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10 ways to embrace (or escape) Buffalo's winter

Locals have lots of Buffalo pride, but it’s no secret that we all get a little sick of long winters. When cabin fever sets in, it’s important to find something to do—whether by embracing a cold, snowy day or escaping it with a novel activity. Here are some suggestions.

Escape: Climb the walls

This winter you can warm up while trying a new kind of workout at the Niagara Climbing Center. Gear up and take on the challenge of learning to rock climb at the year-round indoor arena located in North Tonawanda. The Climbing Center has options for beginners as well as experienced climbers within its 6,000-square-foot space. A day pass costs $15, with lower rates for students, military, seniors and young kids.

Niagara Climbing Center
1333 Strad Ave., North Tonawanda

Embrace: Fly down a toboggan chute

Don’t overlook this long-standing Buffalo tradition just because you don’t own a toboggan. You can rent the specialty sled on site at Chestnut Ridge ($15/hour or $40/day), then fly down the toboggan chute. (Or bring your own for free!) The walk back up the hill is a great workout, and you can warm up with a glass of hot cocoa in the lodge afterward. Chutes open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. on weekends and holidays, and 4 p.m.-8 p.m. Fridays.

Chestnut Ridge Park
6121 Chestnut Ridge Road, Orchard Park

Escape: Conquer a ropes course

Riverworks isn’t just for tiki boat tours and water bikes. The giant venue continues to entertain through the cold months with indoor curling, ice skating, arcade games, an escape room and now, a new two-level ropes course, which opened midyear, above the hockey rink. Cost ranges from $20-30, and it’s open-air, so dress for the weather.

Riverworks ropes course
359 Ganson St., Buffalo

Embrace: Take a winter hike

Whether it’s Glen Park, Knox Farm or Delaware Park, a hike through a wintry wonderland will bring you back to nature this winter. For longer journeys, consider buying or renting snowshoes or cross-country skis for your sojourn.

**Related read: WNY hiking trails to explore now

Escape: Walk among the lush gardens

The Botanical Gardens gets a lot of publicity when the corpse flower blooms and during Lumagination, but don’t forget it’s open year-round. A visit to the gardens will make you feel like you’re in the middle of a tropical rainforest, even during the dead of winter: beautiful flowers, towering trees and fountains abound. Venture through at your own pace, or take the free audio tour. Open 10 a.m.- 5 p.m. every day; tickets are $11 with discounts for seniors, students and kids.

Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens
2655 South Park Ave., Buffalo

Embrace: Take on the ski hills

Buffalo is lucky enough to have two good-sized public ski and snowboarding resorts, so why not give it a try this year? Even if you don’t like the first snow sport you try, don’t get discouraged. Beginner to advanced lessons are available at both resorts, and the apres-ski food and entertainment options at each make it worth the exertion. Kissing Bridge is closer and a bit more affordable, with lots of lift ticket specials; Holiday Valley is more extensive and is near the village of Ellicottville, which fully supports snow sport culture. Check websites for hours, pricing and specials.

Kissing Bridge Snow Sports
10296 State Road, Glenwood

Holiday Valley
6557 Holiday Valley Road, Ellicottville

Escape: Test your putting skills

Escape the freezing temps at the Paddock Chevrolet Golf Dome, which holds an 18-hole Brighton Bay miniature golf course fit for really any level, from kids to adults. For more serious golfers (or those looking to become one), there’s also an indoor driving range.

Paddock Chevrolet Golf Dome
175 Brompton Road, Tonawanda

Embrace: Go ice biking

Want to skate but lack the balance? Try ice biking, a Buffalo invention available at Canalside in downtown Buffalo. Ice bikes provide riders with comfort and balance—and an innovative way to enjoy the outdoors. They allow everyone the opportunity to take to the ice (even if skating’s not your thing). $12 per half hour.

44 Prime St., Buffalo

Escape: Pose in warmth

Escape the negative temperatures and step into a 105 degree room for a 60- or 90-minute hot yoga class, where you’ll work up a sweat while learning breathing exercises to help you relax, balance your body and challenge your mind. $15/class.

Evolation Yoga
476 Rhode Island St., Buffalo

Embrace: Take on Canada’s favorite sport

Curling is a great way to get your group of friends (minimum four, maximum 10) out to do something other than eat and drink throughout the snowy months. The ice at Canalside has two lanes available to reserve, and they’ll provide you with the stones, grippers, sliders and brushes you’ll need to play the game. Intro courses are also offered.Cost is $15 per person/per hour; hours vary by the day.

44 Prime Street, Buffalo

Bumper cars on ice

10 ways to embrace (or escape) Buffalo's winter | Buffalo Magazine

Canalside has added to its repertoire of novel on-ice activities this year with ice bumper cars, which opened in November. Riders use hand controls to guide the cars in different directions—forward, back and side-to-side, and can stop the car entirely by letting go of the handles. Note: A waiver must be signed and closed-toe shoes must be worn. Cost is $7 for a 7-minute ride (the entire experience takes about 15 minutes total). Cars are also available in Lockport at the Cornerstone Arena.

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