Detroiters that are new to the sport of skiing and snowboarding, especially families, should think more local. Think small for your first family outing.

Families from Ohio and Indiana spend weekends skiing and riding at places like Mt. Holly, Alpine Valley, and Apple Mountain. The first two are no more than an hour north of downtown Detroit, and Apple Mountain, near Midland, is about a two-hour drive.

The hills aren't as large as those at ski areas further north, but they aren't a five-hour drive from the Motor City either. They are ideal places for young families new to the sport to start. They are geared to recreational and beginner skiers and snowboarders.

The Apple Seeds program at Apple Mountain is for four-to-six-year-olds. It was created over a decade ago, according to Apple's Kathy Schofield.

"Families can take lessons together. People feel more comfortable. They like learning on a small hill in a nice controlled environment," added the longtime ski school director.

Apple offers 11 runs with a 220-foot vertical drop. A day lodge offers snacks, a bar and fine dining. Daily lift tickets are $22 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., and rental packages for the same time period are $22 skis and $25 for a snowboard. Children (six and under) receive a complimentary lift ticket with the purchase of an adult lift ticket. The child's rental package is $12 for skis and $25 for a snowboard.

Many lodging choices are available at nearby Milford and Saginaw.

Alpine Valley, near White Lake, offers a rustic lodge, and 25 pine-studded slopes that fall off a 300-foot drop. Weekend lift tickets will run $38 to $48 and rental packages are $25 this winter. Lessons are offered for children as young as four.

There's lots of lodging choices at nearby Waterford and Pontiac.

Mt. Holly with a 350-foot vertical, the largest in the Detroit area, offers 19 runs and a Bavarian-like chalet that has a food court and the Lift Lounge.  A weekend lift ticket is $38 and rental packages, both ski and snowboard, are $24. If you choose to stay on the beginner hill, weekend lift tickets are only $31. Six and under get half-off on lift tickets and rentals.

The ski area is located close to Grand Blanc, which offers a multitude of lodging choices.

Nearby snow sports weekends can offer Detroit families affordable fun during long winters.