EDITOR’S NOTE: NYC area family-friendly skiing guide updated for Winter 2021-2022!
Family-friendly skiing, snowboarding and tubing is not as far or as difficult to get to from NYC as you may think. Several kid-friendly slopes and resorts are within a few hours by car, commuter train or even bus.
And COVID-19 — be damned! Most resorts operated throughout the 2020-21 season without issue thanks to limits on daily lift ticket sales, face mask requirements, social distancing rules and restrictions on lodge use.
So if you want to escape the urban jungle for a day or weekend, here are some of our favorite family-friendly ski resorts and spots in the New York City area.
Thunder Ridge Ski
Thunder Ridge Ski may be the easiest of all these to reach from NYC. Located in Patterson, N.Y. just off I-684, it’s only 90 minutes by car and accessible via the Metro North Hudson Line. The resort normally offers a free shuttle service on weekends and you can call to have them pick you up during weekdays, but this may not be available because COVID-19. Check the resort’s ski shuttle page.
Thunder Ridge is good for beginners who may tire easily given its easy access, small size (22 trails, three chairlifts, and four magic carpets) and gentle slopes.
Mountain Creek Resort
Also just a 90-minute drive away is Mountain Creek Resort in Vernon Township, N.J. It offers two-hour lesson and rental packages at a reasonable price through its Kids Kamp. Mountain Creek offers 200 acres of trails with eight lifts along with 30 lanes of snowtubing — a perfect family activity, no skill required.
Staying overnight at the Appalachian hotel on site is also awesome because, regardless of the temperature, you can relax in the heated outdoor pool and hot tub. (I’ve done it — it’s pretty amazing on a cold night.)
Camelback Mountain Resort
About two hours northwest of NYC in the Poconos is Camelback Mountain Resort, regularly voted one of the best family-friendly skiing resorts in Pennsylvania. Why? In addition to nearly 200 acres of skiing (fully covered by man-made snow if nature doesn’t help), Camelback has one of the biggest snow tubing parks — 42 lanes — in the United States, ziplining, an adventure park and a 4,500-foot-long Mountain Coaster.
The fun doesn’t stop at night. Colorful LED lights and music keep the snowtubing going after dark while skiing and snowboarding also continue.
Tired of the outdoors? You and the family can dive into the wave pool or ride of the water slides at the adjacent Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark. If you go, make sure you read our indoor waterpark tips first.
One downside — driving is the only way to get here.
Hunter Mountain Ski Resort
Hunter Mountain in the Catskills in the closest “big” mountain (3,200 feet above sea level) to NYC at less than three hours away. Given its size (it just added trails and a 13th chairlift for 2018-19), Hunter has something for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels with two terrain parks and 67 trails over 320 acres. It also boasts New York’s state largest snow tubing park with 1,000-foot-long lanes.
One-on-one or group lessons are available for kids or, if you want some adult time on the slopes, “playcare” is available for kids ages 2 to 6.
Windham Mountain Resort
A bit farther north in the Catskills is Windham Mountain Resort. Lessons are available for children as young as 3 while experienced skiers and boarders will find plenty to do on 285 acres filled with 54 trails, six terrain parks and 12 lifts.
Windham also has an Adventure Park with tubing, ice skating and — yes! — kid-sized snowmobilies.
If you really want a more traditional New England-style but still family-friendly ski resort, trek the four hours north by car or bus to Mount Snow in beautiful West Dover, Vt. With 85 trails, 20 lifts and 10 terrain parks across four mountain faces and 589 skiable acres, it’s the real deal.
You could also go snowtubing. Or get pulled by a team of Siberian huskies. Or take a ride on a sleigh pulled by Belgian draft horses.
Mount Snow also offers occasional Kids Discovery Days where children ski and learn free with a midweek lodging stay and adult lift ticket purchase.
For more on the family-friendly skiing and winter experience at Mount Snow, check out this review.