It’s just about that time of year: Family ski vacation time. As the temperatures begin to drop and the ski areas prepare their slopes, it’s time to start planning. Across Michigan, you’ll find a variety of wonderful ski resorts and areas that can accommodate all members of the family, and all levels of skill. Here are the best in the state.
With over 60 different runs, Boyne Mountain in Boyne Falls offers a level of challenge for the experienced and the brand-new-to-skiing alike. That makes it a great family choice, but it only gets better from there. A variety of dining options from pizzas to steaks to a taco truck make this place even better, and considering that there's an indoor waterpark right on the property, well, that takes care of pretty much everyone in the family!
Ski Brule in Iron River bills itself as the number one family resort not only in Michigan, but in the entire Midwest. It also claims to have the best kids' program in Michigan skiing. Those are some pretty big claims, but they sure can back them up. Start with some excellent prices on equipment rental and overall ticket prices—there's free tubing and a kids' lunch on Sundays for “Friends & Neighbors” members—and throw in the kids' teaching program uses a series of games to teach kids how to ski, and you'll see why Ski Brule is so awesome.
Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville is one of Michigan's leaders in ski resorts, and works quite well for families as well. It was actually named to the Conde Nast Traveler Top 12 Best Family Ski Resort listings for the U.S. and Canada for 2017. With skiing and a variety of winter sports—including fat tire snow biking—along with lessons for both adults and kids, there's plenty of reason to count this one among the best. Throw in a complete spa and dining options from a fast slice of pizza to a complete, high-end dinner for two and you've got everything well in hand here.
Took a ‘me’ day up at the mountains with @bridgerharlington 💫 There’s seriously nothing more peaceful than taking the chair lift up to the next run. And with barely any cell service, it’s the best way to disconnect from the world for a few hours 😌 I wish you all could’ve seen/felt the fresh powder!!!! ❄️❄️ it was perfect. #crystalmountain #legday #snowboarding #rachaelsgoodeats
Harbor Springs' Nub's Nob is geared specifically toward families thanks to multi-tiered age-appropriate ski lessons, and even a daycare program for those who are simply too young to ski. With racing, race clinics, and a whole range of skiing options beyond that, it's a complete ski experience.
Iron Mountain's Pine Mountain boasts the best-groomed slopes the Midwest can offer. There’s a lot to speak to Pine Mountain's claims, especially as it hosts an annual ski jump competition featuring some of the best jumpers around. The world record was set there, and at last report, remains standing. An on-premises restaurant offers nightly specials ranging from an endless pasta bar to slow-roasted prime rib, so come on out for skiing and some pretty impressive dinner options.
Wakefield's Big Snow Resort has two separate mountains for skiers, which opens up quite a bit of opportunity for all skill levels to enjoy time on the slopes. That makes it a good choice for families, since families often have skiers of varying skill levels. There are also some unexpected activities for the kids, like the Yeti Snow Forts, a massive conglomeration of straight-up snow forts featuring blocks, stairs, tunnels, and slides, which is tailor-made for the kids. Throw in the Kinder Country kids' care program that even comes with ski lessons and indoor play and that makes this a choice stop for those with kids.
Mount Bohemia in Lac La Belle offers a staggering array of experiences. You'll not only find the Midwest's longest vertical—900 feet worth of vertical—but you'll also find some of the most challenging skiing around thanks to ungroomed trails. Yes, not the best for young skiers, but if your kids want a challenging run, this might be it. Throw in the fact that you've got your choice of lodging—including a log cabin and a full-on yurt that sleeps 10—and you've got the kind of thing the kids will likely tell their friends about when they get home.
Skiing in southern Michigan isn't always easy to find, but even here, we've got some skiing, and skiing that's good for families. Alpine Valley in White Lake is actually not that far from Detroit, and offers several different runs across 118 total acres of skiable terrain. Featuring lessons for all ages as well as an after-school program to get the kids better acquainted with skiing for larger-scale ski trips, this might well be the first stop for more than a few families.
Between the towns of Bessemer and Ironwood lies Big Powderhorn Mountain, commonly considered a “family favorite” for skiers. With 33 runs across over 250 acres, it's easy to see why. With lessons for all ages, runs separated in terms of difficulty from easiest to toughest and two terrain parks on hand, you'll have a panoply of experience to make sure the newcomers aren't too taxed and the experienced aren't too bored.