There’s plenty to love about Western New York winters, including the following health, fitness and family related special events and outdoor venues for residents and visitors alike.
CROSS COUNTRY SKIING
Urban Cross-County Ski Night: 7:45 p.m. Thursdays when snow in the city from Campus WheelWorks, 744 Elmwood Ave.. For more info, visit campuswheelworks.com. Free. Bring skis or rent them.
Buffalo Nordic Ski Club: Those with skis can join this loosely knit club – for $15 as an individual, $30 as a family – and head out with fellow members on regular excursions in Western New York and beyond. Club President James Klein also hosts free learn to cross-country ski lessons for the public that start at 10 a.m. every snowy Sunday at the Rose Garden in Delaware Park. To sign up or learn more, visit buffalonordic.org. The website also has a lengthy list of trail sites across the region.
Brewski: Noon to 3 p.m. Feb. 24, Knox Farm State Park, 434 Buffalo Road, East Aurora; 2.5-mile dog and family friendly ski event with beer stations followed afterward for the first 250 registrants by a free glass at 42 North Brewing Company of a small-batch Hot Cocoa Stout. Register in advance for $20 at 42Nbrewski.eventbrite.com; pay $30 on-site.
Urban Fat Bike Group Ride: 7 p.m. Mondays when snow in the city from Campus WheelWorks, 744 Elmwood Ave. Reserve bikes for as little as $1 by calling 881-3613. Free.
Off Road Fat Bike Ride: Saturdays at various locations where the conditions are good. Sites include Hunter’s Creek and Sprague Brook. For times and locations, visit facebook.com/groups/CampusCC. Free.
Snow Roll: Meet at noon, ride at 12:30 p.m. Feb. 17 from Sports City Pizza Pub, 1407 Niagara St. For more info, visit slowrollbuffalo.org.
Larkinville Ice Festival: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. next Saturday, Jan. 27, in the square and nearby. The free family friendly event includes Snowga – outdoor yoga – at 11 a.m. and noon, presented by Independent Health, as well as outdoor pickleball, a sledding hill, face painting, and circus arts studio performers. Flying Bison Brewing Company, 745 Seneca St., Hydraulic Hearth, 716 Swan St., and Swan Street Diner, 700 Swan St., also will feature special events. Parking is free. For more info, visit larkinsquare.com.
Alden Winterfest: Feb. 2 and 3 at various sites across the village starting with Friday night food trucks, fireworks and other activities in Alden Town Park. Events Saturday, Feb. 3 include a pancake breakfast, adult and kids games, coloring contest, horse and buggy rides, free ski rentals, dog sled demos, a soup and chili cook-off, Dance with the Diva Show Band and Wine tasting. For more info, visit facebook.com/AldenWinterfest.
ICE SKATING AND MORE
Pop-Up parks: 3:30 to 6 p.m. both Friday, Jan. 26, at the Beloved Community Center, 1710 Calumet Ave., and Feb. 3 at the Packard Court Community Center, 4200 Pine Ave., Niagara Falls. Includes snowman-building contests, snow painting and more outdoors, as well as hot chocolate, healthy snacks, and activities indoors. These events are hosted by the Create a Healthier Niagara Falls Collaborative, in partnership with the Niagara Falls Housing Authority. Free.
Yoga and Snowshoeing: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. next Saturday, Jan. 27, Beaver Meadow Audubon Center, 1610 Welch Road, Java Center. Beginner friendly snowshoe hike, followed by a Vinyasa style flow in the indoor nature lodge. Dress in layers and bring water, light snacks and a yoga mat. Bring snowshoes if you have them or they are available to rent for $5. Preregistration required at creativewellnessgroup.com. $30.
Ice skating: Reservoir and DeVeaux Woods state parks, which flank each other and the Robert Moses Parkway near the Niagara River Whirlpool Rapids in Niagara Falls – offer ice skating at their rustic rinks, weather permitting, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays to Thursdays. Call 284-5778 for more information. Free. Skate rentals are unavailable.
Winter Warm Up – Yoga for Cyclists and Friends: For women only, 2 to 4 p.m. Feb. 3, Love in Motion (indoors), 1250 Niagara St. For more info visit campuswheelworks.com. Free.
The Great Winter Get Out 2018: Scavenger hunt activity through February with 125 challenge items. For rules and more info, visit campuscyclingcollective.com.
Labatt’s Pond Hockey Tournament: Tournaments Feb. 11 and Feb. 15-18, Buffalo RiverWorks, 359 Ganson St. For costs, to register and more info, visit labattbluepondhockey.com/buffalopond.
Frozen Chosen 5K: To benefit Family Promise of WNY, 10 a.m. next Saturday, Jan. 27, St. John’s Lutheran Church, 4536 S. Buffalo St., Orchard Park. $25 before Thursday; $30 after that, including at 8:30 on-site race day. Register at stjohnsop.com.
Penguin Waddle Family Fun Run: 5K to benefit Cradle Beach, 11 a.m. Jan. 28, Classics V Banquet Facility, 2425 Niagara Falls Blvd., Amherst. $30 for 5K; $15 for the waddle. Register under the Events tab at cradlebeach.org.
Shamrock Run: 40th anniversary 8K run, Noon, March 3, Old First Ward Community Center, 62 Republic St. To register or for more info, visit buffaloshamrockrun.com. $35 by Feb. 28; $40 after that.
359 Ganson St., buffaloriverworks.com
Activities include curling at various pricing depending on day of the week and size of the group; open skating and open roller skating for $5 per person; ice hockey games and practices for $200 per hour; zip line and indoor silo rock climbing by appointment. Those who show Independent Health member cards receive a discount on some activities.
44 Prime St.; canalsidebuffalo.com
The ice surface – at 35,000 square feet – is about 2½ times the size of an NHL rink and the largest outdoor single ice surface in the state.
Generally 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays (6 to 10 p.m. today), 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sundays (closed this weekend), 3 to 7 p.m. Wednesdays and Thursdays, 1 to 10 p.m. Fridays. $6 for ages 13 and over, $4 for those 6 to 12, free for children 5 and under. Seasonal passes available. BlueCross BlueShield of WNY members with a membership card get $1 off. $4 skate rentals; $5 during special holiday hours. Hours may vary depending on weather conditions; there will be special weekday hours Feb. 18 to 24. Ice biking and other activities also are part of the fun.
Performax Pond Hockey Festival: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Jan. 28. Youth and adult divisions. Register at PerformaxHockey.com.
Tim Hortons Backyard Classic: Friday through Sunday, Jan. 19-21, which will impact public skating this weekend. Raise money for Buffalo Sabres Sled Hockey, this features full-size nets and equipped goalies. More info at timhortonsbackyardclassic.com.
MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. PARK
Best Street at Fillmore Avenue; bfloparks.org/parks
Skating is free – and weather dependent. Weather permitting, the rink will be open noon to 5:30 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays and 1:30 to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. For updates, call the dedicated “Ice Line” at 838-1249, Ext. 17..
Winterblast: Ice-skating kickoff day, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Best Street and Fillmore Avenue. Join Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy and BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York’s for skating, free skate rentals a hockey clinic presented by Hasek’s Heroes, face painting, a balloon artist, the Buffalo Book Bike, a sing-a-long activity and more.
TIFTT NATURE PRESERVE
1200 Fuhrmann Blvd.; tifft.org
The 264-acre preserve along the Outer Harbor boasts 5 miles of trails through marsh and forest lands open from dawn to dusk daily.
Wellness Walk: 10 a.m. to noon Thursday. All ages welcome, call 825-6397 to confirm walk is taking place. $2 donation requested.
Night in the Wild Family Sleepover (mostly indoors): 5 p.m. next Saturday to 9 a.m. Jan. 28. Indoor nature activities, live animals, stories by candlelight, crafts, games, and guided night hike experience in the wilderness. Pizza, snacks, hot cocoa bar in the evening and a continental breakfast in the morning will be served. Advance registration required by calling call 825-6397. $27 per participant.
POINTS EAST AND NORTH
AKRON FALLS AND COMO LAKE COUNTY PARKS
These Erie County sites at 44 Parkview Drive, Akron, and 2220 Como Park Blvd., Lancaster, respectively, have outdoor ice rinks where visitors can skate free as weather allows. As with all Erie County parks, those with cross-country skis or snowshoes are welcome. Visit erie.gov/parks or call 858-8513 for winter sports and activities updates.
BYRNCLIFF RESORT AND CONFERENCE CENTER
This summertime golf resort at 2357 Humphrey Road in Varysburg turns into a winter wonderland that includes 12 miles of cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trail, as well as the Candyland Sledding Hill. For information on lodging and winter sports rates, visit byrncliff.com.
You Really Make My Heart Race: Fat bike race on 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Feb. 11. To register and for more info, visit facebook.com/groups/CampusCC.
OLD FORT NIAGARA
This historic fort at the northern end of the Robert Moses Parkway, near Youngstown, invites families to experience mid-18th century winter life with various activities. Admission is charged. Visit oldfortniagara.org for more info. The park also includes land for cross-country skiers and snowshoers.
The nature preserve at 93 Honorine Drive in Cheektowaga offers a large selection of snowshoes and limited number of cross-country skis for rent – at $5 and $8 respectively – from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday to Friday, 1 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and select Sundays. Infant/toddler sleds also can be rented for $5. Call the education center at 683-5959 to check weather conditions. The center offers five interpretive trails, all shorter than a mile, and serves hot cocoa for $1 at the rental station. A rustic lodge allows for a warm-up. For more information, visit reinsteinwoods.org.
Learn to Cross-Country Ski: 10 a.m. Jan. 28, Feb. 3, Feb. 20. Learn the basics of cross-country skiing before going on a short guided ski tour.
Family Snowshoe Walk: 10:30 a.m. Feb. 22. Snowshoe walk along the trails as we look for evidence of wildlife.
BUFFALO SKI CLUB
This club is the closest downhill operation to Buffalo. Based at 7414 State Road (Route 240) in Colden, its 43 trails cover three ski areas — Sitzmarker Ski Club, Ski Tamarack and Buffalo Ski Club – on 300 acres. For information on membership and non-membership programs, rates and trail conditions, visit buffaloskiclub.com.
CHESTNUT RIDGE COUNTY PARK
Toboggan chutes are open, weather permitting, from 4 to 8 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. weekends and holidays outside the casino at 6121 Chestnut Ridge Road. The sled hill is open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. As is the case with Erie County parks, those with cross-country skis or snowshoes are welcome to come on site. Visit erie.gov/parks or call 858-8513 for winter sports and activities updates.
Winterfest: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 28. Magic shows at 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., fishing demonstrations, arts and crafts, chain saw carving demonstrations, marshmallow roasting, sledding (weather permitting), snow sculpture contests (weather permitting). Free; hay rides $5 per adult; $3 per child.
This Erie County park at 2084 Emery Road in South Wales hosts downhill skiing as weather allows from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends and holidays, and 4 to 8 p.m. Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays. Visit erie.gov/parks or call 858-8513 for winter sports and activities updates.
HEALTHY ZONE RINK
As is the case at Canalside and RiverWorks, chillers can keep this rink at 41 Riley St. in East Aurora open even on many days when the temperature bubbles above the freezing mark. Public skates on the covered ice surface run from 7 to 8:45 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, 1 to 2:20 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays. It costs $5 to skate and $3 to rent skates; BlueCross BlueShield members receive $1 off by presenting their insurance card. For more information, including a calendar of events, visit thinkrink.org. The 4-acre site, a half block off Main Street in the village, includes locker rooms and a 5,000-square-foot, timber-framed warming lodge.
HOLIMONT SKI AREA
Work on the WestMont Ridge site means limited cross-country skiing this season, but 52 slopes and 135 acres of downhill ski trail remain ready at 6921 Route 242 in Ellicottville. For conditions, hours and rates, visit holimont.com.
HOLIDAY VALLEY SKI AREA
This resort at 6557 Holiday Valley Road, Ellicottville, features downhill and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and an opportunity to ride the Sky Flyer Mountain Coaster through part of its woodlots. For information on lodging, rates and discounts, visit holidayvalley.com.
The familiar resort at 10296 State Road in Glenwood – where many a Western New Yorker has learned to downhill ski – is open under new management, with more family friendly events, a return of the weekend Dawn Patrol and 30 percent more snow-making power. For information on rates and discounts, visit kbski.com.
PEEK’ N PEAK RESORT
This spot at 1405 Old Road in Clymer offers alpine and Nordic skiing and snow tubing during the winter months. January is Learn to Ski and Snowboard Month. For more info, visit pknpk.com.