Winter is coming. So where’s the best place to take to the hills and rip (or cruise) down the mountain? We’ve ranked the top ski resorts in New England for skiing and snowboarding to make deciding where to go on your winter vacation a bit easier.
And to make things a lot easier, you can book a private car with Daytrip to bring you door-to-door and help with all your gear. Plus, Daytrip has picked out the best sightseeing stops on the way, so you can do more than ski or ride on your trip.
Check out our picks for the best ski resorts in New England below:
1. KILLINGTON RESORT
“The Beast of the East” really does live up to its name. Killington Resort spans 6(!) peaks, including the beloved Pico Mountain, making it the largest ski area in the East. There’s groomers, there’s steeps, there’s bumps and trees and parks. Basically, there’s something for every ability, even kids and families.
But what puts Killington at the top of the lift- oops, list!- is it has all that, and the best après and nightlife around. At the end of the day, there are countless (and excellent) places to eat and drink while you give your legs a rest. Or party into the night.
- Book a private car from Boston to Killington
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Stowe Resort comes in a close second, and foot-for-vertical-dropping-foot rivals Killington. From cruising the green Toll Road (literally a toll road you can drive up in the summer) to bombing the iconic Front Four, Mt. Mansfield, Vermont’s highest peak, has something for everyone. And in the afternoon, you can head to south-facing Spruce Peak for some laps in the sun. On powder days, experts hike above the tree line to the Nose or Chin for some of the best backcountry the east coast has to offer. Oh, and did we mention Jake Carpenter, the father of snowboarding, lived in Stowe? So you know it’s good.
And while we’re focused on downhill, Stowe gets a special mention for cross country skiing. Not only does the Stowe Mountain have its own tracks, but the Trapp Family Lodge (as in the actual Sound of Music von Trapps) was the first and largest XC ski resort in the country – there’s over 100 miles of groomed and ungroomed trails! Plus, the lodge itself is totally charming with its Austrian alpine style. And they make some mean Bavarian brews on site.
When you’re not on the mountain, the town itself is one of those charming New England villages you dream about. There’s a picturesque, 19th century white steeple church right on main street, and plenty of bars and restaurants for après-ski. In fact, The Matterhorn right at the base of the mountain was named the best après-ski bar in North America. And they’ve got a great sushi special Tuesday through Thursday. Really the only downside to Stowe is it’s the most expensive resort in the East and gets crowded on weekends.
3. JAY PEAK
Jay Peak’s claim to fame is simple: they get more snow than anywhere else in the East – around 400” per year. The powder-packed glades are the real standout for advanced skiers, while the resort and groomers are family friendly. That’s actually all we have to say about the skiing. If you want powder and trees, you want Jay.
For families, the resort is an attraction in itself, which makes sense since there’s not really anything else around. There’s a huge indoor waterpark, climbing gym, and skating rink, so the kids will have plenty to do when “it’s too cold”!
4. SUGARBUSH RESORT
If all you care about is great skiing, Sugarbush should be near the top of your list. Like Stowe, it spans two mountains and has a great variety of terrain for every ability. In fact, for trees, we’d say it might even beat Stowe. Just take Slide Brook, a 2000-acre wooded basin where you can sometimes see porcupines and other wildlife as you race between the trees. Plus, Sugarbush is significantly cheaper and less crowded.
So what’s the catch? There’s not that much going on outside of skiing. There’s fewer bars and restaurants so they end up being busier than other resorts despite there being fewer people. But again, if your ideal schedule is ski, eat, sleep, repeat, that’s not much of a downside.
- Book a private car from Boston to Sugarbush
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Not to be confused with the ‘Bush, Sugarloaf is Maine’s largest resort. It’s also the second-largest resort in the East, and the only one with lift service that goes above the treeline. Covering over 1,200 acres, there’s a huge diversity of terrain that’s especially appealing for more advanced skiers. On a powder day, Brackett Basin is tough to beat. And you can even hit up some snowcat-accessed sidecountry. If you’re not an expert, no worries – over half the trails are beginner or intermediate.
The main drawback of the ‘Loaf is its location – you’re looking at a 4-hour drive from Boston at the best of times. But this is also a blessing as it gets fewer weekend warriors, and has kept the town pretty down to earth. You’ve got a good selection of après options, not to mention the famous Reggae Fest every April!
Don’t care about the craft brews and local cheeses Vermonters love so much? Check out Whiteface at Lake Placid, “the winter sports capital of the world”. It has the largest vertical drop in the East, and has hosted the Winter Olympics twice. It also has some of the most challenging terrain in the East for adventure-seeking experts. When there’s enough snow, they open up “The Slides”, a hike-to only basin that’s a powderhound’s playground. But don’t let that put you off if you’re not an advanced skier. Over 60% of Whiteface’s trails are beginner or intermediate, which is actually more than some of the other resorts on this list.
Whiteface also has history, culture, and natural grandeur going for it. Overlooking Lake Placid and surrounded by the Adirondacks, the views both on and off the slopes are hard to beat. And down in the town of Lake Placid itself, you’ve got the Olympic Village Museum and a bevy of après options to keep you occupied. In fact, it’s consistently ranked #1 for down-day activities. The main downside is it doesn’t always have the best conditions.
- Book a private car from Millbrook to Whiteface
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7. BRETTON WOODS
We covered the largest resorts in Vermont, Maine, and New York, so now it’s time for New Hampshire’s: Bretton Woods. While there’s terrain for all levels, unlike the other big resorts, Bretton Woods focuses on groomers. They have a generous number of green runs, so you can get some variety as you practice your pizzas and french fries. And on Fridays, Saturdays, and holidays, they offer night skiing until 8PM. Plus there’s another incentive to take things a bit slower here: amazing views of Mt. Washington.
Off the slopes, you have plenty of other winter activities like sleigh rides, skating, snowmobiling, and tubing. There’s also 62 mi of cross-country ski trails, so you can immerse yourself in the winter atmosphere. Like every other major ski resort, expect crowds on weekends and holidays.
- Book a private car from Boston to Bretton Woods
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8. MAD RIVER GLEN
Snowboarders, keep scrolling. Mad River Glen is skiers only. The Glen prides itself on being an “old-school” resort. It’s not owned by some fancy company, but a coop. So members can join the town halls to make decisions. The ticket checkers are still real people, the snow is all natural, and they have one of only two surviving single chairs in the US. Trails are classic New-England: narrow, winding, and often bumpy. And often cut by locals, so there’s still stumps in places. All of this makes for the most challenging terrain in the East; their motto “Ski it if you can” isn’t a joke! Mad River Glen has a die-hard following, so expect long lift lines on weekends and powder days.
- Book a private car from Boston to Mad River Glen
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9. LOON MOUNTAIN
Just 2 hours from Boston, Loon is a favorite for families who don’t want to spend too much time in the car. Most of the runs are blues and greens, so you don’t have to be an advanced skier to explore most of the mountain from your ski-in/ski-out lodging. They also have plenty of down-day options like snow tubing, ice skating, indoor climbing, and snowshoeing excursions to the summit. Park rats will also love their 7 terrain parks, with some great jib features they make themselves, and New Hampshire’s only SuperPipe. But you do pay for convenience, and Loon is fairly expensive.