A ski resort with terrain for all levels and closeby lodging, lots of apres ski activities and a good ski school make for great vacations on snow.
Fly into Toronto Pearson International Airport, and you're primed to hop onto some of central Canada's best ski slopes. Short drives lead to several ski resorts in southern Ontario on the Niagara Escarpment while a longer car tour can drop you at the lifts on one of Quebec's bigger hills.
Toronto's regional ski resorts maintain a reputation among families for good places to take the kids. Skiing near Toronto means intimate terrain and not losing the kids between the slopes and the lodge, and lift tickets for a family of four costs far less than bigger destination resorts in the Canadian Rockies or British Columbia.
An hour in the car from Toronto will put you at the nearest slopes. Barrie, Ontario, is home to two resorts that not only run lifts for skiing, but pack out their snow tubing parks with families screaming down the hill together.
Snow Valley caters to families with flexible tickets for full or half-day, allowing them to start and end the day when they want. The resort has night skiing as well and houses one of the largest professional instruction school in the province to aid with learning to ski or snowboard.
Horseshoe Resort, which sits in a north-facing U-shaped bowl, boasts one of the province's longest ski seasons, thanks to the bowl's harboring snow away from the sun's melting rays and snowmaking abilities. The resort also uses night lights to runs its lifts 12 hours per day—creating one of the province's longest ski days. Family members not interested in alpine skiing can Nordic ski or snowshoe.
Drive 70 to 75 miles, and you can explore two other Ontario resorts. Mount St. Louis Moonstone, located in Coldwater just north of Barrie, gained notoriety when it installed Canada's first quad lift. Now, it has three quads and three six-pack high-speed lifts in addition to its triples and doubles. Tired of driving? Bag the car, and catch a bus to and from Toronto daily. But bring the little jibbers. Here, park rats separate into two zones - beginners head to The Junkyard while advanced riders aim for Out Park.
Collingwood is home to Blue Mountain and one of the bigger verticals in the region at 720 feet, which explains why it's the third busiest ski resort in Canada. Five six-pack chairlifts cycle skiers up the hill fast in addition to the resort's other seven lifts. Its terrain parks attract freeriders for its superpipe, monster rails and jumps over 50 feet.
Head northeast of Toronto for four hours to reach Calabogie Peaks. The intimate hill and Dickson Manor give families the freedom to split up to ski or relax in the spa and still catch up to each other before nightfall. The hill may only have three lifts, but that's enough for a couple black diamond runs on its 80 acres of terrain. It also has an amazing amount of vertical at 780 feet. It is Eastern Ontario’s tallest mountain resort.
Need a bit larger mountain? A 6.5-hour drive will put you on the slopes of Mont Tremblant, Quebec, where you can ski a vertical of 2,116 feet across 755 acres of terrain. Here, mom and dad can sneak out before the kids are up to get first tracks via the Express gondola; hop on at 7:45 a.m. to hit the fresh corduroy by 8 a.m. before sleepyheads are out of bed. Free first tracks are offered to all guests lodging at the resort. You can also leave your skis at the slopes overnight with the resort's valet service. No lugging both yours and the little tyke's skis to and from the lodge.
Toronto lands you right at the doorstep of central Canada's ski country - a prime place for families.