5 excellent ski areas just outside major cities

Escaping the city for a ski and snowboard vacation can be hard. Between distance, traffic, and the gravitational pull of a lifetime worth of urban activities right off the front stoop, it’s easy to lose mountain-bound motivation.

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But what if skiing was so close that you could get turns and still make if back for that happy hour you’ve been looking forward to for a week?

Well, believe it or not, there are quite a few North American ski areas that sit within, or just outside city limits (some of which are even accessible via public transportation). So put your urban excuses on the shelf this season and check out these five city-friendly ski areas when the snow starts to fall.

Blue Hills Ski Area, Quincy, MA

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Less than 30 minutes from Boston, Blue Hills Ski Area offers up 16 trails within range of New England’s largest city. Built with the “nine-to-fiver” in mind, Blue Hills lights most of its trails and stays open until 9 p.m., so it’s possible to score a few runs after a full work day.

Afton Alps, Minneapolis, MN

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The Midwest isn’t all flatland and Miller High Life. In fact, in addition to being one of the most modern and innovative cities in the U.S., Minneapolis is also within easy striking distance of legitimate skiing.

Home to 48 trails, and four terrain parks, Afton Alps is not just a blip on the radar. In 2013, the area was purchased by Vail Resorts and is currently on an Epic Pass that includes Vail, Beaver Creek, Mammoth, and Whistler Blackcomb among others.

Ski Santa Fe, Santa Fe, NM

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Home to artists, foodies and spiritual savants, Santa Fe is one of the quirkiest cities in the U.S., so it’s only fitting that it plays home to one of the country’s most eclectic ski areas.

Ski Santa Fe is only 30 minutes (16 miles) from downtown art galleries, but it feels like it’s worlds away. Rising from the dry dust of the desert, the ski hill’s base area sits at a lofty 10,350 feet, and offers some of the wildest glade skiing in the Southwest. Full of local characters and more sunny days than most skiers know what to do with, Ski Santa Fe is one of the friendliest ski experiences out there.

Snowbird, Salt Lake City, UT

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Enough fooling around, it’s no secret that the city with the best access to skiing is Ski City, U.S.A. With eight resorts within a one hour drive, Salt Lake City is a true ski haven.

For those that can’t make a decision, there is nothing like cutting your teeth at Snowbird. Between an aerial tram and an entire backside of playful terrain, Snowbird is an adventurer’s paradise less than a half hour from city limits.

Better yet, a shuttle runs from the base of Little Cottonwood Canyon, giving skiers and riders mountain access right from the city block.

Grouse Mountain, Vancouver, Canada

Many of Grouse Mountain’s trails have a full panoramic of downtown Vancouver. Photo courtesy of kardboard604/Flickr

With sweeping views of Vancouver and the Kitsilano Peninsula, Grouse Mountain is big-time skiing within 20 minutes of downtown. Grouse also features night skiing, and its night views of Vancouver are a unique addition to any ski bucket list.

Don’t have a car? Take the SeaBus from downtown and catch the #236 bus to the mountain. Sorry folks, no excuses not to get on the hill here.

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