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An Easy Family Ski Weekend In The Hudson Valley

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. For kids and especially for the parents doing the driving, this is exhausting.

Why not try a ski weekend instead? With ample vacation rental options,  hotels in a range of budgets and activities beyond skiing, you can enjoy a fun winter getaway in the Hudson Valley instead of a very long 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 Hudson Valley ski area of choice is *Belleayre, 40 minutes west of Kingston. We were invited to check it out after recent that included a new magic carpet and rental equipment, an a spiffed up lodge with a bar, fireplace, and surprisingly good canteen.

I immediately saw the benefits of new grooming equipment. Despite single-digit temperatures, the slopes all had a slight crunchy but very skiable corduroy.

Ski class at BelleayreI’ve been told their weekend ski classes can be large, but on a cold Friday, thing were slow enough that Tiny Traveler 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 Tiny Traveler, 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 class is a good opportunity to introduce a younger child to skiing without spending too much. And you 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 options included chili, fresh-pressed sandwiches and some other cooked-to-order items. There is a comfortable side 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.

Sunday: Explore The Hudson Valley 

A snack from Bread Alone's Hudson Valley bakeryThe next day, you could get half-day lift tickets and squeeze in a bit more skiing before heading home. If you do that, stop at rustic bakery Bread Alone  on route 28 for a snack on the way to the thruway.

If you don’t want to ski, stop on the way home to explore the Walkway Over the Hudson, a railroad-bridge-turned-mile-long park with stellar river views (it could be windy in winter, though).

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 it’s too cold for the Walkway, visit Hyde Park, Franklin Roosevelt’s Hudson Valley estate and presidential library. Kids can explore the house and grounds as junior national park Ranger.

Dia Beacon galleriesMore adventurous families can stop instead in Beacon, specifically 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 wallet-friendly prices and 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 weekend ideas.)

Where to Stay

a room at the Emerson LodgeFor 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).

If you’re into quirky roadside attractions, the kaleidoscope is worth checking out even if you don’t stay. 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 the first glance at 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 bathroom 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, which could make it a good value for families.

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 majority of house around Belleayre are vacation homes so a vacation rental is 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.

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  1. Vanessa from Hudson Valley Good Stuff
    February 27, 2014 at 9:37 pm — Reply

    Great article! Glad you and TT enjoyed the slopes! Bread Alone has the best hot cocoa, soups, of course bread, and cafes in Rhinebeck and Woodstock too.

  2. Nancie
    February 22, 2014 at 7:36 pm — Reply

    What a great family getaway. The rooms at the Emerson sound outrageously lovely.

  3. Johanna
    February 21, 2014 at 7:18 am — Reply

    What fun, and some great tips too. I remember our skiing days in Europe, and our kids just loved it.

  4. Tales Told From The Road
    February 21, 2014 at 12:32 am — Reply

    Interesting story. I made a few trips into the Southern Catskills near the Pennsylvania border when my wife’s aunt lived in the area.

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