Skiing and snowboarding are one of the most popular winter pastimes in the United States. But you probably already knew that, right? Who wouldn’t love zooming down a mountain on soft powder surrounded by beautiful mountain scenery?
Ski resorts on the east coast of the United States and in the Midwest have always been popular. This is not just because they offer great skiing at affordable prices, but also because they are accessible, close by, and family-friendly. They also offer plenty of trails, slopes, and runs for every level of skier (including black diamond runs). As so many people live within a short drive of at least several ski resorts in the eastern half of the country, many people come to the mountains for a short weekend trip if a full week’s vacation isn’t possible. In some places, it’s also very easy to make a day trip to a nearby ski resort if you live in one of the nearby major cities.
So, where are the best ski resorts in the eastern United States? That’s a hard question to answer. So, we reached out to our community of travel experts to find out what their suggestions were for the best places to ski and snowboard. The responses were overwhelming! Apparently, some of the most traveled travelers in the travel business love to ski! Here are their suggestions (in no particular order) – not just for the ski resorts, but also for the fun activities that you can experience in these places, too.
Lake Placid, New York
Lake Placid in upstate New York is known for excellent skiing since it was the site of both the 1932 and the 1980 Winter Olympics. We arrived in Lake Placid the middle of a snowstorm after having driven from Boston in December on a pre-Christmas trip. The snow was settling at home, too, so the drive took the better part of one day. Why didn’t we go to one of the ski resorts closer to home? Well, my son was desperate to try the Lake Placid Olympic slopes since we had already been skiing on the French Olympic ski slopes at Chamonix and Val d’Isere and the Utah Park City Olympic slopes.
Main Street on Lake Placid is charming with lots of little shops. The food is standard American, think pizza, burgers and steak. The Olympic Center and the Olympic Museum are also located on Main Street. The Lake Placid Olympic Museum has interesting Olympics related memorabilia and exhibits. The Olympic sites have various activities you can do which can be pretty and scenic like the gondola rides. On the other hand, if you want a real adrenaline rush, you can take a zipline, skeleton or bobsled experiences. Believe it or not, they let people with no skeleton or bobsled experience do it. These experiences though are weather dependent and my teens were very disappointed they couldn’t do a high adventure activity. There’s also traditional winter activities available at many ski resorts like dog sledding, snowshoeing and ice skating (both at an indoor rink and on Mirror Lake).
We stayed at Mirror Lake Inn which had a beautiful setting overlooking Mirror Lake across the road. Although the Mirror Lake Inn to Main Street is only a little over a half mile, it was too far to walk in the biting cold and the snow and ice made it a 10 minute drive. The Mirror Lake Inn is a luxury hotel complex with interconnected room, dining and resort facilities so you can pad around everywhere without a coat. We ate most nights in the hotel restaurant and used the swimming pool and spa facilities.
Recommended by Shobha from Martha’s Vineyard Tourist
Stowe, Vermont is rated as one of the ten best ski towns in the US by Forbes so you know a visit will be impressive. Stowe Mountain Resort has alpine skiing and snowboarding for the whole family on Mt. Mansfield, the highest peak in Vermont. Cross country skiers will love the mountain trails of the iconic Trapp Family Lodge. After skiing, a flight of craft beer in the von Trapp Bierhall will pair well with the fabulous Austrian food.
Stowe is a four-season destination that really takes winter fun seriously. Fat biking, winter ziplining, dog sledding, and ice climbing are popular outdoor adventures in Stowe. Hikers will enjoy snowshoeing into either Bingham Falls or Moss Glen Falls.
For more mellow winter activities, try a romantic sleigh ride through snow-covered meadows and woods. Or you can relax in an indoor or outdoor hot tub offered at many of the resort accommodations.
The apres-ski scene in the charming town of Stowe shouldn’t be missed. Vermont is known for craft breweries and locally-sourced food. Idletyme Brewing Company gives you both. Finish the day with a stroll through the idyllic village of Stowe with snow lightly falling on the surrounding Green Mountains.
By Karen at Outdoor Adventure Sampler
North Conway, New Hamphire (Cranmore, Attitash, Black Mountain)
North Conway is a beautiful New Hampshire mountain town that is known as one of the best ski destinations in New England. It is located three hours north of Boston and has everything needed for a winter getaway, including delicious family-owned restaurants, amazing cabins, and beautiful hotels. Because North Conway is in the heart of the White Mountains, there are five ski resorts nearby, offering over 270 trails on 1,300 skiable acres (Cranmore, Attitash, Black Mountain, Wildcat Mountain, Bretton Woods). It is the perfect place to base yourself for a winter getaway!
Although thousands of people travel to North Conway every winter to hit the slopes, it offers many things to do outside of skiing and snowboarding. You can hike 1.3 miles to Diana’s Bath, which is a beautiful 75-foot waterfall, or 2.3 miles to Black Cap, which offers stunning views of the White Mountains. If you want to experience beautiful views without hiking, you can drive the iconic 32-mile Kancamagus Highway that weaves through the White Mountains, offering incredible mountain views. You can also take a SnowCoach tour to the treeline of the tallest mountain in the northeast, Mount Washington, which has what many consider the best views in New England. North Conway is one of the best winter destinations because it not only offers some of the best ski resorts but many other fun winter activities!
By Nichole the Nomad
Camelback Mountain, Pennsylvania
In the heart of the Pocono Mountains lies Camelback, a year-round resort area with terrific skiing and snowboarding in the winter. Within easy reach to both New York City and Philadelphia, as well as other major cities such as Washington D.C. and Pittsburgh, Camelback has become a very popular place to visit for families, groups of friends, or even couples looking for a romantic weekend getaway combined with a ski trip.
With a large number of slopes and ski lifts, plus other winter activities nearby such as cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and snow tubing, any visitor would have a great time here. They have one of the largest snow tubing areas in the state, which makes this really fun for kids (especially with their very simple and relaxing lift system). And did you know that several indoor water parks are right near the resort? So if you’re too cold to go skiing, just enjoy the indoor water slides! Also, during the summer, the mountain turns into Camelbeach, a large outdoor water park (but hey, we’re talking about skiing here). All of these activities are just a small part of everything you can do in the Poconos.
Also, many visitors come to the towns around Camelback to go shopping and eat some delicious food. Check out the Crossings Premium Outlets for some good deals, or visit the Peddler’s Antique Mall if you’re looking for a unique find. And for dining out, don’t miss Kartrite’s, the restaurant at the top of the mountain, or Barley Creek or Sullivan Kitchen for some more great family-friendly dining options.
From Bryan @ Budget Your Trip
Bethel, Maine (Sunday River)
Bethel, Maine is central to some of the finest skiing in the region and more. You’ll find this picturesque New England village about an hour-and-a-half north of Portland by car, at the foot of western Maine’s Mahoosuc Mountains.
For skiing, Bethel offers 130 miles of groomed and tracked cross-country trails and a variety of winter sports, including cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and snow tubing. Several popular ski resorts are within 15-30 minutes from the downtown. The most famous nearby ski resort is Sunday River (Newry). Others include Mount Abram Family Resort (Greenwood), Black Mountain of Maine (Rumford), and Bretton Woods, NH.
Besides skiing, you’ll find seemingly endless scenic drives in and around Bethel that give way to breathtaking views of the White Mountains. (While the Mount Washington Road is closed to public traffic in winter, you can take the SnowCoach or buy a trail pass for access.)
Another great take with incredible mountain vistas is the Omni Mount Washington Hotel. One way to enjoy its classic luxury minus the expense is to stop for lunch or an afternoon cocktail at this iconic landmark hotel. Or instead, grab a craft beer and delicious dinner at the Rooster’s Roadhouse, a comfortable chef-owned pub. For affordable luxury accommodations, you’ll love The Bethel Inn. It’s a historic bed & breakfast set within Bethel’s quaint town common. Here, you’ll find two excellent dining options as well: the main dining room and the cozy historic tavern. Plus, their heated outdoor pool is ideal after a day on the slopes!
By Jackie Gately at Enjoy Travel Life
Wintergreen Ski Resort is one of the most famous resorts in Virginia during the wintertime. While it may not be able to compete with many larger resorts on the west coast, it sure packs a punch for Virginia and is one of the best places to visit during the winter months.
Wintergreen is located just southwest of Charlottesville (around 45 minutes) and is also a day trip from Washington DC, or one of the best winter day trips from Richmond, Virginia’s capital city. Located on 52 hectares and consisting of 26 slopes, this Virginia ski resort is a great place for beginners and those who are doing it in their leisure time. There are six chairlifts.
It is not all about skiing at Wintergreen, however. The resort is also home to the largest snow tubing park in Virginia. In addition, kids will enjoy Ridgley’s Fun Park which is a small version that is suitable for children of any age.
If you’re looking to take a break from the winter weather in Virginia, opt to check out the restaurants in Wintergreen, do a little hiking, or take a relaxing trip to the spa. To warm up, head to The Edge, a restaurant that has the best Virginia beef burgers in the area paired with a delicious beer or wine of your choice. Wintergreen is an excellent choice for a weekend trip to one of the best ski resorts in Virginia, especially if you’re coming from Washington DC or the Richmond area.
By Megan @ Virginia Travel Tips
Snowshoe Mountain, West Virginia
Snowshoe Mountain Resort in West Virginia is our family’s favorite ski resort on the east coast. From skiing to snowboarding to snowmobiling, there are tons of fun snowy activities at Snowshoe to keep you busy for days. If you’re new to skiing, we highly recommend taking a lesson first. There are private and group lessons available for all ages and abilities. Already feel comfortable on the slopes and want to try something new? Try the Mountaineer Terrain Park or night skiing at Silver Creek. But our family’s all-time favorite activity at Snowshoe is snow tubing. Screaming, laughter, and tons of memories guaranteed!
Ready to warm up? Don’t worry, there are plenty of things to do off the slopes as well. Check out the fantastic spa, shopping, and restaurants at the Snowshoe Village. Foxfire Grill and Sunset Cantina are our personal favorites for a bite to eat! Kids will also love the huge indoor playground, bouncy houses, and escape room at The Big Top. Make sure to pack your bathing suits, too, because the whole family will love the pools, slides, and hot tubs at Split Rock Pools.
Contributed by Julie from More than Main Street
Boone, North Carolina
The Appalachian mountains of Western North Carolina are home to a number of terrific mountain towns, of which Boone is one of the most scenic and exciting to visit. Near Boone are two terrific ski resorts, Sugar Mountain and Beech Mountain, as well as some other terrific areas for winter activities. Both Sugar Mountain and Beech Mountain have multiple ski slopes that are great for beginners and experts alike (with runs ranging from green to double black diamond). They also both have great ski schools for kids and adults. And let’s not forget about the snow tubing which kids love!
At the base of both ski resorts are plenty of amenities for your apres-ski fun. With restaurants, bars, and shopping in the villages at Beech and Sugar, you’ll be able to find some great dining options and have fun into the evening.
Or, why not head into the town of Boone itself? This area is not just known for skiing and hiking, but it’s also a popular place for breweries. So, find your seat and have a beer after you partake in some world-class restaurants serving local and international cuisine.
Anytime of the year, Boone is a great place to visit, too. In the summer you can hike, mountain bike, play golf or tennis, ride horses, zoom down a zip line, and more. Visit Grandfather Mountain for some amazing views. And if you have kids, why not check out Tweetsie Railroad, a train-themed amusement park.
Wachusett Mountain, Massachusetts
In the north of the US state of Massachusetts, the Wachusett Mountain ski area is located in a foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Wachusett Mountain is isolated and is the highest mountain in the state at 611 meters.
The nearest major cities in the region are Worchester and Boston. In the ski area you will find 26 slopes (5 blue, 16 red and 5 black slopes) and 8 ski lifts. If there is not enough natural snow, the entire ski area can be covered with snow cannons if necessary. The longest slope is around 2.4 kilometers long. There are also two long slopes specially designed for families. The two fun parks with numerous obstacles are particularly fun: The Frannie’s Folly snow park is also suitable for beginners, while advanced and professionals can let off steam in the Hitchcock Terrain Park. Many slopes are illuminated and can be used until 10 p.m.
A great range of restaurants, bars and cafes can be found in the Base Lodge. The Bullock Lodge Cider House for cider and the Waffle Cabin for Belgian waffles are particularly recommended.
Explored by Phil from JOURNICATION Travel Blog
Cascade Mountain, Wisconsin
Cascade Mountain is considered one of the best day trips in the Midwest. Skiing on the mountain is actually a very affordable activity here, as the mountain offers free skiing to kids 12 years or younger when they are accompanied by adults. Cascade Mountain is a great option for a ski trip because it offers combinations of blue, green, bunny hills, and more. During winters, the mountain is covered with snow and it offers a great view while skiing.
There a few things that visitors can enjoy on their visit to Cascade. Activities like snow tubing, snowboarding, and excellent downhill make the mountain a perfect winter visit. Tubers can go through the sidewalks of Cascade Mountain to reach the top while snowboarders can enjoy manicured boarding opportunities. There are various terrain parks where the snowboarders can practice their freestyle tricks. Skiers can experience and relish the long runs.
You should absolutely consider Cascade when deciding where to go skiing in Wisconsin.
By Paulina on the Road
Lutsen Mountain, Minnesota
The Midwest might not be known for mountains, but the dramatic topography of Minnesota’s North Shore along Lake Superior attracts visitors year-round. Here you’ll find Lutsen Mountain, the Midwest’s largest ski resort, with four mountains and 95 runs. About a four-hour drive from the Twin Cities, Lutsen Mountain offers panoramic views of Lake Superior (prepare yourself for a stunning gondola ride) and plenty of amenities to keep even the most casual skier well entertained.
Located in the teeny town of Lutsen (population 285), Lutsen Mountains basically is its own village. You’ll find several restaurants and lodging options in its immediate vicinity. Papa Charlie’s Tavern and Stage right across from the ski shop offers live entertainment every weekend during ski season and serves as a watering hole for those who don’t want to miss the big game. At the base of the Ski Hill, you’ll find North Shore Winery where you can sip wines made on site. The town of Lutsen proper has expanded in recent years to include a coffee shop, liquor store, and several gift shops. Still many visitors opt to drive another 20 miles up Highway 61 to larger Grand Marais (population 2000) where they can shop locally owned gift shops or grab a maple latte from the Java Moose and enjoy a walk out to the lighthouse in this quaint Lake Superior harbor town.
Suggested by Ada from Beyond Yellow Brick Blog
Bryan has visited exactly one more country than his wife, and she won’t let him forget it! Also an avid photographer, he enjoys entrenching himself within the local culture in order to learn more about the people of a place. He is the co-founder of Budget Your Trip and loves a good adventure, an exotic meal, or a passionate conversation about global events.