When it comes to outdoor activities in the winter, the same thing that can keep you indoors is exactly the reason to venture outside: the cold.
“It’s my opinion that people should start embracing winter, as opposed to just enduring winter,” says Lisa Florczak, inventor of the ice bike and owner of Ice Bikes of Buffalo. She acknowledges that her town has “a reputation for being a very snow-covered winter resort”, but also a friendly and affordable place and home to The Ice at Canalside, a space along the Erie Canal that has much to offer those who like to play on frozen water. “Ice skating? Check, we have it. Curling? Check, we have it. Ice bike? It’s the birthplace of the ice bike,” she notes.
If you would like to try some of the winter activities that build on how cold New York State can get, these are options to explore.
COVID restrictions vary from place to place; be sure to check what is currently in force before you visit.
Ice Bikes of Buffalo
Each 26-inch coaster bike (designed for people who are 50 inches in height and taller) has had its front wheel replaced with a steerable blade and rear stub so it grips without damaging the ice. At The Ice at Canalside, riders use their bikes with skaters, so the free-standing, self-balancing bikes do not move too fast and are very difficult to turn. Florczak says ice bikes have proven popular with seniors and the community with special needs, as well as with people who have never learned to skate. The idea, she says, is that this is a way for non-skaters to glide along with those who can. Can be rented most Saturdays (10: 00-20: 00) and Sundays (noon-16: 00) until 27 February; $ 12 for 30 minutes.
C + C Adirondack snowmobile tour
Snowmobiling requires some training, but this Warren County company offers one- and two-hour rides for everyone, even the inexperienced. Guests will be provided with a helmet and given guidance and practice time before everyone sets up their vehicles for a ride on wooded trails. Guests will also have the opportunity to stop and take pictures along the way, and all tours are guided. One-hour ride: $ 95, two people in one vehicle: $ 120, guided tour: $ 55; two-hour tour: $ 169, two people in one vehicle: $ 214, guided tour: $ 95. Guests must be 17 years of age to operate a snowmobile, 6 years of age or older to ride with a parent. Participants are asked to dress for the weather. However, the season runs in mid-March; all tours must be booked via the website.
INFO 5408 Rt. 8, Chestertown; 518-796-1308, candcsnowmobiletours.com
With its lifts running daily, this Catskill Mountains ski resort offers more than a few dozen tracks that run over 9 miles of terrain, with a peak of 3,429 feet and a vertical drop of 1,404 feet. Skiing and snowboarding are open to all ages, but for those who need a tutorial, there are group classes for 7 years and older (or private tuition for those as young as 3). The skiers across counties are currently closed, but will open when natural snow arrives (and are free to use), and once in operation, are ideal for either hiking or snowshoeing. Guests looking for a bird’s eye view can also take a trip to the top of the resort’s Catskill Thunder gondola. Prices vary daily and are subject to change; prior online purchase is required for all lift passes, lessons and rentals. Purchases and prices are available through the website; multi-day tickets are also offered, as are season tickets.
INFO 181 Galli Curci Rd., Highmount; 845-254-5600, belleayre.com
Holiday Valley Ski Resort
One way to slide down a snow-covered hill without much skill, hoses only require the ability to get off the pipe when it stops and then go back to the lift. Holiday Valley hosts a Tubing Park where guests pick a tube, climb on a transport lift that takes tubers to the top of a hill, where you then pick a path cut out of the snow. Once the signal is given, everyone pushes off and slides down to the bottom. The facility’s larger tray is open to anyone ages 7 and older, and there is “Li’l Tubers” smaller tray for younger participants. There is an outdoor fire pit and a heating cabin equipped with a snack bar, ready for when it’s time to shake off the cold. $ 27 for a two-hour roller coaster, $ 7 for ages 6 and younger; helmets can be rented for $ 5, tickets must be purchased in advance online. Open Thursday to Sunday until March 20.
INFO Located on Rt. 242 and Bryant Hill Rd. (4 miles from the ski resort); 716-699-2345, holidayvalley.com
Located in Washington County, this experience (led by a licensed fishing guide) is available as half- or full-day expeditions; fishing takes place inside a shanty held at about 65 degrees. The cabin also houses an underwater camera that shows where the fish are swimming nearby, and chairs to sit in while waiting to land a catch – which can be prepared on site if desired. Tailor-made lunches are included for full-day trips ($ 50 for half-day sessions), and a game tasting option (such as game or black bear) can be added. Locations vary; participants will be contacted in advance to determine the time and place. Rates for up to four people are $ 450 half day (approximately four hours), $ 650 full day (approximately eight hours); $ 75 pr. additional participant. Persons aged 16 and over must possess and bring a valid fishing license in the State of New York. Rods, gear and bait are included; anglers should arrive properly dressed for the weather and conditions.
INFO 518-321-8682; fifieldoutfitters.com