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

Show off your skills or learn how to ride a lift at some of the best Midwestern snowboarding and skiing resorts
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Swiss Valley Ski and Snowboard Area
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Yes, there is indeed skiing near Chicago. Not super near, but close enough.
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Winter sports in Chicago are mostly limited to ice skating, hockey and curling, but thanks to our central location in the Midwest, you can easily hit the road to hit the slopes. Whether you ski or snowboard, resorts in Illinois, Michigan, Wisconsin and Iowa offer hills for beginners, semi-pros and everyone in-between. They’re all reachable by car, making perfect destinations for a weekend getaway during the holiday season. Best of all, you can relax in the lodge next to a hot fire after a long day to 

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

RECOMMENDED: More things to do in Chicago this winter

Illinois ski and snowboard slopes

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.

Season dates: December–March 
Ticket to ride: Weeknight tickets (5–9:30pm) $30; weekends and holidays $40; equipment rental $4–$39.

Raging Buffalo Snowboard Ski Park

19-265 Western Ave, Algonquin, 847-836-7243
Travel time from Chicago: about an hour drive
The gist: You don’t even have to leave the ’burbs to find a hill dedicated to snowboarding. Raging Buffalo, near the Fox River in the northwest suburbs, offers half-pipes, kickers, table tops and other rad features, plus a “magic carpet” (a slanted moving sidewalk) on the beginner hill for the 12 and under Learn to Ride Experience.

Season dates: November 24–March 11
Ticket to Ride: See site for ticket and rental price updates.

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Chestnut Mountain Resort
Photograph: Courtesy Chestnut Mountain Resort

Chestnut 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. And even though indoor activities include a pool, sauna and game room, the real reason for visiting is to take advantage of the hill. The seven-acre winter terrain is constantly covered with the white stuff, enticing skiers and boarders of all levels. 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 as fast as you go down. 

Season dates: Weather permitting. Through March 22.
Ticket to ride: Weekday tickets $40; weekend and holiday tickets $55; ski/board rental $35 and up.

Four Lakes Alpine Snowsports

5750 Lakeside Dr, Lisle, 630-964-2550
Travel time from Chicago: about a 40-minute 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 16–March 25
Ticket to ride: Daily slope tickets starting at $17; equipment rentals $20 (skis), $38 (boards).

Michigan ski and snowboard slopes

Bittersweet Ski 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 $36; weekends and holidays $46; equipment rentals $27.

Crystal Mountain

12500 Crystal Mountain Dr, Thompsonville, MI, 855-995-5146
Travel time from Chicago: about a five-hour drive
The gist: Said to have the best terrain in the Midwest, this destination has it all: 58 ski or snowboard slopes, eight lifts, four terrain parks, snow-sports school and daily NASTAR racing. Accommodations include 250 luxury suites, hotel rooms, condos and resort homes, with amenities such as an outdoor 20-person hot tub, a fitness center and a spa. 

Season dates: Weather permitting through April 1.

Ticket to ride: Open-to-close $49–$79; partial day passes $44–$74; after 5pm $25; equipment rentals $25–$45.

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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. Swiss Valley also offers race programs, lessons and group rates. 

Season dates: Weather permitting.
Ticket to ride: Weekday tickets $30; weekends $40–$42; holidays $20–$42; equipment rental $40.

Timber Ridge

7500 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 more than 50 years, beginning with a single tow rope then expanding to four lifts. Visitors can relax with drinks and some grub at the Snowshoe Bar or take advantage of 15 trails and two terrain parks.

Season dates: Opens December 9
Ticket to ride: Weekday tickets $23–$30; Saturdays and holidays $30–$40; Sundays $21–$38; equipment rentals $18–$20.

Iowa ski and snowboard slopes

Sundown Mountain Resort

16991 Asbury Rd, Dubuque, IA, 563-556-6676
Travel time from Chicago: less than a four-hour drive 
The gist: The only Midwest ski slope to receive the National Ski Areas Association Award of Excellence six years in a row, this beautiful mountain takes you down 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 $38; weekends and holidays $46; equipment rentals $27–$32.

Wisconsin ski and snowboard slopes

Alpine Valley Ski Resort

W2501 County Rd D, Elkhorn, WI, 262-642-7374
Travel time from Chicago: about a two-hour drive 
The gist: Touting itself as the only resort in the Midwest with three high-speed quads and five Wonder Carpets (a type of conveyor lift), this Wisconsin resort’s longest run is 2,500 feet while its vertical drop is 388 feet. 

Season dates: Weather permitting.
Ticket to ride: Weekday tickets $31–$56; weekends and holidays $51–$65; equipment rental $15–$29.

Cascade Mountain

W10441 Cascade Mountain Rd, Portage, WI, 608-742-5588
Travel time from Chicago: about a three-hour drive 
The gist: Cascade maintains a top rep with snowboarders, catering to radicals with four terrain parks outfitted with obstacles, a superpipe and half-pipe, and also to families with a snow-tubing park, beginner slopes and a modest hill (460 feet). The combination of manmade and natural snow keeps the north-facing side of the Baraboo Bluffs at a happy medium—neither too slushy nor fluffy. For its size, the mountain sports 36 diverse runs—most painfully short. Ten black-diamond runs won’t wow West Coasters, but should keep skiers entertained between the mogul fields and sharp descents.

Season dates: Regular season begins December 8.
Ticket to ride: Eight-hour ticket $59; day and night ticket $64; kids under 12 ski free with adult; equipment rentals $29–$100.

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Devil’s Head

S6330 Bluff Rd, Merrimac, WI, 800-472-6670
Travel time from Chicago: about a three-hour drive
The gist: This South Central Wisconsin ski resort contains one of the highest mountains in Wisconsin, with a 500 foot vertical rise. The resort takes care of its slopes just as well as its guests; the ski slopes are groomed twice a day to make each ride down the mountain even more exhilarating. 

Season dates: Begins December 8
Ticket to ride: Weekday tickets $50; weekends and holidays $57; equipment rental $29.

Justin Trails Resort

7452 Kathryn Ave, Sparta, WI, 800-488-4521
Travel time from Chicago: about a four-hour drive
The gist: You could easily spend an entire weekend by the fire one of Justin Trails Resort’s cozy cabins. But if you’re determined to be active, try tackling a 1,000-foot-long hill on an inner tube, getting pulled on skis by dogs (it's called skijoring) and cross-country skiing through Wisconsin’s gorgeous wide-open spaces. 

Season dates: Weather permitting.
Ticket to ride: Cabin rentals $125–$425; check site for rental prices.

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Photograph: Courtesy Wilmot Mountain Ski Resort

Wilmot Mountain Ski Resort

11931 Fox River Rd, Wilmot, WI, 262-862-2301
Travel time from Chicago: less than 90 minutes
The gist: This resort offers runs for skiers of all skill levels as well as a tubing hill with side-by-side tracks so you can race as a group. New owner Vail Resorts spent $13 million on upgrades in the 2016 offseason, including new lifts, a renovated base lodge and a revamped kids’ ski and snowboard area. 

Season dates: Weather permitting.
Ticket to ride: Weekday tickets $56; weekends and holidays $66, $61 for children; ski/snowboard equipment rental $32.

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