Fun Winter Activities in Albany
If you live in Upstate New York, enjoying life means learning how to enjoy the cold weather. No one knows better than us here at Depaula Ford about making the most of wintertime. Rather than trying to escape the cold this winter, take the opportunity to jump in, have fun, and make some memories. If you’re not a “snow bird” (who heads down to Florida from November through March), here’s a list of thrilling winter excursions available right here in Albany, NY.
Lace Up Those Skates!
The Empire Skate Plaza is the ideal setting for classic winter charm. Visitors can enjoy a delightful day of ice skating at this public outdoor rink. Lots of parking is available, although it may cost you $5-10 depending on the day. The Visitor’s Lot is located beneath the Empire State Plaza. The Cathedral Lot, Madison Avenue Lot, Grand Street Surface Lot, and Elk Street Surface Lot are also nearby options. Whether you’re new to ice skating or have been doing it for decades, it never hurts to be prepared. Make sure you dress warmly for a day on the ice.
You’ll last longer with a good pair of gloves or mittens to keep your hands warm and protected if you take a dive. Wearing stretchy pants or leggings will give you maximum mobility while still keeping you warm. A bulky, heavy jacket might feel too hot while you’re out there getting your heart rate up, so a good sweater or light jacket that you can move around in is preferred. A turtle neck or scarf and hat are the perfect compliments to keep you from getting too chilly on the ice. Even the most experienced ice skaters can slip and fall, so it’s always better to be prepared. Never be ashamed to wear wrist guards, knee pads, or a helmet, especially if you or your kids are learning how to skate.
Stomp Around in Snowshoes
Prefer to enjoy the snow at a slower pace? Try snowshoeing! You’ll feel like a kid again after strapping on a pair of snowshoes and venturing out in the wintry mix. Near Albany, the Alpine Bush Preserve has almost 20 miles of marked trails. This 3,300 acre-preserve sits between the Catskill and Adirondack Mountains. If you get too chilly after snowshoeing, pop into the Discovery Center to learn more about the history and animals that inhabit this natural gem.
Go Downhill Skiing or Snowboarding
Who said you have to stay inside during the winter? Albany has lots to offer in terms of outdoor sports and recreation. Several popular mountain ranges are nearby, including the Adirondacks, Catskills, and Green Mountains. Within the state of New York, you’ll find Gore Mountain. This family-friendly resort offers 110 trails, 14 ski lifts, and six restaurants. Gore Mountain Ski Resort features a variety of fun activities throughout the season. Although it is an hour and a half drive from Albany, this mountain in North Creek is well worth it. Check their website for the latest upcoming events and general hours of operation.
Popular events at Gore Mountain include a freestyle competition called the Adirondacker’s Log Jam. This holiday event is just five dollars to register and is great for children and young adults up to age twenty-two. Skiers and snowboarders can sign up to win winter gear prizes such as hats, goggles, and accessories. If you’re not very advanced at the sport, you can still win an award for best costume. Gore Mountain also hosts a Learn to Cross Country Ski Weekend in early January and Recreation Racing on weekends in January. Over the Martin Luther King and President’s day holiday weekends, there’s a two-day camp that kids can sign up for to get some extra activity during their days off from school. On January 19th, the Torchlight and Fireworks Display is a magical event for all ages. With such a full calendar, Gore Mountain offers just enough to keep you occupied through the season.
Revv Up the Snowmobile!
Snowmobiling is a fun way to get your thrills during the cold winter months. Forget about hibernating through winter. Snowmobiles offer a joy ride that will have you looking forward to this time of year. In the Adirondacks, Old Forge is known as the “Snowmobile Capital of the East.” Miles upon miles of groomed trails make it the perfect destination for hours of snowmobiling. Great snowmobiling clubs near Albany include Cave Country Riders in Cobleskill, Frontier Sno Riders in Duanesburg, and Ridgerunners Snowmobile Club of Middleburgh. Some of the State Parks also have trails appropriate for snowmobiling, but make sure your adventure is legal before you venture out.
Although snowmobiling is a ton of fun, it’s important to remember that it can be a dangerous activity. Before you head out, be sure to know the proper hand signals. Go with a group, avoid crossing over bodies of water, stop for road crossings, and use headlights when needed. Never drink alcohol before operating a snowmobile., and make sure you always have a first aid kit handy. As with all winter sports, dressing warm and knowing when to call it a day to venture back inside will help you avoid frostbite or overexertion.