By Amy Whitley
Northstar California’s reputation as a kid-friendly ski resort is well deserved, but beyond the customary end-of-day s’mores, ice-skating rink, and ski school lies a playground for moms and dads, too.
You’ve already made all the arrangements to get here, gotten the whole crew dressed and ready, and probably already know what’s for dinner.
It’s time to escape for a day on the hill, designed just for you.
If you’re staying in Northstar lodging, you’ll want to take the shuttle straight to the village in the morning.
Just give them a call when you’re ready, and stand outside your door.
Be sure that everyone is really, truly ready to depart; those shuttles show up fast! At the drop-off area, take advantage of Northstar’s family-friendly services and grab a complimentary wagon to haul your gear.
You only have a block or two to navigate through the Northstar Village, but the kids sure look adorable pulling their wagon full of tiny skis and boards!
If the kids are taking ski or snowboard lessons, good news: You’ll drop them off right in the village, at the Ski and Ride School.
With advanced reservations, getting everyone signed in is a breeze.
You’re now kid-free until 3 p.m.
If you’re new to Northstar, definitely take advantage of your adults-only time to try out a lesson or a guided experience.
Tip: Every Monday, Northstar offers 4Her: Ultimate 4 Ski & Snowboard Lessons.
This all-women lesson was developed as part of the Women in Skiing initiative across Vail Resorts; it’s a small and intimate group, with no more than four women, led by a female instructor.
If you’re an intermediate or advanced skier or snowboarder, meet a Northstar Mountain Tour guide at the base of Arrow chair at 10 a.m.
Many people don’t know about this complimentary service (offered Friday through Sunday).
Your guide will show you the best of the mountain, based on the day’s conditions, and you’ll get lots of good tips on where to go later in your day.
Tours last 1.5 hours, but of course, you’re free to peel off on your own anytime.
If you’re a beginner and want to ski with friends or family, grab your posse and take a half-day private lesson.
The price tag looks steep…until you realize you’re allowed up to six people in your lesson!
With a private lesson, you can tell the instructor just how much (or little) help you want with your technique.
He or she will fill the rest of the time guiding you to the best terrain for your abilities…all while skipping the lift lines.
If you’re craving quiet time on the snow, head to Martis Camp, where you’ll have your pick of long blue groomers and black diamond moguls.
Access this area via the Poma lift located at the top of Boondocks Trail, just downslope from Zephyr Lodge (you’ll quickly understand why this portion of the mountain is less crowded).
Check for powder stashes in the trees after a snowfall, and find single-track trails weaving between runs.
When you’re ready for lunch, here’s a secret the kids don’t need to know about: If you ski up to the Ritz Carlton (adjacent to the Big Easy learning area), a ski butler will help you with your gear, and you can eat around an outdoor fireplace at the Backyard Bar and BBQ.
In chilly weather, warm up in the Ritz Carlton Living Room with a house-made cocktail.
The afternoon sun should be just right for some turns on the backside once you’ve polished off lunch.
Head up Comstock Express, and slide over to Backside Express and Promised Land (don’t forget to pause for a photo from the EpicMix crew at the top of Comstock; you’ll want to document your carefree ski day).
On the backside, you’ll quickly work off your meal with long, steep groomers or intermediate rollers. If you’re an expert skier and still have some stamina left, check out the trees on Sawtooth Ridge or Lookout Glade if conditions permit. Ask a liftie if they’re open before committing, or just cruise down the ridgeline back to the bottom of Promised Land.
Before skiing down to the village to pick up the kids, take one more lap, this time over on Vista Chair to check out the half pipe near Cat’s Face.
t’s a guaranteed cool-factor bump just to say you found it—and, if you’re brave, took a spin—when you retrieve the kids.
When your family is all back together again, grant each child a turn on the bungee trampoline on the upper deck overlooking the ice skating rink.
They’ll think you’re a hero, but your true motivations can stay between us: The ice-cold margaritas at the adjacent Cabana Bar really hit the spot after a full ski day.
Grab dinner for the family at Rubicon Pizza, or just sit and enjoy the outdoor fire pits for a bit, taking in the ambiance of the Northstar Village.
Pat yourself on the back for your well-deserved mountain time.
And when you’re ready to depart, the trusty shuttle is always at the ready.