Go beyond the ski slopes for your next snowy adventure.
By Lannan M. O’Brien Photo Courtesy of Omni Washington Resort
While cold weather certainly has its drawbacks, true New Englanders can’t help but fall in love with snow all over again each winter. We watch it swirl and let it land on the tips of our tongues, sled downhill on its smooth surface, roll it into snowballs, and sculpt it into snowmen adorned with twig arms and pebble buttons.
It seems there are a million ways to have fun in the snow. But if you think you’ve discovered them all, think again. For this issue, we delve into the more out-of-the-box winter sports activities you can enjoy throughout the region.
Fat Tire Biking
Sure, you’ve been known to mountain bike on your local trails in warmer months. But have you ever tried it in the snow? With tires up to five inches wide, fat tire bikes or “fat bikes” enable you to seemingly float over snow-covered trails, like those at New Hampshire’s Bretton Woods. Bring your own bike or rent one at the Bretton Woods Nordic Center—available on a first-come, first-served basis—and then get to work. That’s right: This sport may be fun, but it isn’t easy, with a slow-and-steady pace achieved through pure muscle engagement. You’ll want to stick to groomed trails and avoid the deep, powdery stuff, which is difficult to maneuver on a fat bike.
Bretton Woods Nordic Center
Bretton Woods, New Hampshire
If you’re seeking a winter sport with history, add snowshoeing to your list. While we don’t know the exact circumstances, we do know that “shoeskis” (a combination of the snowshoe and the ski) were used in central Asia as far back as 4,000 BC. Snowshoes were originally used for a practical reason: to ease travel over difficult terrain. Today, they make for great exercise while enjoying winter scenery. Looking to hone your snowshoeing skills? The L.L. Bean Outdoor Discovery Programs, based out of L.L. Bean Fogg Farm in Freeport, Maine, offer a range of courses, private lessons, and tours. For an unforgettable cold weather getaway, choose their three-day Northern Maine Winter Adventure Trip, filled not only with snowshoeing, but ice fishing, cross-country skiing, and overnights at lakeside cabins, too.
LL Bean Outdoor Discovery Programs
Less into strenuous sports and more about fun in the snow? We get it—and we have an activity for you, too! The sister sport to sledding, snow tubing is a winter pastime that can be enjoyed by all ages, no lessons required. Powder Ridge Mountain Park & Ski Resort in Connecticut has a designated snow tube area that can be booked for one-hour-and-45-minute time slots. Daytime sessions are available, but something magical happens when the sun goes down: Interstellar Tubing begins, and the area is filled with multi-colored neon lights. “Snow tubing is one of the winter activities that everyone in the family can do to experience the thrills of racing down the mountain on snow,” says Laura Loffredo, Powder Ridge’s director of sales and marketing. “The interstellar experience really amps up the fun with music and glow lights.”
Powder Ridge Mountain Park & Ski Resort
Historically a utility vehicle for doctors and mail carriers, the snowmobile has come a long way since its humble beginnings in the early 1900s. Now, snowmobiling is a recreational activity best enjoyed on groomed winter trails. If you’re new to the sport, it’s recommended to start with a guided tour to learn the ropes, and we know just the place: Vermont Mountain Adventures in Manchester, Vermont. Safety is the priority of each two-hour tour, with DOT-certified helmets required and tour guides ensuring that riders are prepared before hitting the trails. Surrounded by the Green Mountain National Forest, there are plenty of opportunities to stop and enjoy the view. A tip: Dress warmly from head to toe, and don’t forget a face covering.
Vermont Mountain Adventures
Ice Bumper Cars
So you think you’ve done it all—but have you experienced bumper cars on ice? You heard us right. Now popping up at ice rinks in city centers, The Providence Rink in Rhode Island was the first in New England to offer ice bumper cars in 2017. Occupying a small section of the ice-skating rink, the activity is fun for the whole family: children ages six and older can operate a bumper car, and those three to five years old can sit in an adult’s lap. What does the “ride” feel like? According to the rink, you should, “Imagine sitting in the bumper car moving forward, backward, and sideways with a full 360-degree turn radius, bumping opponents out of your way!”
The Providence Rink
Providence, Rhode Island
Located on the aptly named Curling Lane in Wayland, Massachusetts, is the state’s largest curling club. A sport familiar to most from watching the Olympics, curling involves sliding a 42-pound granite stone across the ice toward a target known as the house. At Broomstones Curling Club, curlers of all skill levels are welcome to learn the sport through the New Curler Training League, and those with previous curling experience can join as members. “Curling is a game of skill and of tradition,” says Rich Collier, Broomstones Vice President. “It is the right mix of being a bit of a good workout for the body while also being a strategic game that really requires all team members to be quick-thinking and mentally on the same page.”
But the best part is the social aspect of the sport, emphasized through the tradition of broomstacking: After each game, both teams gather for drinks (curling clubs typically have a bar), with the winning team buying the first round. Cheers to that!
Broomstones Curling Club