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CT Outdoor Activities

February School Vacation Outdoor Fun in New England

Picture of sled dogs

Dog Sledding

We have, in the past, highlighted many indoor things to do with kids during February school vacation – aquariums, museums, etc. For a change of pace let’s get outside for some outdoor adventures for this February school vacation. What to do outdoors during the winter? Well check out some of these ideas:

1. Cross Country (Nordic) Skiing
Great exercise and great fun. Nordic skiing does not have a big learning curve, as long as you stay on the easier trails. The scenery is typically awesome, and the exercise and fun are equally awesome! There are 90 Nordic ski areas across the six state region so there is bound to be one fairly close to you.

2. Dog Sledding
What could be better than being pulled along by dogs through a beautiful winter landscape. Dog sledding can be a great and unique adventure for the whole family. There are nearly two dozen places, mostly across northern New England, that can take you out for a dog sledding adventure.

3. Downhill (Alpine) Skiing
The classic February vacation – heading out for a little downhill skiing. Temperatures have been cold so the ski areas can make snow, and there is snow in the forecast. The skiing should be great for February school vacation!

4. Ice fishing
Perhaps not as active as some of the other activities, but ice fishing can be a great bonding experience and catching dinner can be fun and rewarding.

Picture of the Skating Path at Community Field in Holyoke, MA

Skating Path at Community Field in Holyoke, MA

5. Ice Skating
Great fun for the whole family but stay away from the indoor rinks and try out one of New England’s many great outdoor ice skating rinks. You may want to check out the new and unique ice skating path in Holyoke, MA. They have refrigeration so it does not matter if Mother Nature cooperates…

6. Skijoring
A cross between dog sledding and Nordic skiing, in Skijoring you ride the skis while man’s best friend pulls you along. This one is probably best for those who know what they are doing or perhaps with an expert instructor.

7. Snowmobiling
Perhaps not as much exercise but still a great deal of fun. There are nearly 30,000 miles of snowmobile trails across New England. New to the sport? There are many places that can rent you a snowmobile and give you some instruction on how to use it.

8. Snowshoeing
Like Nordic Skiing, snowshoeing has a fairly quick learning curve and is great fun and great exercise. Most cross country ski areas allow snowshoeing and it is typically allowed on hiking trails in most state parks.

Picture of snowtubes9. Snowtubing
No learning curve at all, snowtubing is simply just great fun for the entire family. There are over two dozen places where you can go snow tubing in New England. What are you waiting for?

10. Ziplines and Mountain Coasters
Take the winter version of a zipline canopy tour. Many ski areas offer winter ziplines including Bretton Woods (NH), Cranmore (NH), Gunstock (NH), Jiminy Peak (MA), Loon (NH), Okemo (VT), Smugglers Notch (VT), Sugarloaf (ME), and Sunday River (ME). Mountain coasters can be found at Attitash (NH), Cranmore (NH), and Okemo (VT).

Picture credits: The picture of the sled dogs pulling a sled is by Zeledi from the Wikimedia Commons. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 License. Picture credits: The picture of the skating path in Holyoke, MA is by Jeffrey Byrnes and was provided to us by the Holyoke Parks and Recreation Department.

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10 Great Outdoor Winter Activities in New England

While it is not yet “officially” winter it is certainly getting colder, and at least in the Northern parts of New England some of the white stuff is starting to show up… We thought we would pull together a list of some of our favorite winter activities presented here in alphabetical order.

  1. Dog Sledding – Dog sledding can make for a unique and fun adventure.
  2. Ice Fishing – A lot of people sit in those little huts on frozen lakes and ponds so there must be something to it.
  3. Ice Skating Outdoors – Anybody can do it indoors. If you cannot find a frozen lake or pond there are many outdoor rinks for ice skating during the winter months.
  4. Off-Road Tours – While technically not outdoors since your are inside a vehicle, these tours from Alpine Adventures sound like a blast. During the winter they run tours Thursday through Sunday and during holiday weeks.
  5. Skiing – Whether it is downhill or cross country, skiing is a great winter outdoor activity.
  6. Skijoring – Think cross between cross country skiing and dog sledding. Not for the feint of heart but certainly unique.
  7. Sleigh Rides – Snuggled under a blanket across snow-covered trails. Romantic doesn’t come any better than this.
  8. Snowmobiling – A great and exhilarating way to get out into the countryside.
  9. Snowshoeing – How do you hike in the winter? With snow shoes on your feet of course…
  10. Snow Tubing – Not just for the kiddies and an absolute blast!

Of course you could always just snuggle up in front of a fire with that special someone and your favorite beverage…

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Fall Foliage in Connecticut – Get Above it All

Looking for an interesting way to take in the fall foliage in Connecticut. How about a bird’s-eye view? Literally get up into or above the trees. How? you may ask. Try one of these ways to get above it all…

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Connecticut Pick Your Own Apples and Other Fruit

Picture of Apples on a TreeMoving on in our roundup of where you can pick your own we move on to the State of Connecticut. From one end of the state to the other, Connecticut offers many opportunities to get out in the farm or orchard to pick your own. Apples dominate the fruit at this time of year followed by pumpkins, but some pears and raspberries can also be found at a few places. Following are the places we could find that provide you the opportunity to pick you own:

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Corn Mazes in Connecticut and Rhode Island for the Fall of 2012

We now turn our attention to southern New England in our round up of Corn Mazes in New England. If you missed our previous posts you may want to check out Corn Mazes in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont for the Fall of 2012 and Corn Mazes in Massachusetts for the Fall of 2012.

If you are planning on hitting the highways and byways of southern New England this fall for a little leaf peeping, apple or pumpkin picking, you may want to visit one of the region’s many corn mazes. Both Connecticut and Rhode Island have numerous creative mazes guaranteed to thrill and delight…

Connecticut Corn Mazes

Rhode Island Corn Mazes

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New England Beach Campgrounds

There are many campground that are “near” the beach. There are numerous lake-front campgrounds. But a campground that is on or right at an ocean-front beach is much harder to come by. We did a little research and following are the ocean beach campgrounds that we could find in New England.

Beach Camping in Connecticut

Beach Camping In Maine

Beach Camping In Massachusetts

  • Boston Harbor Islands – Rustic camping (no flush toilets, showers, fresh water, electricity, or onsite supplies.
  • Horseneck Beach State Reservation, Westport Point, MA – 100-site campground that is open from mid-May through mid-October.
  • Long Beach, Plymouth, MA – Allows camping for up to 9 vehicles and 36 people per night. Permits are issued through a lottery.
  • Salisbury Beach State Reservation, Salisbury, MA – 484-site campground that is open from early-May to mid-October. There are sites with and without hookups. There is a dump station.
  • Scusset Beach State Reservation, Sandwich, MA – 98-site campground nestled between the Cape Cod Canal and Cape Cod Bay. Hookups available are available. Tent sites are available. There is a dump station.
  • Waquoit Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve – Rustic camping (nine campsites and one group site) is available on Washburn Island.

Beach Camping In New Hampshire

  • Hampton Beach State Park, Hampton, NH – 28 site campground that is open from early May to the end of October. Hookups and a dump station are available.

Beach Camping In Rhode Island

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Watch Some Eagles in Connecticut

Picture of a Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

February and early March is the prime time to watch one of the largest concentrations of Eagles in the Northeast along the rivers of Connecticut. There are many wonderful ways to catch these magnificent birds:

What will you see? You will see Bald Eagles, and occasionally Golden Eagles. You will also see hawks, ducks, other birds, and other wildlife.

This is great fun for the entire family and would also make a great February school vacation activity!

To learn more also see: Eagle Watches In Connecticut.

Picture credits: The picture of the Bald Eagle is by Eric Frommer and is from the Wikimedia Commons. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

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New England Ski Conditions Continue to Improve

Winter 2011/2012 continues to be difficult and still insists on throwing rain and warm temperatures into the mix too often. Nonetheless, the ski areas continue to make snow and open more trails. Vermont has seen the most of the real stuff thus far with many areas picking up some significant natural snow this past week.

Most New England ski areas are now open but nobody is operating at anything approaching full capacity.

Think cold, think snow…

See here for our latest full New England ski report.

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New England Ski Conditions Improving

While eastern and southern New England are still getting rain, the Berkshires and northern New England are finally starting to see some snow. This Friday check-in on New England skiing finds most ski areas open but still operating at a small fraction of their capacity. Open trail counts are going up slowly as they make snow. With the help of some of the natural stuff trail openings should increase. Cross country skiing is still a challenge as there is not enough snow on the ground yet to open most trail systems.

For the latest Alpine conditions see our New England Ski Report.

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New England Outdoor Ice Skating Rinks

Picture of Ice Skating at the Nestlenook Victorian Skating Park, Jackson, NH

Ice Skating at the Nestlenook Victorian Skating Park, Jackson, NH

Nothing says New England more than outdoor ice skating. For those all-to-frequent periods when the ponds are not frozen, following is a round-up of some of the better known outdoor skating rinks in New England:

Outdoor Ice Skating in Connecticut

Outdoor Ice Skating in Maine

Some Maine Pond Hockey tournaments include:

Outdoor Ice Skating in Massachusetts

Picture of the Skating Path at Community Field in Holyoke, MA

Skating Path at Community Field in Holyoke, MA

Outdoor Ice Skating in New Hampshire

We would be remiss if we did not mention two outdoor pond hockey events in New Hampshire:

Outdoor Ice Skating in Rhode Island

Outdoor Ice Skating in Vermont

Vermont is also home to a couple of outdoor pond hockey events, the Lake Champlain Pond Hockey Classic in Colchester, VT, and the Vermont Pond Hockey Championships at Lake Morey Resort in Fairlee, VT.

Picture credits: The picture of the skating path in Holyoke, MA is by Jeffrey Byrnes and was provided to us by the Holyoke Parks and Recreation Department.

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