Two year olds are very interesting. They are way too mobile, too smart, too verbal, and too active to be passive on trips (or in life, for that matter), but they aren’t yet old enough for many activities that older children can enjoy. I think the toddler stage is just fantastic, but it is an interesting age around which to plan vacations. So, when we decided to head West to show our two year old snow, we knew we would have to be a little bit creative to find winter activities that we could all enjoy together. Here is the rest of the trip report.
Winter Activities with a Two Year Old (including dog sledding!) – this post
Deciding to Stay an Extra Day While on Vacation
What Happens When Your Whole Family Misses Their Flight
I grew up skiing at least once or twice per year. In college I switched over to snowboarding, and even though I live far away from the mountains in Texas, I still own my own snowboarding gear. I very much wanted to go snowboarding when we started planning this trip, but it was obvious that if I went snowboarding, that would take up a huge chunk of our limited time on our short trip. It was something we couldn’t do together, which would be counter-productive to the point of the trip. Once our daughter is three next winter, we will start teaching her how to ski, and will have her do a few half-days at ski school. I will also have to switch back to skiing to help her, as I cannot fathom the logistics of helping her while I am on a snowboard…I’m not near good enough for that! For those not familiar with ski schools, three is typically the magic age at which children are old enough to attend, though I have often seen caveats that the children must also be potty trained, so keep that in mind. Along those lines, ski clothing is hardly potty training friendly – ahhhhh, all the layers!
It did break my heart a little to not spend any time on the slopes at a ski resort, but so goes life. We could have had her attend the resort nursery as they take children starting at two months, but that just didn’t feel right for this trip.
One of our ideas was to go tubing as she was just tall enough (36 inches) to tube, but it started snowing very, very hard when we were scheduled to go, so we decided against it. I think she was likely just a smidge too young to really tube anyway. She is tall for her age, but I think that closer to three would probably be a better minimum age for tubing since she would have to do it by herself in the tube. It is a great winter activity for families to do together though!
I was very excited at the idea of a sleigh ride for our family. Many ski areas have nearby sleigh rides, and often there are combination sleigh ride/dinners. We reserved a sleigh ride that would take us to a cabin from the late 1800′s, and included a bbq dinner buffet, dessert, non-alcohol drinks, and entertainment. It was $75 per adult and children under 5 were free. It sounded like a great deal for $150, so we were excited. However, a few days before we were scheduled to go we got a call that the sleigh ride was not going to happen since there were not enough reservations made to meet the required minimum. I was bummed, but at the time Beaver Creek had hardly any snow, so I imagine that tourism was down. They did offer to reschedule us to other nights, but since our trip was so short, none of the other nights worked for us. So, we will have to leave the sleigh ride on the “to do” list for next time. I vividly remember the sleigh ride I took with my family when I was very young – it was awesome!
When I decided not to snowboard on this trip, dog sledding became the main attraction of this trip. It was something we could all do together, and none of us had ever done it before. When I called inquiring about reservations, I was told one time that the minimum age was three, and another time I was told there was no minimum age, so we decided that Little C was close enough to three to do it – especially since all she had to do was sit there anyway. Since there was so little snow, the dog sledding company, Winterhawk Dog Sledding, had to use their back-up back-up site that was about 90 minutes away from Beaver Creek. We didn’t know about this change ahead of time, so I really did not pack for the toddler accordingly. It was not my favorite drive as a result.
However, once we got there, it was awesome. They tucked us in very snuggly into the dog sled, and we had so much fun watching the dogs get ready to run. There was one dog on our team that was not having a good day, so he was promptly replaced with another dog. I think there were two or three other teams running at the same time. The trip was maybe an hour or so up a mountain to a cabin where we had hot chocolate to warm up. There were no restroom facilities up there, so that got a little interesting…….I won’t go into details. After a short break, we went back down the mountain in about 30 minutes or so. There was one brief time when the dogs were getting us too close to the side of the trail, but the driver was thankfully able to rectify that before we tipped over! You can see me stop filming in this clip as I start to get a bit nervous. (I guess this is a good time to point out the obvious – there is risk involved in pretty much all winter outdoor activities)
A couple minutes later into the journey down the mountain, our toddler passed out and slept for the rest of the ride. She was so warm and snug that it made the perfect nap time! She proceeded to sleep almost the entire ride back to the hotel. This is her passed out in the sled, and then still passed out on me as we waited to load up and head back to the hotel. One of the guides told us that his children fall asleep every time they ride as well.
Her sleeping on the way down gave us a chance to just sit back and enjoy the scenery.
Dog sledding was not cheap, I think it was about $400 for the trip. It was totally worth it, but it was something we certainly had to include in our budget and plan for. Spending SPG points for our lodging made it much easier to spend that amount of money for our activities. It also took up the majority of one of our days, so it is a time commitment as well. Had we not had to drive to the back-up back-up location, it wouldn’t have taken quite as much time. I greatly appreciate the efforts that the staff made to make sure that we had a great time even with the limited available snow and I would not hesitate to take another dog sledding trip in the future.
I think that our daughter liked riding in the gondola almost as much as the dog sledding adventure! Since there is a free gondola right outside the doors of the Westin Beaver Creek Resort, we were able to ride over and over and over again. She never got tired of it, so it was good cheap entertainment.
It also helped us get her to some decent snow to play in, so that was fun as well. We had hoped to make little snowmen with her, but the snow was just not wet enough to be molded into a snowman. Maybe next time. At least we accomplished our goal of her playing in snow for the first time. It was a big success.
In the end, this trip was very different than my pre-child ski trips that consisted almost entirely of snowboarding and drinking in the lodge, however it was still very fun, just in a different way. I am very glad we decided to spend our time together instead of splitting up to snowboard, but I am also looking forward to getting her on the mountain next year!