Winter is upon us. Whether you’re a Rochester native, sitting around knowing it’s only going to get colder and snowier, or whether this is your first time seeing snow, the winter can be a time where going outside feels like the most daunting task in the world. It’s cold, it’s wet, it’s dark – bleh – we get it, not exactly shorts and tshirt weather.
However, cabin fever can be a real thing, so if you’re feeling cooped up or you actually love being outside, winter snow sports and activities are your answer. Rather than trying to hide away from the winter (it’s not going anywhere anytime soon) – embrace it. What better way to do so, than to take advantage of the cold and snow and participate in activities that require those conditions.
Ice skating is probably your quintessential winter sport, the first thing that comes to your mind. It’s a great option for most people because even if you have never ice skated before, it’s not too expensive to try and you can usually figure it out before too long.
Your easiest option, if you don’t want to leave campus, is our very own Frank Ritter Ice Arena. You can visit their website for public skate hours as they change weekly. If you decide to go – the arena is only $2 for students and $3 for rental if you need them – what a steal! Make sure you also keep your eyes peeled because they sometimes offer free skate during the year. If, however, you are feeling more adventurous, you can go downtown to skate at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Park outdoor ice rink. It’s located in the East End District of Downtown Rochester and adjacent to the Strong Museum. You can get there by bus 24 that runs from RIT, so you can get there even if you don’t have a car. An ice skating pass is $5 and skate rental is only $3, so the trip won’t break your bank and it’s a great opportunity to get to know the city better. Bonus points if you get to ice skate while it’s snowing outside – it really starts to then look like a scene straight out of a Hallmark movie. The park also does special events like free skate on NYE with live music.
Finding this activity was such a great surprise! Glacier Ridge Sports Park in Spencerport offers Glacier Hill Snow Tubing. It’s only about 20 minutes away from RIT and you can get 1 hour passes starting at $12. The hill is open mostly on the weekends only, but it seems like a fantastic way to spend a Saturday afternoon with some friends, gliding down snow-covered hills. It’s also a great option if you’re not feeling particularly sporty that day but still want to experience some great winter snow fun. You can visit their website to book your adventure.
This list would not be complete if we didn’t mention skiing. Would winter even be complete without skiing? Whether you’re a seasoned skiier or you’re just looking to dip your toes in for the first time, Bristol Mountain is probably your best bet for skiing close to Rochester. It is only about a 50 minute drive from RIT. They currently even have a Friends & Family Night special where a group of 3 can ski or ride for $75 from 4pm-close on Saturday & Sunday nights ($25/person). That also includes discounted rentals and an advertised free 5pm lesson which is based on terrain and instructor availability – so while we cannot vouch that they are always available, it still seems like a very good deal.
Cross Country Skiing
If the thought of downhill skiing terrifies you or if you’re simply looking for a more low-key outing, you could consider cross country skiing. It’s way less intimidating and the boots are way more comfortable. Cross country skiing is also a lot easier and faster to pick up. This sport can be tricky, however, because not all places have ski rentals.
Mendon Pond trails are highly regarded because they get groomed for the Pittsford-Mendon high school team. However, they don’t provide any rentals. The Genesee Country Village & Museum also has cross country skiing on Sunday afternoons and although they encourage to bring one’s own equipment, they usually have some on hand. For a full list of places to cross country ski in ROC visit this website.
Winter is often the time when even those of us who love to run tend to fall off the bandwagon because it’s just so cold and dark. On top of it, the gym is stuffy; there are numerous excuses. So if you’re looking for some mid-winter running motivation, you should check out Yellow Jacket Racking. This year, they have organized the Snow Cheap Winter Trail Series, a series of short mid-week races that happen through January and beginning of February. Each trail race is 2-4 miles each, and locations alternate between Seneca and Webster Park. The races occur in the dark (headlamp required), snow or no snow, so come prepared. You can sign up for all the races at once or just a few individual ones on their website.
Mendon Ponds Winterfest
Now if the thought of winter sports just makes you shudder and you can’t think of anything worse than winter running, fear not – we have an activity for you too! On January 14th, Mendon Ponds Park is holding their annual Mendon Ponds Winterfest. The event is FREE – always great for college students and you can go to learn about and try out winter activities such as ice fishing, snowshoeing and ice boating. You can always just go for the nice winter walk too.
Those are our recommendations for winter activities – have you visited any of these places? What are your favorite winter activities? Let us know in the comments on our Facebook page!