Bay Area Ski Bus
Archived Q&A and Reviews
Bay Area Ski Bus with 5 year old?
I don't ski but I think my 5 year old would like it. I was thinking of taking the Bay Area Ski bus to a ski resort but I don't see any recent reviews. Any advice? Which would you recommend going to? NonSkiingMommy
Ski buses are great- for adults who want to ski the whole day and then party on the way home. But it's a very bad idea to take a 5-year old first-time skiier on a ski bus. Your child may or may not like skiing. But either way, he or she will be exhausted after a couple of hours on the slopes. Then you will be trapped at the ski resort with nothing to do until the bus is ready to leave at the end of the day. Ski resorts can get pretty boring if you're not skiing. There's generally a small amount of shopping to do and a lot of gross, expensive food to eat. Unless you enjoy sitting in the bar and drinking, you will be dying of boredom by the time the bus leaves.
Also, these buses leave super early in the morning. You'd probably have to get your child up around 4:00 am or earlier to make it. This will probably lead to a cranky, tired child who will not want to ski.
I used to be a children's ski instructor and took my 4-year old skiing several times last year. You want to make sure that your child associates skiing with fun, not with being tired, bored and uncomfortable. Ideally you would drive up the night before and spend the night in a hotel (there are a lot of cheap hotels at South Shore) so that your child can have a full night's sleep before his first day. We always stop at In-n-Out burger on the way up which my son really enjoys and makes him look forward to the trip. Then you put him or her in a ski lesson. After the lesson you have lunch, relax, and see what he/she wants to do for the afternoon. Do not push a tired child into an afternoon lesson. Build a snowman or go sledding instead. Or go home. My son didn't do well when we put him in lessons 2 days in a row. Also, although my son loved skiing and wants to go back, he was always kind of a nightmare after his lessons because he was so tired. Just expect it and it's a lot easier to deal with.
My son did not learn to ski very well last year. But we made sure that every experience that he had was very enjoyable and now he keeps asking when we get to go back this year. I have high hopes that he will get it early on this year and be able to ride the ski lift. He loves skiing and, to me, that's the most important thing.
Many resorts have kids' learn to ski packages. You pay one price and it includes a lift ticket, a lesson and equipment. They are generally pretty good deals. But you will still have to buy or borrow all of the clothing that your child will need and it gets expensive. There are ski swaps around where you can buy used gear but they may have already happened. At a minimum, you will need the following: ski pants, ski jacket, helmet (new, don't try to save money here), goggles/sunglasses (I prefer goggles), gloves, long underwear and ski socks. You may also want to buy a neck gaiter or balaclava to keep his/her neck warm.
My dad always says to remember the Farallon effect. Apparently a friend of his took a new girlfriend sailing for the first time. The guy chose to take her on the Farallons' Race (this is the race where several people died this year). The girlfriend hated it and never wanted to go sailing again. He should have taken her over to Tiburon to have lunch on the deck at Sam's. She might have turned into an avid sailor! To me, taking the ski bus with a first-time skiier is similar to taking a first-time sailor to the Farallons. Take it easy and have fun
Hello! Skiing with 5-year-olds is one area I know something about, so I am going to post my first ever response to a BPN question.
I worked as a ski instructor and coach for many years, and even ran the children's ski school at Sugar Bowl for a time. My best suggestion for you when introducing a 5-year-old to skiing is to skip the weekend if you possibly can, take a weekday off and head up there when the weather is good. Pick a day when it will be sunny and relatively warm, dress your child appropriately (layers, not too many or too few, don't be afraid to tell the instructor to pull off a layer if your child seems overheated) and don't forget sunscreen and sunglasses! A mid-week, non-holiday group lesson is almost always small, and can sometimes even be one-on-one. Basically, you get a private or a semi-private experience for the price of a group lesson!
I love Sugar Bowl, but Northstar or Squaw might be a better fit for you because you do not intend to ski yourself. The villages at those resorts are nice places to hang out while your child is in his or her lesson; you could sit by a fire sipping cocoa and read a book, go ice skating, or go snowshoeing or cross-country skiing if that's your inclination. Sugar Bowl is great because it is closer and smaller. There are not as many frills but it's a great resort filled with very caring people. If you decide on a private lesson, ask for Patty Garza because she is awesome!
My last piece of advice is to try to either take the bus or spend a night up there to relieve yourself of some of the stress of driving up and back in a day. The hotels in Reno always have great ski and stay deals, and the hotels in Truckee have great deals mid-week. The hotels at the resorts are a special treat and may include lessons and meals.
Good luck! Enjoy the mountains! I started out skiing at 10 through an after-school program, and no one else in my family skied. It turned into a lifelong passion and a great alternative to a lot of mischief I was getting into otherwise. You're a great parent to introduce your child to something that is not necessarily your cup of tea. Samara
Hi, My 5 year old son and I just took amtrack to Tahoe and we had a great time. The views from Amtrak were beautiful and we arrived refreshed. There is bus service from the amtrak station in Truckee to the ski resorts including Squaw Valley. The bus costs 1.75 and kids are free on the bus. The California Zephyr train takes a little over 5 hours, travels through all kinds of weather and has a dining car, observation car and snack car along with sleeper cars. The price was also great as well; a couple hundred dollars round trip for both of us and if you plan ahead you may even be able to do it for cheaper! abstractflower
Excellent source is the website ''Bay Area Ski Bus'' - lots of options. ccwhit