Top 20 Best Family-Friendly Ski Resorts for Kids near San Jose
January 2, 2024

Load the whole family into the car and drive 3 to 5 hours away to any of these family-friendly ski resorts for kids near San Jose!

This winter season, one of the fun things to do in San Jose with kids is to plan a family ski vacation. Nothing beats a family trip to the Alps – especially one that begins with a long road trip traveling at your own pace and ends with many awesome, unforgettable memories. Family-friendly ski resorts for kids near San Jose have recognized the importance of providing a fun experience to families, helping young children improve their skills, and, most of all, enjoying family bonding on and off the mountain like never before.

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The key to finding the ideal family-friendly ski resorts for kids near San Jose is looking for a place with a lot to offer for all ages, interests, and ability levels. From astounding learning facilities to amusing winter activities for kids in San Jose and pleasant short transfers, these ski resorts near San Jose have gone the extra mile to make family skiing holidays extra special.

While teaching your kids to ski or snowboard is a great idea any time during the winter season, one perfect time to learn skiing and snowboarding is during the month of January. Most of these family-friendly ski resorts near San Jose offer a lot of great deals to get kids up on skis or snowboards and get more than enough practice in learning the skills.

And for those who are completely new to skiing and snowboarding, planning a family ski trip can be overwhelming. But don’t worry! We will help you find your way to the best ski resorts for kids near San Jose. Here, we have listed the nearest ski resorts to San Jose, which are found in North Lake Tahoe, South Lake Tahoe, Truckee North, and Yosemite South.

We have chosen the best family ski resorts based on an overall degree of family-friendliness, appropriate terrains, ski-school style and options, and off-slope activities for kids and parents alike.

Top 20 Best Family-Friendly Ski Resorts for Kids near San Jose

North Lake Tahoe

Alpine Meadows Ski Resort - ski resorts for kids near San Jose
Palisades Tahoe

1. Palisades Tahoe

1651 Olympic Valley Rd., Olympic Valley, CA 96146
Phone Number: (800) 403-0206

Tucked between Truckee and Tahoe City, Palisades Tahoe Resort is one of the best family-friendly ski resorts near San Jose. It has a picturesque playground for families and off-the-radar thrill-seekers alike. Chalet-style lodges and approachable hospitality mean that the skiing and riding experience always comes first. From easy-riding progression parks to wide-open bowls, Alpine Meadows brings an exciting challenge to any level skier or snowboarder.

And with more than 100 trails spread over 2,400 acres, mountain adventures (and groomed runs) await at every bump, jump, and chairlift. Alpine Meadows is known for its laid-back atmosphere, old-school vibes, lake views, hike-to terrain, and amazing bowl skiing.

Diamond Peak Ski Resort - ski resorts for kids near San Jose
Diamond Peak Ski Resort

2. Diamond Peak Ski Resort

1210 Ski Way, Incline Village, NV 89451
Phone Number: (775) 832-1177

Diamond Peak has a vertical drop of 1,840 feet with a high base and summit elevation that captures plenty of snow. This is a community-owned resort with breathtaking views of Lake Tahoe, miles of welcoming, uncrowded runs, easy access from the parking lot to the slopes, a dedicated Child Ski Center for the littlest skiers and snowboarders, and a great Ski & Snowboard School for older skiers/riders.

The Diamond Peak Child Ski Center provides Lake Tahoe’s best learn-to-ski programs for kids ages 3-6 of all ability levels. With a separate learning area, surface lift, and low child-to-instructor ratio of 5:1 max, your children will receive the attention they deserve in a safe, uncrowded, and fun environment. Their instructors are dedicated to providing your children with the tools necessary to enhance their abilities and reach their full potential while having a fun experience on the mountain.

Donner Ski Ranch - ski resorts for kids near San Jose
Donner Ski Ranch

3. Donner Ski Ranch

19320 Donner Pass Road, Norden, CA 95724
Phone Number: (530) 426-3635

Among the oldest and most iconic family-friendly ski resorts near San Jose, Donner Ski Ranch is one of the family-friendly ski resorts in the Lake Tahoe area that features a wide variety of terrain, inviting skiers and riders of all abilities to enjoy the fully-featured mountain oasis. With one of the highest base elevations in the Sierras, the resort boasts epic powder.

Donner Ski School offers a variety of options to help you learn to ski in a fun, no-pressure environment. For parents who opt to teach their children to ski without instruction, they offer a highly affordable way to do so. Donner Ski Ranch offers beginner and intermediate skiers easy access to novice runs, group and private ski/snowboard lessons, equipment rentals, retail shops, and a tubing park that’s great for kids of all ages.

Homewood Mountain Resort - ski resorts for kids near San Jose
Homewood Mountain Resort

4. Homewood Mountain Resort

5145 West Lake Blvd., Homewood, CA 96141
Phone Number: (530) 525-2992

January is “Learn to Ride” month. Homewood is among the best family-friendly ski resorts for kids near San Jose that offer kid’s programs. They teach the foundations of skiing and snowboarding in a safe, fun-filled environment. Group and private children’s lessons are available daily for children ages 4 through 12 of any ability level.

This is one of the ski resorts for kids near San Jose, with certified instructors that focus on building good technique in a positive learning environment so that your kids will learn to love the snow and the mountains. One lesson can be all it takes to set your child on the path to a lifetime love of skiing and riding.

Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe - ski resorts for kids near San Jose
Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe

5. Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe

22222 Mt Rose Hwy, Reno, NV 89511
Phone Number: (775) 849-0704

The mountain is for everyone, which means families and young learners as well. Multiple generations of kids have been introduced to snow sports through ski and snowboard lessons offered through Kids Lessons (aka Rosebuds) at Mt. Rose. It’s no surprise kids love skiing and snowboarding at Mt. Rose because there’s so much for them to do!

Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe offers multi-session lessons for children. Parents who want to see their kids learn and appreciate the outdoors and the value of winter sports should definitely consider enrolling in one of our Kidz@Rose programs. It’s among the best ski resorts for kids near San Jose that know the importance of creating the next generation of passionate outdoor enthusiasts.

Royal Gorge Cross-Country Ski Resort for kids near San Jose
Royal Gorge Cross-Country Ski Resort

6. Royal Gorge Cross-Country Ski Resort

9411 Pahatsi Rd., Soda Springs, CA 95728
Phone Number: (530) 426-3871

The largest cross-country ski area in North America, Royal Gorge is known for its sweeping views of the Northern Sierra and eight distinct trail systems. Featuring 92 trails with over 140km of groomed, tracked trails for human-powered outdoor recreation spread across 6,000 acres, guests of all ages and ability levels are invited to try classic cross-country skiing, skate skiing, and snowshoeing.

Royal Gorge’s professional instructors can help you learn and get you on the trail quickly and safely. Group and private lessons are available for classic and skate skiing activities. Lesson packages are perfect for just getting into the sport since they include a trail pass, rentals, and a lesson. Private lessons and clinics taught by Olympic champions will benefit more seasoned athletes.

Squaw Valley Ski Resort - ski resorts for kids near San Jose
Squaw Valley Ski Resort

7. Squaw Valley Ski Resort

1960 Squaw Valley Rd, Olympic, Valley, CA 96146
Phone Number: (800) 403-0206

Create lasting memories with family and friends at Squaw Valley Ski Resort. Beginners will find forgiving learning zones set among dramatic alpine scenery, while varied trails, bowls, and chutes mean that skiers and snowboarders will never outgrow Squaw’s progressive terrain. It has 14 beginner trails and 6 lifts with access to mostly beginner terrain.

Ensure your child has a safe, fun, and inspirational learning experience. A dedicated learning zone with specially designed terrain allows your child to start small and naturally progress to more terrain across the mountain, eliminating fear and accelerating the learning process.

They also have SnoVentures Activity Zone located in the base area, which offers mini snowmobiles for kids. Snow tubing is also a fun mountain adventure for the whole family. Play in the snow, bond with family and friends, then warm up at the SnoVentures Lodge adjacent to the snow play fun.

Sugar Bowl - San Jose family-friendly ski resorts
Sugar Bowl Ski Resort

8. Sugar Bowl Ski Resort

629 Sugar Bowl Rd., Norden, CA 95724
Phone Number: (530) 426-9000

Bring the little ones out to Sugar Bowl Ski Resort for a fast, easy, and fun way to introduce them to snow sports. It is one of the ski resorts near San Jose that has friendly instructors to help you become familiar with the mountain environment, their skis or snowboard, chairlifts, and every other aspect of a day on the slopes. It is the perfect way to build a strong foundation of skills that make skiing/snowboarding enjoyable for years.

Whether it’s your child’s first time on snow or you’re interested in their skiing or riding skills, Sugar Bowl’s professional ski and snowboard instructors will help them reach along the way. Lesson programs focus on skill-building and fun to ensure children’s success while safely enjoying winter sports.

Private and group lessons are available for all ability levels. They specialize in children’s skis with an additional focus on safety, fun, and learning.

South Lake Tahoe

Heavenly Lake Tahoe - ski resorts for kids near Santa Clara
Heavenly Lake Tahoe

9. Heavenly Lake Tahoe

3860 Saddle Road South Lake, Tahoe, CA 96150
Phone Number: (775) 586-7000

Do you have plans for a skiing adventure with your family this winter? High above the sapphire-blue waters of Lake Tahoe, Heavenly is one of the most unique snowsports resorts on the planet. The choices are endless. With more terrain variety, more hidden glades, and more rippin’ groomers than any Lake Tahoe resort, you and your crew will have endless adventures both on and off the mountain.

Explore all of your options and experience Heavenly‘s winter activities for kids! Feel the rush of snow tubing without any of the hard work! Their mini tubing hill is over 500 feet long and has a convenient magic carpet to take you and your tube back up to the top. Even if your kids aren’t skiing or riding, you can still experience one of the greatest views of Lake Tahoe with a Scenic Gondola Ride.

Kirkwood Mountain Resort
Kirkwood Mountain Resort

10. Kirkwood Mountain Resort

1501 Kirkwood Meadows Dr., Kirkwood, CA 95646
Phone Number: (209) 258 – 6000

Kirkwood Mountain Resort is one of the nation’s top year-round family-friendly ski resorts lifestyle destinations near San Jose. About 35 miles from South Lake Tahoe, Kirkwood is a true mountain resort that provides a fulfilling and diverse on-mountain experience and a unique sense of community.

When you visit Kirkwood for the first time and round the bend on HWY 88 where the valley comes into full view, you’ll understand immediately there’s something special about Kirkwood. Mountain Explorer/Burton Grom Ski and Snowboard Lessons are for kids 5-12 years old. It is located at Timber Creek. Timber Creek is the first base facility you see on the right side after entering Kirkwood.

This lesson drop-off time is from 10:15-10:30 AM for morning or full-day lessons or 1:15 PM- 1:30 PM for afternoon lessons. The 3-4-year-old Mini Ripper/Grom Lessons is located at the Timber Creek Base Area. The lesson drop-off time is from 9:30-10:00 AM at the Mini Ripper Entrance to the Timber Creek Children’s Center.

Sierra at Tahoe
Sierra at Tahoe

11. Sierra at Tahoe

1111 Sierra-at-Tahoe Road, Twin Bridges, CA 95735
Phone Number: (530) 659-7453

From day-to-day operations to long-term planning, Sierra always has your safety and the environment’s best interests at heart. They have several “Slow Zones” that visibly designate an entire run or area as a “Go Slow Area.” These Zones are marked with yellow fencing and are patrolled by Ski Patrol and Mountain Safety to ensure a maximum 15 mph speed limit.

Sierra’s Snowsports School is a skiing resort for kids that offers a wide range of options for all ages and all ability levels. Learn a new sport, improve your technique, or explore new possibilities. Thanks to its world-class instructors and impressive terrain, learning to ski or ride at Sierra is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that can’t be missed. Children’s Lessons are subject to availability.

Soda Springs Ski Resort
Soda Springs Ski Resort

12. Soda Springs Ski Resort

10244 Soda Springs Rd., Soda Springs, CA 95728
Phone Number: (530) 426–3663

As one of the longest-running ski resorts for kids near San Jose, Soda Springs Mountain Resort is the best place to explore the magic of winter in Tahoe. Soda Springs Mountain Resort’s Planet Kids is for children ages 7 and under.

This unique snow play area features a tubing carousel, tubing lanes, snow volcanoes to climb, and even the opportunity for introductions to skiing or snowboarding. Children can frolic in the snow, making snow angels and constructing snowmen.

Snowsports lessons at Planet kids are for kids that want to stay safe, have fun and learn basic snowsports skills. Lessons are offered in a one-hour group lesson format with a max of 4 students or 30-minute private lessons. Private lessons are also offered for ages 3 and up designed for a more personalized experience with one of their professional instructors.

Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area
Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area

13. Tahoe Cross Country Ski Area

925 Country Club Dr., Tahoe City, CA 96145
Phone Number: (530) 583-5475

Tahoe XC is among the best ski resorts near San Jose that offers 65km of groomed Nordic ski tracks for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, many with fantastic views of beautiful Lake Tahoe. Its mission is to promote a healthy, outdoor-oriented lifestyle for children and adults through education, cross-country skiing, and other self-powered recreation.

Tahoe XC provides accessible and affordable Nordic ski programs to get children and adults involved in cross-country skiing as a healthy lifestyle choice. They offer various free and low-cost ski lessons and clinics for adults and kids to enhance their cross-country skiing skills and experience.

Truckee North

Boreal Mountain Resort
Boreal Mountain Resort

14. Boreal Mountain Resort

P.O. Box 39, Truckee, CA 96160
Phone Number: (530) 426-3666

Boreal is relatively small (380 acres) and draws a young crowd. This is one of the ideal ski resorts for kids as they offer the Kids Ride FREE season pass. Children 8 years old and under qualify for a Boreal Unlimited season pass for FREE with the purchase of ONE corresponding Boreal Adult Unlimited or All-Access season pass.

Your kids will surely love adventuring on-mountain with their Boreal Passports. Get your kids excited about skiing/snowboarding and learning new aspects of the sports – finish a passport task and mark it off!

They also have a multi-week ski and snowboard program offering top-notch instruction for kids. Designed to suit all skill levels from never-ever to an intermediate little ripper. Woodward Mountain Kids offers 3 different sessions to choose from, with 8 weeks of hands-on learning on the hill and in The Bunker.

Northstar California
Northstar California

15. Northstar California

5001 Northstar Drive, Truckee, CA 96160
Phone Number: (530) 562-1010

Being one of the family-friendly ski resorts in North Truckee, Northstar’s signature Explorers Program lets you and your child choose their adventure with an instructor who personally comes to understand their ability and cares about their progress. This means personalized attention in small groups with world-class instructors, special terrain, and lifts developed just for little learners.

Their world-class children’s ski school will turn your child into a lifelong skier, so your family can share the experience of confidently exploring the mountain together. A Three-Day Expedition puts your child on the path to achieving a significant goal by the end of the lesson, whether that’s tackling a blue run, making it to the summit, or refining skills that could help them keep pace with mom, dad, or siblings.

Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Resort
Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Resort

16. Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Resort

11603 Snowpeak Way, Truckee, CA 96161
Phone Number: (530) 587-9444

You’ll discover Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Resort in the upper reaches of Truckee. Tahoe Donner is committed to being “the best place for family fun and learning.” Wide-open bowls, uncrowded slopes, great beginner terrain, excellent grooming, and a friendly, courteous staff await all. Sledding and snow tubing are open during weekends and holidays periods at the Snowplay Recreation Area located at the Trout Creek Recreation Center.

Tahoe Donner Downhill Ski Resort has provided families a unique and affordable ski experience. They are committed to being “the best place to begin” and offer ski instruction for children as young as 3 years old, interchangeable lift tickets for parents with non-skiing children, retail outlets, and a kid-friendly menu in the cafeteria.

TD Tykes is a great way for children to begin their skiing experience or improve their skiing. The program starts the first week of January and continues through the second week of March.

Yosemite South

Badger Pass – Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area
Badger Pass – Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area

17. Badger Pass – Yosemite Ski & Snowboard Area

7082 Glacier Point Rd, Yosemite National Park, CA 95389
Phone Number: (888) 413-8869

Look no further if you are looking for easy-going, affordable, uniquely located, and family-friendly ski resorts and snowboard mountains. The Badger Pass Ski Area is one of the best family ski resorts and the ultimate winter destination for an unforgettable time. Bring the whole family, and don’t forget about your friends. This spot is not only novice-friendly, it offers a range of activities to accommodate various visitors of all ages.

Peacefully snowshoeing among the towering pine trees with a thermos of hot cider or racing down the ski slopes, to name a few, Badger Pass Ski Area is a family favorite. Plus, Badger Pass is located inside Yosemite National Park, so finding numerous hikes and epic views just beyond is effortless. There’s much to do in Yosemite, especially in the winter.

Yosemite winter activities bring visitors worldwide to see Yosemite Valley in a new light: covered in soft, glistening snow. They make it easy to prepare for your trip. Let them help you pack!

Bear Mountain Ski Resort
Bear Mountain Ski Resort

18. Big Bear Mountain Ski Resort

880 Summit Blvd Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
Phone Number: (844) 462-2327

Home to award-winning terrain parks and 748 permitted acres, Bear Mountain is Southern California’s epicenter for progression and development in snow sports. Bear Mountain is also home to the largest learning area in SoCal. From its terrain-based learning area to its Skillbuilder Parks, they teach people to ski and ride every day of the season. Bear Mountain is also home to SoCal’s only halfpipes, thanks to its state-of-the-art grooming and snowmaking.

Explore activities and fun for every age offering ski school such as Private Lessons (All ages), Pioneer Lessons (Age 4), Explorer Lessons (Ages 5-7), Adventurer Lessons (Ages 8-12), and Adult Group Lessons (Ages 13 and up). Their coaches specialize in teaching skiing and snowboarding to grow kids.

Have fun in an experientially based environment. Big Bear Mountain can teach any ability level, leading to an awesomely positive day for the kids!

Dodge Ridge Skiing and Snowboarding
Dodge Ridge Skiing and Snowboarding

19. Dodge Ridge Skiing and Snowboarding

1 Dodge Ridge Rd., Pine Crest, CA 95364
Phone Number: (209) 965-3474

Since its opening season in 1950, Dodge Ridge Resort has remained a family-owned resort with values that celebrate the skiers and riders who have started a life-long love of the sport. Offering 862 skiable acres, 67 runs, and 1,600 vertical feet, they’ve become known for their all-mountain powder days.

It’s one of the few family-friendly ski resorts that has been teaching kids as young as 2 years old. For nearly 70 years, they’ve been developing skiers and riders through the use of cutting-edge snowsports programs that guide children in a natural progression from beginner to expert.

Snow Summit Ski Resort
Snow Summit Ski Resort

20. Snow Summit Ski Resort

880 Summit Blvd, Big Bear Lake, CA 92315
Phone Number: (844) 462-2327

Family-friendly experiences are the backbone of the Snow Summit. Your trail starts here from kids’ lessons at the Adventure Academy to endless laughter at the Grizzly Ridge Tube Park. Children ages 4 and under ski/ride for free.

Snow Summit is one of the best family ski resorts in Southern California, revered for its nearby skiing and snowboarding in the winter. Drop-in at 8,200 feet and experience the best that SoCal has to offer. With over 240 acres of skiable terrain and 27 trails of all ability levels, Snow Summit boasts 18+ skiable miles. Covered with a state-of-the-art snowmaking system and a lift system of 11 lifts (+ 5 moving carpets), Snow Summit is where SoCal skis and rides.

Choosing the Best Family-Friendly Ski Resorts for Kids near San Jose

It’s never too late to begin planning your snow adventures. Choosing the right ski resorts for kids near San Jose for a family ski getaway is perhaps the most important factor in ensuring you have a great trip. 

Our favorite nearby family-friendly ski resorts are just about a 4-hour drive from San Jose, and it’s worth the experience. With various terrain, ski-school options, and off-slope activities, these best family ski resorts are ideal destinations for memorable bonding and fun learning.

From old-school to modern, there’s a resort for the whole family and plenty of time for parents and kids to have their own adventures before joining up for some fun together. What are you waiting for? Grab your sleds, shovel, and winter coats, and head to one of these ski resorts for kids near San Jose.

San Jose offers so many opportunities for kids to enjoy and have fun, especially this winter season! Check out our list of resources for kids, or browse through our highly recommended San Jose winter blog posts.

Still looking for more San Jose winter activities? No problem! Check out our comprehensive listing of places to go in the region and things to do in San Jose with kids.

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