Family Fun Awaits at Seven Springs Mountain Resort

By Jeff and Stephanie Sylva

Fun-filled family vacations are a sure bet when families travel to the Laurel Highlands in western Pennsylvania and stay at Seven Springs Mountain Resort, Pennsylvania's largest four-season family resort. Seven Springs is a great choice for your family travel plans, no matter what time of year. Skiing families from the New York metro area might want to consider making the 5 ½-hour drive to western Pennsylvania instead of the trip to Vermont or New Hampshire for their family vacation.

We spent four days at Seven Springs during the winter season and found our days packed with great outdoor activities. Seven Springs' main attraction for family vacations is its skiing, but many other fun-filled activities are available to guests. From sporting clays and bowling to swimming and spa treatments, guests will find lots to do at this family-friendly mountain resort.

Family Fun on the Slopes

We were pleased with the ski conditions on Seven Springs' thirty-three slopes and trails. The resort's snowmaking can easily make up for Mother Nature's stinginess with natural snow, even during a mild winter season. Although big mountain skiers may find the terrain less challenging, we found Seven Springs perfect for skiing families looking for variety in a safe environment.

Thirty-three trails may not seem like very many - but when they are spread out on 285 skiable acres, skiers will find plenty of wide open slopes as well as a number of meandering, twisting trails. More advanced skiers will find some great mogul runs and some steeps that will get the adrenaline pumping. The mountain's 10 lifts, including two high-speed six-packs, keep lift lines to a minimum, even on busy days.

Riders and free-stylers will find plenty of choice for terrain features in the mountain's six terrain parks. Voted number one for terrain parks in the East by TransWorld SNOWboarding magazine, Seven Springs has a progressive system of parks that gives everyone, from beginners to experts, the chance to practice and improve their tricks and skills.

Boarders will love "The Streets," the first-ever urban terrain park which replicates a city landscape and includes a variety of features all built with the look and feel of riding in a city. Another great feature is Seven Springs' Superpipe, a full 22-foot, Olympic-sized pipe – one of only two in the East. It's monstrous!

Whether your kids are new to the slopes or just looking to hone their skills, the Seven Springs Snowsports School has just the right program. A $10 discount is available for a pre-paid reservation for any lesson (except the Burton Learn to Ride program) if made at least 24 hours in advance.

More Mountain Activities

Skiing isn't the only winter fun at Seven Springs – a lot of other outdoor activities will keep your family going. Snow tubing is a blast, and the mountain has twelve chutes and, most importantly, a magic carpet lift that eliminates walking back up the hill. Get a great view of the mountain at night on a Snowcat ride and experience the slopes like the night groomers do. Families will love exploring the woods of the Laurel Highlands on a guided snowmobile tour, or have fun while getting a workout on one of the resort's guided snowshoe tours (rental equipment is available).

A great winter experience that everyone will enjoy is a traditional horse-drawn sleigh ride or a trail ride on horseback. For a more heart-pumping experience, try the Screaming Hawk zip-line course which offered limited winter hours while we were there.

After a day enjoying the great outdoors, the family can relax in a private hot tub session. Private outdoor hot tubs with a view of the slopes are available for a fee.

Après-ski and indoor activities

The family fun continues indoors as well, as Seven Springs offers a wide variety of year-round, indoor activities. Bowling on Seven Springs' regulation bowling lanes is a great family activity. Other indoor activities include miniature golf, roller skating, Segway riding, racquetball, swimming in the heated indoor pool, and gaming on the Bear Trap Fun Zone's numerous high-tech video games. Even those family members who need their shopping fix will find a number of shops and boutiques to browse.

Parents looking for some time to themselves can take advantage of the Kids' Corner, which will engage children of walking age through 5 years old in a fun, non-skiing day with toys, crafts, songs, games, and movies in a fully supervised playroom. Full-day, half-day and hourly rates are available and lunch and snacks are included.

With the young ones in Kids' Corner, parents can spend some well-deserved time enjoying the three R's of stress relief – relax, renew, and rejuvenate – at Seven Springs' outstanding Trillium Spa. Just like many top resorts we have visited in recent years, Seven Springs recognized the increasing demand that travelers, including vacationing families, have for upscale spa experiences. Trillium Spa is a luxurious sanctuary sure to please even the most veteran of spa-goers.

Two other activities that guests don't find at most resorts are sporting clays and sporting arrows. Seven Springs has one of the top-rated sporting clays facilities in the country, and welcomes all levels of shooters, from expert to novice. Sporting arrows at the archery range is also an activity families can enjoy together.

Reservations for many of these activities and guided experiences are necessary, so be sure to check online for times and pricing before your visit.

Summer Fun

The fun doesn't stop when the snow melts, since the resort offers a wide variety of summer activities as well. The zipline course is in full swing (no pun intended), as are the off-road Segway tours, the mountain biking trails and courses including a downhill bike park, alpine slide, paintball course, and summer tubing runs (right on the same tubing hill used in winter).

The resort also has a top-rated 18-hole mountain-top golf course, guided fly-fishing lessons, lake fishing, wagon and horseback rides, rock climbing wall, hiking trails, disc golf course, chairlift rides, hydrobikes and paddleboats, alpine tower, Monkey Motion swing, and mountaintop campfires.

Lodging, Dining and more

A variety of lodging options are available, from well-appointed rooms and suites in the main lodge hotel to a wide selection of cabins and chalets, condos and townhomes, and for larger groups the exclusive Fin 'n Feather.

Visit www.7springs.com and check out the different packages available, especially the Winter (or Summer) Family Memories Package, which includes hotel lodging, some meals, and a variety of activities – and best of all, free lodging and more for two children ages 11 and under.

Dining options at Seven Springs are perfect for families. The Slopeside Dining Room, where we enjoyed great views of the slopes during breakfast and then again during dinner (slopes are lit for nighttime skiing), offers a very nice menu and some great buffets both at breakfast and dinner. Helen's Restaurant offers fine dining in a rustic setting.

But for families looking for less formal dining, a number of casual and "on the run" options are offered, such as the casual family restaurant Timbers, and the Foggy Goggle, the ski lodge's favorite place for après-ski. Also available are a pizza parlor, a bake shop featuring scrumptious fresh baked cookies and more, and a coffee shop featuring Starbucks coffee. Although we didn't have time, we wanted to try The Grille at Sporting Clays.

Although we did our best to enjoy all the attractions Seven Springs offers during our four-day stay, we fell far short of experiencing everything. There is just too much to do. Our next visit will have to be longer.

If You Go:

  • Contact information: Visit www.7springs.com or call 1-800-452-2223.
  • Seven Springs Resort is located approximately one hour's drive southeast of Pittsburgh, easily accessible from the PA Turnpike, and within 200 miles of Baltimore, Washington, DC and Cleveland.
  • Because Seven Springs offers night skiing, a variety of lift tickets are available: Day – 9 am to 7 pm; Twilight – 1 pm to close; Night – 4 pm to close; All Day – 9 am to close.
  • While visiting Seven Springs consider a side to trip to the Flight 93 National Memorial in Shanksville. Visit www.nps.gov/flni for information. Although the museum hasn't yet been built, visiting the memorial is a moving experience.
  • Fallingwater: Another side trip to consider is Frank Lloyd Wright's architectural masterpiece, Fallingwater. Visit www.fallingwater.org for information.

Jeff and Stephanie Sylva are parents and retired high school teachers who have been travel writers for over 23 years. Jeff and Stephanie love the outdoors and enjoy playing tennis, hiking, biking, swimming, skiing, snowshoeing, and of course, traveling.

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