We’re in the throes of winter, and Punxsutawney Phil won’t be making his prediction until next month.
Instead of hibernating, try some activities – indoor or outdoor – to enjoy the season. While this list is not comprehensive, we have compiled a range of free or inexpensive events and attractions to sample:
• Ice skating. Lace up your skates and get on the ice (even NHL players are getting back into it). Choices include the Rotary Rink at Fountain Plaza in downtown Buffalo, where skating is free. The skate rental fee is $2 for children and $3 for adults – even better, rentals are free on “National Grid First Wednesdays,” Feb. 6 and March 6.
You can also try skating at Academy Park in Lewiston and Bond Lake in Ransomville, among many other spots. In Niagara Falls, Ont., at the “TD Rink at the Brink” next to the Horseshoe Falls, skating is free Feb. 4 and 11 (skate rentals are not free).
• Sledding. The snow is bound to return, and when it does, find a hill, something good to sled on, and head downhill. Popular spots include Chestnut Ridge Park (which also has toboggan chutes), the Shakespeare Hill in Delaware Park, the Reservoir State Park in Lewiston, the Lockport Town and Country Club (where it’s “sled at your own risk”), and Bond Lake in Ransomville (for inflatable tubes).
• Winter Festivals. What better way to embrace the season than at events celebrating winter? A few to consider are Flurrious! 2013 at Delaware Park (Jan. 26), Amherst Winterfest (Jan. 26), Clarence Winterfest (Jan. 27), and Alden Winterfest (Feb. 1 and 2). There are many others out there – check with your local town or village to see if one is coming up.
• Skiing. Western New York has lots of good choices for hitting the slopes. Emery Park, a county park at 2084 Emery Road in South Wales, has a free skiing hill, with a T-bar to pull you to the top. (Note: skiing is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.)
• Snowshoeing. Tifft Nature Preserve in Buffalo is offering a “Family Full Moon Snowshoe,” 5:30 to 7 p.m. Jan. 26, weather permitting. The cost is $7 for nonmembers of the Buffalo Museum of Science; snowshoes are provided.
• Art galleries. Sample some culture in a free or inexpensive way. Admission to the Albright-Knox is free on the first Friday of the month through “M&T First Fridays” (next is Feb. 1). At the Burchfield Penney Art Center, general admission is free for most programs at “M&T Second Fridays” (next is Feb. 8). In Allentown, there is a “First Friday Gallery Tour” the first Friday of each month (www.firstfridaysallentown.com). Many area art galleries, including the UB Art Gallery and the Anderson Museum at UB, have free admission, offering an enriching experience when the temperature is low.
• Niagara attractions. Niagara Falls is a great place to visit any time of year. The Niagara Power Project’s Power Vista has free admission, with a close-up view of the Niagara Gorge in winter. If you venture to Terrapin Point, you’ll have fewer tourists to compete with for a spectacular view of the Horseshoe Falls, and parking on Goat Island is free this time of year.
• Catch a movie. The next installment in Shea’s free family film series is “Kung Fu Panda,” at 2 p.m. Feb. 17. Free tickets are available about a week before the show at Wegmans supermarkets in Erie and Niagara counties.
• Check your favorite baseball team’s home schedule. Hey, anything to make spring seem sooner.