4 Best Ski Resorts for Families in the Midwest

By Kristine Jepsen Feb. 22, 2020
(Credit: Photobac/Shutterstock)

If your littles are ready to hit the slopes, give these Midwestern ski resorts a try. Whether you’re looking for diverse activities to busy their bodies or ski-in/out lodging that’s on budget, you’ll find the perfect place to make ski memories here in the Midwest.

Lutsen Mountains

Lutsen, Minnesota

Located in the “arrowhead” of northern Minnesota, overlooking Lake Superior, Lutsen Mountains is the Midwest’s largest ski area, offering 95 runs across four peaks. Ullr Mountain is a designated “slow zone” for beginning skiers and families, and private and group ski lessons are available for all ages.

Off-slope entertainment includes dog-sled rides, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, naturalist programs, live music, and games or movies beside a toasty fire. Kids (15 and younger) ski free with several family lodging packages. Additional BOGO lift deals and student discounts are available season-long – just be sure to research and purchase online in advance.

Shanty Creek Resort

Antrim County, Michigan

In the heart of northern Michigan’s Chain of Lakes, Shanty Creek Resort encompasses 5,000 acres. This area is home to three villages with ski-in/out access to legendarily well-maintained runs on Schuss and Summit mountains. SCR has been named No. 1 for lodging and dining in the Midwest by Ski magazine, as well as a finalist for Best Value in the Liftopia’s Best in Snow awards, where thousands of skiers evaluate cost of lift tickets, rentals and programs; accessibility; terrain variety, and more.

Family-friendly activities include reservable alpine tubing on weekends and holidays, as well as fat-tire biking, cross-country skiing, snow-shoeing and dog-sledding. Thrill-seekers also enjoy a premiere terrain park, and a NASTAR race training course open every Saturday and Sunday.

Big Powderhorn Mountain Resort

Upper Peninsula, Michigan

If deep powder and Old World Bavarian style are your fantasy, head to Big Powderhorn in the farthest reaches of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where the annual snow average is 17 feet. This hidden gem belongs to a coalition of small- to mid-sized ski areas offering the Indy Pass , an all-access season pass good at 47 independent resorts for more than 94 days of skiing and riding.

Big Powderhorn and its sister ski areas (including Shanty Creek, above, and Terry Peak, below) feature stellar terrain, snow quality and amenities while maintaining best-value by being less crowded than mega resorts that have hosted Olympic games, for example. They’re affordable, with all-day lift tickets often under $50 per child, and families love the abundance of mid-level runs and short lift lines.

Terry Peak Ski Area

Black Hills, South Dakota

Towering 7,100 feet at its summit, Terry Peak , in historic Deadwood, South Dakota, boasts a vertical rise of 1,100 feet and the highest lift service between the Rockies and the Alps. This unassuming Midwestern resort attracts skiers and snowboarders for its 600 acres of skiable runs and robust terrain park, plus masterful snow-making capabilities, covering more than 60 percent of the resort if needed.

Terry Peak’s Ski School is run by staff members who are certified Professional Ski Instructors of America (PSIA) and American Association of Snowboard Instructors (AASI) , and skiers under the age of 5 and over the age of 70 ski free.

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