If you read my last article you know that I love skiing out West, but most of the season actually finds us a bit closer to home. While I’ll admit that getting the whole family up on skis can feel like a Sisyphean task at times, once you get past the initial hurdles (the cold! the gear! the long car rides! the lessons!), you will have given your kids a lifelong skill and created a family experience that you can share for years to come. And so, in my second installment, I bring you my top 5 family ski destinations near NYC suburbs, all within driving distance of Greenwich, CT.
First Things First – Rent Gear Before You Go
One of the biggest tips that I have for enjoyable family skiing is to have all of your gear before you get to the mountain. Seasonal rental packages, especially for children’s skis, are both practical and economical, and allow you to skip the often long lines and lengthy process of renting gear on site. Trust me when I say that this is a game changer, especially for small children who can tire of the whole process before they even get on mountain. There are a number of local rental options, but I like Outdoor Sports Center in Wilton, CT the best.
Thunder Ridge Ski Area, Patterson, NY (approx. 1 hour drive time from Greenwich, CT)
My first recommendation is really a day trip destination, but is truly the best option for first time or younger skiers. Only about an hour away from Greenwich, CT, Thunder Ridge Ski Area is a great beginner mountain. With 22 trails, 3 lifts and 4 magic carpets, it is the perfect start to family skiing. It can get quite crowded during the weekends, so to avoid the crowds I recommend going after school on a weekday as the mountain is lighted and stays open until 9:00 pm. They also offer group lessons Monday through Friday afternoons. When my son was first learning, I used to take him for a lesson every Friday after his preschool dismissal, which was a great way for him to learn the basics and build up his confidence before tackling a bigger mountain.
Butternut Basin, Great Barrington, MA (approx. 2 hours drive time from Greenwich, CT)
If you have graduated from a day trip and are looking for something slightly more challenging and little bit farther away, Butternut Basin, located in the Berkshires, is a great next step. At 110 skiable acres, 80% of which are beginner or intermediate, Butternut Basin is a great family mountain, with terrain options for everyone. There are two lodges with cafeteria dining options, and the Upper Lodge offers a fairly good salad bar. There is also a small tubing hill on the mountain, and a nursery daycare program if you have littles that aren’t ready to ski yet. There are a number of hotel and motel options in the area, but my top recommendation is the Fairfield Inn and Suites. About a 15 minute drive from the mountain, it is convenient and incredibly family friendly. There is an indoor heated pool and game room, and they show children’s movies in the conference room every evening and offer board games. While the hotel doesn’t have a full service restaurant, they allow you to eat and drink in their common areas. We often packed wine and ordered take out (Four Brothers Pizza Inn is especially good) to enjoy some adult conversation in the lobby while the kids watched movies. If you are looking to eat out, Barrington Brewery, 5 minutes down the road, is a family friendly pub with handcrafted beers.
Okemo Mountain Resort, Ludlow, VT (approx. 3 1/2 hours drive time from Greenwich, CT)
This has become our family’s favorite mountain, and you will find us there most weekends throughout the winter. With 121 trails and 667 skiable acres, it is one of the larger mountains in the area and boasts the East’s longest Superpipe (a large halfpipe that remains a perennial favorite for my kids) and 7 terrain parks. When you’re done skiing for the day, there is also snow tubing, snowmobiling, and a mountain coaster on site. We stay at the Inn at Jackson Gore, which has two full service restaurants, a game room, two pools (one indoor/outdoor located inside the hotel complex and another indoor one, with a slide, in the Spring House next door) and an ice skating rink. Also, if you’re looking for an adults only dinner, there is a Saturday night Kids Night Out program offered for ages 6 months through 12 years. Important to note is that Okemo is now part of the Epic Pass, a group of 19 ski resorts nationwide including Vail, Beaver Creek, Whistler, Blackcomb, Breckenridge, Park City, Heavenly, Northstar, Kirkwood and Stowe that all share one season pass. If, like us, you tend to ski both locally and out West, this is a great option.
Stowe Mountain Resort, Stowe, VT (approx. 4 1/2 hours away from Greenwich, CT)
Travel another hour farther and you come to the delightful town of Stowe, VT and the Stowe Mountain Resort. Located at Mt. Mansfield, the highest peak in Vermont, Stowe boasts 116 trails and 485 skiable acres, as well as a plethora of other activities including ice skating, horseback riding, snowmobiling, ice climbing and sleigh rides. The Lodge at Spruce Peak (formerly The Stowe Mountain Lodge) is our favorite on-site hotel. A luxury, ski in/ski out hotel, the Lodge at Spruce Peak offers an outdoor heated pool, indoor climbing wall, game room and special pop up children’s activities such as Laser Tag and Build a Bear workshops. Another hotel that we really enjoy in the area is the Von Trapp (yes, those Von Trapps) Family Lodge. This family centered, Austrian chalet inspired resort located 7 1/2 miles away is a great option if not everyone in your group is up on skis. They offer snow-shoeing (a highlight was a 3 mile snow shoe hike to rustic Slayton Pasture Cabin for lunch), on-site cross country skiing, and sleigh rides. If you do have adventurous and advanced skiers, there are 25 miles of un-groomed, back country skiing available. The hotel also offers a rock wall, indoor swimming pool and outdoor hot tubs, a daily kids camp and evening movie nights, and family programming including, of course, Von Trapp sing-a-longs. If you want to break up the drive, The Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour in Waterbury, VT is a good option. You can take the 30 minute factory tour or just purchase an ice cream cone or sundae (including some special factory-only flavors).
Whiteface Mountain, Lake Placid, NY (approx. 4 1/2 hours away from Greenwich, CT)
Nestled in the Adirondacks, Lake Placid is actually one of our favorite vacation destinations year-round, but has the added Winter bonus of being home to Whiteface Mountain, the highest vertical ski mountain in the Northeast. The mountain offers a number of options for serious skiers, such as their First Tracks Weekend program and The Slides, 35 miles of off-piste double black diamond wilderness skiing. For non-skiers, Lake Placid also has an incredible amount of off-mountain activities and events to experience. Host to both the 1932 and 1980 Winter Olympics, the Olympic spirit still runs strong through this adorable mountain town. You can tour the Olympic Museum and the Olympic Jumping Complex (and if you’re lucky, watch an Olympic hopeful practicing a jump), watch Figure Skating Exhibitions or ice skate on the Olympic rink, cross country ski on the Olympic course, or brave the Bobsled Experience (my son’s favorite!) where you can ride a bobsled with a professional driver down the Olympic track at 55 mph. Don’t miss the dogsled rides on Mirror Lake, in the center of town, as well as The Cottage for beautiful lakeside views and a good apres ski scene. There aren’t any ski in/ski out hotels, but we love the Whiteface Lodge, a luxury resort modeled after the Adirondack Great Camps located 20 minutes from the base of the mountain. The resort offers a basement entertainment level for kids that includes a full-size movie theater, an old fashioned ice cream parlor, a bowling alley and a game room. There is also an indoor/outdoor pool, ice skating rink and sledding hill and a complimentary daily kids camp. Saratoga Springs, NY is at about the half-way point in the drive and a good stopping point. My husband loves PJ’s BAR-B-QSA, a roadside BBQ with the best smoked brisket and burnt ends. For a longer stop, venture into historic downtown for Hattie’s Restaurant (amazing fried chicken!) or explore The National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame for some horse racing history.
About Joanna Y
Joanna is an Instagram fashion influencer, wife, and stay at home mom, who is passionate about style. She is an avid traveler, a voracious reader, an over-zealous coffee table book collector, and has a weakness for chai lattes, pink peonies and anything with a monogram. She is a former NYC Public Relations Executive, with a Masters Degree from the Annenberg School and B.A. from UCLA, having graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Summa Cum Laude. Joanna started her Instagram fashion page to document her own personal style and share her favorite tips and finds.
Follow Joanna Y
@mycandidcloset on instagram
You may also be interested in: