- By Jill Rosenthal Notkin
Living in the northeast, cold-weather activities are in our blood. As children, we are taught to get comfortable in our winter gear and hit the outdoors in order to soak up the season, which sometimes means rosy cheeks and a craving for hot chocolate. And while many of us count the days until beach season, hitting the slopes is one way to make winter as fun as possible while breathing in fresh, cold air.
Among the many winter activities New England has to offer, skiing tops the list with over 70 resorts in the area. With so many choices, it’s important to weigh your needs against the features of the resorts you are considering. The following guide might help you in your decision.
Just one hour from Boston, Wachusett Mountain is a great spot to hit with the family. Not necessarily the number one choice if you’re an expert looking to tear up the hill, Wachusett is a collection of 22 trails, seven ski-lifts which include three high-speed chairlifts, a triple chairlift, and three child-friendly magic carpet lifts. Adding to its family-friendly appeal is their Polar Kids ski school geared toward children aged 4–12. The ski school offers private and group lessons, as well as full-day and half-day options, and equipment rental. Prefer to ride? Wachusett’s terrain park was just updated in 2010 making it even more fun for skiers and snowboarders alike. The resort is also known for their family-friendly weekend events, which often include live entertainment for kids.
Blue Hills Ski Area is just 30 or so miles from Boston, easily making it the ski spot nearest to the city. They feature 60 acres of skiable terrain, nine trails, and a couple of magic carpets so your little ones can reach the top of the bunny hill with little effort. Lessons start at four years old and are offered daily.
If you’re looking for serious slopes not too close but not too far away, check out Waterville Valley. Less than two hours from the city, Waterville features 12 lifts, including two high-speed quads. With 52 trails, 259 skiable acres of terrain, and beautiful 4000 foot peaks, Waterville Valley is one of the area’s larger and more sophisticated ski resorts. If downhill skiing is not your thing, Waterville will still appeal to you with over 40 miles of well marked, expertly maintained cross-country and snowshoeing trails. Après ski might involve a sleigh ride or ice skating, both located in the nearby Town Square.
For a comprehensive skiing, après-ski, and all around terrific winter weekend getaway, Sunday River is where it’s at! Skiing at Sunday River is large and includes eight mountain peaks with 132 trails and 671 acres of skiing and riding. Whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, or an expert skier, you will have dozens of trails to choose from. Boasting 16 lifts, wait times are reasonable so you won’t be in line all day. Add to your adventures and take a Zipline tour! Almost as superb as the skiing and Ziplining are the on-site resorts and the après-ski culture. With many slopeside lodging choices that fit any budget, you won’t have to compromise location for cash. For the full experience, try the Jordan Grand Hotel or the Grand Summit Hotel, both luxury slopeside resorts with amenities aplenty. After a long day on the slopes, try one of their spa experiences or soak in their heated outdoor pools or saunas.