It’s a wonderful time of year to help your children develop a lifelong love of skiing, snowboarding, and other snowy sports. We’ve gathered a list of nearby ski resorts where you and your family can enjoy time on the slopes with minimal driving.
Are your children ready to ski? Here are some basic safety tips from the New Jersey Ski & Snowboard Council
Kids have to be able to walk well and have a sense of balance, so anything below age 2 is unreasonable. They should be able to listen and follow instruction to some degree. . Age 3-5 should be the earliest starting point for a child to ski because they can walk, they usually don’t mind being away from mom and dad, and by this time they have an idea of knowing right from wrong.
1. Children must be taught to follow the Skiers Responsibility Code while on the slopes.
2. Children must use properly fitted equipment suited to their ability level.
3. NO POLES until they have been skiing for 3–4 years and are proficient enough to handle them.
4. Children must be taught to read and obey trails signs, including beginner (green) and expert (black) trails.
5. The danger of skiing on too advanced a slope before they are ready must be fully understood.
6. If you plan to self-teach, your child should be tethered to you for the first season or two.
7. Safety vests with a handle on the back are now available for children, making it easier for parents, instructors, or anyone riding a lift with young kids to ‘grab’ them if needed.
Clothing and gear:
Make sure your child is properly dressed for a day in cold weather. This includes long underwear, GOOD gloves/socks and clothing suitable for mountain conditions vs. going to school. Turtleneck shirts are mandatory to keep a child warm (scarves don’t do a good job). Kids fall, and eventually gloves and socks get wet, so a parent should bring extra gloves, socks, and pants in case a child needs a change by lunchtime to stay warm. If spending a day on the snow, ski goggles are a MUST.
Ski Instructors are certified professionals knowledgeable about the latest ski instruction techniques. They have to take annual training to retain their certification. A parent may know how to ski, but a professional ski instructor is trained to teach children on the child’s level. It may cost more, but children will have a better time in class with their own ski peers than trying to keep up with mom and dad on the slopes. Mom and Dad will have a better time, too, and children are likely to progress faster when taught by a professional.
Mountain Creek Ski Resort – Vernon, NJ
Mountain Creek is just about an hour and 15 minutes from Hoboken and Jersey City and home to eight lifts, four mountain peaks, and 46 trails—as well as a large snow tubing park, multiple zip-lines, and an alpine coaster. All ski equipment can be rented from the on-site rental center, located on the first floor of the Red Tail Lodge. This resort is quite popular with tweens and teens, but there is plenty for younger kids here as well. Children as young as 4 can take private or group ski lessons from experienced, patient instructors, while budding snowboarders age 5 and under can take lessons at the on-site Ringlet Park. Other on-site amenities for those lodging at Mountain Creek (as opposed to just coming for the day) include a full arcade, bowling alley, fire pit, and laser maze. 973-827-2000
Campgaw Mountain –Mahwah, NJ
Campgaw is the closest of the slopes at just a 45 minute drive from Hoboken and Jersey City. This resort is great for the whole family, from first-timers to seasoned skiers. Campgaw offers five beginner/intermediate trails, a terrain park, two double chair lifts and three “magic carpet” lifts (this is a lift in the middle of a small hill that resembles an escalator; it generally moves kids up a mini mountain). Campgaw offers group and private lessons for kids, including a group lesson for ages 4–6. Mountain amenities include night skiing, tubing, a freestyle terrain park, children’s programs, and racing programs for competitive-level skiers and boarders. Kids’ tubing parties are also available. 973-327-7800
Blue Mountain – Palmerton, PA
Located about 2 hours from Hoboken and Jersey City, Blue Mountain is well worth the drive. This smaller, more intimate mountain allows you to bypass the crowds at larger venues and is a gentle introduction for young kids and beginners of all ages. There is no on-site lodging at the moment—though there are plans for it in the near future—but there are many family places to stay nearby, such as the Hampton Inn Lehighton – Jim Thorpe and The Lodge at Woodstone Country Club. Blue Mountain offers skiing, snowboarding, and snowtubing, which is extremely popular here. In fact, Blue Mountain is the only mountain in the Poconos with family-size tubes. This is a fantastic activity for those who want some winter family fun without the skiing. In total there are 28 trails, including many green (beginner), as well as 10 ski lifts, plus 24 tubing lanes and two lifts. Need a break from the kids? There’s babysitting! 610-826-7700
Shawnee Mountain – East Stroudsburg, PA
This Poconos ski resort, located right on the border of NJ, is just 90 minutes from Hoboken and Jersey City and is known for being very family-friendly and packed with child-approved amenities. Shawnee has 23 slopes, many of them green, and offers many types of kids’ lessons, including daily morning, afternoon, and full-day programs led by specially trained staff. There are even Mommy & Me ski lessons—and on-site babysitting. There’s also a video game room, pizza parlor, food court, and snow tubing park. The Crossings Premium Outlets are nearby if you want to get some shopping in after a long morning of skiing, too. (If you have the energy, of course!) On-site lodging is available for families. Check Shawnee’s Web site for seasonal discounts and more. 570-421-7231
Thunder Ridge Ski Area, Patterson, NY
Thunder Ridge is about an hour and 45 minute drive fromHoboken and Jersey City. They offer 30 trails, 3 chairlifts and 4 magic carpet lifts. Mid-week specials are offered Monday through Thursday where lift tickets are only $25 for ages 6 and up from 10am – 5pm. Lessons are offered for every skill level, from beginner to expert for kids 3 and up including Mommy/Daddy and Me classes. Advance reservations are always recommended. Babysitting is available if your child isn’t yet ready to ski.. Lodging in the immediate area includes Comfort Suites, Ethan Allen Hotel, Hilton Garden Inn and more. Check their website for deals and packages available through the listed hotels. In addition, many local restaurants are located nearby.
Hunter Mountain, Hunter, NY
One of the most popular NY ski destinations, Hunter is about a 2.5 hour drive from Hoboken and Jersey City. Lessons are available for children beginning at 4 years of age. They offer the largest snowtubing park in New York State including more than 20 chutes nearly 1,000 feet long, a mini tubing park for children, a snack bar, fire pit and more! Reservations are required for all programs. If you want to hit the slopes for a bit on your own, try Playcare, which is a childcare service for children ages 2 – 6 years old. There are many lodging options including the Kaatskill Mountain Club and Liftside Condos, which are slopeside and offer ski-in/ski-out access.
Mount Peter, Warwick, NY
Mount Peter was actually started in 1936 by Macy’s Department Store to show off and sell their ski fashion. It is located in Warwick, NY, just over the NJ border, just a bit more than an hour’s drive from Hoboken and Jersey City and offers 14 trails and 5 lifts. Lessons are offered for every age and skill level. Free beginner lessons are offered on weekends and holidays for skiers (with the purchase of a lift ticket for ages 5 and up).Many deals are offered including Discount Tuesdays for which you must show your current union, school, military or AARP card and get a half price lift/area ticket from 9am – 5pm. Ski and Stay packages are available at many area hotels and bed and breakfasts.
Camelback Mountain, Tannersville, PA
The Poconos offers many fun ski resort options, including Camelback. It’s about 1.5 hour’s drive from Hoboken and Jersey City and offers the biggest ski and snowboarding terrain (34 trails and 16 lifts) in the area and the biggest snowtubing park in the US. They offer many packages and lessons for kids including CamelCare Adventurers which is a half-day (2.5 hours) program geared toward children ages 4 – 12 years. It is highly recommended that you sign up for all lessons and programs online in advance. Snowtubing is a popular family activity at Camelback. There are up to 42 lanes of snowtubing available and there are tubing hours daily. Weekend and holiday tubing is limited to 3-hour sessions, but mid-week is unlimited and offered at one flat rate for the whole day. Rates vary, so click here to check. A double tube only with parent has a minimum height requirement of 33 inches to 43 inches. Single and double tubes are for 44 inches and up. Children under the age of 14 must be accompanied by an adult with a valid tubing ticket. Camelback Lodge is located on-site and offers various rooms and suites. Alternate area lodging is available, click here for details.
Great Wolf Lodge, Scotrun, PA
Great Wolf Lodge doesn’t offer on-site skiing, however, they are located very near to Camelback and, similarly, are about 90 minutes drive from Hoboken and Jersey City. The unique element to Great Wolf Lodge is their large indoor waterpark and multitude of children’s activities. Activities include arcades, a children’s spa, a kid-friendly mini bowling alley, kiddie movie theater, ropes course and many quest type activities, plus much more! The waterpark includes rides for kiddies as small and toddlers on up. There are many themed-rides and pool areas. You attain access to the waterpark and activities by staying at the lodge. The waterpark allows you access to the waterpark after 1pm on your check-in day through the day you check-out. They also offer more standard suites as well as kid-themed suites with tents. Resort amenities include lots of on-site restaurants, shops, a spa for adults as well as a children’s spa and a fitness room.