There's so much to do at Big Sky when you want to take a break from skiing. A good ski resort has more to to offer families than just awesome powder--though that certainly helps.
In our first part of the Big Sky Resort Review, we covered the snow sport fun (click here). Now it's time to to take a look at what happens when the skis come off.
You're going to need a place to stay. Big Sky is definitely a destination resort. They offer everything from condos to free-standing homes. When we booked, we spoke to a very helpful reservations agent. She took our needs into account and we booked two separate experiences--a condo near the base village and a ski-in/ski-out log cabin.
Stillwater condos are an affordable family option. For many families, cooking a few meals while at the resort cuts down on costs and makes life less stressful. Stillwater is the perfect pace for families of 2,3,4,5 and even 6 (though it might be a squeeze). They've all got fully-outfitted kitchens, plenty of storage space and are a short walk to ski school, the lifts and the mountain village. We had a fireplace and a small deck off our kitchen. The girls slept in a loft area and we all shared a bathroom. The kitchen was on an open plan and had plenty of chef accessories. Upside: Affordable family option, located in the heart of Big Sky. Downside: Schlepping in ski boots to the base, and carrying skis back and forth each day (there is a ski valet at the base--$6 per pair of skis per day).
For a fancier experience, we booked three nights at the Cowboy Heaven Cabins. Cowboy Heaven is located in the Moonlight Basin area. These Montana-style log cabins have lovely views, decks and private hot tubs. Yes, the family hot tub was a HUGE hit. Like the condos, the cabins had a fully decked out kitchen. Ours also had two bedrooms, a washer/dryer (though it was oddly located in the middle of the living room), two bathrooms, and a wood-burning stove. We were able to ski home off the Powder Ridge run (a Green Run) and then ski off at the beginning of the day down to the Iron Horse lift. It couldn't get more convenient. Upside: Loads of charm, privacy, and convenient access to slopes. Downside: You'll need a car.
There are MANY other options. Head to http://bigskyresort.com/plan-a-trip
As we said at the beginning a successful family trip includes much more than skiing. Big Sky has a ton to offer. To plan your activities, head to Basecamp in the center of town. The Basecamp building is where you can organize activities and adventures. The staff there helped us picked the right zipline tour and were full of helpful information. They've got the 4-1-1- on all the non-ski fun.
We were led by a very droll Willis and his side-kick Molly on a 2-hour adventure called the Nature Zipline. it combined a, uphill 20 minute nature hike and three zip-line cords. ($59). The course is perfect for brave-ish kids 6 and up.
Located right in the Mountain Village this is extremely popular after ski-school pickup. Kids get harnessed into the Bungee Trampoline for a good 5-6minute bounce session. Our older girl mastered the back double flip. Grab a local brew (might we suggest a Cold Smoke) and watch the kids flip and zoom all while carefully supervised by Big Sky staff. ($13 per session).
Definitely try a day of Nordic skiing. We took two days off from downhill to try our cross-country at Lone Mountain Ranch. With 85Km of trails this is a worthy excursion and only a few miles away from Big Sky. Get more details here http://www.momtrends.com/2015/03/lone-mountain-ranch-montana/
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There's also excursions to Yellowstone National Park, snowshoeing, dog sledding and more. Again, get ideas from Base Camp. And don't forget about the Nordic skiing at nearby Lone Mountain Ranch (click here for more details).
Running is challenging at 7500' --take my word for it. If you're looking for extra workouts, there are classes, yoga and a fitness center. Huntley lodge has a gym and a pool that is accessible for most of the condos and houses booked through Big Sky.
Yes, that's a lot of activity. When you're ready to slow down, visit the spa. A good spa is imperative at any ski resort. Big Sky could use a free-standing spa, I think it would elevate the luxury element. The Solace Spa located in Mountain Village. The 3000 sf spa is nicely furnished but missing a steam room. What they do have are very capable therapists. I opted for the Gallatin River Hot Stone Massage ($155). My therapist used warmed native stones and added in a bit of deep tissue work. It was the perfect massage for recovering from a long day on the slopes.
If spa isn't your thing, I suggest chillaxing at the Carabiner. Most afternoons there's live acoustic music at the Carabiner Lounge. It's the perfect spot for apres ski. We suggest taking your drink outside--there's a roaring fire pit surrounded by snuggly white fur blankets. Get the kids a cocoa as you sip a nice Pinot Noir. I'm sure you earned it.
I talked about on-mountain dining here. In Mountain Town Center we liked Andiamo Italian Grill--a solid pick to refuel after a big day in the powder. Chic, yet kid-friendly, this spot had delish pasta dishes.
If you want to leave the resort you can head to the Village. You'll find a movie theater, shopping, pubs and Alberto's Mexican restaurant. We devoured the homemade guacamole after a big day of Nordic skiing and loved the margaritas.
If you're planning on cooking at home (and we did this 5 times during our week, you'll want to stock up BEFORE getting to Big Sky. We stopped into the Albertson's in Big Sky (near the airport), but I discovered Roxy's in the Village. Roxy's just opened and had all the organic brands we loved. From Itoen tea to Yellowstone Coffee to organic kale to Bark Thins, I loved the assortment and bright airy design.
Shopping isn't a highlight at Big Sky. I tried to find a logo neckwarmer (nope) and some chic black ski pants (nope). The village mall has all the basics and the girls got some cute hats, but I'd say when it comes to shopping Big Sky it's more functional that fashionable. The one exception is the Provisions shop over at the Summit.
Make sure you give yourself time for all the off-mountain fun. And for more trip-planning details head to http://bigskyresort.com/
This is not a sponsored post. Some meals and experiences were comped so we could write about the experience.