I used to dread winters in New York City. All the gray snow, slushy sidewalks, and battles to get a cab. Sure, the snow would look pretty for the nanosecond it covered the city in a quiet, white blanket, but soon enough we were right back to mystery slush that splashed me on my way to work.
Things changed in 2003 when I fell in love with a diehard skier. There were many negotiables in the relationship, but beach vacations in January were not one of them.
Ski trips were part of our love story–he wooed me on the mountains of Colorado, Utah, and Montana and soon I was hooked on the man and the snow.
When our family expanded, my husband couldn’t wait to get the little people on snow sticks. At 18 months we took our first daughter off to Utah, 10 years later she’s hooked on ski racing and part of the small but dedicated Connecticut Youth Ski League.
Yes, Connecticut has a ski league and it’s just one of many local mountains that serve New York City families. In fact, New York state has more ski hills than any other state in the country (more than 50 ski resorts).
If your family is new to skiing resorts like Thunder Ridge, Camelback, and Windham (and our local hill Mohawk Mountain) are a great place to learn. Small resorts such as these are set up to be easy to get up and running.
No Car, No Problem
You don’t even need a car to ski at Thunder Ridge. They offer a free shuttle from the Patterson, NY, Metro North Train Station to and from the ski area. In just a few hours you can be on the slopes and having fun with the kids.
Did you know about the 3rd or 4th grade Learn to Ski or Ride for FREE program (note there is a $26 processing fee) run by New York State? With the Learn to Ski or Ride program, your child will get a lift ticket, lesson, and equipment rental free. There are over 20 ski areas, like Thunder Ridge, participating.
More than Just Skiing
If you can plan ahead, it’s a good idea to sign up for your lift and rental ticket packages online. You won’t have to queue up at the ticket window and you’ll go to the head of the line at the rental station.
Camelback has a comprehensive website making it easy to book ahead. And though they are just over two hours outside the city, this resort offers much more than just skiing, so consider booking a room at their lodge. You’ll get access to snow tubing, plus the Aquatopia indoor waterpark. The water park is amazing, but please remember to get the kids outdoors too!
Once You’re Hooked
Once the ski bug bites you, don’t fight it. Many of these local hills offer season long learning packages (and yes, folks travel from the city every weekend to chase the snow). Mohawk Mountain in northwest Connecticut (90 miles from the city) offers a “Mountain Division” a weekly skill development program for skiers and snowboarders ages 6-13. Both of our girls started in joined Mountain Division and progressed into racing programs.
The classes are 4.5 hours long with a lunch break. You can do one day a weekend or both days–it’s up to you. I suggest starting with the 8-day sessions and progressing ($1,174.99 for the season). I love the consistent coaching and that my girls made great ski buddies through the programs.
For All Levels & Abilities
At Windham, experienced riders (7 years old and up) and skiers (5 years old and up) can take their skills to the next level in one of Windham’s multi-week programs. And kids ages 6 and up can learn to ski the bumps, hit the jump, and free-ski like their idols in the Freestyle Program. With private lessons available for children, ages 3 and up, and lessons for all individuals with disabilities and special needs are available through the Adaptive Sports Foundation, this winter destination truly provides lessons for every member of the family.
Forget about the gray snow, make this the winter you hunt down the real stuff right outside the city.
Nicole Feliciano is the Founder of Momtrends Media and Publisher of the Digital Family Ski Guide. Last year she skied 60 days in search of the best family ski experiences. She lives in Brooklyn, NY, with her husband and two girls…that is when she’s not on the road chasing snow.Interested in stories like this? Sign up for our eNewsletter New York Family Weekly Scoop