The City of Brotherly Love is no stranger to frosty weather. With so many top places for outdoor winter activities in Philadelphia, you’ll want to bundle up and get out there so you don’t miss a thing. Staying active is the best way to stay warm when the thermometer plunges, and from local parks to the snowy slopes of the Poconos, the Philly area is a hot spot for wintertime fun. Check out some of these top locations for your next winter outdoor adventure.
Blue Cross RiverRink
Columbus Boulevard at Market Street
Philadelphia, PA 19019
There is nothing like ice skating in the great outdoors, and Philadelphia offers a number of perfect spots for practicing those figure eights, but Blue Cross RiverRink tops the list for many. This Olympic-sized skating rink is open seven days a week for the season, holidays too, and offers skating packages for every need and budget, from birthday party to lessons. Enjoy gliding to the backdrop of the City of Brotherly Love as you create memories that will last a lifetime. Tip: Any activity that involves ice and the outdoors tends to get a bit nippy, so don’t forget to dress in layers and to tuck an extra pair of gloves or mittens away, just in case.
1660 Blue Mountain Drive
Palmerton, PA 18071
Philadelphia residents are lucky when it comes to finding great spots for skiing and snowboarding. They need only hop in the car and head up to the nearby Pocono Mountains, located just north of the City of Brotherly Love. Blue Mountain is one of several mountain resorts that provides tubing, skiing and boarding, with packages ranging from a few hours to the entire season. Never been on skis or always wanted to try your hand at snowboarding? Blue Mountain has it covered with lessons led by qualified instructors for every ability and age. Just looking for a last-minute afternoon activity? Tubing is just the ticket. Tip: Sundays that don’t fall on a holiday are “learn to ski and snowboard” at most of Pennsylvania’s resorts, providing beginning skiers and snowboarders with a low-cost package that bundles lessons, lift tickets and rental equipment.
Fort Washington State Park
420 Militia Hill Road
Fort Washington, PA 19034
Just outside Philly’s city limits is Fort Washington State Park, a favorite year-round destination for nature lovers and outdoor adventurists. Bird watching is popular at this park, where a specially constructed platform allows for prime viewing of a wide variety of feathered creatures from colorful songbird to birds of prey. Once snow covers the 400-foot slope near the bird-watching tower in the Militia Hill Day Use area, families flock to the park to sled. Cross-country skiing is popular too, and snowshoes are just the ticket for navigating the many trails this park offers.
French Creek State Park
843 Park Road
Elverson, PA 19520
For camping enthusiasts, the fun doesn’t have to end when the leaves begin to fall. French Creek State Park is one of several local state parks that offers camping year-round, and it is located only an hour outside the City of Brotherly Love, providing easy access to this ideal spot for that perfect wintry weekend getaway. Camping cottages – cozy wooden cabins – offer warm showers, electric lights, a couple of outlets and bunks for up to five. Want to be even closer to nature? You can “rough it” in a rustic yurt, a sturdy shelter that can be most easily described as a cross between cabin and tent. Rich with biodiversity, this popular park has over 35 miles of trails and 7,730 acres to explore.
Happy Trails Stables
1623 Hamlin Highway
Lake Ariel, PA 18436
Who doesn’t dream of riding in a horse-drawn sleigh? Philadelphia-area folks can sing sleighing songs from a real sleigh or a horseback trail ride through the snow. You’ll be instructed on basic horsemanship, tips for reining, body position and safety before you ride, and trails are available for everyone, regardless of age or ability. Open seven days a week, trail rides begin at $34 for an hour, and bring cash as Happy Trails does not accept major credit cards.
Christy Ayala covers sports, recreation, the outdoors, and leisure activities in the Philadelphia area. She earned a masters degree in recreation administration from George Williams College and managed programs in the Midwest, Hawaii, and Pennsylvania. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.