Embrace the Midwestern winter with skiing and snow tubing! Here are some great places not too far from Chicago to where, depending on your skill and comfort level, you can glide gently or zoom down some hills. Even if there’s no snow, all of these locations make their own snow.
Just about a half-hour drive outside the city, Four Lakes is probably the closest option for family snowsports. It’s also a great place to learn to ski, with five runs – two beginner, one intermediate, and two advanced. Four Lakes also offers a terrain park with several different features allowing skiers and snowboarders of all experience levels to try out some tricks. Warm up and re-energize at the lodge, which has a restaurant, bar, and cafeteria. A daily slope ticket is $28 and equipment rental is available. Lessons for skiing and snowboarding are available for kids as young as 5 years old.
Villa Olivia has it all – skiing, snowboarding, and snow tubing. Enjoy skiing and snowboarding Wednesday through Sunday and tubing Thursday through Sunday. The mountain at Villa Olivia is 180 vertical feet and here are seven runs, including one black diamond, for skiing and snowboarding, with a quad chair lift and six rope tows. Lessons are available for kids as young as four. Weekend slope prices start are $17 for children 6 and under, $29 for juniors (7-11), and $40 for adults (12 & older), with discounts for Bartlett residents. Equipment rental is also available. For tubing, you’ll pay $18-$20 for two hours, which includes the use of a tube. Need a break? You can warm up and grab some food at the Ski Cafe. Call 630-540-4199 for current snow conditions and hours of operation.
Raging Buffalo is located in the Northwest suburb of Algonquin. They’re dedicated to snowboarding, but skiing is available too. Raging Buffalo offers classes for kids up to 12 years old starting at just $25, and they have the Burton Riglet Park, which gives kids 11 and younger a chance to try out snowboards indoors. They also have a Riglet Park for children 4 and younger to learn to snowboard. Helmets are required for everyone, and are available for rental, as is snowboarding equipment. Admission is $32 on weekdays, and $45 on weekends.
Grand Geneva offers a ski experience perfect for the day tripper or the resort guest, with 18 runs on over 30 acres. Skiing and snowboarding are available, rentals are available, and they have a Mountain Top Lodge. Snow shoeing and cross-country skiing are available at The Mountain Top as well. The Discover Skiing Day Package with skiing, a one-hour group lesson, and ski rental for as little as $70. Snow Cubs and Mountain Mites classes help kids 3-14 learn the basics of skiing or snowboarding. Regular day passes start at $23 for children and $28 for adults.
Just over the border in Wisconsin, you’ll find Wilmot Mountain. It’s a longer drive than some of the other choices, but it’ll be worth it. Wilmot Mountain is 230 feet high, and offers 25 different runs and four terrain parks, and they have a separate tubing area that is open seven days a week. Wilmot has lessons for all ages and skill levels, including kids as young as four, and a lodge with a restaurant and equipment rental. Lift tickets are $39 to $49, but kids six and younger are free, and you pay only $17 for just the practice areas and ropes. Tubing starts at $25 for a 2-hour session, but visit on your counties special weeknight and it’s only $15 for the entire evening. The kiddie tubing hill (recommended for ages 2-4) is free.