Winter in the Northeast can feel endless, which is great news if you love snow sports! The best way to stave off the winter blues is to get out and be active. It may be hard to imagine hitting the slopes from the streets of New York City, but there are tons of great skiing and snowboarding areas just a short car or bus ride away, and most offer a variety of terrain for novices and experts alike. So pack up your boots, put on your goggles and get out of town while the air is chilly and the powder’s fresh.
Less than an hour from New York City, Thunder Ridge is the most convenient place to spend the day outside before returning the comfort of your own home — and you can do it all by train. Just hop on the Metro-North Ski Train at Grand Central and jump off in Paterson, New York, where the Thunder Ridge shuttle will be waiting for you. The MTA even offers a Thunder Ski package that includes discounted train fare and lift tickets, plus discounts on ski rentals.
Thunder Ridge is family-oriented and good for beginners, including children. It has three chairlifts to access its 22 trails and offers mid-week discounts like $30 lift tickets. On weekends, tickets are $57 for adults and only $20 for kids five and under, so it’s one of the best options for skiers and boarders on a budget.
If you can’t commit to a full weekend mountainside, take a day trip to this Catskills resort. Like many New Yorkers, you can catch an early morning bus at various locations in the area, then take it home later that night. Sourced Adventures’ Hunter Mountain package, for example, includes roundtrip bus fare and lift tickets for $125 and and ski or snowboard rentals for an additional $43. You can also book lessons through the company, meaning your entire day will be planned and paid for ahead of time so all you have focus on is shredding powder.
Hunter boasts a 1,600 foot vertical drop, 67 trails on 320 skiable acres, four terrain parks and 13 chairlifts to help you access it all without waiting in line too long. Lift tickets are about $60 a day for adults on weekends but there are plenty of packages and deals available.
Since the state of New York owns and operates this ski area in the Catskills just northwest of Poughkeepsie, it’s also very affordable. In addition, it’s easy to get to, especially if you have a car since it’s only about a 2.5 hour drive from New York City. It’s also accessible by bus, and in fact $107 will get you a roundtrip bus ticket and a 1-day lift ticket.
While it’s certainly not the biggest mountain on this list, Bellaeyre has a wide variety of terrain that all levels can enjoy. It includes 51 trails on 175 skiable acres, one terrain park and eight chairlifts. A 1-day adult pass costs $60 and kids six and under ski for free, making it one of the best deals around.
Of course I’m biased because I grew up ski racing on this rural hill, but Jiminy Peak is one of the most underrated mountains in the Northeast. It’s an easy weekend trip from New York since it’s only about a 3 hour drive and is accessible by bus through the mountain’s partnership with Skedaddle.
Jiminy has a range of terrain for everyone from beginners to experts, has a 1,150 foot vertical drop and includes 45 trails over 167 acres, with nine chairlifts to help you get up the mountain quickly. Perhaps the coolest thing about Jiminy is that it’s home to a giant wind turbine, nicknamed Zephyr, which provides 33% of the resort’s electrical needs, making it one of the greenest ski areas in the country. Full day tickets are $81 for adults, but children under five ski for free.
Jiminy is a great destination if you’re looking to do more than just ski because it’s conveniently nestled in beautiful Berkshire County, Massachusetts. There’s plenty of lodging on the property, and it’s just a 15 minute drive from Williamstown, which has lots of restaurants and hotels. If you want to take in some culture after a day on the slopes, you can check out the incredible Clark Art Institute or the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art in nearby North Adams.
Stratton and Mount Snow
If you’re willing to drive about four hours, you can enjoy two of Vermont’s very best ski resorts in one weekend. You can even take the bus from New York for about $50 (the bus line even does long but convenient day trips to Stratton). If you’re traveling from New York, you’ll reach Mount Snow first, and Stratton is about 10 miles farther down an often treacherous access road (yikes), which helps keep the crowds away (yay!).
If you’d prefer to focus on one ski area instead of shuttling between both, Stratton is more for weekend travelers while Mount Snow tends to cater to day trippers. Both resorts have plenty of luxury and affordable lodging, but there’s more to do at Stratton once the lifts stop running. Though Stratton’s more remote location usually means it’s less crowded, Mount Snow has a wider variety of terrain and more chairlifts to help you access them. The prices are comparable: an adult day pass at Stratton costs $125 and at Mount Snow a day of skiing will cost you $110.
Stratton is the tallest peak in Vermont with a vertical drop of over 2,000 feet and has 99 trails on 670 skiable acres. It also has 11 chairlifts lifts, including a gondola. Meanwhile, Mount Snow has a vertical drop of 1,700 feet, 600 skiable acres and 20 chairlifts. Though there are minor differences, both are impressive, beautiful mountains with an abundance of great skiing, so whether you choose one over the other or decide to check out both, you simply can’t go wrong.
This mountain is the farthest from New York of those I’ve listed and is only accessible by car, but it’s worth the five hour drive to experience not only the mountain, but the nearby winter wonderland that is Lake Placid. When you’re done with a day on the slopes, it’s easy to hop back in your car and make the 40 minute drive into town where you can shop, eat and check out the site of the 1980 Winter Olympics.
Its location certainly provides more activities to round out your weekend than most options on this list, but it also offers world-class skiing. At 3,430 feet, Whiteface has the greatest vertical drop in the Northeast and has 86 trails over 288 skiable acres, with 11 chairlifts. The terrain is incredibly varied, from beginner to expert to everything in between. There’s plenty of lodging at the base of the mountain and even more just a short drive away. Adult lift tickets cost about $77 a day making it a cheaper option than most of Vermont’s comparable resorts.
No matter your budget or how long you’re looking to get away, there’s an option out there for you, so start planning your trip now!
- Photo by David Becker on Unsplash
- Photo courtesy Hunter Mountain on Instagram
- Photo courtesy Jiminy Peak on Instagram
- Photo courtesy White Face