Easy local skiing with kids at Bear Creek
BEAR CREEK MOUNTAIN RESORT
101 Doe Mountain Ln, Macungie, PA 18062
visit site> (610) 682-7100
BEAR CREEK 2015 TRIP w/friends!
Last year we made our first trip with the boys to Bear Creek. The boys were ages 3+4 and we had a great time. This time we invited all the boys friends and HipsterHenry.com reader to join us (at an amazing price!). Year #2 was a huge success and we all had a great time. The trip wasn’t even over and we were planning next year.
Bear Creek is 90 minutes outside of Philadelphia and the lodge sits right at the base of the mountain which makes a week trip about as easy as it gets. The trip was so easy that even through we are all snowboarding and skiing rookies the boys and I went up Friday by ourselves to get an early start. We owned the bunny and teddy bear slopes. Henry at age 5 could take his binding off and on and get on the magic carpet himself after the second run. Oliver at age 4 skied in between my legs while he whispered …”this is so awesome” the whole way down the bunny slope.
Here are my tips to taking your little ones skiing and loving it
1. Ski in March:
I know the season is over in March but stick with me. In March the crowds which means no lines. Honestly we had the bunny slope to our selves. Spring skiing also means warmer temps so you are not dealing with frozen little fingers.
2. Pack a Ton of Gloves:
The rooms are big but it is really hard to get their gloves 100% dry. Pack a ton of back ups.
Everyone on the trip that used the babysitting or day care center for their really little ones loved it.
4. Swim Stuff:
I lug a lot of stuff when we go away and honestly we use all of it. I packed an entire swim page with kick board, puddle jumpers, inflatable balls etc. Between us and our friends we used all of it. There are two outdoor hot tubs, one heated outdoor pool, and one indoor pool.
We did treat ourselves to dinner downstairs at The Grill but you can order a pizza to the room. Every room has a mini fridge and a microwave. This allowed me to bring drinks, creamer for my coffee, yogurt, cheese stick and do oatmeal for breakfast. I like this because it helps me save a little bit of money plus the boys were so wiped out sometimes that it was great to have their favorite stuff handy.
6. Try it and be Flexible:
Since my boys were born I have tossed them into new situations on a daily basis. I called these our “adventures.” I started every adventure with the understanding that things could go south in the first 5 minutes and I would have to be okay with that. Our first year Henry snowboarded till he literally fell over and we had to drag him off the mountain. His brother Ollie went down once and said I’m done. We spent the entire day sitting at the base of the bunny slope eating fruit by the foot and dum dum lollipops. I didn’t even toss on a pair of skis. I watch tons of parents get frustrated with their children when they refuse to ski and my heart goes out to them because I have been there. I am happy to say this year Ollie snowboarded and skied and I basically had to hold him back from dive bombing down the slope on every single run.
7. Rental all your stuff at the hotel renal shop:
The equipment at the hotel rental shop is newer and it is less crowded. You just have to get your lift tickets and rental tickets over at the main ticket window or group sales office first. When you are done down the hall is the ski storage. Drop everything off and pick it up when you are ready to go back out.
8. Bring a Sound Machine:
I am the only one in the family that was bothered by the hallway noise. If you have a light sleeper in the group just pack a sound machine or download an app on your phone. I didn’t have one so I had to tell teenagers on the loose running up and down the halls and locking each other out of their rooms for fun to wrap it up. I overheard them say that girl out there is really mad we need to stop. GIRL. They didn’t say “lady” or “mom” they said GIRL. I love those kids and I am going to get some more mature pajamas.
Have a great trip! For additional information from our trip in 2014 see below.
BEAR CREEK 2014 TRIP
Taking two toddlers snowboarding for the first time would strike fear into any parent’s heart. Just to note I don’t mean the potential dangers of the sport. I mean the potential dangers of toddlers ruining a perfectly good intentioned family weekend. I didn’t know how the boys were going to take to skiing and snowboarding but with the season wrapping up we decided to make a last-minute attempt and run up to Bear Creek Mountain Resort for the weekend.
I know it might seem silly that we made the trip in March but that also gave us the biggest advantage. Not only was it not overly crowded but the boys didn’t have to learn a new sport and worry about being cold or piling on a ton of gear to stay warm.
I am happy to say not only did we survive but I walked away a proud Mama, Henry (4) found his love for snowboarding and Ollie (3) checked off one of his best outdoor pool experiences to-date.
LEARNING TO SNOWBOARD:
Bear Creek Resort is set-up great for families and for a get away weekend. Here is how we did it. First thing we did was stop by the equipment rental shop and got the boys hooked up with their snowboarding gear. At their age they can just strap the boards right onto their regular snow boots. You can rent everything you need including helmets. Then we headed over to Riglet Park which is a separate mini area where the boys could learn how to snowboard. The staff was awesome. The boy’s little snowboards had retractable leashes on them so they would go down the little hill and the staff would pull them back up the hill. The boys really got a chance to get used to the feel of snowboarding and they loved it. The staff was a great crew of college kids that then started a snowball fight with the boys which they were in heaven with. It was a nice little distraction for them as Mom tried her hand at snowboarding for the first time. (it is pretty awesome)
Next it was onto the bunny slope. The magic carpet (basically a conveyor belt that you hop on and hop off) takes the little ones up and down the gradual hill they came. They would slide down on their boards, bail and then get back up and repeat it all over again until they got to the bottom. They loved it and there was no fear and they did it until they were exhausted.
Later that night Henry took his first official ski lesson at the ski school. This was the really impressive part. The instructor wanted to know all about Henry. She asked what kind of day he had, did he eat, did he have a nap, what type of personality does he have? I thought this extra attention to detail was really great. He got along great with his instructor and they worked together until Henry was pretty much dead weight from all his activity that day. He trucked back to the hotel room with a huge smile to get ready for dinner.
When we were not on the slopes we were at the pools and hot tubs. Bear Creek has a beautiful heated outdoor pool that is right at the bottom of the mountain. It has a great view of the slopes and the contrast of the pool against the snowy mountain is pretty cool. Kids with their much higher internal temperatures were jumping in and out while the adults stayed under. Either way everyone made a mad dash for their towels when they were done. There is no lifeguard on duty.
Of course the boys wanted a full tour so off to the inside pool we went. The inside pool is smaller with a hot tub that the boys really enjoyed.
In addition to the outdoor and indoor pool areas there is a big outdoor hot tub and a small outdoor hot tub. Pretty much everywhere you are has great views of the mountain.
For the pool I brought their toy boats, blew up a beach ball and their puddle jumper life vest. Other parents also packed life vest and a few toys. They do not have those items there so be sure to pack them if you child needs them.
I always mention staff when I do a review because I think they really make a difference in your experience. I cannot say enough great things about the staff at Bear Creek. From check-in to the restaurants everyone was very helpful and great. The lodge can be a little confusing because there are different levels and things are spread out. Every time I had a question about where something was a staff member always showed told me and then took me to the place I was looking for. The college kids were friendly, fun and played with the boys. The high-school kid’s ,where this was their first job, were polite and professional and the more seasoned staff was experienced and excellent.
At dinner out appetizers and main courses came out at the same time. The server was sweet and quick to apologize and could not do enough for us.
The food was great. Even better than I expected and after a long day outside sitting down by the fire while hearing the boys chatter on about what they liked about their day and watching night time skiers what perfect. There are three main places to eat at the lodge and a little spot called bear bites.
We did lunch at The Grill, dinner at The Grill, breakfast at Trail’s End and snacks at Mountain Eatery. Everything was great.
Mountain Eatery: If you are just coming up for the day or just want to eat with as little fuss as possible you want to go to the Mountain Eatery. Picture your college cafeteria with all its different options and plenty of seating at big family style tables. The entire one side is glass with great mountain views and three giant fireplaces. The Mountain Eatery is right next to the equipment rental and right by the ski lifts and bunny slope. Hours: 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. (lunch, snacks, dinner). Bear Bites is also located here which is open for a limited menu breakfast.
Trail’s End: Trail’s End is at the other end of the lodge and is a great place to grab a pizza and a drink. We also stopped in here for breakfast where the boys got giant fluffy pancakes and watched the skiers make their morning runs and the kids jumping in the outdoor pool. At Trail’s End you can order at the counter and they will bring it to your table or there is a section for regular table service.
The Grill: We had two great meals in the The Grill. Again you are sitting at mountain view or fireplace tables and there is a big bar almost the whole width of the restaurant. Lunch was great and they had crayons for the boys and at dinner we watched experienced families make night-time runs down the lit up mountain. The food options were great and I had a rare cocktail which was also great. The kid’s menu had a lot to choose from including the usual and a kid’s sized steak, spaghetti and grilled chicken. The prices on the kid’s menu ranged from $5.50 to $10.95. *I would recommend that you make a reservation at The Grill when you book your trip if you would like to eat there. That way you get the time that is best for your family before they fully book up. Besides skiers and weekenders you also have locals that visit the grill for a night out.
GOOD TO KNOW & INSIDER TIPS
- There are microwaves and mini fridges in the room. If I did it over again I would have brought oatmeal for the boys in the morning. They were so tired from the day before they slept in till 9:30 a.m. in the morning and I wish I would have had something simple to give them. They also have pizza delivery to your room for an easy dinner.
- You have full cable in the rooms. After a long day with toddlers if you just wanted to take a break in your room for a little calm down time you are set. They even passed out and I got to watch a non-cartoon show for 60 minutes. #heaven
- There is coffee in the morning for hotel guest in the lobby or a Keurig in the room.
- Snowtubing is only for ages 6+.
- There is a fitness center that is open 24 hours a day.
- Guest of the hotel have a separate equipment rental shop. This will save you from the lines over at the main equipment rental shop. To save time you can go to the hotel rental shop, get fitted and then pick every thing up when you are ready the next morning if you arrive late at night.
- Parking for hotel guest is right by the Lodge entrance. Our car was a stone’s throw away the whole time. It is also free.
- There is a very nice day care area if you would like to drop off the kids and get a few adult runs in.
- They have a full spa that also has its own hot tub and even has kid’s services.
- They have guest laundry.
Bear Creek is really one long building. But when you get there they give you a really great and simple map of where everything is. LOOK AT IT. It doesn’t take long to get the lay of the land but making a mistake with toddlers in tow and having to go all the way over to the other side can be avoided if you just check out that map.