Whether you’re a bona fide ski bum or just feeling ski-curious, ski areas offer acres of open air and gorgeous natural scenery, making them some of the most fun family-friendly spaces to spend with energetic kids.
Hunter Mountain (Greene County)
Hunter is an ideal destination for serious skiers and first-timers alike. Pros will love their summit elevation of 3,200 feet, a vertical drop of 1,600 feet and 240 skiable acres. For newbies, there are easy runs with wide cruising lanes and kid-friendly carpet lifts. Plus, be sure to check out their 1000-foot tubing hill. It’s one of the biggest in New York, with its own surface lift to carry riders back up the hill.
Where to eat:
Hunter has 4 separate mountain faces with lodge dining throughout the area. At Goldye’s Café in the Learning Center (the on-site headquarters for skiing lessons), you’ll find treats, soups, and a great view. Just outside the base lodge, look for Pika’s Waffle Stop. They serve Belgian Liege Waffles, hot chocolate, and grab-and-go lunch fare. For a hearty Bavarian dinner, head across the street from Hunter Mountain to Jagerberg Beer Hall. They serve big soft pretzels, bratwurst and flammkuchen (flatbread pizza). Select from their German beer menu available for dine-in or take-out by the bottle or the growler.
Maple Ski Ridge (Schenectady County)
This family-owned Schenectady ski area has 8 trails across 60 acres, with a 270 foot vertical drop. Located 20 miles northwest of Albany, Maple Ridge holds after-school and weekend ski and snowboard lessons for kids. Equipment is available to rent on a daily or seasonal basis here. Maple Ridge welcomes visitors of all ages. Guests who are under 3 or over 70 ski for free, making a day on the slopes an affordable multi-generational family experience.
Where to eat:
Maple Ridge is more about the slopes than eats, but it’s just a 10-minute drive to the Tops American Grill. There they serve loads of kid-friendly options from chicken tenders to burgers to breakfast-all-day.
Willard Mountain (Washington County)
Located in the hills of southern Washington County, this mom-and-pop resort calls itself “New York State’s Coolest Little Ski Area.” Lift tickets and lessons at this Greenwich mountain are affordable (8-hour weekend Junior tickets are $49 ). Plus they welcome young families with kids just learning to ski. They’ll teach any age and encourage starting ski lessons for kids aged 4 – or even as young as 3. Kids will love 2-hour tubing sessions available for $18! With everything but overnight lodging, Willard Mountain makes a great family day-trip destination. And if your family gets hooked on skiing, they offer great deals on season passes. The options include seasonal rental of ski equipment for kids who tend to grow out of their gear each year.
Where to eat:
Plenty of grab-and-go bites are available at their cafeteria. Settle into a sit-down meal at their wood-paneled lounge Thirst Aid Room. The lounge offers hearty options – poutine, loaded chili, and steak sandwiches with sautéed onions, mushrooms, and American cheese. And check the kids’ menu that includes personal pizzas, cheeseburgers, grilled cheese, chicken fingers and French fries.
West Mountain (Warren County)
Located between Lake George and Saratoga Springs, West Mountain has 31 trails, a snow tubing park, and 126 skiable acres. They accommodate skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels. Lessons and equipment rentals are available for all visitors.
Skiing tends to be an early-bird activity because the sun goes down so early in winter. Yet, West Mountain is known for their lighted trails and night skiing. You’ll keep skiing for hours longer than you could at neighboring mountains.
Where to eat:
At the West Mountain Lodge, the West Express Café takeout window serves to grab and go. The menu goes from breakfast sandwiches, mac and cheese, burgers, to burrito bowls, and soups . The West Mountain Bar & Eatery serves a similar menu and is open for sit-down dining and bar service.
Windham Mountain (Greene County)
Windham Mountain is a must-visit spot for all ages. Whether you’re a first-timer, an expert skier this Greene County ski mountain and resort offers beginner-to-expert terrain. They feature 12 lifts, and 285 skiable acres, with 54 trails stretching across 2 peaks. Kids (and adults!) who want an alternative can get their downhill exhilaration at Windham Mountain Adventure Park. The fun includes 6 snow-tubing lanes and a racetrack for mini snowmobiles.
And if you’re just looking to lounge around while your family hits the slopes?
After a long day (week, month) of managing kids on and off the slopes deep relaxation is in order. Windham’s Alpine Spa offers appointment-only treatments like the Hudson River Stone Massage, relieving sore muscles with warm, smooth river stones. Or try the Deep Heat Muscle Repair treatment, combining massage with steamy towels steep in sage, rosewood, and lavender. Non-skiers can wander the quaint town of Windham, with its sweet little indie book shop, Briars and Brambles Books. Stop at the incredible little French bakery, La Pastisserie Normande, a dreamy winter destination in itself.
Where to eat:
Windham has range of on-mountain dining spots, including the Mountain Express Cafeteria and Seasons Restaurant in their main lodge. The Wheelhouse Mountain Lodge is the spot breathtaking mountaintop views. You’ll find or sandwiches, soups, tacos and beer on the menu. Plus there’s the cozy cabin offering Belgian waffles and hot cider to skiers on the go. Tavern 23 at the Winwood Inn offers an elevated dining experience, reservations-required dine-in or take-out.
Written by: By Kara Zuaro of Brooklyn DoubleWide
Exploring the less traveled (and less expensive!) Catskills, in and around Greene County. Farms, drive-in movies, kids, food, beer, shopping, home design, and real estate.