The Midwest may not be a ski destination for many, but if the planes to Vail and Salt Lake are booked this winter, here are three drivable resorts where you can channel your inner snow bunny for an afternoon. When the temperature drops, their slopes open up. Plan accordingly.
Mad River Mountain
Located in Zanesfield, this 1,460-foot mountain is just a two-hour drive north from Cincinnati, and it’s the largest winter resort in the state. Twenty trails weave down the mountainside, with six chairlifts to keep the fun running on repeat. First-timers can sign up for hour-long group or private lessons to work on the basics, and there are a number of “green” routes for newcomers to try out their turns. More advanced skiers can learn new tricks at the terrain parks, while those with young kids are sure to enjoy the 1,000-foot long tubing lanes. Reward yourself at the end of the day with a pizza at the resort’s Loft Bar, where you can hear live music on weekends. 1000 Snow Valley Rd., Zanesfield, (937) 599-1015, skimadriver.com
Snow Trails Winter Resort
Opened in 1961 in Mansfield, Snow Trails is Ohio’s first ski resort, and it’s less than three hours from Cincinnati. The 200-acre resort includes 17 runs, six chairlifts, and four terrain parks. The Beginner’s Area Complex will get newcomers outfitted in style for a safe day of skiing, and set them up with ski or snowboard instructors who can show them the ropes. A handful of beginner runs and a few black diamonds are scattered among the mountain’s predominately intermediate trails. Six tubing lanes run near the outdoor fire pit and snack bar, where tired skiers can take a cozy cocoa break. 3100 Possum Run Rd., Mansfield, (419) 774-9818, snowtrails.com
Boston Mills and Brandywine
Though it’s a bit of a hike up to northeast Ohio where these ski hills are found, it’s worth the drive for this two-resorts-in-one deal. The resorts have a combined 18 runs, 11 chairlifts, and 88 skiable acres. Though nearly half of the runs are labeled as advanced, Brandywine’s SnowSports School instructors work with all ability levels. Those who are ready to take their skills to the next level can sign up for a four- or eight-week series of classes in Freestyle Bootcamp, which teaches skiers and snowboarders how to complete aerial tricks and maneuvers. Wear yourself out working on your new moves, then head back to the lodge at the base of the mountain to warm up with a beer at the lodge bar. 7100 Riverview Rd., Peninsula and 1146 West Highland Rd., Sagamore Hills, (330) 467-2242, bmbw.com