Après Ski, for Kids?

As our kids become more connected – cell phones, IM, iPods, and YouTube – they really do expect to be entertained 24/7. A ski trip is no exception. When I was a kid, skiing was THE WEEKEND ACTIVITY, period. Après ski consisted of my brothers and me entertaining ourselves in the parking lot snow bank while my parents went to the bar. Today’s next gen expects to ski, hit the parks, tube, hot tub and then “do something” in the evenings.

Whether or not this demand for on-demand distraction is healthy or not – I’m not going to say. Instead, let me point out ski resorts with adolescent amusement beyond last chair at 4pm. After all, it’s the facebook and youtube youth that are surfing the web, ultimately steering the family SUV to their choice of ski area. Resorts are counting on the kids to bring their wallets (kid code for parents) by amping these kid-geared events.

Loon Mountain in New Hampshire offers Twilight Parties for 13-17 year olds on certain peak evenings. This après event starts at 4pm, teens can snow tube, snowshoe, ice skate or scale the indoor climbing wall without their parents (after mom & dad sign them up), then chow down at a pizza party. Loon’s tubing hill is open every night – kids must be 48” and at least 8 years old to slide. Every Saturday, Loon’s Adventure Center is open for indoor rock wall climbing and outdoor ice skating. February vacation week, Loon illuminates their halfpipe for Fluorescent Nights, mom and dad can opt for libation in the lodge at Bunyan’s instead.

Sugarloaf has “kids nights out” each week to include Game Night and Movie Night in the Base Lodge. Carrabassett Valley Academy has an Anti Gravity Center with indoor skate park, trampolines and full fitness facility open to the public on certain evenings- this is where CVA athletes like Seth Wescott and Bode Miller train. Sugarloaf’s Outdoor Center is open Saturdays (and holiday weeks) in the evening with ice skating, cross country and snowshoeing if your youngster can’t get enough winter playtime on the slopes.

Sunday River has zipline and tubing at South Ridge and most every Saturday night’s night skiing and holidays, parents can watch from their après ski at Foggy Goggle. A free Mountain Explorer Shuttle takes kids and families to Bethel for free, with stops at the Bethel Movie Theatre .

Stowe has lots going on in the Spruce Peak Village, the Stowe Mountain Lodge has a centerpiece ice skating rink and a heated outdoor pool the kids will love and next door is the Stowe Performing Arts Center which offers live concerts shows and movies. The Mansfield’s gondola-accessed hosts Summit Series dinners at The Cliff House, the family can ride the gondola at night to dinner at the mountaintop chalet.

Smugglers’ Notch has enough après entertainment to make your kids scream. First there is the Fun Zone – a huge indoor playground with slides, climbing walls and bouncy games – kid heaven. For teens, every night brings a tempting theme from Snowboarding Night School, to Dodgeball, and Night Spiker DJ Dance parties. Smuggs has mastered the age milieu by providing designated teen hangs out, Teen Alley for 13-15 year olds, and Outer Limits for 16 and up.

Out west, Vail Colorado has Adventure Ridge atop the Lionshead Gondola with zip lining, tubing, snowmobiling and a mountain coaster.

Big Sky Montana has zipling and bungie bouncing, plus trips to Yellowstone National Park for a day of the slopes exploring the geysers  and hot springs, spotting bison, elk and caribou by tracking their hoof prints in the snow…cool!

So if your kids need more than a parking lot snow bank and a pillow to cap off their day on the slopes, these resorts keep cranking after the lifts stop.