It’s been nearly nine full months since the initial COVID lockdowns went into effect, and here we are again with new restrictions imposed as case rates rise dramatically. Despite vaccines on the way, many weeks (if not months) of limited activity are likely to persist. Understanding this, it’s not surprising that many of us are looking for unique winter experiences to get us through. But at the same time, we want to travel safely and protect those we love from being exposed to coronavirus. That’s why outdoor escapes continue to be a great idea even in the midst of winter.
Naturally, snowboarding and skiing options are annual events for many, but there are many other spectacular options. Regardless of where you live, some great outdoor escapes within driving distance await you. These winter experiences might not be something you think of immediately, but they are perfect for the COVID crabbies. Not only will they get you out of a rut, but they’ll expose you to some wonderful sights. From coast to coast, and from north to south, the following are 10 winter experiences worth considering.
- Manatee Spotting and Wildlife in Florida – As the Gulf waters begin to cool, manatee tend to come inland to warmer waters. Because of this, many state parks and bays offer some great outdoor escapes to spot these prehistoric creatures. Likewise, Florida is home to an array of state parks and refuges where waterfowl, canopied oaks, and other amazing sights exist. Three Sisters Springs, Homosassa Springs, and Myakka River are just a few to consider. These are great winter experiences that are certainly not the norm for most.
- Snow Biking Near Seattle – Ever heard of fat-tire bicycles? If so, have you ever considered riding them along snow-blanketed trails? For those near Seattle, there are a few locations that offer snow biking winter experiences within driving distance. Leavenworth and White Pass are a couple such locations with these outdoor escapes. Trails are groomed, and the biking is dynamic and fun. This will certainly take your mind off COVID for a bit.
- Red Rock Hiking in Sedona – Just a couple of hours north of Phoenix, outdoor escapes await in Sedona. Amongst the red rock canyons, you can explore and climb some pretty challenging hikes. Bear Mountain, for example, offers a 2,000-foot climb along a 2.5-mile trek. The views are stunning, and should a little snow hit the ground, it is absolutely breath-taking. These types of winter experiences are perfect for the weekend getaway.
- Cross-Country Skiing Near Chicago – Have you ever considered cross-country skiing on sand dunes? If you live near Chicago, you might want to. At the Indiana Dunes National Park at Lake Michigan, 15,000 acres of dunes offer such winter experiences. If lake-effect snows are accommodating, ungroomed trails await. These are challenging yet safe terrains offering wonder outdoor escapes this time of year.
- Snowmobiling Across Yellowstone – Numerous spots in Wyoming, including Jackson, also offer unique winter experiences for the bored. In fact, Yellowstone alone has over 2,500 miles of snowmobiling trails for the enthusiast. Depending on where you live, the trip might require some overnight stays. Regardless, the outdoor escapes themselves make such trips definitely worth their while.
- Snow-shoeing in South Dakota – While the Dakotas may not be the most populated areas of the country, outdoor experiences are numerous. Specifically, two state parks in South Dakota have invested in snow-shoeing excursions for its guests. Both Custer and Good Earth parks offer such winter experiences and a variety of trails to explore. Most are likewise well-groomed and perfect for a daytime outing.
- Hitting the Surf in Ventura – Not all outdoor escapes have to be in frigid temperatures. Should you live near Los Angeles, Ventura and the surrounding areas offer some beach outings for fun. With the beaches otherwise quiet, paddle-boarding and surfing are great winter experiences in California. Who knows, you might even spot some rare dolphins or even a gray whale in the process.
- Snow Hiking in New York – A variety of states offer some great places for snow hiking as winter experiences. New York is no different. Some are even not far outside the city, with vast land areas to explore. Specifically, Clarence Fahnestock National State Park is only 50 miles north and has over 14,000 acres. This includes 50 miles of hiking trails, 12 miles of groomed cross-country skiing, and incredible views. Being so close, it’s a perfect idea for a quick outdoor escape.
- Sledding in Tahoe City – Who doesn’t enjoy sledding? This youthful activity is great for most ages, and it provides wonderful winter experiences that are quite memorable. This is especially true if you choose to go to Granlibakken ski and sledding area in Tahoe City. Located along the western shore area of Lake Tahoe, you and the family can get your fill of great sledding. Likewise, it’s not far from Sugar Point State Park, home of the world’s tallest pine trees!
- Explore the Wetlands in Maryland – If you live in the middle of the East coast, there’s always the Blue Ridge Mountains or some oceanfront walks. But Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay similarly offer some unique outdoor escapes along its tidal wetlands. The Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is a 30,000-acre waterfowl sanctuary. Not only does it offer migrating swan and geese but also a sizable number of bald eagles. These and many other unusual birds are native to this area.
What Outdoor Escapes Are Near You?
The 10 winter experiences are just a few great ideas that can help get you out of the house and over the COVID blues. But certainly, there are a number of other such ideas that are likely not far from your home. State and national parks are great resources for such ideas. Likewise, many businesses are being innovative and offering new activities in light of the pandemic. All of these are worth exploring for a much-needed adventure. These are perfect ways to break some habits and have some fun at the same time.
Want to make 2021 a better year than 2020? Then check out PROJECT BOLD LIFE: The Proven Formula to Take on Challenges and Achieve Happiness and Success.