Winter may have started more than a month ago, but now is the time of year when it seems to drag on. One of the best ways to get through the long New England winter is to bundle up and get outside. It’s taken me many years (decades really) to embrace the cold weather. Up until I became a mom I pretty much preferred the indoor, apres version of any winter activity. But my family loves cold weather activities and it truly is more fun to get off the sidelines and join in with them. Keep reading for a list of family-friendly outdoor activities on the North Shore or a short drive away!
This list is generously sponsored by Duffy Insurance. Duffy Insurance is a leading independent insurance agency with multiple locations across the North Shore. Specializing in Home, Auto, Business and Life insurance, the team at Duffy will help you navigate all your insurance needs, no matter the size. I have personally been working with Jenna Suslak on this partnership. She is a Haverhill mom and she is super friendly and knowledgable about any insurance questions you may have. (Read my Meet a Mom Interview with her.) Learn more about Duffy at duffyins.com.
Winter Outdoor Activities on the North Shore
Ice Skating (Outdoor Rinks)
- The Rink at MarketStreet (Lynnfield, MA) – Open daily through February. Hours vary by day with extended hours during school vacation week. General admission $12 and free for ages 3 and under. Skate rentals $5, skating aid $10. This is kid-friendly for most ages. We went on a warm Sunday in January and even with the rink being packed, the organizers were directing traffic, monitoring safety and maintaining the ice frequently.
- Ice Rink at Topsfield Town Common (Topsfield, MA) – Due to warm weather this rink is not yet open, but you can check here for updates. Once frozen and open, this rink is free and available to the public (all ages) to use throughout the winter season. Designated ‘Puck & Stick’ hours available.
- Skate @ Canal District, Kendall (Cambridge, MA) – Open daily, mid-December through mid-March, weather permitting. Hours vary by day. Admission $6 for adults and $1 for ages 13 and under. Skate rentals $10 for adults and $6 for ages 13 and under.
- Boston Common Frog Pond (Boston, MA) – Open daily, weather permitting. Hours vary by day. Admission $8 for people 58-inches and over, under 58-inches skate free. Skate rental $15 for adults and $10 for kids. Skating aid $18 an hour.
Skiing & Snowboarding
Approx. 1 hour drive from North Shore (depending on your town)
- Ski Bradford (Bradford/Haverhill, MA) – Open daily, hours vary by day with extended hours for school vacation week. Check the Trail Report. Featuring 9 lifts, a terrain park, magic carpet and night skiing. Lift tickets start at $22. More info on ticket prices.
- Nashoba Valley Ski Area (Westford, MA) – Open daily, except Mondays. Hours vary by day with extended hours for school vacation week. Featuring 4 chairlifts, 2 magic carpets, and 4 rope tows to 17 trails. Nashoba Valley also offers night skiing and has a Snow Tubing Park in Littleton, MA. Check the Snow Report here. Lift tickets start at $30. More info on ticket prices.
- Blue Hills Ski Area (Canton, MA) – Open daily, conditions permitting. Hours vary by day with extended hours for school vacation week. This is a great, small mountain for beginners! Chairlift, magic carpet and night skiing available. Lift tickets start at $35 and kids 6 and under can save $5 on a daily lift ticket when skiing with a ticketed adult. Kids 3 and under ski free. More info on ticket prices.
A little further (1-2 hours driving distance)
- Wachusett Mountain (Westminster, MA) – Open weekdays 9am-9:30pm and weekends 7:30am-9:30pm. Featuring 8 lifts, 2 magic carpets, 2 terrain parks and 27 trails. This a good mountain for beginners and advanced skiers alike. Wachusett offers night skiing too. Lift tickets start at $20. More info on ticket and rental prices.
- Ski Ward Ski Area (Shrewsbury, MA) – Open daily, hours vary by day. This is a smaller mountain with 9 trails, 3 lifts and a magic carpet. Ski Ward Ski Area also has a Tubing Park see details below in Tubing section. Lift tickets start at $20 and ages 5 and under are $12 with the purchase of an adult ticket. More details on tickets.
- McInytre Ski Area (Manchester, NH) – This is a small mountain with 2 lifts, servicing 11 trails, 2 magic carpets with a large beginner area, and a terrain park. Open 10am-6pm on weekdays, and 9am-6pm on weekends, holidays and school vacation week. Lift tickets start at $23. More details on tickets. MyIntyre is also home to the 5-lane Snowtubing Bonneville Family Thrill Hill.
- Crotched Mountain (Bennington, NH) – Open Sundays & Mondays 9am-4pm and 9am-9pm the rest of the week. Get the Snow & Weather Report. Features 4 lifts, a magic carpet and 25 trails, plus 2 terrain parks. Night skiing also available.Lift tickets start at $64. More ticket info. This is a larger mountain that is part of the Epic Pass program.
- Pat’s Peak (Henniker, NH) – Open daily, hours vary by day. Featuring 6 chair lifts, 3 tow ropes and 2 magic carpets with 28 trails and a terrain park. Get the Snow Report. Lift tickets start at $38. More ticket details. Pat’s Peak also has a 6 lane Tubing Park.
- Gunstock Mountain (Gilford, NH) – Open daily, hours vary by day. Get the Ski Report. Featuring 5 chair lifts and 3 magic carpets with 49 trails and terrain parks. This mountain has less beginner trails and may be better suited to intermediate and advanced skiers. Lift tickets start at $39. More ticket details.
- Mount Sunapee (Newbury, NH) – This is another larger mountain. Open weekdays 9am-4pm and weekends and holidays 8am-4pm. Featuring 5 chair lifts and 4 surface lifts, 4 terrain parks and 67 trails. Lift tickets start at $65 and Mount Sunapee is also part of the Epic Pass program. Find ticket details.
- Nashoba Valley Tubing Park (Littleton, MA) – Open 1-9pm Wednesday-Fridays, 9am-9pm on Saturdays and 9am-5pm on Sundays. Plus 9am-8pm on school vacation week. Up to eighteen lanes are serviced by four lifts and maintained by Nashoba’s experienced grooming fleet, the park provides ideal tubing conditions for thrill seekers of all ages. Must be 6 years old and 42″ tall to tube. Tickets start at $42 for two hours. More info on ticket prices.
- Ski Ward Ski Area (Shrewsbury, MA) – Tubing Park is open 4-8pm Wednesday-Fridays and 10am-4pm on weekends and school holidays. Includes 12 lanes, 2 lifts and over 200 tubes. Must be 6 years old and 42″ in height to tube. Tickets start at $19 for an hour. More details on tickets.
- Snowtubing Bonneville Family Thrill Hill at McIntyre Ski Area (Manchester, NH) – Open for 2-hour sessions Thursdays-Sundays. Hours vary by day. Must be 5 years old and 42″ to tube. Tickets start at $32.
- Pat’s Peak (Henniker, NH) – 6 lane Tubing Park. Open Fridays 3-9pm, Saturdays, 9am-10pm and Sundays 9am-5pm. Open all days of school vacation week 9am-9pm. Must be 5 years old and 44″ to tube.
- Gunstock Mountain (Gilford, NH) – Open daily, hours vary by day with extended hours for school vacation week. Must be 42″ to tube and riders under 14 years old must be accompanied by a participating adult. Tickets start at $36 for 2 hours.
Other Outdoor Events & Attractions
- Ice Castles (North Woodstock, NH) – The castles are located an approximate 2 hour drive from the North Shore. Explore ice caverns and walk beneath archways adorned with hand-placed icicles that dangle overhead like a beautiful, winter chandelier. Slide down ice slides and call through ice tunnels. Definitely a unique winter experience! Open daily except Mondays, hours vary by day. Tickets start at $15 for children ages 4-11, during the week, up to $29 on weekends for ages 12 and up. Ticket details.
- Weston Ski Track (Weston, MA) – Weston Ski Track is great place to cross-country ski or snowshoe. Run by Charles River Recreation, who is dedicated to providing affordable and accessible outdoor recreational opportunities in the Boston area. Open daily with extended hours on weekends and holidays. Reservations required. Featuring one of the largest cross-country ski snowmaking systems in New England, lessons, and group outings. Get the Ski Report here. Adult tickets are $13 and ages 16 and under are $8. Rentals start at $8. More information on tickets and rentals.
- Great Brook Ski Touring Center (Carlisle, MA) – Featuring over 10 miles of machine-groomed trails for cross country skiing from December 1 to March 31, snow conditions permitting. Follow them on Facebook @greatbrookski for trail conditions. Adult admission is $15, ages 7-14 is $10 and under age 6 is free. Rentals start at $10. View more information on rates.
- Crane Beach WinterFest (Ipswich, MA) – Taking place on Friday, February 24 from 6-9pm. Crane Beach WinterFest is a family-friendly event. Activities include live music, fire pits, and outdoor games. Food, beverage and alcohol vendors will be onsite! Warm clothing and footgear are highly recommended, as this event is entirely outdoors. Tickets include event entry and parking. Food and beverages can be purchased separately. Tickets are by the carload, Trustees members $36, non-members $45.
- Wee Explorers (North Andover, MA) – To encourage outdoor play and exploration of the great outdoors, this nature-based toddler playgroup will combine themed guided play with opportunities for free time for children and their caregivers. Held at Stevens-Coolidge House & Gardens every Tuesday morning from 9:30-10:30am. Pre-registration required for all children.
Recommended for ages 2-5. Dress for the weather and the mud! Register here.
- 18th Annual Merrimack River Eagle Festival (Newburyport, MA) – When winter returns to the lower Merrimack Valley, so do Bald Eagles and Snowy Owls and other exciting winter wildlife. This Festival, put on by Mass Audubon’s Joppa Flats Education Center & Parker River National Wildlife Refuge will be held outdoors, indoors and online, depending on the event. February 14-18. More details and full agenda.
Did I miss your favorite outdoor activity? Email it to [email protected]!
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