4 Family Ski Slopes Within 3 Hours of the City
Enduring a Northeast winter has to be good for something, right? Embrace the chilly temperatures and take your kids to a nearby ski resort for some snowy fun, even if it’s mostly faux snow. While you won’t find anything close to the black diamonds of Whistler or Jackson Hole near New York City, there are plenty of slopes perfect for introducing kids to the sport. For those not ready to go downhill, alternate options abound with sledding, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and kids clubs to occupy your children while you cruise down the slopes. Here are our top picks, all less than a 3 hour drive away (Tappen Zee Bridge backups and Holland Tunnel traffic jams not accounted for).
Drive time: 2 hours 45 minutes
The Children’s Learning Center makes this one of the most kid-friendly slopes around for 2 to 12 year olds. Starting at 4 years old kids can get a private lesson or learn the ropes at ski school. If your 2 to 7 year old isn’t up for skiing, she can enjoy indoor playtime, activities and lunch while you hit the slopes. Beyond skiing, the Windham Mountain adventure park offers ice skating, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, tubing and more. Kids over age 6 can even feel the speed with a quick snowmobile ride. Windham is a nice alternative, and sometimes less busy, option to nearby Hunter Mountain. We aren’t going to lie – weekends are still packed, so we recommend getting there early. And since this is one of the few ski areas that offers weekday lessons, if you can sneak away for a midweek escape, you’ll be rewarded with short lift lines and smaller classes.
33 Clarence D. Lane Road
Windham, Ny 12496
Drive time: 50 minutes
Located just 20 miles north of the George Washington Bridge in Mahwah, New Jersey, you won’t find another ski area closer to the city. If you’re interested in skiing yourself, it probably won’t do much to pique your interest, but it’s an easy day trip and a good spot for kids to learn. Beginner snowboarders can also build skills at the mountain’s terrain park. Private ski and snowboard lessons are available for kids as young as 3 years old and group lessons are offered for kids ages 4 and older. If they still have energy to burn apres ski, you can also go tubing. There’s a variety of runs and a lift to get you and the tube back to the top.
200 Campgaw Road
Mahwah, Nj 07430
Ski Big Bear
Drive time: 2 hours 15 minutes
Don’t forget about Pennsylvania and this Poconos Mountains option. Kids ages 4 to 8 can join the Ski and Play program and kids ages 8 and older can join a group ski or snowboard lesson. Private lessons are also available for kids 4 years old and up. Make it a weekend and take advantage of a ski and stay package at the all-inclusive Woodloch nearby, which was named one of the ten best U.S. snow resorts by Parents magazine. You’ll find an indoor pool, tubing, ice skating, nightly entertainment and fun daily activities like winter Olympic-themed family competitions.
Ski Big Bear
192 Karl Hope Boulevard
Lackawaxen, Pa 18435
731 Welcome Lake Road
Hawley, Pa 18428
Drive time: 2 hours 30 minutes
It’s not the biggest ski hill in the Catskills, but its more relaxed vibe, lack of crowds and kids ski school more than makes up for it smaller size. Kidscamp is a full-day instructional program – kids ages 4 to 12 can learn to ski and older kids, ages 7 to 12, can take snowboarding lessons, too. Your stress level won’t spike (as much) when you see your kid coming own the slope here either because the lower part of the mountain is separated from the main area, which means out- of-control skiers and snowboarders won’t accidentally crash into your little ones.
Belleayre Mountain Road
Pine Hill, Ny 12465
Ready to go? Don’t forget to read our 5 tips for preparing your kids for the ski slopes first!
Does your family ski? What’s your favorite local mountain?
- Julie Seguss
Images courtesy of Windham (1&2), Campgaw, Ski Big Bear and Belleayre