Families frequenting the Midwest will be thrilled with improvements at some Michigan ski areas. The state offers 42 ski areas with over 200 chairlifts, 840 runs, 40 terrain parks, and thousands of kilometers of groomed cross-country trails. There is something for everyone.

Plus, with the high cost of gasoline, it's easy to get to Michigan's resorts, and get in some good family fun on the slopes.

Boyne Mountain built a new, 8,000-square-foot facility for their SnowSports Academy children's programs. It includes all of the junior rental equipment and improved Playcare at the base of Boyneland. The children's daycare center takes kids starting as young as eight months.

The building, called Helga's House, is a former Boyne City restaurant that the ski area purchased, moved in sections to the mountain, and reassembled. Helga was a longtime children's snowsport instructor from Austria, who recently died. Boyne's Erin Ernst says Helga's House "will facilitate getting lessons and equipment."

More family fun can be found on the cross-country trails at Boyne Highlands. The area added lighting to over two miles of trails. "It's considered to be an ‘all-level' trail, so no matter what your ability, you'll be able to tackle it," says Ernst. It's lighted on Fridays and Saturdays and daily during holidays. 

Boyne Highlands also offers a four-lane skier/boardercross course that will be open all season for the more daring tweens and teens. Boardercross is a timed race down a course filled with bumps and jumps built into the snow. It can be wild and reckless and loads of fun for those kids who have no fear on the slopes.

Other Michigan areas are realizing the lure of the younger generation by improving their terrain parks. Two new jib parks have been created, featuring boxes, rails, and jibs and obstacles, such as picnic tables and garbage cans, at Caberfae Peaks Ski and Golf Resort in Cadillac.

Ski Brule of Iron River has a new terrain park named Bambi Playground, located next to the bunny hill. Its other two terrain parks have been overhauled with new elements and features.

Shanty Creek Resort & Club of Bellaire has a new halfpipe at Schuss Mountain. The old one was moved and improved. It's now longer and wider. The tubing park, now located on the backside of Schuss Mountain, is bigger with longer lanes and perfect for the entire family after a day on the slopes.

The tubing runs have been lengthened by about 100 feet at Treetops Resort. Nubs Nob in Harbor Springs has improved their rental fleet for kids (and adults) with all new children's snowboards, boots, and bindings.