Easy Ski Weekend With Kids in The Catskills
You can make skiing in the Catskills a day trip from the New York City metro area – if you want to get up at the crack of dawn and spend about as much time driving as you do skiing. Why not try a weekend instead? With ample AirBnB options, hotels in a range of budgets and activities beyond skiing, you can enjoy a relaxing mini-break in the Hudson Valley instead of an exhausting day trip.
Here’s an itinerary we suggest:
Hudson Valley Family Ski Weekend itinerary
Friday Night: Drive
Do you driving after school on Friday night, so you can arrive at the ski hills like Belleayre, Plattekill or Wyndham bright and early to beat the line for rentals and lessons.
Dinner: The Woodnotes Grille at the Emerson Lodge is a laid back place to unwind with a cocktail and a seasonal menu that is likely to have something to please everyone in your family.
Saturday: Hitting the Slopes
Our ski hill of choice in Catskills is *Belleayre, 40 minutes west of Kingston. We were invited to check it out after recent improvements that included a new magic carpet and rental equipment. I immediately saw the benefits of new grooming equipment. Despite single-digit temperatures, the slopes all had a slight crunchy but very skiable corduroy.
I’ve been told their weekend ski classes can be large, but on a cold Friday, thing were slow enough that TT went out on her own with an instructor in the morning and with three kids and two instructors in the afternoon. The mountain has several long, winding green slopes and the instructors actually got TT, a capable but nervous skier, off the bunny slope and onto a ski lift and real ski run for the first time.
The mountain has two classes worth noting. One is an all-day ski camp, available on weekends and holidays, which is usually a good value.
The second is a one-hour class that kids ages 4 to 7 can take with a parent. It’s $25 ($59 with child rentals). Six or 7 year-olds would benefit from a longer class where they really learn. But this is a good opportunity to introduce a younger child to skiing and to learn how to ski with him or her.
If your kids get cold before you’re done skiing, drop them at the Tiger Den for babysitting. Then go have some fun on the more advanced hills; Belleayre is known for having some longer runs than you’ll find elsewhere in the area.
I’m not a skier and so I appreciated the expanded lodge. The food was surprisingly good for a local ski mountain (try the chili or fresh-pressed sandwiches), there is a room with a fireplace a view of the mountain and a bar. I settled in for the day quite happily with my laptop and worked while Tiny Traveler skied.
Day Two: Hudson Valley Things To Do
The next day, you could take the morning to let your kids practice what they learned on the slopes the day before. Afterward, stop at rustic bakery Bread Alone on route 28 for a snack on the way to the thruway.
If it’s warm enough for a walk, stop to explore the Walkway Over the Hudson, a railroad-bridge-turned-mile-long park with stellar river views (it’s bike and scooter friendly). Then drive to New Paltz to peak at the old houses on Huguenot Street and enjoy an inexpensive college-town lunch on Main Street (our favorite spot in the Gilded Otter, which offers excellent house-brewed beer and a chalk board for kids upstairs).
Or you can cross the Hudson to explore artsy River towns like Red Hook, Rhineck, Beacon and Cold Spring.
If your kids are old enough to be studying US history, visit Hyde Park, Franklin Roosevelt’s Hudson Valley Estate, where kids can explore the house and grounds as junior secret service agents. Afterward, have lunch in the kid-friendly café at Terrapin, a GMO-free restaurant in a former Rhinebeck church. The kids menu is a la carte and more expensive than most, your kids will actually eat a fruit or veggie with their meal.
If history isn’t your thing, head south to Beacon, specifically to Dia: Beacon. This modern art space, set in a former Nabisco box-printing factory, is roomy enough for kids to explore without bothering the other visitors, and it’s always amusing to see how kids react to modern art. In Beacon, the lunch options include a great creperie, vegan café, a burger joint and a soul food diner with good prices and impressively good chicken and waffles.
Even with all this, you can be back home by dinnertime with the sense that you’ve really been away. And hopefully with the notion that skiing with the kids is relaxing and fun rather than exhausting. (Here are more Hudson Valley ideas.)
Where to Stay
For something more upscale, the Emerson Resort* offers a rustic lodge, stylish inn (the latter is now opened to families), a playground, dog run, two restaurants and the world’s biggest kaleidoscope (free to guests, $5 otherwise). If you’re into quirky roadside attractions, the kaleidoscope is worth checking out. Rates are reasonable during the week and a splurge on weekends.
I stayed at the Emerson with Tiny Traveler, the first journalist to stay there with a child. I admit that at first glance, the chic canopied beds, whirlpool bathtub, fireplace and waiting bottle of local red wine made me think I would have made much better use of the room with my husband. But the room and bathrooms were huge. With two queen beds there was still ample space for a travel crib, toddler cot or air mattress. (or two). The room would easily work even with 2 or 3 kids.
There’s a casual sit-down restaurant where we got coffee and English muffins to go. The country store that sells coffee and baked goods would have been very handier for breakfast, but it didn’t open until midmorning.
The one thing the Emerson doesn’t have is a pool. For indoor swimming in an upscale, clubby environment try the Hanah Mountain Resort in Margaretville.
There are also a collection of family oriented value hotels around Kingston. The Hampton Inn and Garden Plaza Hotel each has an indoor pool. The majority of homes around Belleayre are vacation homes so a weekend a good option for a bigger group or those who want to do their own cooking.
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* We were guests of Belleayre and of Ulster County Tourism at the Emerson Resort. Our opinions are always entirely our own.