Embracing Winter: Winter Activities to Check Out Around ROC

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

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.

Snow Tubing

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.

Downhill Skiing

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 Running

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! 

Ready or not, here winter comes!

By now, you’ve already trudged through the snow and winter doesn’t even start officially until December 21st. But that’s the typical Rochester weather: cold, and unpredictable. We haven’t even gotten close to the worst of it. The average high temperature in December is 37°F, the average low is 24°F, and the average snowfall is 22 inches. Already dreading it? Well, ready or not, here winter comes and here’s how to prepare.

Think About Your Wardrobe

If you’re living in Rochester, you need a whole separate winter wardrobe. The most important thing is having a warm winter coat. Quality boots are essential. More pairs the better, to match all different kinds of styles and places you’re heading to. Having a set of hat and gloves is also important to keep yourself warm as you’re walking to class. Gloves are specifically a must, especially if you are carrying anything. Touchscreen winter gloves are the smartest to invest in, so you don’t have to take them off to use your phone.

Need to go shopping? Stock up on RIT winter gear at the bookstore at Barnes and Noble. Another option is to take the RIT Retail bus to Marketplace Mall in Henrietta. However, don’t clear out your existing closet just yet. Rochester weather can be quite unpredictable. Although it is usually cold, sometimes it can rain or be a little warmer. You might want to keep your umbrella, raincoat, and light jackets around, just in case.

Most importantly, during the cold Rochester winter, it is important to remember to dress in layers. You’ll want to bundle up when walking outside, but the minute you sit in a heated classroom, you’ll be sweating. Layers are the perfect solution to this problem.

Prepare Your Living Space

It is important to also prepare your living space for the Rochester winter ahead. Stock up on food and snacks at the market, in case you get snowed in. Investing in a few blankets is never a bad idea, especially because dorm rooms can often get cold in the winter. You might also want to invest in a humidifier: it will prevent you from getting chapped lips, dry skin, and sore throats by bringing moisture into the air. Lastly, you won’t regret purchasing a boot tray. It prevents slush and mud from getting all over your apartment. With these essentials, you’ll be ready to conquer a Rochester winter in your apartment.

Load Up on Tiger Bucks

Next, load up on Tiger Bucks for the winter. You’ll want to use them for flu season, when you desperately need to stock up on tissues, lip balm, and medicine. Also, on those cold, brutal days, you’ll crave a big cup of Java Wally’s hot chocolate (with extra whipped cream and sprinkles). If you have enough Tiger Bucks on your account, you won’t have to worry about having enough cash in your wallet.

Decide on the Best Way to Get to Class

On the snowy, blowy days, you’ll want to avoid walking to class as much as possible. The tunnels can often come in handy. If you don’t know how to navigate through the tunnels, you may be interested in our past article, The Ultimate RIT Tunnel Guide.

If the tunnels can’t get you to where you want to go, there are other transportation options. Once you master the timing and routes, the RIT Busses can also come in handy in the winter, especially if you want to travel across campus. If all else fails, bikes can reduce the time you have to be outside. However, they’re tough to ride if it is very snowy.

Alternatively, take some time to figure out how to cross through buildings to get where you need to go. This will limit your time outside when you can’t use a bike, the bus, or the tunnels.

Be Prepared for Winter Driving

Driving to class in the winter can be a whole new struggle. The most important thing is to give yourself extra time to get to class. There will be more open parking spots and you will be able to park closer to your building. Although RIT does a good job at keeping their roads and lots clear, the brutal Rochester weather can often make it tough. Accidents in the winter happen when people rush. Give yourself plenty of time to drive slowly and to get to class safely.

Additionally, make sure you have a windshield brush and scraper. The last thing you want after a long day of classes is to walk out to a car with a mound of snow on top, and have no way to get it off. It is always smart to carry emergency items in your car in the winter. Tools, jumper cables, an extra coat, a can of gas, and anything else you can think of. You never know what will happen, but you’ll want to be prepared if something does. Keep in mind that RIT Public Safety is always happy to help if you have any issues this winter.

Have Fun in the Snow

If you don’t make the most out of the cold Rochester weather, chances are you will be miserable. There are many hilly parks in the area; a great way to enjoy the snow is to go sledding. In the city of Rochester, there is a small outdoor ice skating rink in MLK Jr. Memorial Park. It is cheap, fun, and will get you into the winter spirit. There are also a few ski resorts in the area. Take a day trip and try skiing or snowboarding. If you don’t already have your own equipment, the ski hills have rentals.

If you’re interested in staying on campus but still want to enjoy the snow, gather your friends for an epic snowball fight. Also,make a list of winter movies to watch with your friends, get cozy, make some hot chocolate, and start binge watching. On the weekends, embrace your RIT hockey 

spirit and support the Men’s and Women’s Hockey teams in the Gene Polisseni Center. If watching hockey puts you into the skating mood, the Ritter Ice Arena has open skate multiple times per week: check their website for each week’s times.

The College Activities Board also offers some special events open to students in the upcoming winter months. RIT SpiRIT Skate is on December 2 in the Ritter Ice Arena. It is a free open skate for those that wear RIT hockey apparel. There is a trip to see The Nutcracker in Buffalo on December 2. Also, the movie, Office Christmas Party, will be playing in the Ingle Auditorium on December 7.

Most importantly, don’t constantly complain about the cold. Mostly everyone feels the same way. It may be overwhelming, but the winter in Rochester isn’t so bad. There is an upside: the possibility for a snow day.