Fun Things to Do in Rochester This Winter

By Deborah Jeanne Sergeant

You’re not a bear, so why hibernate? Rochester and Western New York offer so many fun winter activities to enjoy. Getting out for some exercise and fresh air can do wonders for lifting the winter blahs. Plus, you can bring along your grandchildren for many of these activities.

Here are six good bets for this season”

• Check out the groomed cross-country skiing trails at Durand Eastman, Mendon Ponds and Webster Parks. While you’re out, try to spot winter wildlife.

• If downhill is your style, hit the groomed ski/snowboard hills (with snowmaking) at Northampton and Powder Mills Park, as conditions allow. If you’re new to downhill, seek information on ski and snowboard lessons by visiting www.monroecounty.gov/parks or www.swain.com.

• Once the ice is thick enough, drop a line ice fishing at Durand Eastman, Irondequoit Bay Park West or Mendon Ponds Parks.

• If you want to take the grandchildren to a sledding hill for the afternoon, head to the hills at Black Creek, Ellison, Mendon Ponds, Northampton and Webster Parks. But don’t sled at other county parks where it’s not permitted. Lodges for rent near the sledding hills include Woodside Lodge at Black Creek Park; Cavalry House, East Lodge and West Lodge at Mendon Ponds Park; and Parkview Lodge at Webster Park. Ellison Park and Northamptom Park don’t have lodges.

• Strap on your skates at Bill Grey’s Iceplex or, weather permitting, outdoor skating at Martin Luther King Jr. Park, Highland Park, Churchville Park and, once it’s frozen over, the parking lot surface at Ellison Park, where at least you can’t fall in.

• Snowshoeing is a little more open at area parks; however, for groomed trails, visit any designated hiking trails or pick any of the open spaces in any Monroe County park. Just be careful to avoid groomed cross-country skiing trails. If you lack snowshoes, you may be able to rent them at Mendon Ponds Park only, through Wild Wings, Inc., located near the Nature Center. Call in advance to see what’s available.

For all your outdoor adventures, check weather conditions before heading out. Dress in warm layers and bring along a charged cell phone. Let someone else know where you’re going and how long you expect to be gone. Stay on trails and don’t partake in activities where they’re not designated.

To check on conditions at Monroe County’s parks, call 585-753-7275 Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. or 585-753-7270 on weekends between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.