Insider Tips from Columbus Mom for the BEST visit at Mad River Mountain

Thank you to Mad River Mountain for sponsoring this post. All opinions are those of the writer.

If you asked our family if we consider ourselves winter sports athletes, the answer would be a resounding “no”… unless you count snowman building, snowball fights, and sledding down the big hill in our neighborhood. My husband and I have both tried out skiing, but our five-year-old hasn’t yet, although I don’t think it will be long before he does after our visit to Mad River Mountain! When we heard about snow tubing at Mad River Mountain’s bubly Tubing Park, we knew it would just the right level of winter athleticism for us. We had to check it out and also see all the other things Mad River Mountain has to offer while we were there.

Other tubers enjoying bubly Tubing Park

We started our day at Mad River at bubly Tubing Park, where we had tickets for a 12:00 time slot. When you purchase your tubing tickets, you’re assigned a two-hour window to enjoy tubing, and your reservation time starts with a quick overview of how to safely enjoy the experience. After our tutorial, we hopped onto the magic carpet to make our way to the top of the hill (I may not be an expert skier but, look! I know some of the lingo!)

Pulling a tube at Mad River
Making our way up to the top on the magic carpet

My son, Dexter, was a little nervous when we got to the top and noted that he was going to “scream the whole way down!” They allowed Dexter and me to tie our tubes together, and my husband was in the lane next to us. When it was our turn, we were off! And Dexter was not wrong; he screamed with just the right mix of joy and nerves the whole way down, as did I!

Tubing at Mad River Mountain is family-friendly
Waiting for our turn at the top of the hill

The way down the hill was FAST, and we even caught air a couple of times going over the hills. It was definitely faster than I expected, and while Dexter thought it was as blast, it was about his max desired adrenaline rush. There is a 42″ height requirement, so I’d say it’s probably best for kids five and older, and you’ll want to be sure younger kids are okay with the speed and drops down the hills. There were a ton of other families and groups of all ages – kids Dexter’s age and older with their parents, groups of older kids, adult-only groups and couples.

Tubing success at Mad River Mountain
We conquered snow tubing!

Since you get a full two hours to enjoy, you can go down as many times as you want. We did a few more runs (my husband always beat us in our races by a landslide!) and then decided to go explore the rest of Mad River Mountain since it was our first visit.

Ski Lift at Mad River in Ohio
Trying out a ski lift at the entrance to the lodge

Despite it being an unseasonably warm day, both bubly Tubing Park and the ski area had plenty of snow, and the mountain was busy with skiers and snowboarders. We sat outside and watched them for a while, enjoying the scenery. Dexter was captivated by the skiers and is now eager to try it out. Luckily for him, Mad River offers both private and group kids ski and snowboard lessons. We also learned that on Monday and Tuesday nights, they offer $5 equipment rentals, which is an awesome deal! If you’re looking for something fun to do after school, a weeknight visit to Mad River would be a great way to do something active and fun (Mad River Mountain is open for skiing and snow boarding Mon-Thurs until 9 pm, Fri-Sat until 10 pm, and Sunday until 8. The bubly Tubing Park is open Fri-Sat until 9 and Sunday until 8.)

Watching skiers at Mad River Mountain
Taking in the view from the balcony of The Loft upstairs at the Lodge

My husband’s preferred skiing experience is “ski one run and then go to the lodge for a beverage and snack,” so of course we had to go see what the lodge was all about. We checked out the cafeteria area downstairs which has a menu of lunch and snack options, and then we discovered The Loft upstairs – the jackpot for my husband! Up in The Loft is a full bar, tons of seating including cozy leather couches and chairs, and a perfect (warm) view of the mountain. We made ourselves comfortable and enjoyed some snacks and drinks while we continued to watch all of the activity outside until it was time to head home.

The Loft at Mad River Mountain
Such a fun family day at Mad River Mountain!

Despite not being avid skiers or snowboarders, we absolutely loved our day at Mad River Mountain. Tubing was the perfect activity for our family, and enjoying the views of the mountain full of skiers and snowboarders from The Loft was a relaxing and fun way to spend the rest of the afternoon. There’s truly something for everyone there, and we can’t wait to go back!

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Stephanie Dougherty
Stephanie is a Columbus native, having grown up in Dublin. She attended Ohio University where she met her husband over a friendly game of flip cup. She has been working for the same talent acquisition outsourcing and consulting company since graduating college, going on 14 years and is currently the Director of Implementation. After a three-year stint in Tampa, she and her husband decided to settle back in Ohio in 2008, and Stephanie won the Columbus vs. Cleveland debate (her husband says she's not tough enough for Cleveland anyway.) After almost eight years of marriage and three years of fertility struggles, they had their son, Dexter, in April 2017 thanks to IVF. They currently live in Grandview Heights after living in the Short North for almost 10 years. They love exploring the city as a family and are frequent COTA bus riders. Stephanie is determined to stay hip to all the new restaurants and places around town even after becoming a mom. Their family goes out to eat way too much, but she still loves cooking, especially recipes that use cauliflower as a substitute (is there anything it can't become!?) She is obsessed with bargain hunting but still manages to spend way too much money. You can follow along on their family's adventures on Instagram at @thecbuskid. Stephanie also has a dog, Athena, but she doesn't have her own Instagram because all she does is sleep and steal food right out of their hands.