Chicago’s terrain is flat as far as the eye can see, making it tricky to make use of that ski gear collecting dust in the basement. But, in a little over an hour, you can hit mountainous slopes, with your family in tow, at one of the area’s best ski destinations. Read on to plan your winter family-friendly romp in the snow at Wilmot Mountain in Wisconsin.

But First, the Basics
Wisconsin’s Wilmot Mountain, part of Vail Resorts (yes, that Vail), is accessibly located halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee. And, if you’ve never skied, or if you have kids that are new to the sport, you can take ski lessons that will have you flying down the mountain in no time. Don’t worry about buying any gear ahead of time either, Wilmot Mountain can set you up with high-quality skiing and snowboarding equipment, including helmets.

The skiing and snowboarding areas (11931 Fox River Rd.) are open Mon.-Fri., 10 a.m.-10 p.m. and 9 a.m.-10 p.m. on weekends and holidays. The tubing area (12301 Fox River Rd.) is open from Mon.-Thurs., 4 p.m.-9 p.m.; Fri., 4 p.m.-10 p.m. and 9 a.m.-10 p.m. on weekends and holidays. Be sure to call ahead to verify activity availability before making the trek.

Here’s What’s New
Wilmot has been around since circa 1938 but the whole resort has experienced a facelift recently. Skiers and boarders can now enjoy new towers and chairs, rope tows, an expanded terrain park, and beginner area conveyor lifts. Plus, the base lodge has been upgraded to include up-to-date décor with extra seating and improved dining options at Walt’s Tavern, open for lunch and dinner. Families with small children will love the new kid’s ski and snowboard school, complete with an indoor play space and lunchroom.

All About Equipment Rental
The experts in the rental shop will hook your family up with everything they need to be successful on the slopes. Skis and poles, as well as snowboards and boots, of varying sizes for adults and children, may be rented for $36. We recommend helmet usage while out adventuring and the shop can rent them to you for $10.

Learn How to Ski
Children, teens, and adults can take group or private lessons to either start from scratch or get a refresher on skiing and snowboarding. For example, kids can take lessons with the Threes on Skis (new this year), Children’s Group Lessons, a three or six week extended ski program, or learn how to race in the Youth Race Development Program. Of course, there’s a Snowboard Camp and Snowboard Skills Clinic as well, for boarders that want to deepen their skill set. New this season is the Snowboard Girls Rock program, that mirrors the past year’s Ski Girls Rock program, which are both groups led by female instructors with the aim of empowering young girls.

Something for the Non-Skiers of the Group
Whether you choose to stay off of skis and boards or you just want to add something extra to the wintery experience, snow tubing is also available at Wilmot, just down the road from the skiing/snowboarding area. Dress warm—it’s windy, wear goggles for comfort and visibility, and prepare for a fun nighttime outdoor adventure on the 22-lane tubing area. The best part: you won’t have to drag the tube—or yourself—back up the hill because a conveyor belt will do that for you. Afterward, warm up in the tubing lodge and enjoy some snacks and hot cocoa.

Pay to Play:
There are a few pricing options available for enjoying the 120 skiable acres, on 23 different trails as well as the snow tubing. The Ski to Tube or Tube to Ski promotion, which includes a $10 discount off of a ski or tube pass when you try the other activity, is a great deal. For the regular season, single-day passes can be purchased for $60/adult and $55/children and seniors. Friday-Sunday, and holidays, are more expensive at $70/adult and $65/children and seniors. Tubing varies from $25-$36, depending on which day of the week you go. A new Mobile Express pass is available via mobile purchase. Families can also take advantage of the Epic Day Pass, which enables you to select the number of days you plan to play in the snow at any of the Vail Resorts across North America.

Good to Know:
While lodging isn’t available at Wilmot Mountain, there are several nearby options, including Dragonfly Bed and Breakfast, Hampton Inn & Suites Kenosha, Candlewood Suites Kenosha, The Cove of Lake Geneva, and Best Western Plus Antioch Hotel and Suites.

So, what are you waiting for? Gear up, head out, and have an adventuresome time with your family this winter at Wilmot Mountain!

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— Wendy Altschuler


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