OHventures loves lists: we've told you the best ways to cool down during a hot Ohio summer, we've given you fun fall ideas, and tips for how to enjoy spring on a budget. And now we are here to let you know some of the COOLest ways to CHILL in winter in the Buckeye State (we should probbaly stop with the puns, and leave those to Arnold as Mr. Freeze). Yes, there are fewer daylight hours to keep us excited about the great outdoors, and yes our social calendars pile up with Christmas parties, cookie exchanges, Secret Santas, and the like. But we are not bears, so quit hibernating, and keep active!
1. Ice Skating: Ice skating outdoors beats any indoor rink hands down! There's nothing like having the brisk wintry winds blowing on your face as you zip around Akron's Lock 3 ice rink, Toledo's Ottawa Park, or Cincinnati's ice rink in Fountain Square, to name a few! If you are reluctant to go ice skating (either because you never have before, or because it's your first time in a long time), there is typically staff available to assist you. It's definitely something you should try so that you can scratch it off of your bucket list, and feel like a kid again! Admission is typically far cheaper than any skiing or snowboarding excursion. For a list of ice skating rinks in Ohio (both indoor and outdoor), check out Skating Fitness.
2. Polar Plunge/Polar Bear Jump: A polar plunge (also known as a polar bear jump) are for the bravest of brave and the craziest of crazy! Basically, all that this insane event consists of is jumping into an extremely cold body of water for a short amount of time and then hopping back out! It is a rite of passage for all adventurers, but sounds more like a result of one big game of "truth or dare" or perhaps an episode of Jackass. But, there are many positives to this frigid feat. Many of these events take place to race money for the Special Olympics. There are several polar plunges on the calendar for 2014: in Cortland, in Sandusky and Waynesville, inAthens, in Columbus, in Geneva, in Celina, and in Lakeview. A Polar Bear Jump takes place in Portage Lakes on to benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Akron.
3. Skiing & Snowboarding: I have been skiing for over 15 years - mostly in Ohio - and I can attest that although our slopes are mere bunny hills compared to the massive mountains in Colorado or Vermont, we have some pretty exciting places to ski! There are five locations you can ski or snowboard in Ohio: Boston Mills and Brandywine in Peninsula (this is where I have skiied most often, as I was a member of Ski Club all throughout high school), Mad River Mountain in Zanesfield (the highest point in all of Ohio, so you know it's fun), Snowtrails in Mansfield, Alpine Valley in Chesterland, and Clear Fork Resort in Butler (the newest ski resort in Ohio, and the only one I have not yet been to). All of these locations also offer tubing, which is a fun alternative if you are not very skilled at skiing or snowboarding!
4. Winter Hiking: Oddly, we have found ourselves hiking in the winter perhaps even more than we find ourselves hiking any other time of the year. This might lend itself to the fact that in the winter, there are no mosquitos, no ticks, no blazing hot temperatures, and no huge crowds to bother us! Some great spots to hike in the winter in Ohio are Alum Creek State Park in Delaware, Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve in Toboso, and Clear Creek Metro Park in Rockbrige, to name a few. Study our post on Winter Hiking 101 to get the basics on how to prepare to frolic in the frigid temperatures!
5. Sledding/Sledriding: Depending on where you are from, you either call it sledding or sledriding. You might even call it toboggoning. Either way, the thought of flying downhill on a sled will most definitely bring back childhood memories. But this activity is not for children only! It's intense, thrilling, and downright adrenaline-pumping. IF you find the right hills, that is! We used to go sledriding (that's what we called it) at my Aunt & Uncle's house in their backyard, where they had a pretty gnarly hill to zoom down. But there are plenty of other hills around the state that are sledriding hotspots, many of which located at state parks. You can find a list of state parks with great hills thanks to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. OHventures is looking to plan a couple of good ones this January. Sledding will definitely be an adult sport again - we will leave the snowman-building to the kiddos.