Keep the kids entertained " and happy |

Keep the kids entertained " and happy

Aspen Times Staff Report
Aspen, CO Colorado
Catching serious air off a hump in the snow, (l to r) Haley Jones, Laura Boots and Audrey Sichel prepare for a hard landing on the man made snow at Buttermilk Sunday afternoon December 7, 2003. Aspen Times photo/ Paul Conrad.

ASPEN ” Coming to the mountains as a family is nothing short of an adventure.

Experience bluebird days with stunning mountain vistas while the kids take part in group skiing lessons where they’re sure to spread their own wings. There is plenty of family-friendly dining and off-mountain activity to keep everyone happy, so jump in and try a little of everything while you’re here.

Enrolling your kids in ski/snowboard lessons should be your first step. Aspen/Snowmass offers group lessons for kids ages 7 to 12 years old. Programs for younger kids ages 3 and up are available as well, like Powder Pandas at Buttermilk, and Big Burn Bears at Snowmass. Instructors offer kids a comfortable environment to learn to ski or snowboard. For children who are too little to ski, there’s a new Nanny Cub Care program for one-on-one care, or Snow Cubs at Snowmass where all-day group fun is provided. Call 1-800-525-6200 for more information and reservations.

Sunlight Mountain Resort in Glenwood Springs has Ridge Runners classes for kids 7 through 14, Super Tots lessons for kids 4-6, Mini Tot lessons for kids ages 2-3, and child care for toddlers through 6-year-olds. Call 1-800-445-7931 for more information at Sunlight.

But even locals need some time indoors now and then to warm up, and recharge for another day on the slopes. For a tropical break, the Roaring Fork Valley offers some great indoor pools. The Aspen Recreation Center on Maroon Creek Road features waterfalls and a lazy river, not to mention one twisty-turny water slide, a lap pool, steam room and hot tub to keep the whole family satisfied. The ARC (as it’s known) even has a climbing wall and the Lewis Ice Arena, where skates are just a rental away. Out behind the recreation center, better known as the ARC, is a popular sledding hill.

There’s also a brand-new recreation center in Snowmass Village with a wading pool, lap pool, leisure pool, water slide and hot tub.

The Glenwood Springs Recreation Center, near the Meadows shopping mall, also has a family-friendly life of its own, with another water slide, a whirlpool for relaxation, and a pool with walk-in entry for the littlest ones. Try out their climbing wall and ice rink for more adventure. There’s also the Glenwood Hot Springs Pool ” no kid should miss it.

Of course, all of this activity makes you hungry, in which case you’ll be on the prowl for a spot with tasty food and a casual, fun atmosphere. It’s hard to miss Boogie’s Diner in Aspen with its homey comfort food and rich ice-cream desserts, or Little Annie’s Eating House, where the tablecloths are checkered and each item on the menu is its own tried-and-true gem. (If the little ones need crayons for some pre-dinner artistic endeavors, just ask your server.)

Taqueria Nopal in Basalt is the sort of authentic Mexican, casual taco shop where the kids blend in with everyone else’s, and White House Pizza in Carbondale has enough on their menu for every family member, and an atmosphere where everyone can spread out.

There’s also more than skiing around these parts for outdoor family fun. The Aspen Center for Environmental Studies specializes in winter snowshoe tours with beautiful scenery, a peaceful walk in the woods, and plenty of information about local flora and fauna. Tours are available at the top of Aspen Mountain, on Snowmass Mountain and at Ashcroft ghost town, up the Castle Creek Valley. The price of admission often includes a snack (or lunch, in the case of the Ashcroft tour), snowshoes and a leisurely paced walk with a friendly, knowledgeable guide. Also, on Fridays, check out Winter Wild Things on Snowmass Mountain. Check out for more information, or call (970) 925-5756.

When you thought things couldn’t get more picturesque, take your kids to the Sing-A-Long by the campfire at Snowmass, at the fire pit next to the Pokolodi Lodge. For no charge, s’mores and hot chocolate are served while a cowboy strums a guitar and sings songs by the fire. This special apres-ski event takes place on Mondays between 4 and 5 p.m. A similar event, but with storytellers around the campfire, happens on Wednesdays at 4 p.m.

Time for time away from the kids? Here are some baby-sitting services for your romantic night away from the little ones: Aspen Baby at or (970) 319-9435; Aspen Babysitting Company at or 970-948-6849; A Mom’s Day Off at (970) 963-8558 and Sunshine’s Sitting Service, (970) 963-4995 or 1-800-963-4995.

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