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New York Nature

Sunlight sparkling on snow. Mountain peaks covered in white. Ice formations that cast a bluish light. The crunch of boots on packed snow in a quiet forest. Branches, heavily laden with fresh snowfall.

Want to experience this New York wintertime beauty firsthand? Step outside! And if you dress warmly, spending the day on the slopes or on a nature walk with camera or binoculars is fun, and good exercise too.

New York offers plenty of cross-country skiing, hiking, sledding, tubing and ice skating choices. In Montgomery, you’ll find groomed tubing lanes with a rope tow. You can ice skate at Rockefeller Center, at Lake Placid Olympic Center, and at lesser-known rinks and ponds all over the state; many offer skate rentals. Snowmobile trails are best traveled with a buddy for safety, or join a club for even more fun.

Skiers already know about the high peaks at Lake Placid, Hunter Mountain, Peek’n Peak and other popular slopes. You may want to try a boutique resort like the Capital region’s Lapland Lake Center, which puts a Nordic spin on your snow experience. Snowshoeing at High Falls Gorge in the Adirondacks is especially breathtaking, or go ice fishing on Raquette Lake.

Sometimes it’s nice to appreciate nature without braving the cold and snow. Visit the American Museum of Natural History or The Museum of the Earth in Ithaca. On blustery Sundays, Light in Winter at Brooklyn Botanic Gardens is beautiful and at Buffalo Botanical Gardens, the three glass domes and nine greenhouses offer more natural beauty than you can absorb in just one visit.

Bird walks in the Bronx. Aquariums in Riverhead and Cold Spring Harbor. Strolling through Central Park on a snowy afternoon. These winter pleasures, among countless others, await you in New York City and on Long Island. Upstate bird watchers may easily spy bald eagles and other birds in their natural habitats, notably at Montezuma, Iroquois and Mongaup preserves.

The Trevor Zoo is home to over 180 animals, many indigenous to New York, and you can rent snowshoes at The Utica Zoo to visit with the animals. At Hidden Valley Adventure, have dinner and a horse-drawn sleigh ride. For something different, visit an alpaca farm in the Thousand Islands!

At the annual Ice Harvest Festival at Hanford Mills Museum, take a horse drawn sleigh ride, then gain a hands-on appreciation for how ice once was cut, then stored until used to make ice cream. Come back in the summertime to taste the delicious fruits of your labor . . . when snow and cold weather are just a sweet memory.

NEW YORK CITY (NYC)

American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West at 79th Street
New York, NY 10024-5192
Renowned worldwide for exhibitions, scientific collections; founded in 1869; panorama of global cultures

Brooklyn Botanic Garden
Light in Winter (Annual, Sundays through February)
150 Eastern Parkway
990 Washington Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11225
A calm, beautiful sanctuary; Sunday bird walks, seasonal garden tours, yoga, children’s workshops & festival of worldwide winter customs; free weekday admission

Van Cortland Nature Center, Broadway
Van Cortland Park South, between Broadway & Jerome Avenue
Bronx, NY 10463
Saturday morning bird walks; ice skating rinks; hiking trails

LONG ISLAND (LI)

Cold Spring Harbor Fish Hatchery and Aquarium
1660 Route 25A
Cold Spring Harbor, NY 11724
Largest living collection of NYS freshwater reptiles, fishes & amphibians; learn about ecosystems

Bay Park, East Rockaway
87 First Avenue
East Rockaway, NY 11518
Cross-country trails; 96-acre park bordering Hewlett Bay & East Rockaway Channel

Long Island Aquarium & Exhibition Center
431 East Main Street
Riverhead, NY 11901
Exhibits bring undersea wonders to life; Parents Magazine’s “Top 10 Aquarium for Kids”

HUDSON VALLEY (HV)

Cross-country skiing – Columbia County
Nearly 30 locations
Rail Trails, State Parks & historic sites; many choices for beautiful cross-country skiing

Trevor Zoo 
Millbrook School
131 Millbrook School Road
Millbrook, NY 12545
180+ exotic & indigenous animals; home to 7 endangered species; America’s only zoo located at a high school

Thomas Bull Memorial Park
211 State Route 416
Montgomery, NY 12549
Groomed lanes for snow tubing with rope tow; stadium lights for evenings; lodge with restaurant, bar, fireplace; nearby cross-country skiing, sledding & ice skating too!

THE CATSKILLS (CT)

Hunter Mountain
64 Klein Avenue
Hunter, NY 12442
Premier winter resort; impressive 1600’ vertical drop; three separate mountains to ski; some of the most reliable snow conditions in the East!

Ice Harvest Festival at Hanford Mills Museum (first Saturday in February)
51 County Highway 12
East Meredith, NY 13757
Help cut & store ice using period tools; horse drawn sleigh rides; hot soup buffet

Mongaup Valley Wildlife Management Area
831 Forestburgh Road
County Route 43
Glen Spey, NY 12737
Forests, reservoirs & river habitats where majestic bald eagles nest & overwinter

CAPITAL-SARATOGA (CS)

Lapland Lake Nordic Vacation Center
139 Lapland Lake Road
Northville, NY 12134
Cross-country skiing with a touch of Finland; superb trails; lodging in tupas (housekeeping cottages)

Snowmobile Trails
Locations in several Capital-Saratoga region counties
Training/Certification Classes; join clubs for fun & recreation on miles of maintained trails

Willard Mountain Ski Center
77 Intervale Road
Greenwich, NY 12834
All the fun & excitement of alpine skiing, snowboarding, tubing – just a short drive from Saratoga Springs

THE ADIRONDACKS (AD)

High Falls Gorge
Route 86
Wilmington, NY 12997
Spectacular winter nature walk with 700 feet of frozen waterfalls, ice formations, snowshoe center

Lake George Land Conservancy (LGLC) 
4905 Lake Shore Drive
Bolton Landing, NY 12814
Winter adventures & programs, all levels; cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, wildlife tracking, more

Raquette Lake
State Route 28
Raquette Lake, NY 13436
Birthplace of Adirondack Great Camps; snowshoeing, ice fishing, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling

THOUSAND ISLANDS-SEAWAY (TI)

Home Again Alpaca Farm
37098 Schell Road
Theresa, NY 13691-2226
Slow drive-by viewing or appointments for farm tour to meet alpacas; 50-acre farm with gift shop; on Seaway Wine Trail

Snowmobile Trails
More than 500 miles of snowmobile trails; the heart of the system is between South Colton & Cranberry Lake; Massena trails are in Brasher State Forest

The Great Eastern Whiteout (February)
609 W. Broadway
Fulton, NY 13069
Largest antique snowmobile show in the East; show, swap-meet, ice drags & racingCENTRAL-LEATHERSTOCKING (CL)

Rogers Environment Education Center
2721 West State Highway 80
Sherburne, NY 13460
Annual Winter Living Celebration (January) features fun outdoor activities & demos; trails & visitor center open year-round

The Utica Zoo
One Utica Zoo Way
Utica, NY 13501
Rent snowshoes to see 200+ animals; daily California Sea Lion feedings, much more! 

Whaupaunaucau State Forest & Jeffrey’s Pond
Post Road
Norwich, NY 13815
13-miles of cross-country & hiking trails through natural forests & plantations; wildlife sightings are common

FINGER LAKES (FL)

Let It Snow in Cortland 
Four ski areas (Song Mountain, Toggenburg, Labrador, Greek Peek) within 20-mile Cortland County radius
Downhill skiing, snowshoeing, cross-country, snowboarding

Montezuma Audubon Center
2295 State Route 89 North
Savannah, NY 13146
Explore Montezuma Wetlands Complex; owl prowl; cross-country skiing; hot cocoa & snowshoeing; birding van tours, more

Paleontological Research Institution (PRI) and its Museum of the Earth
1259 Trumansburg Road
Ithaca, NY 14850
4.5 billion years of earth history; natural history displays, interactive science features, art exhibits, lecture series, more

GREATER NIAGARA (GN)

Buffalo Botanical Gardens
2655 South Park Avenue
Buffalo, NY 14218
Indoor nature exploration, plant-themed exhibits; Amaryllis & Cymbidium Show (January-February) and other special events

Hidden Valley Animal Adventure
Winter Horse Drawn Tours (December – February)
2887 Royce Road
Varysburg, NY 14167
Rustic sleigh rides with dinner packages; over 30 different species of animals

Iroquois National Wildlife Refuge 
1101 Casey Road
Alabama, NY 14013
Four nature trails for walking; four vehicle overlooks; nesting bald eagles; open for hunting & fishing

CHAUTAUQUA-ALLEGHENY (CA)

Jamestown Audubon Center & Sanctuary
Snowflake Festival (First Saturday in February)
1600 Riverside Road
Jamestown, NY 14701
Open year-round; 5 ½ miles of trails, nature center, exhibits; Festival features sleigh rides, food, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, more fun!

Martz Observatory
Sky Observation Nights
176 Robin Hill Road
Frewsburg, NY 14738
Public nights, membership; learn more about nature’s planetary phenomena

Peek’n Peak Resort & Spa
1405 Olde Road
Findley Lake, NY 14736
27 groomed slopes & trails; eight chairlifts; snowboarding, tubing, access to snowmobile trails; lodging, dining, full-service spa

 

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