If your family needs to disconnect from the hustle of daily life and reconnect to the great outdoors, a trip to Keystone Resort might be just what the doctor ordered! We recently checked out this super fun, family-friendly, beautiful resort on a whirlwind trip that ended too soon. I’d highly recommend a visit to this snowy wonderland, situated in the mountains of Colorado. It’s possible to do it even if you only have a long weekend available. Many thanks to Keystone for hosting us! Here’s our 4-day itinerary to Keystone ski resort.
On Thursday, we took a Delta flight from New York City to Denver, and then hopped in the Epic Mountain Express shuttle for a very scenic, two-hour drive to Keystone ski resort. It was clear on that drive that we were venturing into colder temperatures and thinner air!
From the moment we arrived, we could tell that this resort is very family-friendly. There are a lot of fun things for kids to play with in the lobby while parents check in. My girls especially loved playing with the giant brown bear, and the magnetic toy table. They were even given special welcome packets from the resort. It’s special little touches like these that separate hotels who truly welcome kids, versus those who merely tolerate kids.
We checked into room 8121 of the River Run Condominiums, which was a two bedroom, two bathroom apartment. With a spacious kitchen, a washer and dryer, a deck, and cozy fireplace, it truly was a dreamy home away from home.
Unfortunately, we were all much more affected by elevation sickness this time around, compared to our last ski trip. Even though we made sure to get extra hydration in the days leading up to the trip, it still hit us hard. For me and Serge, it was mostly in the form of feeling out of breath, our hearts racing, and headaches. For the girls, it tended to manifest more as nausea.
Keystone Ski Resort is about 2,000 feet higher in altitude than Beaver Creek, its sister resort that we visited last year. Try to give your family 24 hours to adjust to the elevation before you start doing anything really active. That wasn’t an option for us since it was a quick trip, but we managed to get by. The canned oxygen was a big help, as was taking it easy.
We ended our evening with dinner at Bighorn Bistro. Serge and I had steak frites and beef filet, while the girls ordered mac and cheese and buttered noodles off the kids menu. The restaurant is very lovely. Get a table near the window that overlooks the ice skating rink for the most enchanting view.
We started off our second day with breakfast at Inxpot, a casual, cozy café and bookstore in River Run Village. Expect options like breakfast burritos, breakfast bowls and breakfast sandwiches. It’s a great place to fuel up before your first run on the slopes.
I’d suggest renting your gear the night before, but because we were wiped out from travel, we headed over to Keystone Sports on Friday morning. It’s a great place to rent skis, boots and helmets. The staff is very friendly and they have everything you need, whether you’re a novice or a more advanced skier.
We took a private ski lesson as a family from the fabulous instructor, Emily Moravec. She engaged with the girls immediately, talking to them about their favorite subjects in school. She was really flexible and accommodating. We got off to a bit of a late start, but Emily didn’t mind. We started at the learning area that’s just a bit up from the base. There’s a magic carpet for kids aged 3-6, so the girls warmed up there.
Sean was excited to ski again, but Ella was a bit reticent, even though she had really enjoyed skiing last year. Serge and I also had to get reacquainted with it, as it had been exactly a year since any of us had skied. Emily did a great job of getting the girls back in the swing of things, and was wonderful in handling Ella’s reluctance.
We eventually took the gondolas up to the top of the mountain to have lunch, and then skied the rest of our lesson in the learning area there at the summit. It was amazing to see how quickly the girls picked it up again! Sean was really doing a great job mastering her turns. Ella, just like last year, was all about speed. She wasn’t so excited about working on her turns, opting instead to race straight down as fast as she could! Emily was able to allow Ella to enjoy some speed, while also training her to turn left and right so she could go down the slope at a better pace. Emily also gave Serge and I pointers, so it really was a lesson for the whole family.
The most magical part of our entire trip came on our horse-drawn sleigh ride to dinner that night. We were whisked off to a beautiful, rustic, log cabin in the middle of nowhere…or so it seemed!
The girls really enjoyed it, though Ella kept looking behind her, worried that the horse in the sleigh behind us would start nibbling on her hair! Along the way, our guide was sharing some details about the history of the area and how it was developed, though it was a little hard to hear him from the back of the sleigh. Snag a seat closer to the front, if you want to listen in.
Once there, dinner was served cowboy-style dinner. The girls went wild over the unlimited hot chocolate! We began our meal with a hearty bean soup, perfect after a long, cold sleigh ride. This was followed by individual entrees. (We had our choice of salmon, steak, chicken or veggie.) A “cowboy entertainer” sang classic country songs, mixed in with some Christmas songs, throughout the evening. Going for the 4 o’clock dinner was a great idea because we were able to enjoy the picturesque sights during the sleigh ride. On the way back, it was much too dark to see anything.
Saturday was jam-packed with excitement! While we wanted to go skiing again, we also wanted to check out everything else Keystone Ski Resort has to offer, so we had plenty to check off our bucket list!
We had breakfast at New Moon Café & Bar, which had a similar feel to Inxpot. (You’ll also order at the counter and bus your own table.) Be sure to try the waffles when you go!
Afterward, we decided to go ice skating. There’s a rink near Keystone Ski Resort that’s bigger and more picturesque, but we opted for the rink closest to River Run Village, near our condo. The girls had the entire place to themselves, since everyone else was out on the slopes. There’s also a playground onsite, and the girls had a blast sliding into piles of snow!
Going in an outdoor hot tub in the winter is something you must do! We had never tried it, but River Run Condominiums makes it easy with a hot tub just steps from the entrance to the building. It was unlike anything else to sit there, watching the steam rising, with snowy mountains all around us. There’s also a heated outdoor pool if you’d like to go swimming instead.
Next up: snow tubing! We made our way up to the top of the mountain in the gondola. Once we signed in, we had to watch a safety/instructional video. It was actually really helpful, because we all knew exactly what to do when we stepped outside. We picked out our snow tubes and went to find a lane. The first time around we each went down by ourselves. Team members at the top of the lane make sure you’re seated properly, and then push you down the slide. (They also ask if you’d like to get spun, for an extra thrill as you’re going down!) Simply grab your tube and take the magic carpet back up to the top to do it again. This is such a fun family activity! Try doing it individually, then two at a time, and so on. Our favorite was when all four of us went down together, holding each other’s tubes to stay together. Because there were so many of us and we were heavier, we went way faster!
From there, we checked out the world’s largest snow fort! The girls had so much fun climbing through the tunnels and sliding down the slides! It’s open daily through the spring, so be sure to check it out. FYI, you do need a lift ticket to get to it.
We had worked up an appetite, so we went to 9280 Tap House in River Run Village. Dine here when you’ve got plenty of time, as you might experience a wait for your food. Once your food arrives, however, the portions are huge! There’s also a large drink selection.
We finished just in time for Ripperroo’s Village Parade! This is a super cute parade of kids, instructors, other team members, and Santa traveling from the ski lift area towards the village to music. Once at the village square, they all held a dance party, encouraging all kids to join in. They marched over to the ice rink, where Santa had a seat and all the kids got a chance to tell him what they wanted for Christmas. All the while, the team members were handing out free chocolate chip cookies and candy canes, so it was really fun and festive.
Sean and Ella patiently waited their turn to talk to Santa. Sean asked for anything with unicorns, and Ella asked for LOL Dolls, squishies, and “a real sword.” I guess when you come from a karate family, this is a normal request! (Spoiler alert: Santa decided to leave the sword off the present list this year.)
Our super fun day culminated with dinner at a spectacular fondue restaurant. We took two very cold, but really scenic gondola rides to get to Der Fondue Chessel. The restaurant itself is beautiful, and the wait staff wears lederhosen to really give it that Austrian alpine feel. We began with a salad, followed by the cheese fondue course, and then the main course of various proteins dipped in hot broth. Dessert was chocolate fondue, of course! Customize your meal by choosing from a variety of dippers and sauces, and consider upgrading to interesting meats, like elk or duck, for an experience unlike what you might get back home.
Santa visited Der Fondue Chessel the night we were there, so the girls got to talk to him again. Apparently, Ella was asking a lot of questions that Santa had a hard time answering like, “What do the elves do when it’s not Christmas?” Sorry, Santa! There was a three-person band playing the accordion and the banjo, which was really nice. We spent three hours there, and still had to spend 20 to 30 minutes on the two gondolas to get back, so keep this in mind when you’re planning. While it’s incredibly cold on the way back, they do provide blankets in the gondolas, which is helpful.
The magic ended as quickly as it began! On Sunday, we sadly checked out and flew back to NYC. While we would have loved more time there, having fun in the snow together as a family created memories that will last a lifetime.
Keystone ski resort is an extremely kid-friendly resort that provides no shortage of things to do. Stay active or chill out. Nature lovers, foodies, winter sports enthusiasts, and everyone with childlike wonder will appreciate this fabulous destination. We really enjoy the down-to-earth ambiance, coincidentally situated high above the world’s problems. Check your family out of real life and into the splendor of Keystone, if only for a few days!
Top Flight Family received complimentary accommodations, meals and activities from Vail Resorts for purposes of this review. All opinions are our own.
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About Carmen Sognonvi
Carmen Sognonvi is a luxury family travel and lifestyle digital influencer at Top Flight Family. Her insights on travel have been featured in Wanderlust Travel Magazine, TravelPulse, HOTELS Magazine, Seatrade Cruise News and more. Carmen firmly believes that you can (and should) travel with your kids from a young age. She offers families practical solutions for travel, as well as tips on how to travel in luxury for less. She lives in New York City with her multiracial and multicultural family of four. Follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
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