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Best New Years Ski Resort - Driving Distance from Chicago

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 
Myself and my girlfriend are looking to book a last minute ski trip for New Years.  We'd like to drive from Chicago, and are looking at either Granite Peak, Alpine Vallery, Or Chestnut.

I am an average skiier, and the GF has never been skiing before in her life.  So, we are looking for the total package here - a nice town, picturesque, decent skiing, perhaps lessons, things to do, and perhaps any insight on which resorts may have the best New Years fun.  I might take snowboarding lessons, and she might too, so we can do it together.

Flying is an option too, but I am trying to keep the cost down. 

Does anyone have any insight?  I was also looking at Alpine Valley, but I think we might get bored there.  The main thing here is we want to have a good time, but not drive more than 5 hours Max.

Thanks in advance for any advice!
post #2 of 5
Granite Peak is good all around. Though a drive from Chicago. Lodging is cheap as you can stay anywhere in Wausau and be less then 5 min. to the hill. You could stay at the indoor waterpark. Have something to do in the evening that would be fun. But either way lodging should run you between $60 and $150 a night depending on how nice you want to go. But alot of nice places for under $100.

Also might want to consider Cascade or Devil's Head and stay in Wisconsin Dells at one of the many indoor Waterparks (ie:Kalahari, Great Wolf, Chula Vista, etc.). Though I'd think there NYE prices maybe pricey but worth checking out. Plus since she has never ski/snowboard there would be plenty of things to take her mind off of a disastrous ski trip if she didn't like skiing or snowboarding.

Alpine Valley there is nothing around there. Not even worth your time.

P.S.: IMHO I'd pass on the snowboarding lessons with her. It is very hard for anyone to pick up in a day. Chances are she will get quite frustrated(unless she is a 100% into it) and bruised. Skiing can be picked up much quicker. By the end of the day she should at least be able to go down most of the green and blue runs at these hills. Not gracefull looking but enough that she should enjoy it. In other words she may get a little more satisfaction out of skiing knowing that she has at least accomplished something instead of sitting on the bunny hill falling down every 10 feet on a snowboard.
post #3 of 5
I live in Chicago, I've been to Alpine Valley and Chestnut Mountain.  Alpine Valley kind of sucked from what I remember.  Chestnut is about as good as it gets in Illinois.  Cascade and Devil's Head are kind of nice but they don't really have anything at all challenging.  If you haven't skied much you might like them though, and the Dells are definitely a nice place to stay though expensive.

Galena's a pretty nice town but I wouldn't know a whole lot about things to do up there because I'm usually just skiing when I'm out there.

And I'll second the no go on the snowboarding lessons.  Most people in my experience don't last more than a couple hours their first day boarding, and unless they're really determined to learn and can take a bit of a beating they're probably gonna get discouraged fast.  Skiing is really easy to learn comparatively.  If you guys are planning on going more than a time or two a year then boarding may be worth your while, but otherwise I'd recommend skiing.
post #4 of 5
Galena and Chestnut Mountain would be a great fit here.  As far as I am concerned Chestnut not only has the best skiing within a few hours of Chicago, but Galena is a really unique vacation town that would be perfect for a NYE getaway.  For lodging in Galena, I would suggest one of the several Bed and Breakfasts made from 1850's mansions.  I recently stayed at the Victorian mansion on an early season ski trip and had a great experience.  If a B&B is out of the budget or just not your thing there are several chain hotels on the northwest edge of town.  Main street in Galena has numerous restaurants, coffee shops, wineries, etc that will satisfy the nice town, picturesque, things to do requirements and is walkable from most B&Bs.  There are a ton of NYE events/festivals going on in Galena which can be found on their visitor site.

Back to the skiing.  The number of beginner runs for a first day skiier may be somewhat limited with Rookie's Ridge, Acorn and Old Main being basically the only options, but I can't think of any other resorts in the area that really have a huge selection of beginner runs for first day skiiers.  There is a lot of very good intermediate terrain at Chestnut.  While I've not personally taken a lesson at Chestnut I've heard that they have one of the best ski schools in the midwest. 

As mentioned in previous posts Granite Peak is also a good ski area and the town of Wausau has more to offer than you would find at Alpine Valley.
post #5 of 5
 I have have been to Granite Peak and Cascade.  Granite is worth the extra 90 minute drive.  There are some things to do in Wausau, but none of the places you mentioned are known for nightlife.
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