By Rosanna Gill

Picture this: it’s 35 degrees outside, there’s a couple feet of snow on the ground, and you have a few hours of free time available. What are you going to do? Oh, and I should mention, your driveway and sidewalk have already been shoveled so you’ve already gotten your workout in for the day.

If you’re like me, your first thoughts will NOT have anything to do with being cold or ‘enjoying’ the cold, because as a gal from South Carolina, the only thing I enjoy about the cold are the warm clothes I get to wear. Alas, have no fear because you are truly in the right place. Whether you are a winter Scrooge like me, or the complete opposite (like my roommate’s sweet daughter who came to me after a fairly heavy snow a couple months ago and excitedly asked if I wanted to shovel tunnels in the snow — spoiler alert, I politely declined her offer), there is truly something for everyone in Boston. And the best part is it’s all pretty affordable!

Let’s start with ice skating. There are a number of local ice rinks that have open skate hours for the general public of all skill (or lack thereof) levels that have skate rentals available. Never been ice skating? Neither had I, but rest assured that you don’t have to be Nancy Kerrigan or Wayne Gretzky to have a good time. There are even outdoor ice rinks like the Frog Pond downtown where you can skate and reenact a scene from your favorite Christmas Hallmark movie. Matching scarf and fuzzy ear muffs are not required but certainly add a touch of fabulous to your look.

Another outdoor option is sledding. Just look for a park with a hill, preferably one not behind a locked gate that says ‘No trespassing,’ wipe off a trash can cover and HAVE AT IT! Just kidding. Sort of. That’s actually what I envisioned when my roommate mentioned sledding the first time. In the age of Google, it’s actually now as easy as typing in “sledding near me” and you’ll find a couple articles that list the best places to sled around Boston. A few favorites are the Larz Anderon Park in Brookline or Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain/Roslindale. Another google search told me that the trash can lid idea is still being used by some people but there are also options like using an inner tube or *gasp* even buying a small sled.

No list about enjoying winter in Boston could exclude skiing or snowboarding. And while there are plenty of places within a couple hours’ drive, there’s also options closer to home like the Blue Hills in Canton or the Nashoba Valley in Westford. While this may not be the cheapest option on the list, there are places to rent the necessary equipment and lessons available for the novice so you can move from the bunny hill to the big kid hill in no time. And if you have no interest in skiing but you have a group of friends or family going, you could always tag along, drink some hot chocolate and watch other people learning on the bunny hill.

When you come home from ice skating, sledding, or skiing, you can do the next option on the list: baking! Yep, you read that right. Baking. Remember that part about it being 35 degrees out and you working up an appetite? Well, what better way to fill your belly and spend some time with loved ones (or quality time with yourself) than by baking some cookies or brownies? Not to mention you get to enjoy the free heat of your oven during and after. You could even go so far as to call it a fiscally responsible choice. And if you’re baking by yourself, it doesn’t have to be only for yourself. I know of at least one person at Storyheights who would be moooore than happy to try your confectionary masterpiece with some coffee on Sunday morning. 🙂

For the person who likes to do an activity but would prefer it be indoor (and warm), candlepin bowling is a must try. Not just regular bowling but CANDLEPIN bowling. Never heard of it? Then you’re probably not from New England as it is a version of bowling that started here and, to my knowledge, only exists here. The bowling balls are much smaller, don’t have holes (yay for no more sprained fingers!) and there are 9 narrow pins that resemble candles instead of 10 of the larger ones. You also get three balls per frame instead of two.

If you love history or would like to consider yourself a more ‘cultured individual’ then you are in the perfect place. Boston is full of museums and has an amazing symphony and ballet. Even cooler is that you can get passes from your local library for reduced tickets to any number of them. The Museum of Science is known for its interactive exhibits that are fun for the whole family and they even offer a yearly membership. So whether you want to play art critic, historian, or just get gussied up for a performance, the options abound.

And if sports are more your thing, then let’s talk hockey. Specifically, the Bruins. Did you know that some local recreation departments offer reduced tickets for the Bruins games? What could be better than the thrill of a crowd cheering, an arena hot dog and a reduced price ticket to be part of it all?! I’m getting excited just thinking about it.

Last but not least, I don’t know if you’ve heard but Storyheights is in the midst of a 49-week bible reading challenge. Even if you haven’t started yet, it’s ok. There’s plenty of cold weather days ahead where you could stay in and catch up if reading a good book under a blanket is more your winter style 😉 Maybe even have a freshly baked cookie or two while you dig deep into the word.