Things to Do — Winter in the Northeast
Wintertime is quickly approaching in the Northeastern United States. The air is turning cold, leaves are falling and you've pulled your sweaters to the front of your closet. For many people, winter is the time to hunker down in their homes, sipping hot chocolate and waiting for warm spring breezes to blow through.
At Buckman's, winter in the Northeast is our absolute favorite season. The last thing we want to do is sit around and miss it!
We're big fans of winter adventures. Whether it's a week's vacation or just a day-long road trip, there's something about exploring this part of the country in the winter that puts a big smile on our faces.
Now that we've sparked your imagination, maybe you'd like to plan a trip too?
Whether you're from the Northeast or just planning your next vacation in the region, check out these ideas for things to do in winter.
Things to Do Outside in the Winter
When it gets cold outside, most people naturally gravitate toward indoor activities, but consider this. A recent scientific study found that people who ski had fewer incidences of depression than their more sedentary counterparts. Why? Being outdoors in the wintertime gives you more exposure to sunlight and increases the endorphins flowing through your body. In other words, your body and brain are made for sunlight, fresh air and movement.
What's the best way to get fresh air and exercise in the winter? Here are a few ideas:
1. Hit the Slopes
We aren't just saying this because we're the Northeast's premier online ski shop. We can't get enough of that white powdery stuff! Whether you're into skiing or snowboarding, spending time outside flying down a mountain is more than fun — it's a great way to stay healthy, too.
We're especially fond of hitting the slopes in and around our home state of Pennsylvania. Skiing is one of our favorite things to do in Pennsylvania in winter, and our state is home to several great ski resorts, including Bear Creek, Camelback, Blue Mountain, Spring Mountain, Elk Mountain, Jack Frost and Big Boulder. But the slopes don't stop there. The Northeastern U.S. is home to tons of great ski slopes, from New York up through New England.
If you're trying skiing for the first time, check out Buckman's pre-trip checklist for a comprehensive list of what to pack. We also offer great deals on equipment rentals if you want to try before you buy! Buckman's also frequently teams up with resorts in Pennsylvania and around the Northeast to offer deals and discounts on lift tickets, so check the website often to score some great deals.
2. Hit the Trails
Hiking might not be the first thing you think of when you're planning things to do over winter break, but this is the perfect time of year to hit the trails. Besides being a lot cooler, popular trails such as Arethusa Falls aren't as crowded, and there is something hauntingly beautiful about mountain views in wintertime.
Located in the White Mountains, the Arethusa Falls hiking trail ends in a beautiful waterfall. It's an ideal trail for the novice hiker looking for fun things to do in New Hampshire in winter. If that's not enough to pique your interest, the drive to get there features miles of beautiful winter vistas.
3. Have Some Snow Fun
Skiing and snowboarding are great wintertime activities, but those often require advanced planning — as well as the added cost of lift passes. If you're more of a last-minute kind of family, sledding, snow tubing and cross-country skiing are great ways to get the health benefits of being outside without purchasing lift passes ahead of time. These activities also fun things to do when it snows and the slopes become blanketed in white.
Of course, you can sled or tube in your backyard, but why not kick it up a notch? Among the best snow tubing parks in the Northeast is the Nashoba Valley Snow Tubing Park. With four lifts and 18 tubing lanes, families can spend hours racing down the track. And when you get cold, the lodge serves up snacks and warm drinks too!
If you're looking for a place to cross-country ski, most Nordic centers offer courses for varying skill levels and interests. Notchview, located in western Massachusetts' infamous Berkshires, offers 25 different trails. This includes designated trails for skiers who want to bring their canine friends along.
4. Try Ice Skating
If you're planning a trip into the city for a day of family fun, be sure to add a turn around the ice to your must-do list. During the holidays, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh — like many of their other urban counterparts — are home to several seasonal outdoor skating rinks. Tired of the cold? Locate an indoor rink for some on-ice fun.
If you aren't planning to head into the city anytime soon, that doesn't mean you have to miss out on skating. The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation & Natural Resources maintains a list of state parks that offer skating on lakes and ponds when the temperatures drop low enough to safely allow it. You can still indulge in one of Pennsylvania's most enjoyable winter activities with a little quick thinking.
5. Go Whale Watching
Whale watching is a must among our favorite things to do in New Jersey in winter. But don't stop there! Depending on the time of year, you can spot whales off the coast as far north as Massachusetts. Located just off the coast of Boston, the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary hosts a slew of whales, dolphins and other marine life. Most of the notable wildlife sightings here happen in the summer and early fall, but don't let that hinder you from going now.
The peak season for whale sightings ends in October, but sightings can occur through November and may resume again as early as March. If you can't make that timetable, then migrate south with the whales. Whales naturally migrate toward warmer weather when things get cold, so head down to Cape May, New Jersey, where you can find various whale watching packages available through December.
6. See a Holiday Lights and Decor Tour
The holidays offer the perfect chance to get away and relax with family. The kids are out of school, work is slow and everything is glowing with lights. It's the ideal time to head into New York City to take in the tree at Rockefeller Center, the holiday window displays on Fifth Avenue and the Union Square Holiday Market. When you get cold, head inside at one of NYC's great restaurants.
If you're not a fan of the hustle and bustle but are still looking for holiday cheer, consider spending the weekend in Seneca Falls, New York. Nicknamed "The Real Bedford Falls," this town was the inspiration for Bedford Falls, the setting for Frank Capra's 1946 classic film. Every December, the town's "It's a Wonderful Life" Festival pays homage to the movie and ushers in the holiday spirit with speakers, performances, decorations and more.
Fun Things to Do Inside in the Winter
There are a lot of fun outdoor activities to engage in throughout the winter, but sometimes the mercury dips and it's just not possible to be outside. When the winds howl and being outdoors isn't an option, consider one of these fun indoor winter activities instead:
1. Ski or Snowboard Indoors
That's right, you don't have to wait for the perfect winter weather to enjoy the rush of the slopes. For things to do in New Jersey in winter, head to Big SNOW American Dream in Rutherford. As the first and only real-snow resort in North America, Big SNOW American Dream combines the convenience of an indoor venue with real snow to shred on all day long. The facility is temperature-controlled and features freshly groomed snow, meaning no matter how many times you visit, you'll experience consistent conditions.
Once you get a feel for the resort in the winter, you can head there year-round for the thrill of skiing and snowboarding even when it's hot outside. Remember to gear up with us at Buckman's for your boards, skis and apparel needs, even when winter ends.
2. Take a Winter Road Trip
Leave the convertible in the garage and gas up the car for a wintertime road trip that won't disappoint. One of our favorite things to do in Vermont in winter is to watch the sunset at Grand Isle, a cozy island nestled just 30 minutes away from Burlington and a day's drive to Montreal.
If you're looking for beautiful vistas a little farther south, New York's Finger Lakes region offers beautiful scenery and restaurants.
3. Catch a Hockey Game
Hockey has long captivated fans of all ages because of its fast-paced, high-energy play and emotional team rivalries spanning nearly a century. In the Northeastern U.S., there's no shortage of teams to choose from, which makes taking in a game easy to incorporate into other travel plans or a stand-alone day trip. Professional teams include the Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers, Boston Bruins, New York Rangers, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils.
The region is also home to a large number of minor league and semi-professional teams. They regularly offer incentives and deals to entice families into the stands for an afternoon or evening of nonstop action. And as a bonus — the game may be played on ice, but it's usually warm inside the arena! Heading to the hockey arena will quickly become one of your favorite things to do in Maine in winter — or any other Northeastern state.
4. Browse a Local Museum
Each major city in the Northeast is home to numerous museums, including the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Pennsylvania State House — home to the Liberty Bell — in Philadelphia and the RISD Museum. The RISD Museum exhibits a wide variety of art and is the perfect way for art lovers to spend a quiet afternoon in Providence, Rhode Island. Mark this location as your next go-to on your list of things to do in Rhode Island in the winter.
If you have little ones in tow, add this to your itinerary of things to do in Massachusetts in winter — spend an afternoon at The Amazing World of Dr. Seuss Museum in Springfield, Massachusetts. The first floor of this family-friendly museum features various interactive exhibits focused on literacy and creativity. Then you can head upstairs to a recreation of Dr. Seuss' studio and living room.
These museums — and others like them — are home to many unique permanent collections. They also offer a wide array of revolving exhibits designed for adults and children of all ages. If you're planning a special trip to one of these museums, visit their websites or call ahead to purchase tickets for special exhibits so you don't miss out on these unique opportunities.
5. Go Outlet Shopping
No family trip would be complete without a little shopping. The Settlers Green Outlet Village in North Conway, New Hampshire, is home to approximately 70 retail stores and outlets. You'll also find various dining options and regular special events, all designed to make your trip more unique than just shopping around. And, if you're heading to North Conway, plan to spend the night so you can enjoy the surrounding area's peaceful mountain views.
6. Catch a Wave at an Indoor Water Park
You may not be able to run across the sand and jump into the ocean while it's cold outside, but there's no reason why you can't enjoy some time in the water. Indoor water parks offer plenty of kids activities in the winter, and numerous options and packages can make a great long weekend for the whole family. The Six Flags Great Escape Lodge & Indoor Waterpark allows families to stay at the lodge adjacent to the water park.
When you book an overnight stay, day passes to the water park are also included. Or, if you want to stay elsewhere, purchase day passes for each member of your family and spend a few hours forgetting that it's cold outside. Great Wolf Lodge, with locations in Pennsylvania's Pocono Mountains and the greater Boston area, is also a great option for families who want to enjoy fun summer activities in the middle of winter.
7. Visit an Aquarium
Fans of the zoo will jump at an indoor opportunity to observe and interact with their favorite sea creatures. The Mystic Aquarium, located in Mystic, Connecticut, is home to a wide variety of animals and exhibits, including the largest outdoor beluga whale habitat found in the United States.
While you're planning other things to do in Connecticut in the winter, check out Mystic's slew of restaurants and guided tours — plus the Bascule Bridge, which opens every hour between May and October. During the holiday season, Mystic residents also stage a Lighted Boat Parade that you can't miss. While you're there, grab a slice or two at the real Mystic Pizza, the pizza parlor that inspired the 1988 Hollywood hit movie starring Julia Roberts.
Shop Online for Winter Gear at Buckman's
There you have it — 12 of some of our favorite ways to spend our free time during the winter. The Northeastern United States is full of many great places to visit and activities for adults, children and families of all ages. Instead of spending your winter cooped up at home, plan a trip — or two — and venture out to see all the great things our region has to offer.
At Buckman's, we're committed to helping you gear up for whatever winter brings your way. Our online store is full of gear for men, women and children, all designed to keep you comfortable and warm in the great outdoors. We also sell a variety of indoor apparel, including jeans, hoodies, sweaters and loungewear so you can be comfortable inside, too.
Ever since our first ski shop opened in 1971, we've been devoted to selling you more than just great products. We help your family gear up for any adventures you've planned — both on and off the slopes. With seven retail locations in the Philadelphia area and a vibrant online shop, our reach has expanded, and we're proud to serve customers around the region. Whether you're touring museums or hitting the slopes, Buckman's has just the right apparel for your next winter adventure.
Ski and snowboard
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