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snowboarding
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Hit the slopes at the best snowboarding and skiing resorts near Chicago

Bunny hills, steep slopes and breathtaking vistas—there's a lot to love about the best ski resorts near Chicago.

By Time Out Chicago editors
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Illinois might be one of the flattest states in the country, but there's no reason for local ski bums to despair—there are still plenty of opportunities to hit the slopes within a few hours' drive of Chicago, no expensive trip to Aspen required. Head to a publicly-run center in the suburbs or travel over the border for impressive hills in southern Wisconsin; either way, you'll find options for beginners and expert skiers and boarders alike. (And if you prefer sledding in Chicago, note that many of these spots also offer tube sledding options.) Whether you're looking for a day trip or want to make a whole weekend getaway near Chicago, you'll learn to love the winter when you visit the best snowboarding and ski resorts near Chicago. 

Many dates are contingent upon weather conditions. Always call ahead or check resort websites.

RECOMMENDED: The best things to do outdoors this winter in Chicago

The best ski and snowboard slopes near Chicago

crystal mountain
Photograph: Courtesy Crystal Mountain

Crystal Mountain

12500 Crystal Mountain Dr, Thompsonville, MI, 855-995-5146
Travel time from Chicago: about a five-hour drive

The gist: This northern Michigan destination has it all: 58 ski or snowboard slopes, eight lifts, three terrain parks, six wooded glade areas and NASTAR racing Wednesday through Sunday. Accommodations include luxury suites, hotel rooms, condos and resort homes.

Season dates: Weather permitting through April 4.

Ticket to ride: Day passes start at $33; equipment rentals $25–$50.

ski
Photograph: Shutterstock

Wilmot Mountain

11931 W Fox River Rd, Wilmot, WI 630-289-1000
Travel time from Chicago: about an hour-and-a-half drive

The gist: Wilmot Mountain offers 120 acres outfitted with 25 trails, four terrain parks, seven lifts and two conveyor lifts, ensuring that beginner and experts alike will feel at home. Not so keen on skiing and snowboarding? Try out the resort's 22-lane snow tubing set up.

Season dates: December through March

Ticket to ride: Epic Day Passes, which grant visitors half off of lift tickets, starts at $119. Lift tickets go on sale December 8.

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Villa Olivia
Photograph: Joe Orban

Villa Olivia

1401 W Lake St, Bartlett, 630-289-1000
Travel time from Chicago: about an hour drive

The gist: This local slope run by the Bartlett Park District features seven downhill runs, a quad chair lift and six rope tows, plus snow tubing.

Season dates: December–March

Ticket to ride: Weekend/winter break/holiday (9am–10pm) $43; night slope (Thursday, Friday and Sunday after 5pm, Saturday 5–10pm) $32; equipment rental $7–$41.

chesnut mountain resort
Photograph: Courtesy Chesnut Mountain Resort

Chesnut Mountain Resort

8700 W Chestnut Rd, Galena, 800-397-1320
Travel time from Chicago: about a three-hour drive

The gist: This resort’s 120-room lodge is situated high on the bluff of Chestnut Mountain, offering breathtaking views of the Mississippi River. Its 475-foot vertical drop runs 3,500 feet through 19 slopes ranging from beginning to black diamond. Two Sunkid conveyor belts, two quad chairs and four triple chairs zip you to the top of the mountain nearly as fast as you go down.

Season dates: Weather permitting. Through March.

Ticket to ride: Weekday tickets $40; weekend and holiday tickets $60; ski/board rental $35 and up.

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cascade mountain
Photograph: Courtesy Cascade Mountain

Cascade Mountain

W10441 Cascade Mountain Rd, Portage, WI, 608-742-5588
Travel time from Chicago: about a three-hour drive

The gist: Kids under the age of 12 can ski for free at this Wisconsin resort as long as they're accompanied by an adult—and if you're looking for more family fun, the 900-foot-long snow tubing chute doesn't disappoint.

Season dates: Weather permitting.

Ticket to ride: Eight-hour ticket $73; day and night ticket $79; kids under 12 ski free with adult; equipment rentals $8–$119.

Winter solstice
Photograph: Shutterstock

Devil's Head Resort

S6330 Bluff Rd, Merrimac, WI, 608-493-2204
Travel time from Chicago: about a three-hour drive

The gist: This South Central Wisconsin ski resort located in the Baraboo Bluffs contains one of the highest mountains in Wisconsin, with a 500 foot vertical rise. At 300 acres, it's also the third largest resort of its kind in the Midwest. 

Season dates: Begins December 4

Ticket to ride: Weekday tickets $56; night tickets $40; weekends $66; equipment rental $34.

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ski
Photograph: Shutterstock

Alpine Valley Resort

W2501 County Road, Elkhorn, WI 262-462-7374
Travel time from Chicago: about a two-hour drive

The gist: Winter sports enthusiasts will find plenty of variety at this southern Wisconsin ski resort, which features 21 ski runs, a vertical drop of 388 feet and three terrain parks.

Season dates: Weather permitting, check website for updates.

Ticket to ride: Daily slope tickets starting at $48 ($35 for beginner hills only); equipment rentals $35

snowboarding
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Sundown Mountain Resort

16991 Asbury Rd, Dubuque, IA, 563-556-6676
Travel time from Chicago: about a 3.5-hour drive

The gist: This beautiful mountain, which overlooks 100 square miles, takes you down through a century-old cedar forest reminiscent of Colorado or Wyoming. With 21 trails, two terrain parks and six lifts, this resort will have you up and down the hills in no time.

Season dates: Weather permitting

Ticket to ride: Weekday tickets $31; weekends and holidays $32–$48; equipment rentals $5–$33.

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ski
Photograph: Shutterstock

Four Lakes Alpine Snowsports

5750 Lakeside Dr, Lisle, 630-964-2550
Travel time from Chicago: about a one-hour drive

The gist: With an "anyone can do it" method, beginners can learn to navigate the slopes in no time. These hills in the western ’burbs consist of two bunny slopes, a terrain park and two intermediate inclines accessible by tow ropes.

Season dates: December–March

Ticket to ride: Daily slope tickets starting at $21; equipment rentals $20 (skis), $30 (boards).

Top tips for family ski trips
Photograph: Shutterstock

Bittersweet Resort

600 River Rd, Otsego, MI, 269-694-2820
Travel time from Chicago: about two-and-a-half hours by car

The gist: Boasting 20 runs and seven chairlifts, Bittersweet caters to intermediate shredders of all ages. The resort offers a ski school and a Wonder Carpet lift on the beginner hill, which makes it easy for first-time skiers to get to the top of the slope.

Season dates: Weather permitting

Ticket to ride: Weekday tickets $45 (beginner hill $35); Saturday and holiday tickets $57 (beginner hill $47), Sunday tickets $55 (beginner hill $45); reduced rates available in the evenings; equipment rentals $10–$35.

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Swiss Valley Ski and Snowboard Area
Photograph: Mason Hainey

Swiss Valley Ski & Snowboard Area

13421 Mann St, Jones, MI, 269-244-5635
Travel time from Chicago: about a two-hour drive

The gist: This southwestern Michigan mainstay (it’s been in business for more than 40 years) features 11 slopes, a 225-foot vertical drop and a fireside lounge with recently expanded outdoor seating. Swiss Valley also offers race programs, lessons and group rates. 

Season dates: Opens December 15.

Ticket to ride: Weekday tickets $36 (evenings $28); weekends $42–$46; special rates for select holidays; equipment rental $20–24.

ski
Photograph: Shutterstock

Timber Ridge

07500 23 1/2 St, Gobles, MI, 269-694-9449
Travel time from Chicago: about a two-hour drive

The gist: This Michigan ski hill has been around for almost 60 years. Visitors can relax with drinks and some grub at the Snowshoe Deck Bar & Grill or take advantage of more than a dozen trails and two terrain parks.

Season dates: Weather permitting

Ticket to ride: Weekday tickets $40; evening tickets $34; weekend and holiday tickets $50; equipment rentals $18–$20.

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