Every year, I want to get my kids up on skis, but there’s always something, a basketball tournament, a father-daughter dance, a must-go birthday party. Then sometimes I just forget that I want to get the kids on skis and those weekends when one or more of the kids are available just pass me by. Frustrating.
The last (only) time I took any of my kids skiing was three years ago. I got my oldest two up on skis thanks to a two-hour lesson I’d booked at Liberty Mountain Resort in Pennsylvania. The girls then spent another hour or so skiing with my parents, but that was it. That was the last time they were on skis.
Fast forward to 2017 and after two failed attempts (in January and February), I found a weekend when one (of four) of my children was available to go to Seven Springs Mountain Resort in Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands region. I’ve only been skiing five times in my life, but of those five times, one experience was at Seven Springs, so I was eager to return.
There’s a lot to like about Seven Springs. Not only do they have more than a dozen easier trails that are perfect for kids (and adults) just learning to ski or even just brushing up on skiing after a hiatus, but there’s so much to do when you’re all skied out, like bowling, mini golf, snow tubing and an arcade. If you go, here are my 10 best tips to help ensure a fantastic ski getaway at Seven Springs.
1. For great views, ask for a high room facing the mountain. These are the even numbered rooms at the mountain lodge. We were on the ninth floor and the views were fabulous. I loved it. However, I will tell you that when they are making snow, you will hear the snowcats go beep-beep-beep as they back up much of the night (by the second night I didn’t even notice them).
2. Avoid a room on the fourth floor at the mountain lodge. As with all hotels, there are good rooms and not-so-good rooms. The fourth floor is the main thoroughfare between the hotel and the ski lodge, the restaurants, the shops and all the other activities. So basically, there is a great deal of traffic along this corridor.
3. Don’t be shy about signing up for ski lessons. Seven Springs offers all kinds of lessons and for all levels. My 11 y.o., Kate, did the full-day Mountain Adventure Camp. In the morning, she was paired with one instructor and one other beginner. In the afternoon, it was just her and the instructor (talk about small class sizes). Meantime, I took a two-hour private lesson. It’s worth taking a lesson no matter your level for a more enjoyable experience.
4. Opt for the basket check in the ski rental area. Once you collect your ski poles, skis, helmet and ski boots from the rental area, you need to go upstairs to find the lockers to store your sneakers, wallet, etc. Ugh. Instead, pay a little more (it was only $5) for unlimited use of a basket to store your belongings right in the ski rental area. Totally worth it.
5. Make a stop at the arcade. Also known as the Bear Trap Fun Zone, this arcade is way more than a handful of dated arcade games. It’s huge and they had all our favorite games, including skeeball, air hockey and Down the Clown (knock down clowns to earn tickets). Even better, there’s an area where you can turn in your tickets for prizes, just like they have at Chuck E. Cheese’s. We had so much fun.
6. Book a table at Helen’s. You need to take a free shuttle bus, but the food at Helen’s on-property is incredible. I ordered the Roasted Chicken Breast with mashed sweet potatoes and green beans. It sounds simple, but it was delicious and way better than any chicken dish I could prepare. For kids, the Kids Cap’n Chicken is legendary (chicken tenders with a crust made from Cap’n Crunch cereal).
7. Get in a round of mini golf. The 18-hole mini golf course is in the basement of the main lodge at Seven Springs, near the arcade. That noted, I don’t think a lot of people know it’s there. It’s just a few dollars to play a round, but it was almost always empty. Definitely a fun way to pass the time when you’re not skiing.
8. Explore other snow sports at the resort. Of course, most people come to Seven Springs to ski, but there are lots of other outdoor activities available during winter, though they are kind of hidden (as in, I didn’t see them, but I knew they were there). Snow tubing, snowmobiling, snowshoe tours and sporting clays are all available in winter. You can even go on horse-drawn sleigh rides.
9. Be strategic about bowling. Much unlike the mini golf course, the bowling alley is always busy. You pass the six lane bowling alley on the way out to the ski area. Every time we walked by, it was very crowded. We finally got in on Sunday late-afternoon once many of the weekend guests had checked out. It’s only $9.50 per game (includes shoes) and it was so much fun, so it was a must-do for us.
10. You don’t need to ski all day. When you pay for a full day of rentals and lift tickets, you can feel like you need to ski the entire day. My active daughter had a lesson from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm with a one-hour lunch break and she was whipped. The end of the lesson was the end of her ski day, but the good thing about cutting out early was that we were able to explore all the other indoor activities at Seven Springs.