Stratton targets newbies with its huge percentage of beginner and intermediate terrain, smart ski- and boot-fitters, top-of-the-line rental equipment, and the best snowmaking in the Northeast. Stratton farms the stuff, then tweaks it on a near-hourly basis if needed, which makes a huge difference when you're learning to turn. "Our snow is better than Mother Nature's," says head of operations Mike Quinn. "We can tailor it for whatever conditions New England throws at us that day."

More information: Lift, lesson, and rental, $100;