Top 3 Slopes to Learn to Ski Within an Hour of the Seacoast


Since we live in the Northeast, learning to ski or snowboard is a rite of passage. And since the snow has started to fall, it seems apt to write about this mom’s favorite 3 Slopes to Learn to Ski Within an Hour of the Seacoast!

You may think “I know how to ski so I will teach my child.” I am here to tell you, you are wrong. You will break your back, you will get stressed out, and your children will cry. Trust me, pay a skilled ski instructor who can take your newbie on the slopes while you grab a few runs with your spouse or relax in the lodge reading a book. While introducing your toddler to skiing is wonderful as a parent, once they’re older sign up for those lessons!

Plus in a lesson, your child will have fun with a “cool” ski instructor. Who knows why, but the laws of physics always state that ski instructors are cool. Additionally, they will have a good time with the other newbies and learn skills from their instructor who knows the specifics of how to teach skiing.

Brinn’s Favorite 3 Slopes to Learn to Ski Within an Hour of the Seacoast:

1. King Pine in Madison, NH

  • My girls learned to ski at King Pine and as a family we skied these slopes for many years. All four girls participated in their group lesson program and even some private lessons too. The mountain has a great progression for new skiers including a baby slope with magic carpet (no lift) to get acquainted with the skis, falling and how to go down. Next they have a little-bit-bigger hill with a tow rope (still no lift) to get the feeling for faster skiing. You’ll also find that they also have great beginner slopes (green circles) too. This is the go-to place to learn to ski in our area. 1-hour from Rochester, 1.5 hours from Exeter. They also have slopes for mom and dad to bomb around as well. You’ll be glad to know they also have a lodge with fireplace, snack bar, and of course, a tavern. King Pine is smaller in all ways but with little ones it is super easy to maneuver, keep track of your children, walk between the learn (which is key for parents with multiple children).

2. Gunstock in Gilford, NH

  • Basically your children will bump into all their friends and really enjoy skiing this mountain. Bigger than King Pine, but still manageable, they have a great lesson program, too. Gunstock has all the amenities that you need including a pro shop (because yes, you will need to buy a new set of gloves or snow pants or neck warmer as some point), snack bar, and tavern. The real pro of Gunstock is on warm days they have music and beer on the outside patio. Once your kiddos are pre-teens and bombing around the mountain without you (because they now say that you are too slow to ski with), you can grab an Adirondack chair and enjoy a lovely pint of Tuckerman’s Pale Ale and put your ski boots up. And if you are lucky, the fire pit will be open with s’mores. Gunstock also offers night skiing with lesson packages (because you don’t learn to ski with just one lesson). It is worth noting that Gunstock’s parking lot is bigger so likely you will need to grab a shuttle from your car to the lodge.

3. Pat’s Peak in Henneker, NH

  • Pat’s Peak is where I learned to ski (40 years ago!) and my children went through the Stratham Rec’s Ski Program here as well. It boasts the title “The Premier Teaching Mountain in NH.” It is a great mountain for kids to learn to ski as well as hone their ski skills. In addition to lessons, Pat’s Peak offers child care for 4 month to 6 years old. Similar to the other mountains, you can get there in just over an hour and spend the whole day skiing. Given where we live, spending additional money on overnight accommodations isn’t needed for a day full of skiing. Plus, Pat’s Peak is known for the giant M&M cookies! 

BONUS! All three of these mountains also have snow tubing. Another great way to enjoy the snow.

So you’ve decided it’s time to learn to ski on the Seacoast: 

  1. Ask around. See who else skis? Ask your local Rec Dept or school if they have a ski program. And look online at the pricing of lessons and lift tickets. There are also discounts to be found if you buy online ahead of time rather than the ticket counter at the ski mountain. 
  2. Make sure you have warm clothes for a day on the slopes. It can be colder and windier on the mountain and no one will have any fun if they are wet and frozen. Check out Molly’s “Outdoor Gear Recommendations”.
  3. If you are going to rent skis, think about whether or not you are going to do this repeatedly. If so, find a local ski rental program instead of at the mountain or buy used equipment on the Seacoast. You will save big bucks taking care of this in town as opposed to at the mountain.
  4. If you do rent at the mountain, make sure to add that into your day’s timing. Here is a good sample schedule with kids.
    1. Arrive at mountain at least 1-hour before your lesson time.
    2. Locate a bench and wall/cubby to stow your bags.
    3. Get the kids dressed, forget about yourself for the next hour. Getting your kids to the rental shop and their lesson is #1 priority. (You will be running late at this point already and losing your patience.)
    4. At the rental place have your drivers license and wallet with you. There will be paperwork to fill out, cards to swipe and ski sizes to figure out. And don’t forget to pay extra for the helmet.
    5. Gather those ski boots + skis, get the big bulky boots on your child, leave your child’s expensive winter boots in an unlocked cubby, and walk out to the lesson area.
      Pro Tip: Put skis on at the lesson area. Newbies will want to put skis on once they hit the snow. NO!!!! Walk to the lesson area THEN put on skis. I promise it all gets easier but is still daunting.

And remember:

  • Be the mom who tries new things and get’s out there, too!
  • This is meant to be fun. Laugh off all falling (yours included), wiggly legs and running noses. If you want skiing to stick then it needs to be fun. Hence the lesson with the cool ski instructor and not lame old mom.
  • The lift is a great place to have a conversation with your child.
  • Skiing makes a great “Experience” holiday gift. Check out other experience-based gift ideas with Michelle.

learn to ski on the seacoast - daughter and mother on ski lift

First Timer Guide:

Visit the Ski NH website and guide to start looking for information about skiing in New Hampshire and first timers deals.

Check out Liftopia for purchasing your ticket ahead of time to save.

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Hi, I'm Brinn. I am an imperfect mom who strives to do better every day at caring for the people and pets in my life. Together with my husband, 4 daughters and 2 dogs, I live in Exeter (but have lived all over the Seacoast). I've spent the last 20-years working in the Recreation biz and currently manage of the Portsmouth Senior Activity Center and the Portsmouth Holiday Parade. Before Portsmouth, I worked for Rochester Recreation & Arena...Some of your children might have been taught to skate by me! 25 years ago I started my career in Boston at the New England Aquarium and pretty much love all animals. In my free time I volunteer for the Marine Mammal Rescue Team at the Seacoast Science Center as well as kayak and paddle board. Follow me at @brinnieloohoo on Instagram to learn more about my ever so imperfect attempt at life and motherhood.


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