One thing I’ve noticed since becoming a travel blogger is that much of my social life is now driven by bucket lists. Apart from my never-ending travel bucket list, I have seasonal bucket lists, weekend bucket lists and—my personal favorite—a giant New York City bucket list that I’m now working my way through.
Even when I’m not traveling, I’ve gotten into a routine of exploring my own city on the weekends.
That being said, I knew skiing near NYC was a popular day trip among my friends. So in February I finally embarked on my first-ever ski adventure: I took a day trip to Windham Mountain and finally crossed one of the biggest items on my New York bucket list. You see, I’m originally from Florida, and even though I had plenty of snowy vacations growing up, skiing was never something that appealed to me. I’m not entirely sure why; perhaps it’s because everyone around me was more interested in sunbathing and snorkeling rather than winter sports.
New York is the first place where I’ve experienced a full winter—and here, everyone I know skis or snowboards. Ski trips are a big topic in the winter, and I decided I wanted in on the fun.
But there were a few things that deterred me from picking the sport up earlier. For one, it’s a pricey hobby. A weekend ski trip can cost upwards of $1,000 when car and equipment rentals are thrown into play, even when cutting costs by splitting an Airbnb with friends. The fact that I don’t own a car is another obstacle to visiting popular nearby ski destinations like Vermont.
Fortunately for those of you in a similar boat, companies like NYC Snow Bus provide a fun solution. NYC Snow Bus offers round-trip ski trips to several nearby mountains in New York’s Catskills region—with transportation and equipment rentals included. It’s ideal for first-time skiers who want to try out the sport before embarking on a spendy vacation.
Below, I share everything you need to know about planning your own ski trip near NYC.
Who Is The NYC Snow Bus For?
The NYC Snow Bus day trip is for anyone who wants to go skiing or snowboarding for a day. There are packages for both beginners and experts, as well as people who are somewhere in the middle. My group ranged from beginners to experts who came with their own snowboards. Overall, it’s a great group activity to escape the hustle and bustle of the city—which can get pretty dreary in the winter.
NYC Snow Bus in particular offers several different passes, such as just a bus pass or a combination of bus transportation with lift access, ski and snowboard rentals, and beginner lessons.
How Much Does The NYC Snow Bus Cost?
I found the packages offered by NYC Snow Bus to be quite affordable. Below, find a price breakdown of the different packages offered.
For Hunter and Windham Mountains:
- $59.90 for bus transportation only
- $109.90 for bus transportation and ski/snowboard rentals
- $129.90 for bus transportation and a lift pass
- $169.90 for bus transportation, a lift pass and ski/snowboard rentals
- $189.90 for bus transportation, ski/snowboard rental, a lesson and an all-access pass to lifts
- $149.90 for bus transportation, ski/snowboard rental, a lesson and access to the beginner area
Best Time To Ski Near NYC
The best time to go skiing or snowboarding in New York is early January through early March. Windham Mountain is projected to close on March 29 this year, while Hunter Mountain should close around April 7.
Skiing Near NYC: How It Works
As I mentioned previously, I chose to go with a company called NYC Snow Bus, though there are a few others that offer the same service, most of which follow a similar format.
First thing I did was book my trip online a few days before the actual date. You can choose between several mountains including Windham and Hunter, and from there you’ll choose the package that best fits your skill level. I chose Windham Mountain, which sits about two and a half hours away from the city, and a beginner package that included round-trip bus transportation, equipment rental and a group lesson.
The day of the trip began early: The bus picks people up in set locations around the city between 6 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. My bus arrived promptly on the Upper West Side at 6:30 a.m. It was the bus’s last stop, and it was packed!
During the morning bus ride, a friendly guide passed out bagels and cream cheese for breakfast, as well as canned mocha lattes and water bottles.
We arrived at Windham Mountain around 9:30 a.m., just as it was starting to snow! It actually snowed the entire time I was there, which made the experience much more exciting.
It took me about 45 minutes to get all my equipment. There were tons of people already there, and you could tell that everyone was desperately trying to get on the mountain as quickly as possible. First, I signed in on a computer. Then I entered a new line to get fitted for boots, then in another line to get my skis and finally, a helmet. I also rented a locker for my bag, which cost about $12.
Of course I didn’t have snow gloves, so I stopped by the ski store on site and picked up a pretty decent pair for $40.
Then it was time to hit the slopes. For me, that meant the bunny slopes. I spent hours in a course meant for first-timers, which taught me everything from how to put on and take off my skis, how to stop and how to control my speed. As I graduated from one section of the course, the instructors passed me onto the next level.
I made it to the final level fairly quickly. Once I learned the basics, I stepped onto a conveyor belt that took me up a pretty small slope. I spent all day skiing down from the top, working one-on-one with several instructors that helped me master the basic skills of turning, speed control and stopping.
Meanwhile, the group of friends I was with spent the day on the actual slopes.
At around 1 p.m., we all met up for a beer at a covered bar near the lifts. We grabbed lunch to-go from the cafeteria and brought it into the bar. The lunch options were varied, including grilled cheese sandwiches with a side of chili, burgers and chips, wraps and sushi. I went for the sushi, which was quite good and affordable at $8.99 per roll. The beer, too, set me back only $6.
It was back to skiing after lunch. The bus would return to the city at 4:30 p.m., so around 3:45 p.m. I returned my equipment and got ready to leave. Unfortunately our bus went missing for an hour—but the guide handled the situation very well! We killed time at the ski lodge’s bar, and when the bus arrived, we were rewarded with fluffy apple cider doughnuts and more beer on the trip back.
Overall, the experience was excellent. Windham Mountain exceeded my expectations. The ski lodge was adorable, with beautiful snow-covered cabins spread about the grounds. There were bars, restaurants and stores on site, as well as an outdoor pavilion with a DJ playing lively music all day long. Everything was covered in snow, and I really couldn’t believe that I was less than three hours away from the city. It was the perfect winter escape.
On the way back, the guide let us know that we could get off at any of the bus stops. I arrived back on the Upper West Side at around 8 p.m.
More About Windham Mountain
Located just two and a half hours away from the city, Windham Mountain is a 3,100-foot mountain offering 1,600 vertical feet of skiing. It has 54 trails and 11 lifts, with 45 acres of night skiing also available. There’s ski-in and ski-out lodging on site, as well as a covered bar, a restaurant and an “adventure park” where snow tubing is available.
It was a wonderful place for my first skiing experience, and I highly recommend choosing this mountain for your next NYC skip trip! Learn more about Windham here.
Hope you all get a chance to experience skiing near NYC! Enjoy. xx
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