snow days

The decorations are packed and the New Year’s resolutions have been made (maybe even already broken). With shopping, cleaning and entertaining now a memory, what will fill your snowy weekends ahead? (Hint: Your answer should involve leaving the house). Dig out your heaviest coat, because we did some digging of our own and found plenty of outdoor options that’ll help you plow through till spring.

Park System:
Cleveland Metroparks, The Chalet at Mill Stream Run Reservation,, (440) 572-9990
Activity: Tobogganing
The Hook: Two 1,000-foot, refrigerated ice chutes
Costs: The $8 per day charge includes the price of toboggan rental
The Pitch: “The chutes are 700 feet with 70-foot drops, and you can go up to 40 to 50 miles per hour,” says manager of marketing and public relations Bob Rotatori.
Park System: Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Kendall Lake Winter Sports Center,, (216) 524-1497
Activity: Cross-country skiing
The Hook: More than 20 trails ranging from a quarter mile up to 5 miles are open when snow is 6 inches deep or more.
Costs: Ski rentals are available for $15 per day or $7.50 per half-day at Kendall Sports Center.
The Pitch: “We have instruction available for beginners to advanced intermediates, so people can enjoy it no matter what their skill level,” says park ranger Paul Motts.
Park System: Metro Parks Serving Summit County, various locations,, (330) 867-5511
Activity: Hiking
The Hook: Enjoy 15 trails, including a popular Gorge Metro Park hike, and naturalist-led programs focusing on winter hikes.
Costs: It’s free. Just don’t show up without a sturdy pair of hiking boots. You’ll need them.
The Pitch: “It’s beautiful in the winter because icicles form, and the gorge looks like a crystal palace,” says marketing assistant Christine O’Neill.
Park System: Cleveland Lakefront State Park, Gordon Park area,, (216) 881-8141
Activity: Birdwatching
The Hook: Due to a warm-water output, this is one place where the lake doesn’t freeze, so birds are plentiful.
Costs: There’s no charge, but a set of binoculars is an absolute necessity.
The Pitch: “Winter bird watching is a really huge thing,” says naturalist Carol Ward. “Some days I’ve driven by and seen up to 60 people.”

Don’t Forget
• This fast and fun activity is available at all local parks systems, but check out the hill at Edge-water Park. Just remember to BYOS (Bring Your Own Sled)!
Ice Skating • When the mercury plummets, strap on some skates and make your way to the lighted ponds at Summit Metro Parks.
Ice Fishing • Dreaming of a fresh catch? No need to wait until June. Grab your ice auger and head to the pier at Wildwood Park. Or, hunker down on the ice at Kendall Lake.;
Snowshoeing • Special shoes for walking on snow, often called “webs,” allow you to “float” over the deepest drifts. See the Web site for information on this month’s free snowshoe hikes.
Cleveland Metroparks Zoo • Thanks to discounted prices until March 29 and $3 adult tickets on 32 degree-and-below days in January, winter is a great time to catch the cold-climate animals, who are more active this time of year.

Ski Patrol:
There’s no need to cross state lines to get your fix of fresh powder.

Location: Boston Mills/Brandywine (Public)
Brandywine: 1146 W Highland Road in Sagamore Hills; Boston Mills: 7100 Riverview Road in Penninsula
1-800-USKI-241 ext. 6
Offerings: Downhill skiing and snowboarding and freestyle terrain
Trails: 18 runs: Five beginner, five intermediate, six advanced, two full-terrain parks
Price: Season passes: adults $400 ($600 with rental); juniors (5 to 12) $350 ($550 with rental)Pick-a-day pass (one day each week): adults $245 ($345 with rental); juniors/youths $225 ($300 with rental)
Lessons: Available for a fee; visit Web site for information

Location: Big Creek Ski Area (Private)
12721 Concord Hambden Road, Concord Township, (440) 954-4108
Offerings: Downhill skiing and snowboarding, plus family events and potluck dinners
Trails: Six runs: one beginner, three intermediate, two advanced
Price: Memberships: Costs range from $400 for a single person up to $1,075 for a family of four or more.Kids under 5 are free.There is no ski rental on site.
Lessons: Free learn-to-ski program with membership
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