When it comes to Civil war history, most people living in the Mid-Atlantic region of the U.S. know to head to Gettysburg, PA. There are battlefields and enough educational opportunities to keep you and your family entertained all day. What many visitors don’t know is that this is also a great place to learn how to ski.
Liberty Mountain Resort is perfect for new and seasoned skiers to get into the snow and make a few winter memories. The laid back attitude at this resort makes for a fun day on the slopes, whether you are here to learn or just shred it on the terrain park.
While living in Seattle for about nine years, my husband and I took up snowboarding to get through the winter blues. Honestly, I was never very good. I tried, but my fear of uncontrolled speeds would always get in the way. I doubted myself, which lead to a lot of hard falls.
It didn’t help that while my husband was able to snowboard without interruptions each season, I was busy having babies and injuring myself when I was finally able to get back on the mountain between pregnancies. Moving back to the east coast I was ready to give up on our snow sports, but my boys weren’t.
My oldest Dek had been skiing since he was three. His little brother Ty, who is now three, knew that it was his turn to strap on some skis. Problem is, there aren’t many resorts in the Mid-Atlantic that have ski school for 3-year-olds. They need a private lesson. So that is what we did.
Liberty Mountain Resort Ski and Snowboard Camp
Liberty Mountain Resort is unique because it has a Burton Riglet Park. Kids are able to start snowboard camp by 4 years old, something almost unheard of when we started Dek on skis out west where many resorts wouldn’t start kids on boards until they were at least 7 years old. Dek was ecstatic that he was going to get to snowboard like his dad. I dropped him off first thing in the morning at the Children’s Learning Center and off he went. No kiss, no hug, just “bye mom!” They grow up so fast. By the end of the day he was worn out after two 2-hour snowboard lessons and announced that he was a snowboarder now, not a skier. OK. One kid down– one to go.
My youngest, Ty, was too little for snowboard camp, which only accepts kids ages 4-10. I opted for a “snowboard-with-me” lesson for him. This meant that his dad, who is definitely better at snowboarding than I am, went to his lesson with him. The instructor showed my husband how to help Ty stay balanced on his board and how to pull Ty across the snow using a toggle string built into the tiny Burton board he road (seriously, the cutest thing ever!). Ty’s attention wandered, as it normally does, which is why a class setting isn’t always ideal for three year olds. He did figure out how to balance on his board quickly and only fell a few times. Like any toddler, he wasn’t perfect on the first try, which was really frustrating for him, but his instructor stuck with him, redirected his attention and they even road the chairlift—something his big brother didn’t even get to do that day.
Kid number two was set. Now it was my turn. Being the nervous snowboarder that I am, I had taken up cross-country skiing a few years back. It was my zen time in the snow while the men in my house barreled down mountains with little to no fear. It got me thinking that maybe I should try downhill skiing too. I jumped into an hour-long group ski lesson at Liberty Mountain Resort, and I’m so glad I did. There were plenty of instructors to go around, so my group consisted of only four other adults trying to learn this new sport. We were a fun group with a patient instructor. His teaching methods were slow and simple. They made sense in my brain and I was able to control my speed quickly. Before the hour was up we were on the ski lift and practicing on the bunny hill. The hour came and went, but our instructor wanted to make sure we were all comfortable on the beginner hill before he left us.
I’ve been to more than a few resorts where the instructors were checking their watches to see when they could be rid of us. Not so at Liberty Mountain Resort. Over and over again I saw instructors showing patience with kids and adults as they taught a sport that they love to new enthusiasts. One gal in our group had tried skiing a few years ago, but never felt like she got the hang of it. After an hour at Liberty, she announced that something had finally clicked and she couldn’t wait to go up the bunny hill with her daughter, who was in a kid’s lesson.
My husband and I spent the rest of the day trading off turns going down the mountain while the other parent stayed with Ty. We opted not to put him in afternoon kids care, which looking back was a mistake because it took away from some prime alone time that my husband and I could have had on the slopes together. Next time we will book some kid care hours so we can check out the different trails together.
Now that I am more confident on skis after one lesson than I ever was on a snowboard, I can’t wait to continue our family’s snow adventures. The boys have been asking when we can go back up to Liberty Mountain Resort, and I’ll admit, I’m checking out our calendar to figure out when we can go to.
Skiing and Gettysburg don’t always seem like they could go together, but if you know where to look, you can enjoy your winter sports, some of the best food in Gettysburg, and even sneak in a little educational fun for the kids. This may not be a west coast ski scene, but that’s actually a plus. You can avoid the crowds, crazy boarders doing tricks, and just enjoy your time together at this Pennsylvania resort, where family time is important, and learning in a fun environment is the key to success on the slopes.
Know before you go
Liberty Mountain Resort, 78 Country Club Trail, Fairfield, PA 17320
Tips for parents
- Sign your kids up early for lessons or camp, especially if you are visiting on a weekend. Spots do fill up.
- If you have children under age 4, book your child for a few hours at Playcare, the resorts onsite daycare in the Children’s Learning Center.
- Children ages 3 and up can take a ski or snowboard lesson. Children ages 3-7 can take a snowboard lesson at the Burton Riglet Park or with a private instructor.
- Kid’s Snowboard and Ski Camp starts at age 4 and reservations are highly recommended.
- Parents of nervous little ones should look into the ski-with-me/ snowboard-with-me lessons. This one-on-one time with an instructor and mom/dad can make a big difference. The parent must be able to ski or snowboard in order to do this lesson though. This is not a place for beginner parents and kids to learn together.
- Snow tubing is available for older kids and parents. You will need to drive or take a shuttle from the main ski area to the tubing hill. It is not next to the main ski lift. There is also a kiddie hill for little ones too young to ride the big snow tube runs.
Where to stay
Gettysburg has a lot of great hotels in the area, but a few stand out if you want to experience the town of Gettysburg and the snow at Liberty Mountain Resort.
Gettysburg Hotel. If you can find the center of Gettysburg you can find the historic Gettysburg Hotel. It iss located on Lincoln Square, in the center of town, and within walking distance of most of the great food and sights this city has to offer. It is also an easy 15-minute drive to Liberty Mountain Resort. Rooms range from your standard double queens or king up to two-room, one bath suites that can fit your entire family. There is a seasonal rooftop pool for the kids, and the in-house restaurant, One Lincoln, is serving up gourmet cuisine that will satisfy the food lover in your family, as well as the picky eater.
Wyndham Gettysburg. Just a short drive from the center of Gettysburg, and about 20-minutes drive from Liberty Mountain Resort, the Wyndham Gettysburg is located in the 100-acre Gateway Gettysburg campus, with a hotel bar and restaurant right on sight. Across from the hotel you will find the popular Appalachian Brewing Company, which serves up good burgers, great beer and their own root beer and white birch beer. Beds are comfortable and the standard room can easily fit a family of four. If you need a little more space, suites with separate living rooms are available. The indoor pool is a huge draw for families, as it means kids can splash around and unwind after a long day on the slopes or touring battlefields no matter the time of year. Adults will appreciate the hot tub where they can soak their tired bones.
Many thanks to Liberty Mountain Resort, Wyndham Gettysburg and Destination Gettysburg for hosting our family ski trip. As always, my opinions are my own. When they aren’t you will be the first to know.
Snowboard camp and tubing hill photos courtesy of Liberty Mountain Resort.