Mammoth Mountain, California
The ski and snowboard season is here! If you are looking for a great place to ski or snowboard this winter I highly recommend planning a family vacation to Mammoth Mountain. My husband and I used to go up to Mammoth Mountain long before having kids, so taking the kids for the first time was a big milestone in our family travels. It was like showing them a piece of our history. We spent four days in Mammoth Mountain and it was one of the best family vacations we’ve ever taken — and I’ll tell you why…
Last Spring when we took this trip our kids were 6 and 8 years old, which in my opinion is the golden age for enjoyable travel with children. They are old enough to do many things on their own but still young enough to be fun, easy-going and still want you to be around. They’re little people with personalities and watching them learn new things and explore while traveling is one of the greatest joys of parenthood. Putting our kids in ski and snowboard school for the first time was something we had wanted to do for a very long time and this made for a great vacation for us too. Harris and I were able to spend quality time together doing something that we both enjoy — it was almost like we were dating again! 😉
Where we stayed
We stayed at The Village Lodge which is located right in the heart of the Mammoth Village and only steps away from the gondola. I can’t really say enough about this place. Our two-bedroom suite was gigantic and came with a large in-suite kitchen, perfect for families who’d rather make a few meals instead of eat out for every meal. The bedrooms were on opposite sides of the suite which allowed Harris and me to have some privacy. The two-bedroom suite also had a nice family room with a fireplace, TV and a full dining room table.
Just outside there are three hot tubs, a large pool and a few fire pits scattered throughout the property. The hotel sells s’mores kits that include sticks for roasting the marshmallows. You can also buy wine to go at The Side Door wine bar and they’ll even give you plastic cups so you can enjoy a glass of wine outside by the fire. The Village main street also has a few fun games for kids to play, while waiting for a table at one of the restaurants. The Mammoth Village Lodge is definitely the perfect mountainside luxury escape.
The Village dining & shopping
You can also head down to the Village Market to pick up your own snacks, wine, food, water and any other groceries you might need. You’ll also find a Starbucks, Rocky Mountain Chocolate, Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream and a New York Deli & Bakery, which is a great place for breakfast. There is the cutest kids’ store in the Village that sells a little bit of everything from snow gear, pajamas, shoes and bathing suits, to toys and gifts.
Where to eat
Gomez’s Restaurant & Tequileria — Right as you step off the gondola you should immediately go to Gomez’s, an incredible Mexican restaurant which has an enormous variety of tequila. We ordered the Mammoth Margaritas, a sugarcane shrimp salad and some very delicious chicken and shrimp tacos — and for dessert, a plate of sweet and sugary churros of course. They have a large patio with a fireplace and even a little sandbox with shovels and buckets for the kids to play with.
The Side Door is a casual European cafe in the front with a very cozy, old world wine bar in the back. In the morning they serve breakfast, cappuccinos and crepes and for lunch they have paninis and salads. Then by late in the afternoon the wine bar starts filling up with skiers who want to enjoy a nice glass of wine or house sangria before dinner. The wine bar, which is wall-to-wall with shelves of wine, makes you feel like you’re sitting in an old library. This is a perfect place for Mom to go and have an hour to herself.
Campo — You’ll need to make a dinner reservation! This rustic Italian restaurant is owned by Chef Mark Estee and is inspired by his travels through the rural villages of Italy. We heard it was the hottest restaurant in town and only got in because someone had canceled. We practically ordered everything “for the purpose of this post” — it was work, people. If you can get away for a date night, do this sans the kids, but ours went and they enjoyed the meal just as much as we did. We literally feasted like kings at Campo.
The pizzas are made in the wood-burning brick oven so the bottom is a little darker than kids are used to, if you have picky eaters you may want to order a few sides for them instead. Our kids loved the cauliflower, potatoes, and the salami and cheese platter and ended up eating more of that and I ate their pizza. 😉
Ski & Snowboard School
Since it was Spring Break in California the Ski School was packed! We arrived a little late and so there was a bit of a line to get registered. You need to make reservations for Ski & Snowboard School ahead of time, which we did — but you still need to get checked in for rentals and pick up the lift tickets. Your kids will also need to be fitted for their boots, boards and helmets. Most of the swarming kids were all going to ski school, there were only a handful of kids learning to snowboard so our kids were practically given a private lesson with only two other kids their age learning to snowboard.
Family travel tip:
Get there early on the first day. We felt a little rushed and frantic when we first arrived, not thinking about how busy it would be. There is a place right in the main chalet where the kids’ ski school is to pick up a light breakfast and coffee. So plan to arrive early and just grab something light right there in the chalet so you can relax into your day a bit.
By the end of day one we watched our kids go down the bunny slope unassisted — falling at the end, of course — but we were impressed. Their instructor was very fun and easy going. He had little games to play with them even before they started the lesson to get them warmed up and loosened up. This helped them relax and not be so nervous. At the end of each day they were given a report card and items that they had mastered were checked off. The kids loved seeing their report card get filled out, this helped them want to learn and master each task.
Most memorable family moment
When we all sat on our very first chairlift together. I almost cried (for real) and I am not an emotional person. I was giggling and giddy with excitement and couldn’t believe that our babies were going up a mountain with a board strapped to their feet. I was also a bit nervous about all of us getting off without falling all over one another. That chairlift ride was one of the best moments of parenthood to date.
Once we got off the lift (no one fell!) we sat down to strap on our boards, I went over to help McKenna and she push my hand away and said “Mom, I know how to do it.” I sat back amazed and watched her do it and then down the mountain we all went….
Thank you Mammoth Mountain. We have traveled a lot with our kids and this was one of the most memorable family trips we’ve ever had.
Disclosure: We were given 4 2-day lift tickets and 2 days of ski school for our children so I could experience and review the ski school. We had so much fun that we paid full price for our third day of lift tickets so we could snowboard more! Our accommodations were discounted to a media rate. All my savvy sassy opinions are my own. We would have paid full price for this entire vacation, because it was worth every penny.
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