My aunt, an expert skier, always used to say that the best time to learn to ski is when you’re young, when you’re fearless and your center of gravity is lower—and you’re less likely to feel embarrassed by falls. However, once you add up the cost of lift tickets, rentals, lessons, food, hotels and gas, a simple ski vacation can turn into an expensive endeavor. One way to cut costs is to do a ski day trip—an easy option with a number of ski resorts in the area two hours away or less.
These twin resorts are great for families looking for variety—one lift ticket is good for both mountains in the same day. Jack Frost has 21 slopes, including a ski-school learning slope, 4 easy and 8 advanced, plus 9 lifts and 2 terrain parks. Big Boulder has 15 slops, including 4 easy runs and 3 advanced ones, plus 8 lifts and 5 terrain parks. Three-hour lessons are available for children ages 3-10, and packages are available that include lift tickets and rentals. There is also snow tubing, and childcare for non-skiing little ones.
This Allentown-area ski resort has both downhill skiing and a snowboarding park, with a sizeable beginners’ area and a handful of expert trails. It also features three progressive terrain parks, which include various freestyle features, as well as snow tubing. The Kodiak Kids Programs include lifts, lessons and rentals. There are two, 2 1/2-hour sessions for children 6 and up. A daycare is available for non-skiing tykes ages 6 months to 6 years.
Offering 34 trails and 16 lifts, Camelback has a little something for everyone—and a lot of mountain. The resort also features a number of different options when it comes to ski schools (which includes rental): half-day Camelcare Adventurer packages for kids 3-5, half-day packages for kids 6-12, and 90-minute lessons for kids 6-12. (CamelCare Adventurers includes an hour free in the nursery.) It’s also home to a large snow-tubing park with 42 lanes and 2 magic carpets.
Deals: Camelback offers an “Explorer Card” program for beginning skiers, which includes 3 all-day lower-mountain beginner terrain lift tickets, 3 group lessons and 3-day rentals for $129 for skiers age 6 and up.
Boasting the highest vertical in Pennsylvania, Blue Mountain offers 39 trails, 14 lifts and 6 terrain parks. Two-hour ski lessons for kids 4-12 include a lift pass, progress card and snow pin, and the all-day programs also includes lunch (rentals for both are $25). The resort also features a snowtubing park with 21 slides, a luge track, and a Big Air Bag that cushions your fall if you want to try stunts. Babysitting is available for kids 6 weeks to 5 years old.
Deals: First-time ski & ride packages include rentals and unlimited access to three learning-center hills. The package is 50 percent off Sundays in January, February and March (except holidays and other restrictions may apply). Active military receive a $10 discount.
The closest ski resort to New York City, northern Jersey’s Mountain Creek has 41 trails, including 7 beginner and 1 expert, 9 lifts and 18 total freestyle terrain park trails. 90-minute lessons for kids ages 8 and up are available and include rentals and limited-access lift tickets. Kids Kamps are available for children ages 4-7, in half- and full-day durations, and include lift tickets (rentals are an extra $20; full-day includes lunch).
Deals: New Jersey residents in 5th grade receive free lift tickets, and skiers from PA resorts can bring their old lift tickets for a $10 discount. On Carload Thursdays, everyone in the car (max 10 people) skis for $99.