By Alicia Dziak
February break is here, which means it’s time to enjoy an abundance of wintertime activities.
Kissing Bridge is the place to be for all skiers and snowboarders. Kick off the break Feb. 17 with Late Night Great Night, when lifts are open till 1 a.m. Feb. 18 is KB’s Mardi Gras party, complete with live music by Rocket 88. Racing fans, stop back next weekend for the NASCAR/Daytona weekend Feb. 24-26.
Head to Holiday Valley for even more downhill fun. Join other free-heeled skiers for a day of peace, love and telemark skiing at Telestock on Feb. 24, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more info, call City Garage at (716) 699-2054.
The following day, on Saturday, Feb. 25, check out the Penguin Paddle, an annual fundraiser for Holiday Valley’s Lounsbury Adaptive Program. The day will be filled with wonderful auction items, delicious food and lots of laughs as people slip inside garbage bags and slide on their bellies “penguin style” down the bottom of Yodeler slope.
Head to Sprague Brook for some sledding action. Sprague Brook houses one of the area’s best sledding hills, which is open daily, weather-permitting, from 10 a.m. until dusk. You can also explore the park on cross-country skis or snowshoes from 7 a.m. to dusk, and there are even designated snowmobile trails.
On Feb. 18 at 10 a.m., it’s time for the Sprague Brook Scramble Snowshoe Race, featuring 2.5 and 5-mile courses.
First timers and seasoned experts are welcome— all it takes is a pair of snowshoes and you’re in! For more info, visit www.heartrateup.com.
If tubing without the work of getting back up the hill appeals to you, look no further than Holiday Valley Tubing Company, where you can enjoy up to 22 lanes of pure downhill fun. The tubing park is open daily over the break.
At Chestnut Ridge Park, winter sports enthusiasts and families can spice up the cold winter months with a variety of snow activities including tobogganing, sledding, snowboarding, snowshoeing, XC skiing (ungroomed), hiking, and snowmobiling on designated trails. Toboggan chutes are operated from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends and holidays, and on Fridays from 4 to 8 p.m., weather permitting. The sled hill is open daily from 10 a.m.- 8 p.m. when conditions allow.
Emery Park in South Wales offers a T-bar for downhill fun, operating from 11 a.m.- 7 p.m. on weekends and holidays, and from 4 to 8 p.m. on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays (weather permitting).
Allegany State Park also offers miles of groomed cross-country trails for XC skiing in the Art Roscoe trails system, as well as miles of trails for snowshoeing, hiking and snowmobiling.
On Saturday, Feb. 18, enjoy a Moonlight Ski and Snowshoe with Allegany Nordic. Come out and explore the Art Roscoe Ski and Snowshoe Area in the dark. Bring a dish to pass and your beverage of choice to the warming hut. Don’t forget your headlamp.www.facebook.com/events/1182064375243952/
On Monday, Feb. 20 at 4:30 p.m. ASP will host a Sunset Snowshoe Trek, where a park naturalist will lead an interpretive snowshoe trek, weather depending, or hike along the summit ridgeline on Bear Paw Trail. Witness a breathtaking winter sunset at Stone Tower, then make your way back to the Summit Warming Hut for an after-trek social. The 2.3 mile trail is easy to moderate with some slight elevation changes. For more information, contact the Environmental Education/Recreation Department at (716) 354-9101 ext. 236.
Other special events in the park include Music by the Fireside, a free concert by local musician Jess Chizuk inside the Red House Administration Building on Saturday, Feb. 18 at 7 p.m.
ASP also boasts two lakes, great for ice fishing this time of year, and hundreds of cabins and cottages, perfect for a weekend or mid-week getaway. Make your reservations at www.reservamerica.com.
Check out the other programs happening this weekend at other area state parks:
Nature lovers will enjoy Project Feederwatch on Saturday, Feb. 18, from 10 to 11 a.m. at Letchworth State Park.This citizen science project, sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, is easy to do for experienced bird watchers and beginners alike. Learn about the lives and habitats of our common feeder birds and find out how you can become a citizen scientist at home. Count days are every Friday and Saturday until April 7. For more info, call (585) 493-3680.
Also on Feb. 18, you can head to the Winter Wonderland Ski Tour at Evangola State Park, from 10 a.m. to noon. For more info, call (716) 549-1050.
If you prefer the great indoors, head to one of the many area museums. The Buffalo History Museum offers free admission the third Friday of every month, which means Friday, Feb. 17 is free. The Buffalo Science Museum, Albright-Knox Art Gallery and Strong Museum in Rochester are also all great places to check out this time of year.
The Bookworm, at 34 Elm Street in East Aurora, offers a variety of kids’ workshops over the break.
On Monday Feb. 20, check out “It’s a CLOUD WONDERLAND!!” from 10-11:30 or 12-1:30. Ever wonder where CLOUDS come from? Want to be a scientist and learn about cloud formations? Come see, explore and create a rain cloud, no experience needed. This class is for kids ages 6-10, and cost is $10.
On Tuesday, Feb. 21 10 a.m. to noon, sign your 5-10-year-olds up for the S.T.E.M. Workshop and come and see how much fun Science, Technology, Engineering, Math can be! Cost is $12.
On Wednesday, Feb. 22, from 1-3 p.m., check out the Winter Wonderland Workshop for ages 4-8. This class is $12 and inclues winter games, crafts and activities.
You must pre-register for all workshops by calling (716) 652-6554.
There is no shortage of family-friendly fun to be had this February break. Get out and explore the wonderful activities, indoors and out, the area has to offer this time of year!