Do you always end up in the ski lodge, hot chocolate in hand, during the winter? While curling up with a book and getting some R&R is often well deserved, there’s no reason you need to sit on the sidelines this winter. Maybe traditional winter sports, like skiing and snowboarding, aren’t your thing, that’s okay. You may be surprised at how many unusual winter activities exist! Rethink your winter exercise with these unique and inspiring winter sport ideas, and how to make them happen in your own backyard.
Take a Polar Bear Plunge
On New Year’s Day, thrill-seeking locals from the US, Canada, the UK, the Netherlands, South Korea and other countries get wet and cold as they run across the sand, leap into the icy water, and swim toward the finish line as part of Polar Bear Swim competitions. Polar Bear plunges, sometimes called Penguin Plunges, are popular. The tradition is said to be more about spreading good cheer and welcoming good health in the New Year than the actual race, and the proceeds are often donated to charities.
Connecticut has lots of Polar Bear Plunge opportunities not only on New Year’s Day but throughout the winter.
Do It Today: This tradition might sound familiar, and it’s most popularly known as the polar bear plunge in America. So welcome in the New Year — or jazz up the doldrums of winter — by participating in one near you.
Dog Sledding (or Skijorin!)
“Mush!” Dog sledding, (also called mushing) Alaska’s official sport, involves a team of super cute huskies pulling you along for either a short sprint or a long journey. (Sled rides can range anywhere from a few minutes to multiple days.) For those heading to the most northern part of the USA, many organizations offer 11-day backpacking expeditions that combine mushing, trekking and rafting.
Do It Today: Not planning a trip to Alaska this year? For a snowy adventure with your own dogs, check out “skijoring” — it’s a combination of cross country skiing and dog sledding where you are pulled along on skis by your pup(s). If you’re looking for more pup playtime than competitive sport, take your pooch to a local golf course and sled down hills with him in tow (or running alongside you). We promise he’ll love you for it!
Besides being a diverse and beautiful country, Chile’s El Morado Glacier makes for a thrilling ice climbing trip. Yes, you read that right! Climb the hanging glacier and snap some photos while you experience breathtaking views.
Local Connecticut companies do offer guided ice climbing excursions in Connecticut, Vermont, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire.
Do It Today: This is certainly one for the bucket list. In the meantime, try snowshoeing. It’s not quite as daredevil-esque, but definitely a fun time. While they may make you feel silly, snowshoes — made specifically for walking in the show — distribute weight over a larger area so that you don’t sink completely into the snow “flotation.” Challenge yourself to show shoe on difficult trails and routes in a snowy place nearby.
So you’d rather pass on skiing or snowboarding — we hear you. How about tubing? Like sledding for the over 10 crowd, snow tubing is easy, cheap and incredibly fun. While it’s done all over the world, it’s particularly popular with our Canadian neighbors, who head to places like Rock Ridge Recreation Park in Ontario, dedicated to the sport with six tubing runs.
Looking for snow tubing in Connecticut? Check out the Woodbury Ski Area with 15 snow tubing runs offering almost a mile of tubing trails, three parks, and four lifts. Woodbury is the largest snow tubing destination in Connecticut, and the closest to New York City. Trails are lighted for night use. Tubing sessions are sold in blocks of one hour, three hours, and all day
Do It Today: Good news: The best places to go sledding are usually also the best places to tube. Purchase your tube and try using it at your local sledding hill (safely, of course!) or conduct a search online to see if there are any dedicated slopes near you (when serviced by lifts, tubes can get much more momentum).