Winter Fun when it’s Not-So-Winter!
Wow, seems like old man winter hit the snooze button more than a few times this year! But whether it’s 48 degrees or 25, Ohio’s winter destinations offer tons of fun in the sun or snow. Here’s my best bets for enjoying a winter that has you reaching for sunglasses instead of the shovel.
Skiing / Snowboarding / Snow Tubing
I know what you’re thinking – snow is a pretty important factor in SNOW skiing, SNOWboarding and SNOW tubing. But, luckily, Ohio has tons of resorts that make their own snow. It’s not uncommon to see a skier going down the slopes in little more than a long-sleeve T-shirt. Mad River Mountain in Zanesfield offers 23 trails ranging in difficulty for skiing and snowboarding enthusiasts. Check out the Avalanche Tubing Park comprised of 10 chutes measuring 900 feet each in length. Snow Trails Winter Resort hosts a very popular annual winter carnival, Feb. 25 and 26. Other ski resorts to check out are Boston Mills/Brandywine resorts and the newly re-opened Clear Fork Ski Resort.
Ohio on Ice
Usually in February the colder weather is outside, not inside; but no matter what the thermometer says, you can go ice skating at the 100-acre Mentor Civic Center Park, which offers several indoor ice skating surfaces. From Learn-To-Skate lessons to hockey leagues, the arena offers a wide range of programs to fit everyone’s ability level. One of my personal favorites is going for a ride on the Chalet Toboggan Chutes in Mill Stream Run Reservation (Strongsville, Ohio). Warmer than normal temperatures are no problem for the park’s two 1,000-foot long refrigerated ice chutes. Afterward, take a break and chill or thaw out in the Chalet’s indoor facility featuring a snack bar, two fireplaces, a large-screen television and a gathering place.
Wild Winter Animals
Winter may signal hibernation for some of nature’s wild creatures, but others revel in cooler temperatures. See some of these magnificent creatures at The Wilds in Cumberland. Special winter safari tours are offered on a reservation basis. Traverse some of the 10,000-acres in a heated Safari Transport for a guided tour experience through the winter landscape. Experience the natural habitat of Sichuan takin, Pere David’s deer, Przewalski’s wild horses, American bison and more roaming free over the hills of southeastern Ohio. Reservations and pre-payment are required. Don’t miss an opportunity to see polar animals chow down during the Toledo Zoo’s Frozentoesen. Through Feb. 27, see polar bears, seals and penguins eat delicious treats during the zoo’s Cabin Fever Feeds. And talk about cool, with half-price admission, you won’t want to miss this celebration of wild, winter fun! Watch a penguin parade every day at the Cincinnati Zoo’s Penguin Days through Feb. 29. Enjoy half-price admission and special animal encounters every Saturday and Sunday. Watch penguins, polar bears, snow monkeys and even elephants enjoy the winter season!
Little Miami State Park in southwest Ohio recently introduced a trail corridor that offers numerous recreational pursuits, including cross-country skiing along the entire 50-mile-long length of the park. During a trek through this winter wonderland, skiers can enjoy the beautiful vistas of Fort Ancient, the largest Native American earthworks in the state. During winter, Hueston Woods State Park transforms into a wonderland of activity, just northwest of Cincinnati.