the kids at 9:45 AM. We got the rundown of the day (skiing on the bunny slope, in for lunch and warm up, afternoon lesson back on the slopes) and gave hugs, then left them to their day.
David and I were eager to get on the mountain, so we suited up and hopped on the Moonbeam lift. It was a gorgeous day with no lift lines, and we were able to warm up with a few easy runs before we decided to go spy on the girls. We spotted Hailey on the lift, and Kaitlyn just ahead of her so we stayed to watch them practice their pizza and French fries for a few minutes before taking back off up the mountain.
We took a break around noon to grab lunch at the restaurant on the mountain, Roundhouse. It offers some delicious and unique offerings (along with the more typical chili or burgers) and we opted to order off the Himalayan menu- lamb curry, channa chat, the vegetarian combo and the curry fries (which I need someone to teach me how to make stat because they are SO, so good). I love how far mountain food has come!
Most of our morning was filled with spying on the kids and food, so we squeezed in as much exploring of the mountain as we could after lunch. We didn’t make it up to the summit, so we made a plan to do so the next day, but breathed in the views and got our legs comfortable being back on skies. The time flew by and before we knew it, we were skiing into the ski school to pick up the girls. We had a choice to take the shuttle back, or attempt a short blue run as a family so we could ski right into the village. We decided to push it and go for it. Truthfully, it was a bit much for the first day and tired girls. There were tears of fear (whoops!), but we made it and being able to literally ski into the village and pop of our skis was really nice!
Our plan was to go to Stone Haus Pizza for dinner, but the girls were so beat they were melting down. So we set them up with the second Harry Potter movie and my phone, then David and walked across the street to order pizza to go. The pizza was delicious and we ate a couple slices before returning to the girls- like a mini date night out! We were glad we decided not drag them with us because it was better for everyone, and they happily gobbled up pizza when we returned to the condo.
Day Three: Ski School and Skiing Solitude Mountain
By day three, we were in our groove. I woke up again early, around 5:00 AM which gave me a nice buffer of time to make coffee and wake up slowly before the girls came bounding out. The morning was the same- relaxed, Barbie’s, breakfast, get dressed. This day, however, we skipped the shuttle and walked our skis right through the village to the base of the mountain. We were able to walk to the top of the kids’ bunny slope and ski down right into their ski school. It was so convenient and the kids did well with it.
We dropped them off quickly and took off just the two of us, with priority number one getting to the summit and skiing honeycomb canyon. Our coffee must gave been strong because we were energized and tore up the mountain! We were able to get in so many beautiful runs. We ski mostly blues, but ventured onto a few blacks to spice things up and challenge ourselves. It was such a blast and the best kind of day date.
We lucked out in getting to meet one of the Solitude Mountain avalanche dogs, and played with him for longer than we should admit to. With another bluebird day, we soaked in the sunshine and ogled the long views that just confirmed my placement on team mountains. Early afternoon we grabbed lunch at Last Chance Southwest Grill, at the base of the village, and ate our body weight in tacos, washing it down with a cold beer.
We picked the girls at 3:00 and loved hearing them excitedly tell us about the progress they had made and the friends in their class. Eager to show off their skills to us, we all did a run on the bunny slope and I was impressed at their improvement on their skis and their comfort on the lifts! We did a run, then skied, much more easily this day, into the village to end the day.
We had reservations at St. Bernard’s at 5:30 PM, which was the ideal time for our crew. It gave us time to relax and change before we walked (again, so close by) to the restaurant. We were the first ones there and were able to snag the table closest the the fireplace. The restaurant is slope side and the large windows made the environment cozy and relaxed. We all ordered special drinks- house made cream sodas for the girls, a Manhattan for David and a martini for me before we made our way through the charcuterie buffet.
The restaurant filled up just as we were getting our food, which was nice considering the girls were hitting their max silliness at this point. All meals come with desserts, so we left with full bellies and happy hearts.
Day Four: Family Skiing at Solitude Mountain Resort
We were all super excited for this day because we did not sign up for ski school and planned to ski the mountain together as a family. David and I went in with a really relaxed approach, committing to only go for as long as everyone was having fun. We started off strong, walking again from our condo to the bunny slope. We did the Link lift (to the bunny slope) once before both girls were feeling more confident and ready to step it up so we made our way over to the Moonbeam lift.
Well, we never moved on from Moonbeam, but we sure had fun doing it over and over! Luckily the runs off of Moonbeam are wide and varied, so we were able to mix it up. We did some paths through the trees, some quick runs, and a blue even! Most importantly, the girls had a blast. They really loved all being together and my heart was full because for the first time we were able to all ski down a run together. No one was holding Kaitlyn (to be quite honest she was a speed demon and ended up just snowplowing right down the mountain) and Hailey was confident in making her turns. It truly was so cool.
Right after mid day, we could tell their legs were tiring, so I snagged a couple candy bars and fulfilled a longstanding Stathas family tradition- afternoon candy on the side of a run. Behind the scenes, the girls were making sure every bite was evenly distributed, but it made my heart happy to keep alive a tradition I grew up with!
After the candy break, we skied back to the village, popped off our skis, and had only one mission in mind- visit the heated pool and hot tub! We walked to Club Solitude in the neighboring building, which has a movie room, billiards, a workout room, and a large heated pool and hot tub. We spent the next hour soaking our tired muscles before heading back to the condo to make fajitas. All in all, a successful day of family skiing!
Day Five: Snow! And Cross Country Skiing at the Solitude Mountain Nordic Center
We were so excited to wake up to snow! The beautiful skies and warm weather had been really nice for downhill skiing, but being that North Carolina had such a rainy winter, we were hoping to see some of the white stuff falling from the sky. And this day delivered!
After breakfast we took the 9:00 AM shuttle up the mountain, about a 5 minute drive, to the Nordic Center. There they fitted us all for boots and cross country skis, which are more comfortable than alpine ski boots by far. We were set up with a wonderful instructor, who was not only knowledgeable, patient, and kind, but who also brought her husband and her two kids (who lined up perfectly in age with ours) for the experience. That combination made it such a wonderful experience for us all! Being challenged by the other kids kept Kaitlyn engaged, which might have been a challenge otherwise. We ended up doing a mile loop over a frozen lake and through the woods, all in heavy snow.
I have limited pictures because of the weather, but it was incredible. David and I loved it and did a second mile loop just the two of us. Hailey liked it ok- “it’s just like walking” she said and Kaitlyn, I’d say she tolerated it. It was a lot of effort for her little legs, but she was proud of herself aftewards.
The whole experience took about 2-3 hours and we were back at the condo by 1:15 PM, ready for lunch. We ate while we watched the snow fall and then went in search of a hot tub because really, what is better than sitting in a hot tub while it snows?! Our condo building had a large hot tub right downstairs so we packed a few drinks and hung out there for a solid hour, challenging each other to roll in the snow and then hop back in to keep the girls laughing and occupied.
We showered off and got ready for our last night at Solitude. We walked to Honeycomb Grill where we learned the hard way that it’s recommended to make reservations. We were on the early side though and the manager was super kind and squeezed us in. I’m so glad, too, because it ended up being our best meal of the trip. It was our favorite food and the slope-side location meant great views, as well. I’d call it upscale casual and it had a great energy and vibe.
Day Six: Skiing Solitude and Flying Back Home
It was finally time to depart, but we were determined to get a bit more skiing in- and we did- as a family! Impressed by how much the girls had learned, we were able to get a couple more runs in. We ended on a high note before anyone could get too tired or too cold and put the cherry on top of the morning with a stop at Little Dollie Waffles, their slope-side homemade waffle stand. I know, sounds silly, but it smells and tastes heavenly!
From there we caught a bus to Salt Lake, hauled our things onto the plane, and made the trip back home. All in all, we had the most wonderful time and it’s official- we are a family hooked on skiing. We are already scheming as to where our next family ski trip adventure should be…