Sometimes a big getaway to Vermont or Maine is just what you need. Other times an afternoon at nearby slopes will do just fine.
One of the perks of living in Boston is that both mountains and ocean are just short drives away. In the winter, of course, we’re more tuned into what the mountains can offer. From small ski areas just outside the city to larger resorts in nearby New Hampshire, these destinations offer beginner lessons, night skiing, tubing, family-friendly atmospheres and even shopping in quaint New England ski towns. Whether it’s an afternoon or an easy weekend getaway you’re after, check out one of these top 5 ski areas near Boston.
Blue Hills Ski Area
Drive From Boston: 40 minutes
On The Slopes: Blue Hills’ claim to fame is being the closest ski area to any major US city, and at just under 40 minutes drive from Boston, it can’t be beat for accessibility. Yes, at 60 ac skiable terrain, it’s tiny, but for a quick getaway or Saturday afternoon fun with beginners, this ski area is ideal. Night skiing is available on 80% of terrain. Blue Hills offers affordable ski lessons, and is especially suited for beginners because of the mellow terrain and small size.
Around Town: Blue Hills isn’t exactly a tourist destination, and is most popular for afternoon or single day trips from Boston. That said, if you wish to cruise around the town of Canton, expect small-town restaurants and shops, as well as charming downtown areas in nearby Dedham and Norwood.
1 Day Adult Lift Ticket: $47
Known For: beginners, day trips, value
Drive From Boston: 1 hour
On The Slopes: Small but mighty, Wachusett offers skiers and riders 103 ac of mellow terrain serviced by 6 lifts and 19 trails. Terrain is mostly intermediate, while a magic carpet services a beginner learning area and an express quad offers more beginners a chance to rack up their ski laps. Much of the ski area is surrounded by old growth forest, and it overlooks the beautiful Wachusett Lake. 2016 marked the beginning of an updated snowmaking infrastructure, so despite temperamental New England weather, skiers can expect good coverage on the slopes.
Around Town: The ski area is located between the towns of Princeton and Westminster; other nearby towns also offer lodging and dining options. Some chain hotels – like DoubleTree by Hilton – offer ski and stay packages, while B&B options are well-suited for couples getaways. Family-friendly events like magician visits and “Science on the Slopes” are offered throughout the season at the ski area. Head into town areas for quaint New England shopping.
1 Day Adult Lift Ticket: $69
Known For: families, group trips, value
Drive From Boston: 1.5 hours
On The Slopes: Pat’s Peak boasts 28 trails serviced by 11 lifts, which have been spinning since the late 1960’s. Beginner terrain dominates 50% of the trails, while a surprising 30% are rated for advanced and expert skiers. While you won’t find the steeps of the Rockies at Pat’s Peak, the ski area is dedicated to maintaining good gladed areas for New England thrill seekers, and for this we are grateful. 3 terrain parks are built for varying abilities, and kids love to test their skills progressively through the parks. Other perks include night skiing on all terrain, and free wifi in both lodges.
Around Town: The town of Henniker is picturesque and charming – a postcard of rural New Hampshire. A friendly community is complemented by a private college and downtown with local businesses. Stay at the inn, B&B, and motel options in Henniker for closest access to the resort, or in nearby Weare and Hopkinton for a more remote getaway. Activity options besides skiing include snowshoeing and tubing. A bus service from Boston on Saturday afternoons is a great option for those who don’t want to stay overnight.
1 Day Adult Lift Ticket: $68
Known For: night skiing, quaint downtown, day trips
Drive From Boston: 1 hour 45 minutes
On The Slopes: Mount Sunapee just snagged the #1 ski area for grooming in the East by Ski Magazine, and this is one of the perks of travelling just a bit farther from Boston to hit the slopes. 66 trails span across 233 ac serviced by 10 lifts, 2 of which are high speed quads. Higher elevation than other Boston area resorts means better snowfall – about 100 in per year. Intermediates will appreciate the excellent grooming quality, while advanced skiers can hit the moguls and glades.
Around Town: New London is the closest major town, which features a range of lodging and casual eateries, as well as an historic downtown. We recommend a stroll down Main Street for photo ops and artsy shopping before grabbing dinner at one of the locally-run restaurants. Colby-Sawyer College also borders the town, which offers a fresh, young vibe to the area.
Newbury itself is home to historic buildings and attractions, as well as the John Hay National Wildlife Refuge along the shores of Lake Sunapee.
1 Day Adult Lift Ticket: $84
Known For: varied terrain, grooming, surrounding towns and attractions
Gunstock Mountain Resort
Drive From Boston: 1.5 hours
On The Slopes: Gunstock is a mom-and-pop style resort that’s known for its family-friendly atmosphere, activities, and steep pitch. For a small mountain of 227 ac, it boasts an impressive quality of trails for varying ability levels. Intermediates will find the most suitable slopes. The lift infrastructure is less modern than some other New England resorts (there’s only one high speed quad), but with few crowds – even on holidays and weekends – the slower pace doesn’t present an issue. Night skiing is a favorite here, and the new 2016-2017 Flex Pass offers frequent visitors flexibility in terms of how long and often they ski.
Around Town: From the slopes you’ll see views of Lake Winnipesaukee, and around the town of Gilford you’ll find various lodging and dining options. Gunstock partners with nearby resorts, B&B’s, and country inns that boast a certain New Hampshire rustic charm. Restaurants are largely of the bar and grill variety, with more upscale options available in nearby Laconia. Because New Hampshire has no sales tax, it’s a hot spot for outlet shopping. The Tanger Outlet Center is a short drive away, while downtown Gilford boasts a gourmet food shop and antiques.
1 Day Adult Lift Ticket: $86
Known For: family-friendly, activities, shopping