Boston is in full grip of winter, so why not embrace it? Enjoy the season with some outdoor winter activities in the city or a short drive away.
Snow tubing. A fun and exhilarating activity, snow tubing requires warm winter clothes and boots – tubing parks supply the tubes and thrills. There are three tubing options less than an hour from Boston.
Nashoba Valley Ski area in Westford operates a snow tubing park – billed as New England’s largest with 18 lanes. Open 7 days a week (weather permitting) for day and night tubing, a two-hour ticket is $33. Discounted tickets are available in a 6-pack for $165 but restrictions apply. Tubers must be at least 6 years old and 42 inches tall. A lodge and snack bar is available. (Note that the entrance to the tubing park is not the same as the entrance to the ski area).
Ski Ward in Shrewsbury has an 8-lane TubaSlide. Weekday tickets are available for one or two hours and cost $15 and $20 respectively. Two-hour weekend, school vacation and holiday tickets are $29. The same age and height restrictions apply.
The New England Sports Park in Amesbury is open to all tubers 4 years old and up – if you can sit in your own tube, you are good to go. Tickets are $25 and are good on Saturday and Sunday for two-hour blocks of time beginning at 10 a.m., and ending at 8 p.m. On Thursday, pay $10 to tube from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Friday night tubing tickets are good from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Ice skating. Why skate in an artificially-chilled indoor rink when outdoor ice beckons? There’s plenty of options right in the city. Rent skates or bring your own.
The Boston Common Frog Pond was recently cited by USA Today as the best outdoor rink in the U.S., (#2 in North America), and you can’t get any closer to the heart of the city. Admission price is based on height – $6 for everyone 58 inches and up. Skate rentals are $12 for adults and $6 for kids; lockers, sharpening and snacks are also available.
The Skating Path at City Hall Plaza is a custom-designed path designed in the shadow of City Hall. Adults cost $15, children 12 and under are $8, and kids under 5 are FREE. Skate rentals are $8.
Community Skating @ Kendall Square in Cambridge is close to MIT. Prices are very reasonable – all day skating costs $5 for adults, $3 for students and senior, and $1 for kids 13 and under. Skate rentals and lockers are available.
Cross country skiing. A great aerobic workout, cross country skiing can be done on many area golf courses and in parks provided it’s legal and there’s ample natural snow coverage.
For groomed trails and night skiing, head out to the Weston Ski Track right off Exit 14 at the Leo J. Martin Golf Course. There are 15 kilometers of trails for skiing or snowshoeing. Equipment rentals (skis, boots, poles, and snowshoes and poles) are available. Trail passes range from $6-$13. Touring skis are $18; skate skis are $20; and snowshoes are $16.
Downhill skiing and snowboarding. The ski areas close to Boston aren’t huge – though they can get crowded – but offer a variety of terrain and enable skiers and riders to get their thrills within an hour of the city. Note that the prices quoted are for daily lift tickets – prices tend to be cheaper when purchased as part of a pass or package. Day and night skiing, lessons, and a variety of food and beverages are available at all ski areas, though bringing snacks along will save money.
The Blue Hills Ski Area in Canton is the most convenient place to Boston to get in a few downhill runs and rides. There is 60 acres of skiing and a vertical drop of about 300 feet. Shuttle service is available for parking. Blue Hills has everyday pricing: $45 for all day; $40 after 1 p.m. and $30 after 5 p.m.
Ski Bradford in Haverhill is home to 15 trails and 9 lifts – many with bee-themed names. (Take the Hornet chair to the Queen and Stinger trails, and so on). Weekday rates range from $20-$37; weekends and holidays range from $49-$52.
Both Nashoba Valley and Ski Ward offer day and night downhill skiing in addition to tubing. Weekday lift tickets at Nashoba Valley range from $40-$45 and weekends/holiday prices range from $40-$55. At Ski Ward, weekday tickets for ages 6 and up range from $35-$39 (there’s a $16 ticket good for 2 hours between 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.), and weekend/holidays range from $47-$52.
If you want to venture a little further afield, Wachusett Mountain in Princeton has 25 trails and is the biggest ski area within a short drive from Boston. Skiers even have the option of taking the train from North Station in Boston. Ticket prices vary widely – adults range from $52-$71. Buy online in advance for discounts.
As with many outdoor activities in Boston, operating hours are dependent on weather conditions, so contact the venue before you head out.