From ice skating to drinks at an ice bar, Chicago has no shortage of fun winter activities, but finding somewhere to ski is more challenging than finding a parking spot during dibs season. So we did the homework for you and found some of the best places to ski near Chicago.
While there’s no comparison with the slopes east and west of us, these spots are three hours or less from the city by car and make for a good weekend getaway or learning experience for beginners.
5750 Lakeside Dr, Lisle, IL 60532
Four Lakes is one of the easiest skiing hotspots to get to in the Chicagoland area. The ski and snowboard center is located in west suburban Lisle, less than 30 miles from downtown Chicago. Four Lakes Alpine Snowsports has five trails, including two bunny hills and a terrain park. The center offers group lessons for snowboarding and skiing from beginner to racing levels.
At about 100 vertical feet, Four Lakes is smaller and flatter than what more seasoned skiers are used to, but still lots of fun for everyone. With a variety of slopes, several rope tows, and equipment rental available, all levels can enjoy their time at Four Lakes. The center also makes snow, so as long as the temperatures allow it, the hill is open! This is the perfect spot for newbies and its proximity to Chicago makes it an easy day trip too.
1401 W Lake St, Bartlett, IL 60103
Located about 40 miles northwest from downtown Chicago, Villa Olivia is another nearby ski resort. The year-round resort in Bartlett is open for skiing, snowboarding, and tubing. Convenient skiing and snowboarding lessons are available for ages 8+ and 10+ respectively. Skis, boots, poles, helmet, and snowboard rentals are available as well.
There’s a quad chair lift to the top of the slopes as well as three rope tows. Villa Olivia peaks at 180 vertical feet, which may not sound too high for seasoned skiers, but has multiple runs for all levels. There are two greens, three blues, one black diamond, and one double black diamond. Also available is a tubing hill and snowboard terrain park.
Villa Olivia is close enough to the city that it’s a no-brainer to visit whether you’re just itching to get a few runs in, in need of a day trip, or just new to it all and want to learn.
S6330 Bluff Rd, Merrimac, WI 53561
When you ask a Midwesterner where they ski or snowboard, Devil’s Head is usually one of the most popular spots mentioned. The resort is about a three hour’s drive from Chicago, so it’s more of a weekend getaway than a day trip, but it’s definitely worth it if you’re looking for more of a challenge than Illinois can provide.
Many local and national ski magazines have named Devil’s Head as one of the “Midwest’s 10 Best Ski Resorts” for a reason. Located on one of the highest peaks of Wisconsin in the glacier-formed Baraboo Bluffs, the resort has a 500 feet vertical drop.
There are 30 gentle, long, wide, and steep runs at Devil’s Head with a pretty even split between levels: 30% beginner, 40% intermediate, and 30% advanced. The longest run is 1.5 miles. Six quad chair lifts and two magic carpets get you on your way and minimize wait times. There are plenty of lodging options, equipment rental, and tuning services as well.
W2501 Co Rd D, Elkhorn, WI 53121
Alpine Valley Resort in Wisconsin is about a 90-mile trip from Chicago, so under two hours by car––totally doable after work especially since they close at 10 p.m. There’s over 100 skiable acres with 21 trails for all levels from beginner to expert. Alpine has a 388-feet vertical drop and the longest run at 3,000 feet. The hill also has three terrain parks with a variety of rails, boxes, and snow features for snowboarding.
Spend less time waiting and more time skiing thanks to Alpine’s many transportation methods up the slopes. Three high-speed quad lifts, a snow carousel, four triple chair lifts, two rope tows, and five beginner magic carpets get you to where you need to be.
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