Family Skiing in the Northeast on a Budget

Family Skiing in the Northeast on a Budget

Our Family Skiing at Pico Mountain, VT Outfitted by Boulder Gear

There is nothing better than spending quality time outdoors with your family on the ski slopes, but many people think it is too expensive to give it a try. With a few tips you may be convinced to  take the kids on a ski vacation, and for those living in the Northeast, you can skip the airfare out West and take road trip to some fabulous places not too far from home, that will surely create family memories that last a lifetime.

Non-Cotton Layers are the key to staying dry and warm.


We can all agree that the weather in the Northeast can be fickle. You will often be surprised at how much colder it can be in the mountains compared to the city.  One secret to having a successful ski adventure with your family will be staying warm, but whatever you do, please don’t wear jeans.

Over the years I have learned some useful tips that keep our family warm for any type of weather on the mountain. You don’t need anything fancy and some items may already in your wardrobe.  The most obvious things are a ski jacket and ski pants, preferably waterproof, or at least water-resistant. As kids learn to ski, they are sure to fall, and that means getting snow down your pants.  Ski pants with suspenders or bibs are better. Outer-layers should offer wind protection and keep you dry from any precipitation, but the real trick to staying warm is layering up. 

Start with a non-cotton base-layer, this will wick moisture away from your body. In a pinch I have used footless tights, this actually does a great job, and will keep you warmer than you might think. Only have old tights with the feet?  Repurpose them and cut the feet off, while being a little green at the same time.

For mid-layers think insulation. You will want 2 layers that work together for those extra cold days, which include a thin micro-fleece layer, which could be a turtleneck or long sleeve shirt with a neck zip is ideal, The neck zip will come in handy in the lodge so you don’t overheat.  Then you will want a fleece or wool sweater. You should make sure that the mid-layers fit properly and are not too bulky. On really cold days a vest could also come in handy, if you need an extra layer without bulk in the arms.

No need to go out and buy expensive ski socks for your first trip to the slopes. Thin non-cotton socks that fit well to the knee can be substituted.   It may seem counterintuitive at first, but putting on two pairs of socks or bulky socks will not make your feet warmer. The toes being able to wiggle around will help prevent frostbite.

Next, a good pair of gloves or mittens; preferably ones that will fit liners and are waterproof. Always bring an extra pair, along with extra socks. The day you forget them, will certainly be the day, someone gets snow in their boots or a glove goes missing. We learned the hard way, and  buying these items on the mountain are expensive. A balaclava or neck warmer that can be pulled up over the face to keep from getting windburn, an inferior substitute, could be a bandana or a short not so bulky scarf.

Two essential things you may not have are helmet and goggles. If you are renting skis on the mountain, it can be very expensive unless you are doing a beginner package, that I will discuss below, will rent helmets along with equipment rentals or separately at $10 a day.  Ordering goggles ahead of time can save you big.   On really cold days, hand warmers and foot warmers will come in handy to help take the edge off. 

Packages for Beginners

Now that you have  your ski clothing together, you will need skis. Many mountains offer special deals, but you may have to look for them. If you are starting out, try something small, before venturing to more expensive places. Many mountains in New York and Pennsylvania offer beginner packages that include equipment rentals, ski lesson and a limited access lift ticket, starting at around $50. Ski Vermont, offers a Take 3 Beginner Package which gives you 3 visits to participating mountains for about $130. 

Season Rentals

Once you have tried it out, and  ready to take the next step. Many local ski shops offer season rentals for equipment, that allows you to rent equipment from November to May from $99-$200.  On mountain rental prices can range, starting from $50 a visit, so if you know you are going to go 4 times, you can certainly make that up. Season rentals are a great option for growing kids. Most shops will exchange skis if your child suddenly has a growth spurt mid-season. Just be sure if you go that route to buy a helmet ahead of time.

Season Passes, Super Passes and Special Passes for Kids

If you know you are going to ski more than 4-5 days you may want to look into a season pass and these days super passes are also available that allow you to ski at various mountains. Super Pass options include EPIC, Ikon, Mountain Collective and the new Indy Pass.  There are certainly pros and cons to each, but all are sure to offer deals for kids. If you fall in love with skiing like our family has, you will want to take advantage of deals that the super passes have to offer.

For a small administration fee, ISkiNY gives 3rd and 4th Graders  3 free lift tickets at each participating ski area in New York State when accompanied by a paying adult.  There are over 20 ski areas throughout New York State participating in the Learn to Ski or Ride. Pennsylvania and New Hampshire  have a similar pass for 4th and 5th graders and Vermont a 5th grade option. Reservations at ski areas may be required, so be sure to inquire before going. 

If you miss out on Super Passes, try to avoid paying window rates, which can be high. Sites like Liftopia offer deep discounts.  Also make note that most mountains only charge a nominal fee for kids 6 and under, just be sure to check in advance. Some mountains offer 3 and 4x cards which give deep discounts, compared to the day rate.  For family mountains we like Bromley and Pico.

Good luck, and don’t forget to take many hot chocolate breaks.  You are off to make memories that will last a lifetime.

The most important piece of equipment. Protect your brain. Wear a Helmet. Nevada is wearing Briko Race Helmet with MIPS technology, along with Xevo Optics Goggles.


BoulderGear – offers durable quality ski wear for the family.  35% discount with code alba

Must Need Items 

Xevo Optics -high quality ski goggles for all conditions. 50% off with the code ALBA

Helmets – It is a good idea to purchase a good quality helmet, MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact System) technology.

Hand/Foot Warmers – these will come in handy on those cold days.  Good to buy in bulk.


Family Mountains – This is a list of our family favorites that we have frequented, incentives were not received.

Pico Mountain, VT – with trails all leading back to one base lodge, it makes it an ideal destination for families.

Killington Mountain, VT – be sure to check out there Spring Pass. Usually starts around March 15th.

Mad River Glen, VT- Buy early and get the Family Mad Card, which offers kids under 12 free season passes.

Bromley Mountain, VT – A family friendly ski resort in Southern Vermont. From its centralized base area it offers a variety options from families including wide open trails, woods skiing, progressive terrain park  and top notch instruction. Check out their Spring Deals

Jay Peak Resort, VT-  Book the Ski/Splash and Stay Package and you will surely make your kids happy.  After a day out on the slopes the kids will have fun in the Lazy River while the parents soak in the hot tub. They offer great deals in the spring for a family of four.

Bolton Valley, VT- Located outside of Burlington, they offer a variety of discounted passes as well as very reputable instruction that won’t break the bank. Extended days are a bonus as they also have night skiing.

Mountain Creek,  NJ- Located in NJ just an hour away from Manhattan, it can attract big crowds.  However for it being so close to the city they do make a ton of snow and offer competitive prices.  Just be sure to get there early and leave before Midnight Madness.

Plattekill Mountain, NY – Located about a 2.5 hour drive from Manhattan in the Northwestern Catskills this homey mountain offers big mountain terrain.  A variety of options for families to make skiing affordable.

At Pedigree Ski Shop in White Plains picking up new skis. When Sandro was younger, season rentals from Pedigree Ski Shop, in White Plains made the most sense. They do an excellent job sizing kids. Purchasing or renting early will insure that you get the best cost savings.

Seasonal Equipment Rentals 

Ski Barn – four locations in NJ to make it easy to rent ski and snowboards.

Pedigree Ski Shop  – with over 50 years in the snow industry they are pros at sizing kids.

State Specials – lots of local mountains offer specials, but many states over special passes for children in different grades.

ISkiNY 3rd/4th Graders

Ski NH 4th/5th Graders

Ski PA 4th/5th

Ski VT 5th Graders

Winter Kids Maine/NH Family Discounts for All Ages.

At Aspen East, Nevada needed powder skis for big snow that was coming the next day. Aspen East was able to mount and test bindings for Nevada’s ability and have them ready without us missing a run.

Super Deals – Sites worth checking out for equipment and other discounts.

Sports Page Race Room – Outfitting Racers for over 35 years. Buy online or at their Queensbury, NY location.

First Stop Board and Barn – Experts in custom boot fitting.  Having boots that fit you correctly make all of the difference. Located 1 mile east of the Killington Skyeship Gondola.

Play It Again Sports – New and Used Gear to buy sell and trade in Latham, NY and various locations in the Northeast.

Aspen East – When you need something and you don’t want to pay on mountain prices. Also demo top of the line skis before making a big purchase and quality tunes and binding checks. Located just past the entrance to the Killington access road.

Super Passes – Once you are obsessed like us, you will want to get in more days.  Purchasing a Super Pass can help you save, if you want to ski more than one ski location.

Ikon Pass  – 41 destinations available worldwide on one pass.

Epic Pass  – a variety of pass options available from 1 day and up at each of its resorts.

Mountain Collective  – two days at 18 destinations worldwide.

Indy Pass  certainly the best option for families, with two days each at 46 mountains, (Including Plattekill and Bolton) for only $219 a pass.

No incentives were received for these budget friendly ski tips.  We will be adding updated ski deals as find them, so be sure to check back for more budget friendly tips.

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