Now that winter has finally arrived, it's time to embrace the chill. We've rounded up some of the best skiing and snowboarding spots within a few hours drive of the city.
A winter sport like skiing is great way to get outdoors as a family, rather than wallowing indoors all season long. It'll make the warm weather come that much sooner! Read on for our rundown on these local slopes, so you can pick one that matches 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.
A beginner skier tests out the slope at Campgaw Mountain. Photo courtesy of Campgaw.
Best Location: Campgaw Mountain
Want to jump in the car and be on the slopes in less than an hour? Campgaw Mountain is your place. This tiny slip of a slope is 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 also available, and there's a special children's program for ages 4-6. Campgaw can get busy, but it's definitely not as crowded as some of the bigger resorts.
Best All-Inclusive: Rocking Horse Ranch
Looking to escape for the weekend and indulge in some wintertime fun? Rocking Horse Ranch, just 90 minutes from NYC, has plenty to keep your family busy—skiing, tubing, ice skating, sleigh rides and even an indoor water park. We just 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 you want to visit the spa or simply take a nap. Sounds divine.
Best Ski School: Windham Mountain
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 4-12. Children ages 2-7 can be dropped off at the center for half- or full-day supervision, too, while you freely explore the 53 trails. Windham is a family-friendly resort with many wonderful services, such as a full-service ski shop, choice of eight dining facilities and nearby lodging, so it's a great choice for a weekend getaway.
Best Bargain: Belleayre
The 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 a little freedom to ski on their own.
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Free lessons and a small mountain makes Mount Peter popular among novices. Photo courtesy Mount Peter.
Best for Beginners: Mt. Peter
If you're a newbie to the sport and want to dip your toes into it without laying out a large sum for rentals and a lesson, Mt. Peter offers FREE beginner lessons three times a day on the weekends for all skiers ages 5 and older. If you've got a toddler or preschooler dying to be on the slopes, check out its 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. And if your kid is a seasoned skier and interested in joining a ski team, Mt. Peter offers five different racing teams for a variety of ages and experience levels.
RELATED: 8 Indoor Water Parks for Families in the NYC Area
Ski resort or water park? How about both? Camelback in the Poconos offers it all. Photo courtesy Camelback Mountain.
Best for Non-Skiers: Camelback Mountain
Recommending a ski resort for non-skiers is a bit of 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. For even more thrills, try the mountain coaster and zipline. When you're tired of winter sports altogether, head inside to the Aquatopia Waterpark at the Camelback Lodge and Resort.
Best via Public Transportation: Thunder Ridge
If you thought your 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 $10-$61.50 and include round-trip train fare, lift ticket and shuttle to and from the resort. While the shuttle will be waiting on weekends and holidays, mid-week skiers can simply call the resort upon arrival at the station for an on-demand shuttle; the resort is only a mile away.
Best Terrain Park: Mountain Creek
Mountain Creek is a great all-around option for a family ski trip with four peaks worth of trails to traverse but it's also home to the largest terrain park in the area, with more than 65 acres of terrain to explore. Sunday mornings mean its Twisted Kids Fun Sessions are running. Kids and their parents are given access to Twist Park to experience the terrain and coaches are on hand to help beginners get acclimated or experienced skiers and riders master a new skill.
Top photo: A young snowboarder checks out the terrain park at Mountain Creek. Photo via Flickr by Anthony Quintano.
This post, originally published in December 2008, is updated annually.