Share this article

print logo

Embrace winter with these ideas for fitness, family fun

It can be a challenge to embrace healthy activities during winter in the region, especially when running, biking and the outdoor fitness classes of summer seem so distant.

At the dreariest of times, hibernation looks to present a much better option.

Still, with a little vitamin D and some thoughtful consideration, the coming weeks can mean more than binge-watching Netflix and binge-eating pizza and wings.

It appears we’re even in for some snow, which can open a larger window onto outdoor opportunities when it comes in reasonable amounts.

“The message we want to get out is there's so many things happening within our 10,000 acres of parks alone,” Erie County Parks Commissioner Troy Schinzel said.

A dozen county parks and recreation areas provide daily choices, when the weather is right, for skiing, skating and sledding – and there is lots more to do elsewhere, too.

Here are our WNY Refresh recommendations for a variety of activities that can warm the body, boost the blood flow and expand the mind for those of any age.

The Healthy Zone Rink in East Aurora hosts public skating several days each week. (Sharon Cantillon/News file photo)


The Ice at Canalside has become a popular gathering point on the Buffalo waterfront in recent years but is hardly alone when it comes to the opportunity to strap on a pair of skates in the region and go for a glide. Outdoor rinks cooled with chillers also include Rotary Rink at Fountain Plaza downtown and Healthy Zone Rink in East Aurora.

Rinks that need help from below-freezing temperatures include those at Martin Luther King Jr. Park, Reservoir and DeVeaux Woods state parks in Niagara Falls, and Akron Falls and Como Lake county parks in Akron and Cheektowaga. The bad news: Skate rentals aren’t available except at MLK Park. The good news: Skating is free.

Many municipalities also have public skate times at one or more indoor rinks, including three in the City of Buffalo, where you can visit or to learn more.


James Klein, president of the Buffalo Nordic Ski Club, hosts free cross-country ski lessons at 10 a.m. Sundays starting from the Rose Garden in Delaware Park, when snowfall allows. (Sharon Cantillon/Buffalo News)

Ski and snowboard

Add Chestnut Ridge Park to the spots where downhill skiing and snowboarding is available this season for the first time in more than two decades. Erie County installed a new Austrian-made ski tow that will allow both activities alongside, but separate from, the toboggan shoots and sledding hill in Orchard Park. All are free. The park will celebrate Winterfest from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday regardless of snow, with magic shows, other children’s activities and more. Emery Park in South Wales offers downhill skiing, too.

Ski resorts and clubs also dot the region. They include Holiday Valley in Ellicottville, Kissing Bridge in Glenwood and Peek’n Peak Resort in Clymer.

Cross-country skiing awaits just about anywhere in public parks and forest lands and along public trails. Hotspots include groomed trails at Elma Meadows in Elma and Sprague Brook in Glenwood (both Erie County parks), as well as the Art Roscoe Recreation Area at Allegany State Park in the Southern Tier and Reinstein Woods State Park in Cheektowaga.

No experience? No problem. At 10 a.m. on weather-cooperative Sunday mornings, James Klein, head of the Buffalo Nordic Ski Club (, leads lessons that start at the Rose Garden in Delaware Park.

Slow Roll Buffalo has become so popular during the warmer months that GObike Buffalo also schedules "snow rolls" at least a couple of times during the winter. (John Hickey/Buffalo News)

Run and roll

The number of bicyclists and runners have grown exponentially during the last half-decade, as have the number of organized rides and races. When conditions are favorable – with the right clothes and gear in hand – there also are opportunities in winter. GObike Buffalo plans at least two more “snow rolls” in the region before spring, including the next one at 12:30 p.m. Feb. 22 at Massachusetts Avenue Park on Winter Street. Learn more at

Upcoming winter runs include Mr. Ed’s 31st Annual Super Bowl Warmup on Feb. 2 in Middleport; the Frozen Chosen on Feb. 8 in Orchard Park; Sprague Brook Scramble snowshoe race on Feb. 16 in Glendale; and Polar Bear 5K on Feb. 23 in Olcott. Sign up and learn more about these and other runs at

Flying Bison Brewing Co. ( also started a monthly running club this winter that includes a free beverage at the end. The next 2- and 5-mile runs set out at 11 a.m. Feb. 29 from 840 Seneca St. in Larkinville.

Carly Skibinski, left, and her sister, Olivia, walk on a piece by artist Heather Hart at the Albright-Knox Northland, which opens this weekend. (Mark Mulville/Buffalo News)

Find fun indoors

Albright-Knox Art Gallery may have closed its Elmwood Avenue campus for a $165-million revamping, but related activities for families continue at its new project space at 612 Northland Ave. That includes art classes for children and teens, and Family Funday the second Sunday of each month, with pay-as-you-wish admission and special programing that includes baby stroller and family fun art tours as well as drop-in art activities. Learn more at

Family fun also includes the Explore & More Museum (, which opened last summer on the Buffalo waterfront with four floors of hands-on exhibits that bow to regional, cultural, fitness, health and recreational themes. Admission generally is charged (BlueCross BlueShield of WNY members get $1 off with proof of membership at check-in). Admission is free during Fearless Family Play Days from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. the first Saturday of each month.

The Buffalo Museum of Science ( also is a great choice this time of year – and on Feb. 8 the museum will host the U.S. debut of the temporary exhibitGolden Mummies of Egypt.” The international tour will include items usually housed at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, which boasts a collection of Egyptian artifacts considered among the richest in the world. Timed tickets in 15-minute intervals are available in advance on the museum website. The cost is $19 for adults, and $16 for children aged 2-17, as well as seniors, students and members of the military with ID. The ticket includes access to museum exhibit spaces such as Biodiversity, Buffalo in Space, Bugworks, Explore You, In Motion and more.

Winter venues, events blanket Buffalo area in coming weeks

Story topics: / /

There are no comments - be the first to comment