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|US: Olympic Gold Spring Break Family Vacations with Sunshine, Snow and Ice.
Three locations in the US – Lake Placid, Squaw Valley, and Salt Lake City have hosted winter Olympic competitions. Each location continues to offer Olympic-style family fun in a historic Olympic setting meant to inspire and energize even the most stolid couch potatoes.
Here’s the scoop. There is no substitute for being there but since Sochi is simply not practical, possibilities closer to home make more sense. I did some checking and the fact is winter Olympic venues in the US host visitors all year long but during the coldest months (including March spring school break) it is actually possible to ski, board, sled, and play hockey, curl or ice skate where the competitions took place. How cool is that?
I am passing along the highlights from the three locations including some extra benefits which make each location desirable for families who seek an active family spring break.
Lake Placid New York – See the first gold medal.
First stop is Olympic Center where it is possible to skate a few laps on the Olympic Speed Skating Oval. Ice hockey enthusiasts will enjoy the Herb Brooks Arena.
There’s Alpine skiing and snowboarding at Whiteface Mountain with free daily shuttle between Lake Placid/Whiteface and Whiteface/Wilmington. And while not an Olympic sport, there is also snow tubing at Whiteface Mountain.
One of most exciting family activities in town is a run on the famous Lake Placid Toboggan Chute which provides a vertical thrill before landing on the ice of Mirror Lake. At the Olympic Sports Complex it is possible to take a luge or bobsled ride (all year long) on the actual track used for competitions. The Lake Placid Bobsled Experience manages the adventure and offers 20 percent off your second bobsled ride. Bonus points:
Lake Placid Olympic Museum showcases the signature events of the 1932 & 1980 Lake Placid Olympic Winter Games including inspiring videos and memorabilia. Wait for it!
Do not miss the 600 foot wall of ice at High Falls Gorge near White Face Mountain Ski Center. In addition to the spectacular display ice provided by Mother Nature the complex has official junior ranger activities, and on weekends a campfire plus complimentary warm beverages and roasted marshmallows. Planning details:
Lake Placid Visitors Bureau 2608 Main Street Lake Placid, NY 12946. (518) 523-2445 or www.lakeplacid.com
Squaw Valley, California – First televised winter games.
The 1960 Winter Olympic Games were held in Squaw Valley near Lake Tahoe with the competitions televised to the world. Today Squaw Valley Ski Resort in Olympic Valley is one of the largest ski areas in the United States with skiable terrain that spans 3,600 including six peaks and 30 chairlifts. To visualize the competitive history of the location visitors now have a chance to join one of the new 1960 Winter Games Heritage Tours which offer excursions on-mountain to 1960 Olympic venues with plenty of insider details.
There are many wintery activities for families including Alpine skiing and snowboarding, dog sledding, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. There is snow tubing for families as well as mini snowmobiles for kids at the mountain. Visit the Olympic Ice Pavilion or ride in the aerial tram to High Camp at an elevation of 8,200 feet. Tiny tykes will be thrilled by the Kid-O-Rama Kastle, a snow castle with four towers, three slides and four staircases. Visit Sugar Pine Point State Park on the West Shore of Lake Tahoe, the location for many of the cross country races during the 1960 Winter Olympics. Tahoe City is now home to the Museum of Sierra Ski History which highlights the Olympic history of the region. Bonus points:
For families wish to share active adventures the first Aerial Treetop Adventure Park in California offers a series of courses linking tree platform to tree platform with a variety of bridges and zip lining spans. Wait for it!
On select nights it is possible to join a guided tour snowshoe tour by moonlight. Planning details:
Squaw Valley Rd, Olympic Valley, CA 96146. (530) 452-4331 or http://squaw.com/
Park City, Utah Family Fun – Skate the 400-meter Olympic Oval.
Home of the 2002 Winter Olympics, the Utah Olympic Park complex offers families plenty of fun during the winter months when it is possible to enjoy Alpine skiing, snowboarding, sleigh rides, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, ice skating, cross-country skiing, curling, and snow tubing. For extra adventures race down the bobsled track or learn to steer your own skeleton or luge. Ride a chair lift to the K120 start house at an altitude of 7,130 feet. Admission is free to the interactive Alf Engen Ski Museum which showcases Utah's unique ski history as well as the 2002 Olympic Winter Games Museum. Bonus points:
The adventures courses are now available during the winter season adding a new dimension to the fun. The Silver Adventure Pass entitles the holder to a two-hour guided adventure experiences. Several activity levels are available depending on age, weight, and level of adventure desired. Participants may be required to duck around obstacles, crawl through tight spaces, climb, jump, zip, swing, or balance along logs. The most thrilling perhaps is the zip line with a 65-foot drop at the end. Wait for it!
For and outer limits family experience Olympic Park offers cosmic curling with the magic of black light and neon creating a lively magical completion space. Planning details:
3419 Olympic Pkwy, Park City, UT 84098. (435) 658-4200 or www.visitparkcity.com
Content researched and posted by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for theFamilyTravelFiles.com. Images by Jeff Curtes - courtesy Squaw Valley. Copyright 2014.