3 Midwest ski resorts for Chicago kids

No need to head out east or west when it’s time for your kids to learn to ski. We have quality slopes right here in the Midwest and these ski resorts cater to the youngest of tots with amenities and activities that will keep the entire brood entertained (and tired out).


Crystal Mountain


Thompsonville, Mich.


Crystal Mountain is a mecca for experienced ski parents who want to get their kin up to speed quickly. Lessons take place at Totem Park, where kids ski on two acres of slopes and have a blast riding two Wonder Carpets Surface Lifts.


Ski schools are available for kids 3 and older, with full-day options like the Cubs Ski& Care that includes two-hour introductory lessons and other age-appropriate activities from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. for $109, including equipment rental. For kids 4 and up, full-day ski packages including lunch and snacks start at about $82, while two-hour group lessons run about $56.


The ultimate ski lesson option in the Midwest is the aptly named Nanny McSki Doorstep Program, where a certified instructor trained in childcare, guides up to three children of similar ability during a day-long adventure. The instructor meets the kids at their doorstep, accompanies them to breakfast and lunch, supervises equipment rentals and fittings and hits the slopes for the day for $409.


After an invigorating full day of skiing, chill out with a family bonfire roasting s’mores or take to the outdoor ice rink. On Wednesday and Friday nights, join one of Crystal Mountain’s signature characters–Snowball the Snow Tiger, Boarding Beaver or Powder Pig–for SnowMonsters Story Time. crystalmountain.com


Boyne Highlands


Harbor Springs, Mich.


Boyne is home to 55 beautifully groomed downhill runs and a variety of terrain parks perfectly suited for skiers and snowboarders of every ability. Kids 3 and up can participate in Boyne’s SnowSports Academy ski camp, group lessons or one-on-one training, with hourly, half-day and full-day options. All-day group lessons are the most economical, running at about $94 per child including lunch, rental equipment and a lift ticket.


Beyond the slopes, it offers tubing, dogsled rides and horse-drawn carriages that take families on a scenic ride. Boyne has some of the coolest pools in the Midwest. Among them is the indoor/outdoor heated pool in the Heather Highlands area, a spa-like experience allowing swimmers to enjoy the snowy climate while immersed in a steamy large pool that keeps the frigid temperatures at bay.


Kids 4 to 10 will love the Saturday Night Kids’ Club from 6-9 p.m. where they devour pizza and build snowmen–and parents love the price of $19 per kid. boyne.com


Granite Peak


Wausau, Wis.


Granite Peak is the most akin to the famous ski towns out west with its cozy eateries, unique boutiques and gorgeous historic downtown district.


It also offers a robust variety of kids’ lessons divided by age, including two-hour and five-hour programs for ages 3-12. Prices for two-hour lessons are $59 while the five hours are $94. Ordering lessons online will save families $4 per session.


Affordable packages with lodging are available during Granite Peak’s family festival weekends: Jan. 9-11; Feb. 6-8; and March 6-8. skigranitepeak.com


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