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Cross Country Skiing - The Ultimate Field Trip with Kids. Cross-country skiing vacations are becoming more popular because they are easy, fun, affordable, and healthy for all involved.  The adrenaline rush from a morning on the trails with your kids will yield more than a calorie burn burn. Traverse City Michigan Cross Country Skiing Family

Here's the scoop. According to information released by the Cross Country Ski Areas Association (CCSAA) North American travel patterns are changing. Vacations are closer to home and emphasize family time. In fact many cross-country ski centers have reported up to a 23% increase in visitors. The findings make sense to me. The sport is high-energy way to have fun and it is cheap and easy. It is also an easy way to meet friendly people who are also having fun. Because the best cross country skiing happens in beautiful surroundings where cell phones usually do not work there is more smiling being done and ultimately less stress. Plus after a morning of cross-country skiing everyone can enjoy pasta with extra cheese and dessert. Really!

Family feedback Devon McCarney and her mom cross-country skiing has always been part of their winter vacation fun. Now almost eight winters old she is seasoned and gives beginners three times her age advice.Lapland Lake Resort Cross Country Trail

“You don’t need to worry about getting lost once you are on the trail. There are lots of signs,” she explained as she sipped hot chocolate. “I like to race my brother and sometimes we even get to bring Listi our dog, but only when dad is with us. We don’t just ski we also use the tubes when mom is tired, and we make snow angels when grandma comes along.” According to the McCarney family their favorite place is Keystone Nordic Center because it provides an ideal place to have good old-fashioned fun.

According to Chris Frado, Executive Director for the Cross Country Ski Areas Association (CCSAA) there are many reasons that more people are choosing a cross country ski getaway.

Ease: Cross country skiing uses natural movements. It does not require special skills to get started. It has a short learning curve. Vacation time is spent on the trails rather than in lessons.

Accessibility: There are over 350 cross-country ski areas in the US and Canada. Many are less than two hours from urban centers and many within an hour’s drive.

Affordability: Compared with other winter vacations, a cross country ski escape costs much less. A weekend vacation for a family of four including lodge accommodations, breakfast and dinner, trail fees, rental equipment and a lesson is available in New England under $500. A week’s getaway for a couple at a lodge or ranch in the US or Canadian Rockies including 7 night’s lodging, all meals and skiing is priced from $2000. A simple day trip costs an average of $12 for a trail pass and $35 for trail pass, rental equipment and a lesson.

Variety: Cross-country ski areas offer a variety of lodging and skiing choices from log cabins with wood fired saunas surrounded by backcountry ski terrain to romantic country inns with miles of groomed trails just outside the door. Cross country skiing can be combined with an alpine resort vacation, or with a village B&B getaway weekend of shopping, dining and cultural pursuits.

Family friendly: Cross-country skiing is a multi-generational activity. Infants and toddlers can go along for the ride in a backpack or sled. Cross-country skiing is a kinder, gentler sport for grandparents and great grandparents. Teenagers who want to go fast can skate-ski, a technique that combines the leg motion of ice-skating and the arm push of cross-country skiing. Parents may try snowshoeing at centers that offer trails and rentals. If Fido is considered a member of the family, some centers welcome canines on designated dog trails.No Child Left inside

Many Cross Country Ski Areas Association (CCSAA) members actively support a nationwide initiative dubbed No Child Left Inside. The effort is focused on getting children involved in screen-free activities outside during the snowy season.  I am encouraged by the increase in the number of activities available for families who wish to share adventures in the snow. A comprehensive list is posted on a page dedicated to No Child Left Inside.

Make it happen. For information on cross-country ski destinations call the Cross Country Ski Areas Association. Toll-free 1-877-77-XCSKI or
Content provided by Chris Frado, Executive Director Cross Country Ski Areas Association (CCSAA); comments by Nancy Nelson-Duac, Curator of the Good Stuff for the Family Travel Files. Images courtesy Traverse City, Michigan and Lapland Lake Resort in New York. Copyright updated 2016.
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