6 suburban and nearby spots to hit the ski slopes this winter
Skiing is always a popular winter pastime in the Chicago suburbs, but the chance to have some safe, outdoor fun is especially valuable if the COVID-19 pandemic has left you and your family feeling stir crazy.
With the area getting plenty of snow recently to complement the artificial snow produced at many spots, now is a great time to hit the slopes for a mix of relaxation and exhilarating exercise.
Be sure to call ahead to check on fees, hours and availability, as many places have reduced capacity to enforce social distancing.
1401 W. Lake St., Bartlett, (630) 289-1000, villaolivia.com
Villa Olivia added a new online registration system for tubing, slope tickets, lessons and equipment rental this year to make the process of checking in safer and faster. Staff will also be restricting the number of people in the Ski Lodge, so there may be a wait to get inside. Tubing is so popular that it's already sold out for January, so you'll want to reserve space for February as soon as possible. The Ski Café is only open for grab and go, but you can pick up pizza, hot chocolate, beer and more to enjoy at picnic tables outside. Group, private and semiprivate lessons are available for skiers and snowboarders of all levels.
Four Lakes Alpine Snowsports
5750 Lakeside Drive, Lisle, (630) 964-2550, fourlakessnowsports.com
Because of the pandemic, skiing and snowboarding group classes have been canceled for the year in favor of private or semiprivate lessons that are restricted to the same family. That means there's a lot less availability, so be sure to book ahead. Four Lakes has also added a new outdoor ski return counter and space to change your shoes and ski boots outside, and the spot is handling boot and helmet rentals in the cafeteria to avoid crowding. They've also reduced capacity on their trails, so you'll want to arrive early to secure a spot. The hill features areas for beginners, intermediate and advanced skiers, plus a terrain park.
Alpine Valley Resort
W2501 County Road D, Elkhorn, Wisconsin, (262) 642-7374, alpinevalleyresort.com
Private and family lessons are available, though space is limited this year and the program for ages 3- to 4-years-old is canceled. Food and drink offerings will also be limited this season. Enjoy a new 1,400-foot trail and upgraded chairlift meant to provide more space for beginner and intermediate skiers on the mountain. The beginner area has also expanded, providing gentle slopes for first-time skiers and snowboarders.
Snowboarders will find plenty of runs at Chestnut Mountain in Galena.
- Courtesy of Chestnut Mountain
Chestnut Mountain Resort
8700 W. Chestnut Mountain Road, Galena, Illinois, (800) 397-1320, chestnutmtn.com
The children's program is canceled for this winter because of COVID-19 and private lessons will be limited. Only 1,800 lift tickets will be sold each day, though passholders and lodging guests are guaranteed entry. The restaurant, bar and cafeteria are also closed due to the pandemic, though room service is available if you're staying in the hotel, and grab and go options can be enjoyed outside or in your car. The slopes offer options for all skill levels with 19 runs across 3,500 feet. Snowboarders can enjoy the Farside terrain park, the largest of its kind in the Midwest, which is served by its own chairlift and includes 25 rails.
The Mountain Top at Grand Geneva Resort & Spa
7036 Grand Geneva Way, Lake Geneva, Wisconsin, (800) 558-3417, grandgeneva.com
Lessons will be sold online in advance this year, but they're available for kids ages 3 to 6 and 6 to 14. Private lessons are also available. Tickets are required this year to use the skating rink or sledding hill, with sledding tickets giving you 90 minutes of access. If you buy a trail pass, you'll also have access to six miles of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing paths, with equipment for both available for rental. Enjoy trails for all skill levels plus a terrain park for snowboarders. The ski shop, restaurant and chalet are open but with reduced capacity, and masks must be worn when not eating or drinking. Special packages are available if you want to stay at the resort and ski, providing a room plus lift tickets, with additional add-ons including equipment rentals and couples massages.
Wilmot Mountain in Wisconsin is limiting group sessions to six people age 7 and older because of the pandemic.
- Courtesy of Wilmot Mountain
11931 Fox River Road, Wilmot, Wisconsin, (262) 862-2301, wilmotmountain.com
Access is limited due to attendance restrictions so book your lift tickets as soon as possible. Group sessions will be limited to six people and skiers 7 and older, with kids 4 to 6 needing to attend private lessons. Lessons must also be purchased in advance and require you to have a lift pass for the day. Childcare for resort guests has been scrapped for the season and the restaurants are operating at reduced capacity. The mountain provides a mix of chairlifts, carpet lifts and rope tows with trails for all levels plus a beginner's area and terrain park. Snow tubing is also available.