If you’ve been thinking about taking your family skiing or snowboarding for the first time this winter, Mother Nature has certainly provided some extra motivation (can’t beat fresh powder!). Yes, skiing with young children does require tons of effort (making sure everyone has the right gear, potty trips once you have already spent ten minutes clicking on their tiny ski boots) and lift tickets can be pricey. But once you see your tyke take their first trip down the bunny trail, it’s worth it.
Jacqueline Kennedy and Children (courtesy of Corbis Images)
However, if you’d rather have your family test the sport out before booking a trip to Telluride next winter break, here are some great mountains that are only a short car ride away.
Many Westchester kids (myself included) have learned to ski on this close to home mountain just 35 minutes from White Plains (for those who grew-up in the area, you may remember it as Big Birch). Thunder Ridge is the ultimate family mountain and offers 30 trails, 3 chairlifts, and 4 ‘magic carpets’ for both beginners and advanced skiers and snowboarders. Full weekend day adult lift tickets are $50, $37 for juniors (ages 6-12), and $12 for ages 5 and under seven days a week. If you plan on visiting the mountain regularly, you may even consider a seasonal pass. Don’t feel like driving? Definitely look in to taking the Metro North Ski Train, which lets you off just a mile from the mountain and then hop on a free shuttle to the slopes that runs at select times throughout the day. Thunder Ridge Ski Area: 137 Birch Hill Road, Patterson, NY; 845-878-4100
Catamount is one of the oldest original operating ski areas in the Northeast. About an hour and a half from Westchester on the New York/Massachusetts state line, it has 34 trails over more than 130 skiable acres. Weekend lift tickets are $62 for adults, $51 for juniors (ages 7-13), and $27 for children 12 and under. Catamount’s popular Mountain Cat’s children’s programs (ages 4 to 12) are a great way for your kids to learn things like ski-saefty and on-slope etiquette. Full day classes are $110, half day are $75 and rental equipment is $25 extra, which includes a helmet. Catamount: State Highway 23, Hillsdale, NY; 518-325-3200
Catamount Ski Area
Mohawk Mountain is located in Cornwall, Connecticut, about a 90 minute drive from Westchester County. It is set on 350 scenic acres of state forest, with 25 trails and 7 lifts. Their Snowhawks Children’s Programs are designed for ages 5-13, and teach skiing and snowboarding techniques using age appropriate skills (prices range from $43 to $95). Lift tickets are $58 for adults on weekends and holidays, $50 for juniors (ages 6 to 15), and $15 for children 5 and under. Take advantage of their All Mountain Unlimited Ticket for $30 Monday-Friday (non-holiday periods). Mohawk Mountain: 46 Great Hollow Road, Cornwall, CT; 860-672-6100
Windham is located in the northern Catsktills and is just over two hours from the New York Metro area. New for the 2013-2014 season is the Whisper Run Beginner Area: two acres of new beginner terrain and two surface lifts. They offer a variety of lift ticket packages for skiers and snowboarders. Weekend day tickets go for $58 for adults 18 and older, $49 for young adults (ages 13-17), $41 for juniors (ages 7-12) and $10 for children six and under. Windham Mountain Resort: 19 Resort Drive, Windham, NY; 518-734-4300
The largest ski and snowboard resort in Southern New England, Jiminy Peak boasts 45 lush trails and is about two and a half hours from Westchester depending on which part of the county you are coming from. Their Kids Rule Mountain Camp is a great daily program for children ages 3-14 that will teach the basics of skiing and snowboarding. It includes a full day of instruction (half day for 3-year olds), cocoa breaks, lunch and a lift ticket. The non-holiday cost for this program is $110 (holiday periods are $125) and rentals can be added for $20 extra, helmets included. Jiminy also has a Cubs Den for children 6 months and older. A one day non-holiday adult lift ticket is $67, $59 for young adults (ages 13-18), $50 for juniors (12 and under), and children five and under are free at the lower mountain. You can also save money buy purchasing all tickets in advance online. Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort: 37 Corey Road, Hancock, MA; 800-882-8859.