By Alicia Dziak

The kids are off until the end of the year, and the big question is—how are you going to spend the break? There is no shortage of winter fun to be had, so take your pick and make a plan!

If skiing or snowboarding is your favorite way to spend a winter day, WNY has got your covered. Kissing Bridge opened its Central area last weekend. Under new management and boasting new features like a magic carpet on the beginner hill, more snowmaking and a new dropoff area, KB is waiting to be rediscovered this season. And the best part? It’s right in your backyard! For info, visit

For even more downhill action, take the short drive to Ellicottville, where Holiday Valley has numerous lifts open, accessing dozens of slopes and trails. HV also houses the Sky Flyer Mountain Coaster that just opened for the winter season. There you can ride up the mountain in your own “car” and head back down, controlling your own speed.

If you prefer a different kind of downhill, head to Holiday Valley Tubing Company on Route 242, where you can soar down different hi-speed lanes (there are even a couple for groups) and hitch a ride back up. For info, visit

Head to the always-fun sledding hill at Sprague Brook, from 10 a.m. until dusk. You can explore the park on cross-country skis or snowshoes from 7 a.m. to dusk. There are also designated snowmobile trails. For winter sports/ activities updates, call 858-8513.

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, cross-country 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). Call 858-8513 for weekday winter sports/ activities updates.

Beaver Meadow in North Java also features miles of snowshoeing trails (you can rent snowshoes there) and a fun nature center. On Dec. 27, from 10 a.m. to noon, enjoy a hike through some of the old woods at the preserve with naturalist Mark Carra. Donations gratefully accepted. If your kids need community service hours for school, consider helping out at their Volunteer Day on Wednesday, Dec. 28. Helping out at Beaver Meadow Audubon Center in North Java is a great excuse for getting outside with your kids. For info, visit

For more XC opps, head to Allegany State Park and enjoy the Art Roscoe trail system, located on Red House by the Summit area.

As the largest state park in New York, ASP is filled with winterized cabins. If you stay before Dec. 31, there is a buy two nights, get one free camping special. Visit and enter COZYCABIN16. Check daily, as reservations are cancelled and new cabins open up.

On Dec. 28, from 2-3:30 p.m., have some frosty fun at Tifft Nature Preserve. Join them for an afternoon of hands-on activities celebrating the wintry season. Pre-registration required; call (716) 825-6397 or visit

Head north to Buffalo’s Canalside for a winter wonderland of fun on the ice. Go ice skating, try out the Olympic sport of curling or ride the ice bikes. Visit for info.

Rotary Rink at Fountain Plaza in Buffalo is a free and open-to-the-public outside ice rink in Downtown Buffalo. The rink allows all members of the community to enjoy free ice skating throughout the winter season. Regular hours are as follows: Tuesday – Friday, 11  a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 to 9 p.m., Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For info, visit

East Aurora’s Healthy Zone outdoor rink offers open skating several times over the holiday break, from 1 – 2:20 p.m. on Dec. 26, 27, 28 (also 7 to 8:30 p.m.) and Dec. 29. Additional hours include Dec. 30, 7 to 8:45 p.m. and Dec. 31, 1-2:20 p.m. and 7 to 10 p.m. For info, visit

If indoor fun is more up your alley, how about some bowling? Head to Springville’s own Cascade Lanes or Springville Lanes for a little competition. Check out their Facebook pages for info.

The Buffalo and Erie County Botanical Gardens offers tropical temps and plenty of foliage. There is also the Garden Railway Exhibit going on now that will bring fun and whimsy to the holiday season. For info, visit

If you’re not shopped out from the holidays, snag up a post-Christmas deal on everything from winter gear to trendy threads.

It’s always fun to catch a show on a weekday without the crowds. Grab a popcorn and catch a flick at Joylan mid-week.

After all that holiday cooking, take a break and dine at one of the many Springville eateries. Whether it’s Italian, Mexican, American or Chinese food you’re craving, there’s something for everyone all over town.

However you spend the break, be sure you enjoy it. Before you know it, you’ll be yelling “Happy New Year!” and the kids will be back in school.