9 Family-Friendly Ski Areas Near NYC For Your Next Winter Getaway
Now that winter has arrived, it's time to embrace the chill by getting out and hitting the slopes at one of these family-friendly ski areas near NYC. We've rounded up nine nearby options sure to entertain any family, whether you're bringing along beginners, looking for an all-inclusive weekend away, or want entertaining perks beyond the slopes.
A winter sport like skiing is a great way to get outdoors as a family, and it makes the warm weather seem to come much sooner. Read on to find out which of these family-friendly ski areas near NYC matches your skill level and interest. Want more family-friendly ski spots or picks for other snow sports? Check out our Skiing and Snow Sports Guide, which offers more options in the tri-state area, New England, and even California. We've also got picks for the best snowboarding parks and snow tubing spots nearby.
When planning your ski trip, check state and local travel advisories, many of which require out-of-state visitors to quarantine or have a negative COVID-19 test before arrival. While some resorts are welcoming families to stay in slopeside lodging, many encourage visitors to boot up at their cars and treat their vehicles as a personal base lodge. The National Ski Association has published the Ski Well Be Well guide to set industry standards for all resorts this year. As expected, masks are required, families will be kept together on chair lifts, and modifications have been made to popular children's programming.
Experts love the expansive Mountain Creek in New Jersey, but there's plenty for beginners here, too.
1. Best All-Around: Mountain Creek – Vernon, New Jersey
2021 update: You have to buy your tickets (for skiing and snow tubing), lessons, and book rental equipment ahead of time online; there will be no tickets sold at the mountain. Other safety precautions include mask requirements, putting on your gear in the parking lot, and maintaining six feet of distance on lifts.
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. Plus, it's just over an hour away and one of the closest resorts to the city. We visited and had a great time. Ski and snowboarding lessons for kids and adults are offered in a substantial ski-school area.
Campgaw is great for the littlest skiers!
2. Closest to NYC: Campgaw Mountain – Mahwah, New Jersey
2021 update: A health form—which can be printed on its website—has to be filled out before you can enter. All guests must have their temperature taken. Tickets can also be purchased online ahead of time.
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. Campgaw is an excellent 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's a children's program for ages 4-6. Campgaw can get busy, but it's not as crowded as some of the larger resorts.
Windham Mountain is known for its top-notch ski school.
3. Best Ski School: Windham Mountain – Windham, New York
2021 update: Group lessons are being held for kids ages 7-12, while younger children must go the private lesson route—and reservations must be made online ahead of time. There is no daycare program this year. Other safety precautions include social distancing and mask requirements. Lodge capacity has been cut in half.
Your kids will be in good hands at Windham's Children's Learning Center, which provides lessons for ages 3-14. Children ages 2-6 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 exceptional amenities, including an adventure park, full-service ski shop, multiple dining facilities, and nearby lodging. It's a welcoming choice for a weekend getaway.
RELATED: Best Snow Tubing Spots Near NYC
Free lessons and a small mountain make Mount Peter popular among novices.
4. Best for Beginners: Mount Peter – Warwick, New York
2021 update: Tickets must be purchased ahead of time, and there are mask and other COVID-19 requirements in place. Its ski team program is substantially limited this season.
If you're a newbie and want to dip your toes in the sport without laying out a large sum for rentals and lessons, Mount Peter offers FREE beginner lessons (with the purchase of a lift ticket) multiple times a day on the weekends for skiers ages 6 and older. Customizable mommy or daddy-and-me or family lessons are also available. If you've got a toddler or preschooler dying to be on the slopes, check out Pete's Pals lessons for potty-trained kids ages 3-4. 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 various ages and experience levels.
5. Best Bargain: Belleayre – Highmount, New York
2021 update: Like other places, tickets, lessons, and rentals have to be bought and/or booked online before you head to the mountain—and currently, only weekdays are available. Masks are required, and there is no childcare this year.
State-run Belleayre Mountain is economical—midweek lift tickets can be had for as low as $49 (and $28 for kids) who have a frequent skier card—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.
6. Best All-Inclusive: Rocking Horse Ranch – Highland, New York
2021 update: The kid’s program and childcare are currently closed. Other safety protocols, like mask requirements and social distancing, are in place. The resort also recently installed a new air purification system.
Looking to escape and indulge in some wintertime pampering? 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 loved this all-inclusive resort when we visited. 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 take a nap.
Can't decide between the ski resort and water park? Camelback Mountain offers both, and Aquatopia is newly reopened.
7. Best for Non-Skiers: Camelback Mountain – Tannersville, Pennsylvania
2021 update: For skiing, tickets and rentals have to be purchased in advance. Other precautions are in place, like mask wearing, additional sanitizing, and social distancing.
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, which offers night-time "galactic tubing." For more thrills, try the mountain coaster. When you're tired of winter sports altogether, head inside to Aquatopia Waterpark at the Camelback Lodge and Resort.
8. Best for a Weekend Escape: Split Rock Resort – Lake Harmony, Pennsylvania
2021 update: The hotel’s water park reopens on January 15, but the nearby Jack Frost/Big Boulder ski resort is currently open, and lift tickets should be booked in advance.
We enjoyed an incredible family getaway at this resort and the neighboring Jack Frost/Big Boulder ski areas. Between the daytime skiing, snow sports, and family-friendly amenities, there is plenty of entertainment for all. Combo packages can be purchased to save money on lift tickets and the Split Rock water park.
9. Best via Public Transportation: Thunder Ridge – Patterson, New York
2021 update: The shuttle will not be in operation this season because of COVID-19 restrictions. But you can catch Metro-North to the Patterson station, then take a cab or Uber to the resort.
If you thought not having 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. The shuttle is waiting on weekends and holidays, but midweek skiers can call the resort upon arrival at the station for an on-demand ride; the resort is only a mile away.
All photos courtesy of the resorts. This article, originally published in December 2008, is updated annually.
Places featured in this article:
Thunder Ridge Ski Area
Mount Peter Ski Area
Belleayre Ski Center
Split Rock Resort
Big Boulder Mountain