The WNY Advantage: A Guide To Enjoying Lake Effect Snow
Here is WNY, we’re known around the country for our winters. And while it’s easy to wish it was 70 degrees and sunny year round and we could all throw away our snow shovels and tear up our plowing contracts and forget we ever knew the words “snow tires,” we often forget the abundance of opportunities our snowy climate brings us. We all know about the downhill ski clubs, but winter has so much more to give than just skiing!
It’s easy to get up and get moving in the warmer months, but winter tends to make people want to curl up inside by the fire. And with six months of snow, that’s a lot of sitting! Why not take advantage of climate and find ways to get the whole family up and moving this winter.
WNY offers up just about every winter activity you can think of, and probably some that you didn’t. Activities that you wouldn’t get to enjoy if you lived in Miami, or that you’d have to drive pretty far to experience in California.
Wondering what the Greater Buffalo Area has to offer during winter?
You’ve seen it in the Olympics, now test your own skills! For casual play, Canalside provides beginners experiences for $15/person for 60 minutes, and although reservations are suggested many times walk-in reservations are available. If you take your winter sports more seriously, Buffalo RiverWorks offers Olympic regulation sessions for $200/lane for 120 minutes (each lane plays eight people). Both offer instruction and equipment. And don’t be fooled by the seemingly slow pace of the game – an afternoon of curling is bound to leave a few of your muscles a little bit sore.
XC Skiing and Snowshoeing
If downhill skiing isn’t your speed, or if you’re looking for a more aerobic skiing experience, cross country skiing or snowshoeing might be perfect for you! Cross country skiing engages all the major muscle groups in your body and gets your heart pumping. Plus, it’s a great way to warm yourself up on a cold day
If you own your own skiis or snowshoes, there is an unending list of places to use them – basically all the same places you love to hike – including Chestnut Ridge Park, Knox Park, Delaware Park, Sprague Brook, Tifft Nature Preserve, etc.
Don’t have your own equipment? No problem. Rent them at Holiday Valley (bonus: they also give lessons), Reinstein Woods, or Bryncliff Resort. You can also rent them from many local ski shops, including Campus Wheelworks in Buffalo. These are great activities for the whole family, as they don’t require a lot of skill to get going but help promote a healthy activity that can be done at any age!
Sure, we’ve all gone sledding down neighborhood hills. But why not kick the adventure up a notch and go somewhere designed just for sledding, somewhere where you’ll go so fast your hat flies off and you get butterflies in your stomach? WNY is loaded with great sledding hills.
Go big-league with tubing at Holiday Valley (must be at least 7 years old and 42” tall), or find a designated sledding hill near you.
Chestnut Ridge Park has a great one, complete with a toboggan chute (BYO toboggan) and a warming lodge. Elma Meadows also offers incredible sledding hills. If you’re looking for a local spot, try Gunther’s Hill in Hamburg , Akron Falls, Beaver Island in Grand Island, Como Lake Park in Lancaster or Delaware Park (Marcy Casino) in Buffalo. Engage your sense of adventure on the way down, and work up a sweat on the way up. Then reward yourself with some cocoa.
If you haven’t been down to Canalside to see the Buffalo revival yet, winter is a great time to do it! In addition to curling and ice skating, Canalside offers ice biking. What is ice biking? You have to experience it for yourself. $12/30 minute rental.
It takes a little practice, but that feeling of smoothly gliding across the ice can’t be beat. Ice skating is a great way to get the whole family together for some exercise that just feels like fun.
There’s the rink at Canalside, which offers both free skate and skating lessons. Skate rentals are $5, and admission is $4 for kids (under 5 is free!) and $6 for 12+.
You can also skate downtown at the Rotary Rink in Fountain Plaza, which has a more Rockefeller Center feel to it. Admission is free for all, and skate rentals are $2 for kids and $3 for adults.
Or check out the new downtown HarborCenter! Admission is $6 adults, $1.25 kids 7 and under. Skate rentals are $3. Riverworks is also offering open skate on a limited schedule. Admission is $5 and rentals are $5.
If you don’t feel like heading downtown, you can visit the Healthy Zone Rink in East Aurora. Admission is $5 and rentals are $3 (no credit cards). Open skate hours are limited, so check the website before visiting.
The North Buffalo Ice Rink offers public skating every day of the week, and admission is $2 for adults, $1 for kids, and rentals are $2 for everyone. Get the whole family out moving, or save it for an active date night with someone special.
Snow sculptures, snowmen, snow angels and snowball fights
Kids in most parts of the country never experience the satisfaction of digging out their very own cozy igloo. Get creative in your own backyard! Snowy weather doesn’t have to mean you’re housebound. Snow is a lot of fun – don’t let it go to waste!