This is part of the series about learn-to- ski terrain at Vermont ski areas to help parents find the best place for their family to embrace snow sports. Head here for more learn-to tips.
I’m discovering that every day of toddlerhood is a learning experience – for both my toddler and myself. From new words and skills to big feelings and big wins, every day is a chance to learn something new. This winter, I’m taking on the challenge of introducing my toddler to snowboarding. As he’s learning a new sport, I’m learning that having the right tools and environment can make or break your day. From the number of steps it takes to get to the nearest bathroom, having pockets in your jacket for snacks (NEVER forget the snacks), or having a covered lift to give you a break from the weather—its the little things that count.
If you want to introduce your child to skiing or riding in Vermont, but aren’t sure where to start, this series is for you. In this post, I explored some of Southern Vermont’s beginner slopes to help guide you on the unique charms and challenges of teaching your child to ski at each.
Stratton Mountain: Best for Progression
My first stop is Stratton Mountain, a resort renowned for its variety of terrain and unique shopping and dining base area village. Stratton boasts two covered magic carpets – one brand new conveyor for absolute beginners and another slightly steeper slope for those ready to take a step up. Both areas have an appropriate pitch where parents can walk down the hill while teaching (especially helpful when I was teaching my 2-year-old for the first time!) The newly re-designed beginner slope offers an area less congested by uphill traffic, which helped me stay more at ease and focused on our learning space.
There’s also a slower chairlift with a gradual slope, perfect for learners gaining confidence. The learning area is close to the base lodge, allowing for easy potty or snack breaks.
Stratton also offers beginner terrain from the summit that can be accessed via chairlift or gondola – a huge perk for kids not quite ready for a chairlift ride.
Pros: Diverse terrain all in the same area offers the ability to progress. Close to facilities. Beginner terrain available from summit.
Cons: You’ll need to climb stairs from the drop-off area or walk through the village to reach the base area, which can be a challenge with all your gear.
Mount Snow: Best for Lodge Access and Food Options
I grew up skiing at Mount Snow and learned to snowboard here myself, so I was excited to introduce my toddler to one of my favorite resorts. Mount Snow features a convenient learning zone with a conveyor lift – and while it’s not covered, it’s a great option for first-timers. I was able to walk down the slope while guiding my toddler on his snowboard.
The magic carpet area offers private access with no need to worry about uphill traffic. When you’re ready to progress, the learning zone has a chairlift to more challenging terrain. There is a small playground in the base area which my toddler enjoyed during our break from the slopes.
The base lodge is easily accessible from the main parking area and the learning zone, a big plus if you plan on getting ready in the lodge. The main base lodge offers a wide array of food options, catering to different dietary needs and preferences, which is especially helpful if you have a picky eater.
Pros: Quiet learning area. Lots of food options in the main base area.
Cons: While the closest parking to the base is convenient, it’s not free.
Bromley Mountain: Best for Comfort
Bromley’s ski area is a mix of convenience and thoughtful touches that make a day on the mountain more enjoyable. Bromley is a south-facing mountain, appropriately referred to as “Vermont’s Sun Mountain,” meaning sunny, comfortable days are likely. This can be a huge perk for families with kids learning to ski.
Like many Southern Vermont resorts, Bromley offers conveyor belt lifts, which are easier for kids learning the ropes. What sets Bromley apart is that its conveyor is covered, offering a rest from the elements on the way up the beginner slope. Skiers and riders ready to progress can move up to the slower beginner chairlift and access more challenging terrain when they’re ready.
Although the trek from the base lodge to the beginner area is a bit longer than other resorts, the distance from the fast-paced base area traffic offers a more relaxed environment. The warming hut located at the bottom of the slopes was a huge plus and a welcome sight for a mom and toddler needing frequent breaks (and for a toddler refusing to wear their ski gloves).
Pros: Relaxed, slow-paced beginner area with no need to worry about uphill traffic.
Cons: Longer walk from the base area can be challenging when needing to take a potty break.
Magic Mountain: Best for Uncrowded Experience
Our visit to Magic Mountain revealed a resort that understands the needs of beginner skiers and their families. If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of larger, busier resorts, Magic might be the mountain for you.
One of the highlights at Magic’s base lodge is the availability of games for kids. I’m learning to not “push it” when it comes to teaching my toddler how to snowboard and listen to his requests to take a break and really follow his lead. Having interactive games in the lodge for kids to take a break is a great way to break up the day and allow everyone a little break.
The mountain offers a couple of trails coming off the carpet lift, a variety that is great for beginners looking to experience different terrains at a comfortable pace. The beginner area is close to the lodge, offering easy access for breaks.
Pros: Fun games in the base lodge offer a unique experience for kids. Less crowded than larger resorts.
Cons: Less learn-to-ski terrain variety than larger resorts in the area.
Learn to Ski or Snowboard in Southern Vermont
I was thoroughly impressed with the thoughtful features these Southern Vermont ski areas provide for families with kids learning to ski – from fun games in the base lodge to expertly designed beginner routes. I’m learning the best mentality when taking your toddler to ski is to “go with the flow” – and the kid-friendly amenities at these resorts allow us to do just that, while making memories as a family along the way.
Want to learn more about learn-to areas in Northern Vermont? Check out Part 1 of our guide here.
Cassie grew up in Massachusetts and started skiing at southern Vermont mountains at the age of 3. She has worked in many areas of the ski biz – from ski shop to marketing to PR. Now a freelance writer, social media manager and Vermont resident of 10 years, she’s exploring Vermont’s mountains with her toddler and sharing tips, tricks and memories with families looking to do the same.