As temperatures — and snow — start to fall, it can be tempting to spend the season curled up at home under a warm blanket. But local winter activities such as skiing, sledding and ice skating offer a wonderful opportunity to get a workout in while spending some quality time outdoors. So whether you’re looking for a fun weekend outing with friends or ideas to keep your kids entertained — and active — during winter break, Massachusetts offers plenty of ways to enjoy the great outdoors all season long.
Hit the Slopes
Perhaps no sport is associated more with winter than skiing, and New England is flush with mountain resorts where you can test out the slopes. But you don’t have to head all the way to Vermont or New Hampshire to enjoy premium powder. Massachusetts is home to a number of excellent ski destinations, including Wachusett Mountain Ski Area, Nashoba Valley and Blue Hills Ski Area. With options that range from basic bunny slopes to brutal black diamond trails, there’s something for everyone right here in the Bay State. Many of these locations offer great snowboarding options, too.
Slip Sliding Away
Sledding isn’t just for kids on winter break. Everyone enjoys the thrill of sliding down hills. Fortunately, there’s no shortage of sledding spots in eastern Massachusetts. So slip on your snow pants, grab a sled or snow tube and check out some prime sledding locations, such as Mount Hood in Melrose, Prospect Hill Park in Waltham and Bear Hill Golf Course in Stoneham. Feel like venturing farther afield? In western Massachusetts, Northampton’s Hospital Hill and Forest Park in Springfield make for perfect sledding hills. City dwellers shouldn’t despair: You can bomb the hills in Boston Common and in city parks in Allston, Brookline and Lowell.
Take a Hike
Compared to the fanfare that skiing and snowboarding get, snowshoeing isn’t usually considered a stand-out winter activity. But we think it’s unfairly underrated. Snowshoeing lets you explore winter wonderlands in ways you otherwise might not be able to, and all the equipment you need — snowshoes and poles, primarily — can be rented, either on-site or at sporting goods stores such as REI. If you’re a beginner, consider taking a lesson first: The Weston Ski Track offers a one-day equipment rental and a 75-minute lesson throughout the season. Ready to get moving? Try out the trails at Harold Parker State Forest in Andover, Weir Hill in North Andover and Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge in Harvard.
Put It on Ice
You don’t have to be an Olympic hopeful to have fun on the ice. Ice skating is a great winter activity for everyone, and many rinks offer adaptive or accessible skating programs for those with balance issues or physical limitations. Check out any of the myriad indoor skating rinks in the Greater Boston area, or hit the rink at MarketStreet in Lynnfield for a unique skating experience.
Whatever local winter activities you choose, be sure to stay safe by reading up on tips for winter sports injury prevention. And if you’re unsure of which winter activity is right for you, reach out to your physician at Lahey Hospital & Medical Center in Burlington with any questions or concerns.