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Unforgettable Family Fun Found at Northstar California

By: AMBER MAMIAN
Author, Global Munchkins blog

While the kids are away the parents can play

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Considering that our kids had never stepped foot on a pair of skis or a snowboard, we knew lessons were a necessity.
 
And good news—Northstar has a variety of options when it comes to lessons for all ages and skill levels. After some careful consideration, we chose to put the younger three in Northstar’s Ultimate 4 Ski Lesson, which guaranteed a group size no larger than four, so they would receive customized attention.
 
Our teenage son really wanted to learn how to snowboard. Luckily for him, Northstar happens to be home to the one-and-only Burton Snowboard Academy, earning me some major cool mom cred!
 
Dropping the kids off at their first lessons, I was a mixed bag of emotions. On one end I was super nervous because their lessons were pretty much an all-day event and being new to the sport myself, I had no clue whether or not the kids would enjoy themselves. But on the other hand, there was a part of me that was stoked that my husband and I would be kid-less for a big chunk of the day.
 
I couldn’t wait for us to hit the slopes and then relax at a romantic mid-mountain lunch we had booked at Zephyr Lodge. I had heard about the breathtaking views of the Sierra Nevada range from the restaurant’s floor-to-ceiling windows and their food was said to be exquisite.
 
I mean seriously, when do parents get to take off and enjoy each other without the distractions of the kids while on a family vacation? That never happens. So, I chose to leave my trust in the hands of the well-trained and experienced ski and snowboard instructors, said goodbye to the kids, and headed off with my husband.
 

To "tōsting" friends and family

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Our day together was dreamy.
 
We enjoyed our chats on the ski lifts as we took in a bird’s-eye view of the iconic landscape. We laughed as we skied poorly down the trails (in hindsight we could have used some refresher lessons as well) and delighted in handcrafted cocktails and scrumptious entrees—something we rarely have the chance to do at home or during our travels.
 
Then before retiring for the day and heading back down the mountain, we took part in a special Northstar tradition, a celebratory champagne tōst to friends and family on the mountain, which happens each day at 2 p.m.
 
As we headed back down into the village to the ski school pick-up location, I couldn’t help but have butterflies in my stomach. I wondered whether the kids had enjoyed their day as much as their father and I had. I even started feeling a little guilty, but as soon as I saw their glowing faces, I knew Northstar had magically come through once again.
 
The kids were beaming with pride and overflowing with joy. The butterflies quickly disappeared as I ran over and listened to their instructor tell me all about their day, which was followed by each kid recapping epic moments on the mountain. I could not believe how much fun the kids had and I was even more impressed by how much they had learned in just one single lesson.
 
What probably surprised me most was hearing the kids beg for more lessons—ha! It turns out my hesitation was all for naught. Clearly Northstar knows what they are doing when it comes to inspiring the next generation of skiers and riders.
 

Who could ask for s’mores?

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As we stood there happily discussing the kids' newly developed passion for skiing, we were interrupted by some sort of a commotion going on in the village below us. We glanced over the balcony to see the famous Northstar S’mores Ambassadors passing out fresh ooey-gooey s’mores around the fire pits next to the outdoor ice skating rink.

As any intelligent person would do, we quickly headed downstairs to join in on the fun and continued our conversation over the warmth of the fire pits with the best tasting s’mores in our hands. It’s memories like this that make Northstar such a fantastic resort for families. It’s relaxed luxury at its finest! 

After s’mores we headed back to our quaint and cozy room to relax, which was just a quick shuttle ride from the village. (Yet another reason Northstar is so great—once you check in you never even have to touch your car until you check out. Everything is a quick shuttle or gondola ride away, perfect for a family that doesn’t have much experience driving or parking in the snow.)

We changed out of our ski gear, rested a bit, and then got ready for a fun night out.

Our first stop was the ice skating rink, a gorgeous outdoor spectacle located right in the center of the village, surrounded by shops and restaurants in the middle of all the action. Our timing was perfect; it was golden hour and the setting sun created a rosy pink alpenglow on the surrounding mountainside.

Something about that rink and the magical lighting made it seem as though our moments on the ice transcended space and time. I skated hand-in-hand with my kids, trying to soak up the incredible experience, taking snapshots in my mind, and trying not to blink.
 
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After our epic ice skating endeavor, we capped the night at Tavern 6330’ where we gathered around a giant circular booth and cozied up to a delicious meal.
 
The modern rustic atmosphere and exceptional service created the perfect environment for our family to sit back, relax, and enjoy each other’s company. One glance at the menu and I am pretty sure we were all drooling. Everything on the delicious farm-to-table menu sounded tempting.
 
There was only one thing to do—we divided and conquered by ordering our own plates and then generously sampling bites here and there off of each other’s meals! The consensus—everything was remarkable!
 
What started as a one-time family ski trip has quickly turned into what we hope will be an annual family tradition. After our fabulous stay at Northstar Resort, we feel like we hit the jackpot when it comes to family-friendly ski destinations and we are completely hooked.
 
In fact, we have already started planning our trip back next year! Between the ease of getting to the mountain (excellent location, reachable by three major airports), the number of family-friendly activities available both on and off the slopes (snow tubing is a definite must), and the variety of amazing eateries (not to mention the top-notch ski and snowboarding academy), Northstar is truly a gem of a resort when it comes to families.

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