Now that winter has arrived, it's time to embrace the chill. We've rounded up some of the best skiing and snowboarding spots within a few hours of New York City.
A winter sport like skiing is great way to get outdoors as a family, and it will make the warm weather seem to come much sooner. Read on for our rundown of these nine nearby slopes, so you can pick one or two that match your kids' skill levels and interests. Want info on more family skiing and other snow sports? Check out our Ski Guide, covering the tristate area, New England, and even California for more options, including snowboarding parks or snow tubing.
1. Best via Public Transportation: Thunder Ridge, New York
If you thought lack of a car would limit your wintertime recreation to exploring the city's best sledding hills, think again. Thunder Ridge is accessible via Metro-North's Harlem Line. Prices range from $12 to $67.50 and include round-trip train fare, lift ticket, and shuttle to and from the resort. The shuttle will be waiting on weekends and holidays, but midweek skiers can call the resort upon arrival at the station for an on-demand shuttle; the resort is only a mile away.
However, you can also avoid driving (and schlepping gear) with these Ski Bus Deals in NYC, which pick up in NYC and deposit you at a number of area resorts.
Snowboarders love the expansive terrain park at Mountain Creek in New Jersey, but there's plenty for beginners here, too.
2. Best All-Around: Mountain Creek, New Jersey
Mountain Creek is a great all-around option for a family ski trip with 46 runs, the largest terrain park in the area, snow tubing, and a vertical drop of about 1,000 feet for the skiers. Plus, it is just over an hour away, so one of the closest to the city. We visited recently and had a great time. Ski and snowboarding lessons for kids and adults start throughout the day in a huge ski-school area.
A beginner tests out the slope in the Cruisers class at nearby Campgaw Mountain.
3. Closest to NYC: Campgaw Mountain, New Jersey
Jump in the car and be on the slopes in less than an hour. Campgaw Mountain is a tiny slip of a slope about 20 miles north of the George Washington Bridge, so it's perfect for a day trip. This is a great destination if your kids are young or just learning to ski. There's a designated beginner area with magic carpets for transporting little (or big) kids back up the hill. Individual and group lessons are available, and there is a children's program for ages 4-6. Campgaw can get busy, but it's definitely not as crowded as some of the bigger resorts.
Windham Mountain is known for its top-notch ski school.
4. Best Ski School: Windham Mountain, New York
Windham's ski school is ranked among the best in the country. Your kids will be in good hands at the Children's Learning Center, which provides lessons for ages 3-12. Children ages 2-7 can be dropped off at the center for half- or full-day supervision, too, while you freely explore the 54 trails. Windham is a family-friendly resort with wonderful amenities, including an adventure park, full-service ski shop, multiple dining facilities, and nearby lodging. It's a great choice for a weekend getaway.
RELATED: Best Snow Tubing Spots Near NYC
Free lessons and a small mountain make Mount Peter popular among novices.
5. Best for Beginners: Mount Peter, New York
If you're a newbie and want to dip your toes without laying out a large sum for rentals and lessons, Mount Peter offers FREE beginner lessons (with the purchase of a lift ticket) three times a day on the weekends for skiers 5 and older. Customizable mommy and me or family lessons are also available. If you've got a toddler or preschooler dying to be on the slopes, check out the Pete's Pals lesson program for potty-trained kids up to age 4. With all the little kid programs, it's no wonder we consider it one of the "friendliest" mountains we've visited. If your kid is a seasoned skier and interested in joining a team, Mount Peter offers five different racing teams for a variety of ages and experience levels.
6. Best Bargain: Belleayre, New York
State-run Belleayre Mountain is economical—a midweek lift ticket is just $32—and there are loads of other money-saving deals for those who want to make multiple trips throughout the season. Another perk? It's just the right size to give tweens freedom to ski on their own.
7. Best All-Inclusive: Rocking Horse Ranch, New York
Looking to escape and indulge in some wintertime fun? Rocking Horse Ranch, just 90 minutes from NYC, has plenty to keep your family busy, including skiing, tubing, ice skating, sleigh rides, and even an indoor water park. We visited this all-inclusive resort, so read our full review. Lodging, meals, activities, and entertainment are all covered in the price. Rocking Horse also offers a nursery for ages 0–5 and a day camp for ages 6–12 if parents want to visit the spa or simply take a nap. Sounds divine.
RELATED: Indoor Water Parks for Families in the NYC Area
Ski resort or water park? Camelback Mountain in the Poconos offers both.
8. Best for Non-Skiers: Camelback Mountain
Recommending a ski resort for non-skiers is a puzzler, but if your family can't agree on one snow sport why not head to a resort where you can experience a variety of winter fun? Camelback Mountain in the Poconos offers trails for skiers of every level. It's also home to the largest snow tubing park in the country, with night-time "Galactic Tubing." For more thrills, try the mountain coaster and zip line. When you're tired of winter sports altogether, head inside to Aquatopia Waterpark at the Camelback Lodge and Resort.
9. Best for a Weekend Escape: Split Rock Resort, Pennsylvania
We enjoyed an incredible family getaway at this resort and neighboring Jack Frost/Big Boulder ski areas. Between the daytime skiing and snow sports and the family-friendly amenities, there is plenty of entertainment for all, including little kids and big ones. Combo packages can be purchased to save money on lift tickets and the Split Rock water park.
Photos courtesy of the resorts
This article, originally published in December 2008, is updated annually. Suzanne Cort contributed additional reporting.