10 Ways to Beat the Winter Blues

Has the snow and cold got you down? Cheer up: Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you can’t have any fun. From snowshoeing and swing dancing to bargain shopping, we’ve got ideas on how to defend yourself against the winter doldrums


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6. [Get Outside!]


ice skating

A tropical getaway — in this economy? Stash the bathing suit and break out the earmuffs. There are tons of budget-friendly winter amusements within driving distance of the Valley. You just have to know where to look.

First, the festivals. Hit the trail on January 16 for WinterFest 2010 in Highland at the Hudson Valley Rail Trail Depot. Children’s activities and an ice-carving demo are on the agenda, as well as roasted chestnuts, toasted marshmallows, and a chili tasting. Bring your cross-country skis or snowshoes, weather permitting, or take a hike to walk off all that food. You can also hitch a ride on a horse-drawn sleigh (if there’s snow) or a wagon (if there isn’t).

The Knickerbocker Ice Festival at Rockland Lake State Park will give you a new appreciation for your refrigerator. The free event on January 23-24 is named for a company that once harvested ice from Rockland Lake and explores the history of the ice industry in the Hudson Valley. Professional ice sculptors compete, and the public will vote on the best carving, American Idol style. Don’t be surprised to see easels in the snow: Artists brave the cold to paint landscapes that you can buy even before the paint dries (or freezes).

The 2010 Carnwath Farms Winterfest in Wappingers Falls is another must-do on January 23. Join the Mid-Hudson Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club for a mile hike (on snowshoes, if conditions are right) and spy drop-dead views of the river. Later, nosh on cider, donuts, and hot cocoa courtesy of the Town of Wappinger Recreation Department, or take a tour of the Sports Museum of Dutchess County if you’re feeling jazzy. If it snows, jump on the horse-drawn sleigh rides and go sledding.

Of course, for sledders, the long hill that sweeps down to the river in front of the Mills Mansion at Staatsburg State Historic Site is the stuff of legend. Beginners might prefer the gentler slope at Bear Mountain State Park right next to the outdoor skating rink (pictured above). Just watching the skaters here in this beautiful mountain-ringed setting is entertainment in itself.

If you are a winter-sport multitasker, head to the Orange County Snow Tubing and Winter Sports Park at Thomas Bull Memorial Park in Montgomery. For tubers, there are 12 groomed lanes with cable lifts on an 800-foot-long hill ($12 for a 90-minute session). You can also sled, ice skate, and cross-country ski (for free). A newly renovated lodge with a restaurant, full bar, and cozy fireplace add to the fun. “It’s quite a wonderful deal,” says manager Tom Quinlisq. “More people are staying close to home, so there’s usually a good crowd.”

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