From small ski areas just outside Boston to larger resorts in nearby New Hampshire, these destinations offer beginner lessons, night skiing, tubing, family-friendly atmospheres and even shopping in quaint New England ski towns. Whether it’s an afternoon or an easy weekend getaway you’re after, check out one of these top 5 ski areas near Boston.
Due to COVID-19, safety measures were put in place by the State of Massachusetts which impacted the 20/21 ski season for resorts near Boston. These included a 10-day quarantine upon entry into the state, mandatory mask-wearing and reduced indoor dining capacity. In Worcester County which is home to Wachusett Mountain, mask-wearing was mandatory at all times when not eating or drinking, including in the lift line and while riding the lift. Such restrictions are not anticipated to continue into the 21/22 winter season.
Gunstock is a mom-and-pop style resort that’s known for its family-friendly atmosphere, activities and steep pitch. For a small mountain of 227 ac, it boasts an impressive quality of trails for varying ability levels, although mostly suited towards intermediate skiers. Night skiing is also a favorite here. From the slopes you’ll see views of Lake Winnipesaukee, and around the town of Gilford you’ll find various lodging and dining options, gourmet food shops and antiques. Gunstock partners with nearby resorts, B&B’s, and country inns that boast a certain New Hampshire rustic charm. Tax-free shopping at Tanger Outlet Center is a short drive away.
A Vail-owned resort home to 66 trails, Mount Sunapee has one of the best grooming in the East, just one of the perks that make travelling just a bit farther from Boston worth it. Intermediates will appreciate the excellent grooming quality, while advanced skiers can hit the moguls and glades. Higher elevation than other Boston area resorts also means better snowfall. New London is the closest major town, featuring lodging and casual eateries, as well as an historic downtown. Take a stroll down Main Street for photo ops and artsy shopping. Newbury itself is home to historic buildings and attractions, as well as the John Hay National Wildlife Refuge along the shores of Lake Sunapee.
With roundtrip bus services on Saturdays, Pats Peak is an easy day trip from Boston. The ski area boasts 28 trails, half of which are suited for beginners. While you won’t find the steeps of the Rockies at Pats Peak, the ski area is dedicated to maintaining good gladed areas for New England thrill seekers. Other perks include 3 terrain parks, night skiing on all terrain, and free wifi in both lodges. Snowshoeing and tubing are also available. Just down the road, the town of Henniker is picturesque and charming – a postcard of rural New Hampshire. Stay in Henniker for closest access to the resort, or in nearby Weare and Hopkinton for a more remote getaway.
Small but mighty, Wachusett offers skiers 103 ac of mellow terrain including 19 trails. Terrain is mostly intermediate, while a magic carpet services a beginner learning area and an express quad offers more beginners a chance to rack up their ski laps. Much of the ski area is surrounded by old growth forest, and it overlooks the beautiful Wachusett Lake. Family-friendly events like magician visits and “Science on the Slopes” are offered. The ski area is located between the towns of Princeton and Westminster; other nearby towns also offer lodging and dining options. A weekend train from Boston followed by a complimentary shuttle bus makes it easy to get there if you’re not up for the drive.
Blue Hills’ claim to fame is being the closest ski area to any major US city, and at just under 40 minutes drive from Boston, it can’t be beat for accessibility. Yes, at 60 ac skiable terrain, it’s tiny, but for a quick getaway or Saturday afternoon fun with beginners, this ski area is ideal. Night skiing is available on 80% of terrain. Blue Hills offers affordable ski lessons, and is especially suited for beginners because of the mellow terrain and small size. Blue Hills isn’t exactly a tourist destination, that said, if you wish to cruise around the town of Canton, expect small-town restaurants and shops, as well as charming downtown areas in nearby Dedham and Norwood.