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If you’re planning on hitting the slopes this winter don’t be tempted to dismiss what Ohio has to offer. Just a convenient drive from some of the largest cities in the State of Ohio offers reasonably priced accommodation and lift tickets.
Mad River Mountain is long established as a family venue with its range of lessons for the kids and enough trails to provide a week’s entertainment. Meanwhile, at the twinned resorts of Brandywine and Boston Mills, each one has its own identity so you can take the best from each.
For youngsters into terrain parks, Boston Mills has two, with a thriving following, while Brandywine is the venue for late-night skiing towards the weekend.
Our Top Picks
2. Brandywine/Boston Mills
Owned by Vail Resorts, Brandywine, and Boston Mills, are two sister resorts on different hills about a mile apart. They started out independently in the 1960s until Boston Mills eventually bought out Brandywine in the 1990s.
Fun for Kids
Lessons are available for skiers or snowboarders at Brandywine. You can choose from a half-day, either morning or afternoon, or a full day. Ages from 4 to 14 are welcome, as well as adult ski lessons. One-to-one private lessons are more expensive but enable instructors to concentrate on certain areas of technique. Alternatively, group lessons for the family or friends are a more economical option.
The two resorts of Brandywine and Boston Mills are only 2 miles apart and the lift tickets are interchangeable, so they effectively work as one resort. Brandywine has well-groomed runs and a simple layout making it ideal for families and kids.
There are nine runs at Brandywine equally split between beginner, intermediate and advanced, as well as a couple of runs in the terrain park. Three triple and two quadruple chair lifts feed skiers to the top of the hill.
At Boston Mills, there are three advanced, two intermediate and two beginner runs, to choose from, which are catered with two double lifts and four triples. Boston Mills caters to a younger crowd of snowboarders and terrain park skiers. Brandywine has late-night skiing from 8 PM to 1 AM during the peak winter season.
The tubing park, Polar Blast, is located at Brandywine, and with 20 chutes to choose from it is a popular draw. A conveyor lift ferries tubers to the top of the hill.
Both Boston Mills and Brandywine have cafeteria-style diners, where you can enjoy quick meals such as burgers, veggie burgers, chicken tenders, salads, mac n’ cheese, and soups.
Off the Slopes
There are several larger local inns all in the vicinity of Boston Mills and Brandywine, which are ideal for families. They have a good level of amenities including swimming pools and on-site restaurants.
What We Love About Brandywine/Boston Mills
- If your kids love terrain parks Boston Mills will appeal
- Late-night skiing extends the skiing day
- You have the choice of two separate resorts with their own identity
Brandywine/Boston Mills Stats
|Summit Elevation:||871 ft / 266 metres|
|Skiable terrain:||85 acres|
1. Mad River Mountain
Mad River Mountain ski resort has been attracting families since it opened in 1962. Midway between Bellefontaine and Marysville, just off Route 33, the resort is close to Peninsula (49 mins away – 51.6 miles), and 2 hrs and 21 mins away from Cuyahoga Valley National Park (162.0 mi via I-71 N). Mad River has the claim to have the largest snowmaking system in the whole of Ohio.
Fun for Kids
There is plenty of flexibility when it comes to lessons at Mad River Mountain. Kids on either skis or snowboards from 4 to 14 can learn either in private lessons one-to-one or as a small group of family or friends.
Lessons can be booked as half-day in the morning or afternoon or as a full day. All abilities are catered for, ranging from beginner, intermediate and advanced
The skiable area at Mad River Mountain extends to 144 acres across the face of the hill. The 20 trails are mostly green and blue with a few black runs in the form of glades and moguls. The resort has 11 lifts in total with the six chairlifts taking skiers to the top elevation of 1460 ft (450 m).
The annual snowfall is low at 36 in (91 cm) but the resort has invested heavily in snowmaking equipment, where the 130 snow cannons now cover all the trails. There are two beginner areas, which are quieter and away from the crowds, and two terrain parks for older kids.
For a break from skiing the tubing park provides thrills and spills for the whole family. A conveyor lift takes the legwork out of scaling the 1000ft hill. All comers are welcome so long as you are taller than 42 inches. Mad River Mountain resort is well organized with full equipment rental, lockers for storing your gear, and a large ski lodge with a cafe, bar, and areas to relax.
Off the Slopes
Mad River Mountain resort has partnered with two local inns, where you can get discounted rates for accommodation. Alternatively, there are hotels, condos, and homes for rent in the nearby towns of Bellefontaine and Marysville.
What We Love About Mad River Mountain
- The resort is compact making it more relaxing for families
- The snowmaking covers all the trails
- The lessons can be adapted to the family’s requirement
Mad River Mountain Stats
|Summit Elevation:||1460 ft / 445 metres|
|Skiable terrain:||144 acres|
Why Choose Ohio for Skiing
While Ohio may not have the heady peaks of some of the mountains out in the west it does have convenience in bucket loads for families around Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Cleveland. There is no need for the hassle of flights or never-ending car journeys, as Ohio offers plenty of skiing fun on the slopes. Snowmaking in both our suggested resorts should address any natural shortfall in snow, so you can enjoy the days to the full.
How Did We Order This List?
To help rank our top selection of ski resorts for this list we compared the following ranking factors:
|👨👩👦 Ranking Factor||📈 Power to affect Rank|
|Amount of Beginner Trails (Mi)||4x|
|Amount of Skiing Area (Mi)||3x|
|Cost of two adult tickets + child ticket||1x|
|How many magic carpet lifts||1x|
We gave each factor its own weighting depending on how important we feel it is for family fun across all ages. For example, a resort with more beginner trails is higher ranked than a resort with a lower-priced family ticket – with all else being equal. That’s because while cost is a factor, it’s not a primary one. We may also use our editorial judgment to remove or add resorts that we believe should make the list.
When taking all of this into account, it gives us our awesome list above. We hope it was helpful in planning your next family ski vacation.