Go Back  Fodor's Forum > Destinations > United States
Reload this Page > Winter (Snow) trip with 2 1/2 yr olds. Any suggestions anywhere in the US?
Notices

Winter (Snow) trip with 2 1/2 yr olds. Any suggestions anywhere in the US?

Reply

Jan 8th, 2013, 02:36 PM
  #1
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 1,690
Winter (Snow) trip with 2 1/2 yr olds. Any suggestions anywhere in the US?

Hi All. So we want to take our going to be 2 1/2 yr olds (they will be that age at the time of the trip) on a snow vacation. Something like a 5 night trip - preferrably between Dec 26, 2013 to Dec 31, 2013 while school is closed. We can extend if lodging is not too expensive.

We thought at first of going to Colorado and hit the resorts but the cons are:
Our twins will be too young for ski lessons and hubby and I are not great skiers either. The lodging at the resorts (vail, breckenridge, etc) are really expensive for that time period. Also, we need loding that's set up more like an apartment than just a room with beds because of the age of our twins. Then we looked at maybe Estes park but it sounds like a very sleepy little town and not much to do for little ones (according to the VRBO owner I spoke to). The other places we looked at was Yosemite - but will driving to the park be difficult with all the snow and although hubby is from England and has experience driving in the stuff, he's been in sunny Houston for a long time. Last we considered New Mexico but we've been there too often and wanted to go somewhere different.
Some facts:
We live in Houston TX so flight times and prices are a consideration. I could get as low as $195 round trip to Denver - which is a huge draw.
We love national parks so would love to consider going to one that snows in winter and is manageable. We got married in Yosemite so really it's ideal but want to know about road conditions.
We would like to have a city aspect to the trip (2 nights at a city close by (San Francisco if we go to Yosemite, Denver if we go to Colorado, then the rest at the snow location.

Any suggestions? We hardly ever get to see snow so we'd like to go somewhere where we know it snows instead of a "maybe it may snow" location. We would just like the boys to be able to play in the snow for a couple of days at least. Sledding, snow shoeing, etc.

Any suggestions would be appreciated! many thanks in advance everyone, for your suggestions. Looking forward to replies!
maria_so is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 8th, 2013, 03:01 PM
  #2
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 2,698
You may want to rethink Estes Park. My brother lives in Colorado. One place we didn't make it to, that he wanted us to stay at is the YMCA of the Rockies. Many of his friends have recommended it because of its great family programs. Worth a look.
5alive is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 8th, 2013, 03:21 PM
  #3
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,834
I suggest Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. I also think you should reconsider Estes Park. What are you looking for your little ones to do?
padams421 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 8th, 2013, 03:24 PM
  #4
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 9,346
If you can figure a way to get from the Denver airport to the Denver Amtrak station before 8AM, you can take the California Zephyr to Winter Park/Fraser. The fare is less than $30/adult.
Children under 5 ride free.
The other ski slope that is easy to get to is Aspen by way of Glenwood Springs.
tomfuller is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jan 8th, 2013, 03:32 PM
  #5
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 2,072
Agreed. With only 3 days in Estes Park, you won't have to work that hard to find stuff to do. There's a snow play area in Rocky Mountain National Park which is very modest but probably fine for 2.5 year olds, basically just a very small hill and open area for sledding. You can rent a little sled in town or buy one. Same goes for snowshoes, you can rent those in town and go where you want.

You could look into Winter Park as well, it's on the western side of Rocky Mountain National Park, there's a YMCA there too.

Otherwise, you could also look into Salt Lake City and the mountains nearby.
WhereAreWe is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 8th, 2013, 04:35 PM
  #6
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 3,072
Estes Park may work well for your needs, even if it is kind of sleepy there at that time of year. It's easy to get to from the Denver airport, and you should be able to find lodging at great prices.

If you want to consider going further into the Colorado mountains, then you could look at some towns that are near ski resorts, such as Frisco or Dillon. The lodging prices may be more than you want to pay, but less than staying IN Vail or Breckenridge, but there will be many outdoor activities, if you want them. Sleigh rides, sledding, cross-country skiing (the places have little sleds that the kids can ride in, pulled by the parents), ice skating and of course downhill skiing if you'd like. I'm not familiar with Estes Park, that may all be available there, too. To get to Frisco or Dillon, if you want transportation while you're there, you'd need a rental car and to drive on I-70. They do a really good job of keeping that highway clear and open, so unless you hit a snowstorm, it will probably be ok to drive on.

Winter Park is kind of just the resort, unless you have a rental car when you're there - which you wouldn't if you managed to take the train. Getting from the airport to the train station, before 8 am, with two toddlers, is not something I would choose to do. To drive to Winter Park, you would need to drive on I-70, then go over Berthoud Pass on a smaller road. You may or may not be comfortable with that. Lodging would be more affordable here than Frisco or Dillon, but also less to do.
Lexma90 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 8th, 2013, 05:16 PM
  #7
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 66,638
The best bet would be to stay at a resort but to save money I agree with a condo at Frisco or Dillon. LOTS of choices and an easy drive to ski resorts for playing in the snow, sleigh rides, etc. Rental car is the way to go. If you WANTED to, you could take one of the van shuttles from the airport to your location but that's a long ride in a van with other people and I'd prefer to be in my own car, especially with little ones.
starrs is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 8th, 2013, 05:19 PM
  #8
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Posts: 66,638
Not a condo but this would be a wonderful place to stay if they allow young children - http://www.allairetimbers.com/

One of my favorite places. We stayed in one of the suites with hot tub and fireplace, but with little ones you should be on the lower floor. Plenty of room to play in the snow outside the inn and a short walk into town.
starrs is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 9th, 2013, 06:23 AM
  #9
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 1,690
Thanks everyone. Will look at Estey's Park more closely then.

So it looks like we'll definitely have a rental car. So far the plan is, if we do head to Denver, that we'll stay in Denver for 2 nights to aclimatize then head to Estey's Park. Although that second day we wanted to rent a car for a day and head to Vail just for the day, return the car and rent another one the following day for the rest of the trip.

The train sounds like a lovely plan since the boys are really into trains right now but getting to the station with all our luggage for before 8 am sounds like a terrible thing - especially with twins.

podams, we're reserving Yellowstone for a summer trip when they are about 4ish. We love that place!

Yosemite rentals are looking about the same as Estey's ($250ish/night for a 2 bedroom house/cabin + tax and cleaning fee) but the airfare looks significantly more per person flying in to Fresno, Oakland, or even SFO.

How about Virginia? Or Montana? Connecticut? Just wanted to see where else we could go.
maria_so is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 9th, 2013, 06:25 AM
  #10
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 1,690
Sorry, trigger finger this morning, I also meant to add that we'll be visiting Colorado a lot in the coming years once the boys can start taking ski classes so that's why I wanted to go "somewhere else".

Thanks!
maria_so is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 9th, 2013, 08:00 AM
  #11
 
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,834
Virginia and Connecticut do not always have white Christmases. Posters have suggested ski resorts because they will be open and can make snow.

You will waste lots of time if you rent a car, return it, and rent another one the next day.

There's a good outdoor train museum just outside Denver.
padams421 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 9th, 2013, 09:26 AM
  #12
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 2,072
Yeah, there's really no point in renting a car for a day, returning it and renting another car the next day.

You could take the train as a day trip from Denver, and return there for the 2nd night. That way you could leave all your luggage in the room but you'd still have to be at the station early. It is in downtown so you can find hotels very nearby.

Montana has reliably good snow but is more difficult to get to with airline connections.
WhereAreWe is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 9th, 2013, 09:42 AM
  #13
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,568
I think a REALLY big thing to think about is that this is for snow PLAY, with very young children, AND you will want to be near your lodging in order for the little ones to go in and warm up and dry off, snack and rest. They will tire out quickly at the altitude. Ski areas have these places, but they are usually crowded with skiers doing the same thing, and very expensive to get the kids things to eat and drink--plus just getting a space.
There would be NO reason to rent and re-rent a car. Rent it at the airport and use it the entire time.
Denver has a lot of things for the kids to do--museum, zoo, aquarium (maybe). Along the south end of denver there is dinosaur Ridge to view dinosaur tracks, etc. Morrison has a little museum/exhibition for dinosaurs.
I think you also might want to consider how much drive time you will have from an airport--especially Yosemite. That's a little bit of a hike.
Estes Park is VERY near, lots to do and see.
Also, the weather can be a factor as far as moving from place to place. but you can't know that until that week.
Gretchen is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jan 9th, 2013, 09:45 AM
  #14
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,568
Here is a little train ride in Georgetown which is not far into the mountains and might be a nice day trip. There is also a gold mine there, but not sure it is open in the winter.

http://georgetownlooprr.com/schedule-fares
Gretchen is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jan 9th, 2013, 09:59 AM
  #15
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,896
In the list of alternatives, you might consider Vancouver.

Grouse Mountain is located immediately north of the city and is very easy as a day (or part-day) trip; the view of downtown Vancouver from the top of the Grouse Mountain gondola is quite famous. In addition to skiing, there are numerous activities for kids - sleigh rides, etc. http://www.grousemountain.com/

Then, when you're done, it's just back down to sea level and into one of the world's most enjoyable cities. Late December will probably be wet in Vancouver, but there's so much to do - one of the best aquariums in the world, a great Chinatown and historic district, the Granville Island market, shopping, great restaurants... no shortage of things to do and sights to see. Accommodations in the city would be more plentiful, and probably cheaper than in some resort during that peak-of-peaks week.

You could also fly into Seattle and take the train to Vancouver (around four hours and very scenic). Airfare tends to be cheaper to Seattle, and the kids (and their parents) might enjoy the train ride too. If you returned to Seattle by the 31st, the annual New Years Eve celebration at the Space Needle is really terrific.
Gardyloo is online now  
Reply With Quote
Jan 9th, 2013, 10:16 AM
  #16
 
Join Date: Jul 2007
Posts: 7,443
One of the best experience we had in snow at a National Park was in Sequoia NP. They have several "snow play" areas and they do rent sleds too. We were there during the last week of the year.
spirobulldog is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 9th, 2013, 10:28 AM
  #17
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 1,690
Was thinking of just renting a car from the hotel (they have a location in the marriott by the convention center from what I recall from my last visit). I didn't want to have to pay for parking. I'll check it out. If drop off fees are not too much from downtown to the airport, I may keep the car. Don't want to pay for parking and it sitting in the parking garage for a day if we rent from the time we get there though.

Gretchen, the train is a great idea! The boys are into Thomas the tank engine at the moment although I don't know how long the enthusiasm will last at 2 1/2 yrs old for a full day trip?

I think Estes is looking like the best option. I just wanted to see if anyone has other suggestions I should consider.

Thanks! Keep the suggestions coming please!
maria_so is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 9th, 2013, 10:40 AM
  #18
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 2,072
I've rented in downtown Denver and returned to the airport several times and never had a drop-off. The bigger issue would be how are you getting from the airport to the hotel with 2 kids and all your luggage? A cab from the airport to downtown with 4 people would probably be at least $60.

You don't have to park at the hotel and pay their inflated prices. We've stayed right off the 16th street mall and instead of paying $28/night to park at the hotel, we parked in a ramp for $5-10/day about 2 blocks away. There were no in/out privileges but you don't really need a car to get around in downtown, so that might work for you.

But yes, if you can find a good rental price and pick up/drop off right at your hotel for the day that is easy enough.

I would suspect lodging on the 31st would be somewhat pricey.
WhereAreWe is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 9th, 2013, 10:53 AM
  #19
 
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 2,072
You could also look at going to Minnesota. Fly into Minneapolis/St. Paul, then head to the North Shore of Lake Superior, or somewhere else in northern Minnesota. There's a smaller ski hill in Duluth, and Lutsen has a larger ski resort with 3 mountains (although what they call mountains is nothing like the Rockies). Plenty of kid activities including dog sledding, definitely something different than where you've been before.
http://www.caribouhighlands.com/

No national parks along the North Shore but there are 7 state parks.
WhereAreWe is offline  
Reply With Quote
Jan 9th, 2013, 11:04 AM
  #20
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,568
You can use the car IN Denver--to drive to the zoo, to drive to the museum. Take your day trip FROM Denver to the railroad and then go to Estes Park. You have a lot of people AND equipment (car seats?) to get TO the hotel. Are you bringing a stroller? The hotels in Denver don't usually run shuttles to and from the airport to my knowledge.
Minnesota may be excruciatingly cold. Colorado will be also. Be prepared for that with everyone.
I think you are really going to have to think about these little ones' attention spans with a lot of these activities. Just trying to be realistic.
Gretchen is online now  
Reply With Quote
 



Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On



All times are GMT -8. The time now is 05:44 PM.