Boston's abundance of snow and its proximity to New Hampshire's White Mountains make it an ideal city for those who love winter sports. Bostonians and New England visitors alike can hit the slopes easily with a visit to regional mom-and-pop ski areas and hotels. These southern New England resorts offer slopes for beginner skiers and snowboarders, as well as nighttime tubing fun. Venture a little further (within a two-hour drive) to access bigger terrain that will test the skill of all levels of skiers and riders in your group. Weekend warriors can purchase a season's pass at their favorite resort or resort conglomerate. Most areas offer deals for individuals, students, and families, and young kids usually ski for free.
Blue Hills Ski Area, Canton, Massachusetts
Blue Hills Ski Area—the closest downhill ski area to Boston—sits just 17 miles away from the city in Canton, Massachusetts (via I-93). You can even hop on the commuter rail (Boston's famous T) to the Route 128 station, then arrange for Canton Town Taxi or Uber to pick you up and drop you back off. While Blue Hills Ski area only offers 12 trails and 309 vertical feet, the tickets are affordable and the learn-to-ski and ride programs make it a perfect hill for the kids. Plus, the resort's rich background, which dates back to the War of 1812, provides an interesting outing for two-planked history buffs.
Ski Bradford, Haverhill, Massachusetts
Small and accessible, Ski Bradford is just under an hour's drive from Boston (at 40 miles away via I-93 North). Its mere 272 vertical feet might make you pass it by for a further drive north, but with an uphill capacity of 9,600 skiers per hour, Ski Bradford gives you the most bang for your buck. This area boasts a state-of-the-art terrain park, complete with jumps, rails, and boxes, and a miniature halfpipe for little rippers. The mountain also hosts school vacation ski and snowboard clinics and race camps, making it a good choice for staycationers.
Wachusett Mountain, Princeton, Massachusetts
Arguably Massachusetts' biggest resort, Wachusett Mountain in Princeton, Massachusetts boasts a whopping 1,000 vertical feet, three quad chairs, and 26 trails. On weekends, take the ski train from Boston's North Station to Wachusett Station where a mountain shuttle or Uber awaits you. Alternatively, you can drive the 56 miles (about one hour, 20 minutes) west on Route 2. Weekend packages include a plethora of lodging and dining options in the towns of Fitchburg and Westminster, making the trip affordable for city dwellers. Round out your weekend with one of the homemade Belgian waffles served plain or drizzled in chocolate at the ski area's Waffle Cabin.
Cannon Mountain, Franconia, New Hampshire
Situated in beautiful Franconia Notch State Park in the heart of New Hampshire's White Mountains (141 miles from Boston), Cannon Mountain challenges serious skiers. (For context, this mountain is home to Olympic medalist Bode Miller). Don't let Canon's 2,180 vertical feet and 25 miles of trails scare you, however. Its robust offering of beginner terrain (check out the Tuckerbrook Learning Area), lesson options, and kid's programs aim to cultivate good skiers and snowboarders. Take a break from the slopes to visit the New England Ski Museum, also on site.
Crotched Mountain, Bennington, New Hampshire
Night owls, this ski resort is for you. On weekend nights from late December through February, Crotched turns on the lights so you can ski until midnight with their Midnight Madness lift ticket. Leave work on a Friday night, arrive at the slopes (just 49 miles from Boston via I-93 North), and get your slide on. With 1,000 vertical feet and five lifts—including a high-speed quad—Crotched claims you'll have "more fun per hour" on their slopes. Crotched is also part of the Epic Pass and the Northeast Value Pass, allowing serious skiers and riders access to many different resorts, including a few out West.
Gunstock Mountain Resort, Gilford, New Hampshire
Gunstock Mountain Resort, on the south shore of Lake Winnipesaukee, offers amazing views of the lake, 1,400 vertical feet of skiing, and consistent lake-effect powder snow. College kids can blow off steam—while making skiing affordable—with Gunstock's college pass. Bostonians can reach Gunstock in 90 minutes to access their 227 skiable acres and 48 trails. The resort also offers night skiing, winter zip-lining, and the longest snow tube run in New Hampshire, making it fun for the whole family.
Rated one of the best ski resorts in the East, the three peaks that make up Loon Mountain can be easily accessed from Boston in two hours without traffic. And they stand by their snow: If you're not satisfied with the conditions, take advantage of the resort's snow guarantee. Simply, return your full-price lift ticket by 11 a.m. to receive a voucher for another day. Loon's inclusion in the Icon Pass (a season's pass that gives you access to 36 nationwide destinations) puts this hill on the map, grouping it in with world-class resorts like Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
Waterville Valley Resort, Waterville Valley, New Hampshire
Tucked up into the mountains off of the I-93 corridor, Waterville Valley Resort boasts some of the most consistent snowfall in New England. Enjoy downhill skiing, snowboarding, cross-country skiing, dog-sled excursions, and snowshoeing with a 128-mile jaunt north of Boston. Here, you can even go for a pedal on a fat bike (winter mountain bike), taking advantage of over 9 miles of dedicated winter biking trails and full- and half-day rentals. Waterville's Town Square contains restaurants to suit almost any type of palate, and their on-mountain Schwendi Hutte serves up delicious homemade cinnamon rolls topped with icing.
Pats Peak, Henniker, New Hampshire
Hop the Saturday bus service from Boston to Pat's Peak in Henniker, New Hampshire, with scheduled pickups at the Malden Center Station in Malden, Kendall Station in Cambridge, Allston Star Market in Boston, and Northeastern University. The 80-mile trip to the White Mountains (approximately one hour, 20 minutes) makes for a perfect weekend getaway for university students, and the 9:30 p.m. return trip home gives you a full day on the slopes. Go Sherpa also offers ski van pickups with service to Pat's Peak for groups of three or more, to and from any Boston metro address. Once there, skiers and riders can ride the mountain's 11 lifts to access runs for all ability levels, as well as three terrain parks and night skiing.
Ragged Mountain, Danbury, New Hampshire
Ragged Mountain helps you maximize your ski time by shortening the drive (it's just 104 miles from Boston) and placing you on the seat of their two high-speed chairlifts (one quad and one six-pack). Hop on the Spear Mountain Express lift and, in under five minutes, you'll be on top of a 1,250-foot vertical drop and 250 skiable acres. Faster travel and high-speed lifts allow you to maximize your vertical feet skied (no bragging on Strava!) Skiers and snowboarders can also enjoy Ragged's three terrain parks and a quick, healthy lunch at the Harvest Cafe.
Mount Snow, Somerset, Vermont
Your Epic Pass will also score you loads of turns at one of Vermont's southerly resorts, Mount Snow. Two and a half hours from Boston puts you at the base of a Green Mountain haven and gives you access to four different resort areas all serviced by 20 lifts, including three high-speed quads and a six-person bubble lift. Skiers and riders can enjoy a mountain comprised of mostly intermediate terrain, complete with lots of tree-skiing opportunities and 10 terrain parks. Mount Snow's numerous lodging and dining options, available a half-mile away in Dover, will round out your perfect weekend ski trip from Boston.
Mount Sunapee, Newbury, New Hampshire
Mount Sunapee (101 miles north of Boston) claims they're "an extension of your family." And to families they are committed, as they offer a multitude of adult, and kid's ski lessons by world-class instructors. Sunapee also boasts 1,510 vertical feet of skiing and riding, plenty of beginner terrain, and a host of winter and summer activities. The resort is part of the Epic Pass and the Northeast Value Pass, making it the perfect option for those venturing on more than one seasonal ski vacation.