Soda Springs is the easiest ski resort to get to from the Bay Area, 164 miles from Berkeley, a straight shot on 80, and it might be the one that is most tailored to young kids and first-time skiers.
Tubing at Soda Springs
In addition to a ski mountain with lifts for every level, Soda Springs has built something they call Tube Town. For an admission fee specific to Tube Town, guests get all-day access to the huge tubing runs and a tube to use. A moving sidewalk takes you back to the top of the hill so you can slide down again and again.
Tube Town provides enough thrills for parents and kids alike. Must be 42 inches to ride. The full walk-up price is $55, but advance purchase online offers dynamic pricing, and I can see that the no-school day I have my eye on is just $20. (Pro tip: go on a day that your school is out, but is not a holiday for ALL schools, but note that Soda Springs is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.)
Planet Kids at Soda Springs
Aimed at getting kids age 7 and younger into the snow and maybe even on skis, the Planet Kids area of Soda Springs has a variety of attractions for snow play, including some very gentle slopes for learning.
Tickets to the Planet Kids area includes access to the play areas, plus snowsports lessons that come with equipment rental, including helmets. So, you can show up to play, and if your kid is game to try some skis on, you can go for it.
There is also tubing at Planet Kids, a tamer version than Tube Town, for kids under 7 only.
Admission for Planet Kids and Tube Town are not bundled together. They are separate tickets, as is access to the full ski hill's chairlifts. Kids lessons for ages 8 and up take place on the main ski hill.
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