By Penny Fox
Nothing quite captures the feeling of winter than by snapping into a pair of skis and heading out for a family vacation. Ski the slopes together, hit the snow tubing park, then finish off the day with hot cocoa in front of roaring fireplace. Here are the best ski destinations in the Mountain State.
For fun in the snow and memories that will last a lifetime, Snowshoe Mountain Resort in Snowshoe, West Virginia, is a great place for a winter family vacation. The Appalachian Mountains is home to some of the best snow around for wintertime activities like skiing, sledding, tubing, and snowboarding, and this resort is on over 250 acres of skiable country. With 60 trails from which to choose, you’ll have to see it to believe it. There are so many things to do here, the only problem you’ll have is deciding what to do. And dining won’t be a problem either because there are several places that serve up great cuisine and yummy kid-friendly foods.
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Ghent, West Virginia, is where you and your family can celebrate all things winter on your next vacation. This popular resort has it all—tubing, skiing, snowboarding, great dining, amazing scenic views, and more. If you’re new to winter sports, you can take a lesson from one of the knowledgeable instructors, and lessons start for those as young as five. There’s even a Frosties Kinder Care program for children from six months to four years-old. Open from December through March, you’ll have over 90 acres to explore with slopes for every skill level. Night skiing is a great alternative, and Winterplace has the largest snow tubing park in the Mountain State.
Timberline Four Season Resort in Davis, West Virginia, is the place to be this winter with your friends and family. Called the Jewel of the Highlands, you’ll understand why when you travel to the top of the mountain at this family-owned and managed resort in the heart of the Allegheny Mountains. For 30 years, people aged four and up, beginners and experts, have been enjoying this amazing mountain and all it offers. There are special discounts available and several adventures for little ones, like Timber Adventures for ages four to seven years, and Mountain Safari for ages eight to 12. There are group and private lessons for older kids and adults that will boost your confidence and safety.
Almost a household name, Canaan Valley in the eastern part of West Virginia, offers great family fun. You can choose skiing and snowboarding, snow tubing, cross-country skiing and showshoeing, ice skating, and other fun activities for all ages. There’s a lodge, but if you prefer, there are cabins and cottages available year-round, too. Forget something at home or not sure if you want to invest in expensive equipment before knowing how your young ones like the snow? You can rent skiing and snowboarding equipment. New to outdoor winter activities? Take a lesson from one of the qualified and very patient ski or snowboarding instructors. The ski school offers a package deal that includes a one-day lift ticket, ski or snowboard rental, and a lesson for ages seven and up.
Davis, West Virginia, is home to White Grass Ski Touring Center. What’s a touring center you might ask? This unique place is one of the first of its kind in the Mountain State and has cross-country and regular skiing with cross-country gear, backcountry, Telemark, and skating skis. You can even rent a pull behind sled for the little ones. Stop by the ski school and brush up on the basics, and don’t forget to eat at the natural foods café.
Even when it doesn’t snow, it snows at Oglebay Resort in Wheeling, West Virginia, and every day can be a snow day. Open mid-December to March, you and your family will have a (snow)ball when you spend the day or the weekend skiing, snowboarding, or tubing. Season passes are available, and lessons include rental equipment for the day and a discount on your lift ticket.
Want to get away with the family this winter for some unusual winter fun? Go to Elk River Touring Center located in Slatyfork, West Virginia, and get exploring. Deep in the Monongahela National Forest, Elk River is the perfect answer to the winter blues. Winter in the mountains is magical, and with an average of 180 inches of the white stuff each year, this is one of the best cross-country ski destinations in the state. If you don’t have your own equipment, you can rent sleds, snowshoes, and skis in sizes that fit children and adults.
In the beautiful Allegheny Mountains just miles from Deep Creek Lake and Morgantown, you and your family will have so much fun at this mountaintop vacationland. Open year-round, the area was opened in the 1960s as a hunting and fishing club, but was later converted to a public wonderland that includes a lodge and dining facility for up to 250 guests, an indoor swimming pool, fitness center and game room, and an annual snowfall over 100 inches, making it a great place for cross-country skiing on the seven trails there.