Toronto: Where Families Go To Ski -
Fly into Toronto Pearson International Airport, and you're primed to hop to 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 resorts maintain a reputation among families for good places to take the kids. Intimate terrain means 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 two-, four-, or six hours, allowing them to start and end the day when they want. It's the same with night skiing. You can buy a ticket for only two hours as opposed to the entire evening. The resort also houses one of the largest professional instruction school's 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. The resort also uses night lights to runs its lifts 14 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 70-75 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 four 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 1,082 feet, which explains why it's the third busiest ski resort in Canada. Four six-pack chairlifts cycle skiers up the hill fast in addition to the resort's other nine lifts. Its Telus Park attracts freeriders for its two superpipes, monster rails, and jumps over 50 feet. Last year, park crews built a 70-foot jump that even wowed riders from Whistler.
Head northeast of Toronto for four hours to reach Calabogie Peaks. The intimate hill and Dickson Manor gives 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. Its Pineside Terrain Park is rated as a double black diamond and requires a special park pass ($5 per season) for entry in addition to the lift ticket. Those not ready for Pineside head to the introductory park called The Shaft.
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. 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.