Just because the temperatures are dipping outside doesn’t mean you have to keep the family inside. Embrace the chill — and the snow — by visiting some of Northeast Ohio’s great winter playgrounds.
Even better, many of these family fun destinations have extended hours in wintertime. So grab your heavy coats and mittens, it’s time to head into the cold for an adventure.
Note: To get the most accurate information about hours, visit the destination’s website or call them directly.
Has it been awhile since you’ve strapped on some skates? Beginners and experts alike are welcome at these area rinks.
Cleveland Heights Community Center Ice Rink
If you’ve ever wanted to learn how to figure skate, this seems to be the place to do it. With two indoor rinks, including one that’s Olympic-sized, you’ll find a rotating schedule of open-skate and lessons available here. The rink also has hockey and speed skating lessons.
Admission: $3 for adults, $2 for children (members); $5 for adults and children (non-members); $2 skate rentals. 1 Monticello Blvd., Cleveland Heights, 216-691-7434, clevelandheights.com
Halloran Park Recreation Center & Outdoor Ice Skating Rink
One of the most affordable outdoor skating rinks around — rentals are only $1 at this Cleveland area ice skating rink. Skate and hockey lessons are free, too. Admission: $1 skate rental, 25 cents if you bring your own skates. 550 W. 117th St. (off of Linnet Ave.) 216-664-4187
Outdoor Ice Rink at Falls River Square
Located in the heart of Cuyahoga Falls, this brightly lit ice rink is perfect whether you want to skate during the day or into the night. Admission: $3 per person, $3 skate rental. 2085 Front St., Cuyahoga Falls, 330-971-8225, cfo.cityofcf.com
Outdoor Rink at Lock 3, Akron
Twirl your way around Lock 3’s 10,000-square-foot outdoor ice rink — the largest of its kind in Ohio. Admission: If you bring your own skates admission is free. $3 for skate rentals. 200 S. Main St., Akron, 330- 375-2877, lock3live.com/iceskating.aspx
Kent State Ice Arena
This indoor rink has extra public skate hours during December so you can sneak in with your family to get some time on the ice. Admission: $6 per person, $2 for preschoolers (with an adult), skate rental for $2.50. 650 Loop Road, Kent, 330-672-RINK, www.kent.edu/icearena
Mentor Ice Arena
This indoor rink is open year round. When kids are out of school, the Mentor Ice Arena offers special programs, including all-day options with activities both on and off the ice. Admission: $6 for adults, $5 ages 17 and under; $3 skate rental. 8600 Munson Road, Mentor, 440-974-5730, cityofmentor.com
University Circle, Wade Park Oval Outdoor Skating Rink
There’s so much to do before, or after, you’ve had your fill skating at this University Circle favorite. Once you’re done skating, explore the Cleveland Institute of Art (it’s free!) or have a meal in nearby Little Italy. Also, show your rink wristband for special promotions at some area hot spots like the Cleveland Botanical Garden and Western Reserve Society. Admission: $2 per person, $3 for skate rentals. 1981 Ford Drive, Cleveland, 216-707-5033, universitycircle.org
An ice roller coaster — that’s what it like to go on a toboggan ride. Northeast Ohio has the only public toboggan chutes in the state.
Toboggan Chutes, Mill Stream Run Reservation
Zoom down this 70-foot ride from Cleveland Metroparks that’s unlike any other in the state. No snow? No problem, the chutes are still open for business. Admission: One ride ticket $6; all-day ticket adults $12, all-day ticket children 11 and younger $10. 16200 Valley Pkwy., Strongsville, 440-572-9990, clevelandmetroparks.com/Main/toboggan-chutes.aspx
Celebrate the flakes! The bigger the snowflakes the better the sledding conditions at these local hills.
Cuyahoga Valley National Park becomes a winter wonderland in December. Make the most of it by sledding at this free popular spot. Quick Road, Peninsula, 330-657-2752, nps.gov/cuva/planyourvisit/winter-sports.htm
Punderson State Park
This 741-acre park includes a lit sledding hill along with cross-country skiing trails — and if you happen to have a dog sled, you can do that here, too. 11755 Kinsman Road, Newbury, 440-564-2279, parks.ohiodnr.gov/punderson
The 150-foot sledding hill is constructed inside Lock 3 in Downtown Akron. Designed for children 14 and younger, they can ride this all-season slide with an adult. Sleds rentals are $3 for 30 minutes. 200 S. Main St., Akron, 330-375-2877, lock3live.com/iceskating.aspx
Our area includes several ski resorts that are close enough that you can get there quickly and then spend your day on — and off — the slopes.
There are seven trails and five lifts at this Greater Cleveland area ski destination. Many families nix the skis in favor of Alpine Valley’s other draw — Polar Blast Snow Tubing with eight to 10 tube lanes. Admission: $43 adults all-day (13-69), $38 Junior (5-12), $10 (4 and under); snow tubing $25 (all ages) any 3 hours. 10620 Mayfield Road, Chesterland, 440-285-2211, alpinevalleyohio.com
Brandywine Ski Resort
With 11 trails and eight lifts, you can spend your day crisscrossing Brandywine’s 48 acres of skiable terrain. Once you’re done skiing, try out the snow tubing park. Admission: $43 adults all-day (13-69), $38 Junior (5-12), $10 (4 and under). Other ticket options available; does not include rental costs. 1146 W. Highland Road, Sagamore Hills, 800-875-4241, bmbw.com
Boston Mills Ski Resort
Located in the Peninsula area, this nearby locale has seven trails and eight lifts so you can get to the resort quickly and start skiing. Admission: $43 adults all-day (13-69), $38 Junior (5-12), $10 (4 and under). Other ticket options available; does not include rental costs. 7100 Riverview Road., Peninsula, 800-875-4241, bmbw.com
Cross-Country Skiing & Snowshoeing
For a slower pace, but a great workout, try cross-country skiing.
Big Met Golf Course
Cleveland Metroparks golf courses are transformed into cross-country skiing havens in the wintertime. Big Met offers ski rentals. Other parks that offer cross-country skiing, but no rentals, include Little Met, Shawnee Hills, Seneca, Mastick Woods and Sleepy Hollow — 4-inch snow base required. Cost: Free, ski rentals $10 first hour, $5 extra hours; Junior skis (12 and under) $7 first hour, $3 extra hour (snowshoe rentals also available). 4811 Valley Pkwy., Fairview Park, 216-635-3270 for snow conditions; 440-331-1070 for hours of operation, clevelandmetroparks.com
Winter Sports Center
Whether it’s your first time or your fifth, you can find a trail at this Cuyahoga Valley National Park locale to match your skill level. Kendall Lake Shelter, on Truxell/Kendall Park Road. Cost: $15 ski rentals (day), $7.50 for 3 hours; $5 snowshoe rental. 330-657-2752, nps.gov/cuva/planyourvisit/winter-sports.htm
There’s something magical about a sleigh ride around the holidays — each of these locales offers a one-of-a-kind experience.
Guggisberg Swiss Inn
This family owned and operated inn offers sleigh rides when there is 4 inches of snow or more. Cost: Call for reservations and pricing. 5025 State Route 557, Charm, 330-893-3600, guggisbergswissinn.com/horsebacksleigh-rides
Ma & Pa’s Gift Shack
Beginning in December every weekend, Ma & Pa’s offering carriage rides for families. Each 30-minute ride includes a hot beverage and a sweet snack at the end. If there’s no snow on the ground, take a buggy ride instead. Cost: $20 adults, $10 ages 11-16, $5 5-10, free ages 4 and younger. 15161 Main Market Road (Rt. 422), Burton, 440-548-5521, maandpas.com
Village of Chagrin Falls Carriage Rides
Go by horse-drawn carriage through the Village of Chagrin Falls, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Free rides take place on Sundays (Dec. 7, 14 and 21), from 1 to 4 p.m. Tickets are first-come, first-served the day of the ride. Cost: Free. Chagrin Falls Shopping Plaza, Main Street, Chagrin Falls, 440-247-1895, yourhometownchagrinfalls.com
Winter Weekend Getaway
Snow Fest at Sawmill Creek Resort
On the shores of Lake Erie, this resort includes ice skating and snowshoe rentals along with cross-country skiing trails. You don’t need to be a resort guest to rent from Mulligan’s Pub, but you might want to plan on stopping there after a day outside to warm up with a bowl of chili or a cup of hot cocoa. 400 Sawmill Creek Drive, Huron, 800-729-6455, sawmillcreekresort.com