Here in casino country, Northstar is a wholesome oasis families adore. For good reason. First, there's the resort's physical layout. Its ski trails, tame but interesting, form a horseshoe around Northstar's compact base village. This makes it impossible to get lost, though there's plenty to explore. The resort makes it a snap for families to get around, too: The gondola from the base takes you directly to the midmountain area, where you can pick up your rentals, meet up with your ski school instructor and head out for a day of skiing. And Northstar does something particularly sensible: Ski school age brackets overlap, so stronger skiers can move up a level and be suitably challenged. If you have a little one who needs you throughout the day, fear not. The transferable Parent Predicament Ticket can be shared (sparing you the embarrassment of wearing your spouse's ticketed coat for a few runs). When the lifts stop, Northstar runs a chair to Polaris Park, where kids (and parents) play on snow bikes and other toys. Northstar controls more than 1,000 beds in the village area, so families have lots of choices. And they needn't fear being stranded deep in the woods: The free shuttles run everywhere, and they're easy enough to use that teens can ride alone.
Look Out For: A 400-foot midmountain superpipe, wired for tunes and serviced by its own quad.
What's Cool: The Pizza Phone: Call in from the slopes, and when you get to the bottom, your pie is ready.
Only Here:Captain Safety, in his wild yellow cape, quizzes kids on safety, then gives them tokens for prizes.