Families who love to ski or want to introduce the sport to the youngest of the clan don’t need to venture out west to hit the slopes. Minnesota and our Midwest neighbors offer plenty of options for the youngest ski-lovers within a quick drive. Whether your kids need basic instruction and easy-to-master beginner trails or want to be challenged, you’ll find something for them within our selections below. Bundle up and prepare to play in the powder!

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Mount Kato
20461 Highway 66
Mankato, MN 56001
(507) 625-3363

Mount Kato isn’t one of the larger ski areas in or near Minnesota, but that is part of what makes it an ideal spot to take kids out on the slopes. In addition to its managable size (it boasts 19 trails), this popular ski spot has a wide array of options to teach kids how to master the sport. Take your pick from just a few hours one day with a group of other children similar in age and experience, or get one-on-one assistance from a private instructor. There are also intensive weekly lessons with the Kato Kids series as well as other learn-to-ski options available.

Granite Peak
3605 N. Mountain Road
Wausau, WI 55402
(715) 845-2846

You’ll find Granite Peak in the Rib Mountain State Park about three hours east of the Twin Cities. This is truly a ski destination and offers plenty of vacation options off the ski runs for families. There are frequent family festival weekends with nighttime skiing, sleigh rides, fireworks and bonfires. If your clan needs instruction, check out the ski school which has three lifts dedicated to the youngest and newest skiiers.

Giants Ridge
6325 Wynne Creek Drive
Biwabik, MN 55708
(218) 865-8000

Giants Ridge is a family ski destination in the Iron Range of Minnesota. Kids under the age of six ski free here and lessons are offered to ages four and up. There is a ‘magic carpet’ area that provides 140 feet of learning area, complete with a conveyor belt and j-bar to assist those who are shaky on their skis. Group lessons are offered for all skill levels with helmets available for rent. For a slightly additional cost, private or semi-private instruction is also an option to give young ones the confidence to hit the slopes.

Related: Best Free Winter Activities For Families In Minnesota

Spirit Mountain
9500 Spirit Mountain Place
Duluth, MN 55810
(218) 628-2891

Save money with the ‘Family Fun Pack’ each and every day at Spirit Mountain without coupons. If you have two parents paying full-price, two kids under the age of 18 can purchase lift tickets for just $19 each. If lessons are needed and youngsters don’t want to go it alone, try out the ‘parent and tot’ class or family lessons. If all else fails and the kids just don’t enjoy skiing despite the instruction and encouragement from Spirit Mountain staff, there is a ‘Stay and Play Center.’ Here, ages two and up can play and enjoy lunch during weekends and holidays while parents hit the slopes.

Lutsen Mountains
467 Ski Hill Road
Lutsen, MN 55612
(218) 663-7281

With 95 runs, Lutsen is a great place to take your more experienced young skier. There are many types of trails available, along with 60 acres of tree skiing runs. This is a very popular and expansive resort area so it makes a great multi-day trip and offers excellent views from the North Shore Mountains. For those new to the sport or want to brush up, Lutsen also offers instruction for all ages.

Related: Best Places For Ice Skating In Minnesota

Cortney Mohnk is a freelance writer covering all things Minnesota. She is also a public relations and event planning professional. Her most important job is mother to her young daughter, who is her partner-in-crime when checking out the family entertainment scene in the Twin Cities. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.