Cool things to do this winter: Snowboarding, comfort food, sled hills, frozen waterfalls
Wintertime evokes scenes of scraping icy windshields, bundling up with gloves and heavy coats and snuggling up with a blanket while binge-watching television.
But it's also a time to venture outdoors and embrace the season with ice skating, sledding, snowboarding, skiing and hiking on snow-glazed trails. Or you can bypass those activities and head to a local restaurant serving up comfort food like chili or bean soup.
More:Here are the best sledding hills in the Stark County area
Here's a list of fun things to do before winter cedes to spring.
The charm of ice skating in downtown Canton
Ice skating outdoors is a rite of passage during Ohio winters. And gliding across the rink in downtown Canton next to the Stark County Courthouse is even better.
While music plays on an outdoor sound system and cars motor along Tuscarawas Street, skaters young and old can enjoy the ambience and surroundings of historic downtown buildings and decorative lights.
Hall of Fame City Ice Skating Rink is at 215 Tuscarawas St. W. The ice rink's normal hours, weather dependent, are 4 to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday; noon to 9 p.m. Saturday; and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Skates can be rented, snacks are available at the cafe indoors and beginner skating lessons are offered on some dates. Filling out a waiver online in advance will get you on the ice faster. For more details, go to https://www.facebook.com/HOFCityIceRink/.
Sled hills abound in Akron-Canton area
Sledding is a favorite wintertime ritual that survives in an age of cellphones, TikTok videos and other digitization.
Hills abound in the area, some steeper than others, some close to Canton and a few requiring a short road trip.
A 35-foot high tubing hill is also available as part of Winter Blitz activities at Hall of Fame Village in Canton on Saturdays and Sundays through Feb. 20 (President's Day).
The 108-foot long slide is inside Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium and zooms through the end zone.
General admission and tube sledding tickets are $14 in advance for 90-minute sessions; spectator tickets are $5 in advance.
For hours and to purchase tickets, go to https://www.hofvillage.com/p/events/winterblitz. Guest check-in is at the Hall of Fame Village's Center For Performance, 1901 Champions Gateway.
Visit Canton Stark County Convention & Visitors' Bureau also lists a slew of traditional sledding options in the Canton area, including:
Oak Knoll Park, 618 6th St. SW, Massillon
Petros Lake Park, 3519 Perry Drive SW
Quail Hollow Park near the Stewart Manor House, 13480 Congress Lake Ave. in the Hartville area
Veterans Park, 1714 Schneider St. NE., Plain Township
Silver Park, 2930 S Union Ave., Alliance
Wampler Park, 1818 Main Ave. W, Massillon
A sledding hill is also at Tam O’Shanter Park, 5055 Hills and Dales Road NW in Jackson Township, northwest of the clubhouse off Hills and Dales near the upper parking lot.
Prime sledding spots outside Canton include Goodyear Heights Metro Park, 2077 Newton St., Akron.
One of the best is at Cuyahoga Valley National Park at Kendall Hills on Quick Road in Peninsula, about one mile east of Akron Peninsula Road. Parking is at Pine Hollow, Crow Foot Gully, and Little Meadow parking lots. Separate areas are designated for sleds and toboggans.
A more adventurous downhill option is tobogganing at The Chalet in Mill Stream Run Reservation in Strongsville.
The twin, 700-foot refrigerated ice chutes operate with or without snow through late February, weather permitting.
Reservations ($12 to $14 per person) are required and tickets are timed. Wait times can be long and some dates are sold out in advance. All riders must be 42 inches or taller. For daily weather or operation updates, call (440)572-9990 and press option six.
The Chalet in Mill Stream Run Reservation is at 16200 Valley Parkway, located between Routes 42 and 82 in Strongsville (a short distance from both I-71 and the Ohio Turnpike).
For rates, hours, rules and to make reservations, go to https://www.clevelandmetroparks.com/parks/visit/activities/activity-types/tobogganing.
Snowboarding and skiing at Cuyahoga Valley National Park
Snowboarding and skiing make winter far more tolerable if you enjoy outdoor recreation.
Options include Boston Mills Ski Resort and Brandywine Ski Resort within Cuyahoga Valley National Park in the Akron area.
Boston Mills is at 7100 Riverview Road in Peninsula and Brandywine is at 1146 W Highland Road in Sagamore Hills Township.
For more information about the resorts, including hours and pass and lift ticket prices, go to https://www.bmbw.com/ or call 1-800-U-SKI-241; 330-467-2242 or 330-657-2334.
Snow Trails is a popular ski resort in the Mansfield area. Located at 3100 Possum Run Road, the resort can be reached at 419-774-9818. For more information, visit https://www.snowtrails.com/.
For bigger and longer hills, Seven Springs Mountain Resort, 777 Water Wheel Drive in Seven Springs, Pennsylvania, is a great option within a roughly three-hour drive from the Canton area. Options also include Peak'n Peek Resort, 1405 Old Rd, Clymer, New York, near Ohio.
Frozen waterfalls are fabulous
Hiking trails are plentiful at Stark Parks sites throughout the county, but snow-blanketed gems also await at Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
Local trails include Deer Creek Reservoir, 14514 Price St. NE in the Alliance area; Esmont Park and Trail, 194 Mill St. SE in the Canton area; Fry Family Park, 2533 Farber St. SE in the Magnolia area; Hoover Trail, accessed at the Hoover Community Recreational Complex, 1325 E. Maple St. in North Canton; Quail Hollow Park, 13480 Congress Lake Ave. near Hartville; Sippo Lake Park, 5300 Tyner St. in Perry Township; Devonshire Park and Trail, 4679 South Blvd. in Jackson Township; and the Sandy Valley Trail and Waynesburg Park Loop Trail, 262 Maple St. in Sandy Township.
More:Cross-country skiers explore winter landscape at Quail Hollow
Cross-country skiing rentals will be available with adequate snow at Quail Hollow Park. Snowshoe rental is another option. For more information and to sign up for online winter activity alerts, go to https://starkparks.com/winter/.
Residents also can explore nature at the state's highly-ranked and only national park, which is less than an hour drive from Canton. Doing so during the winter months may not be top of mind. But it's worth the trip.
Snowshoe rental is seasonally available at Boston Mill Visitor Center when snow is four inches or deeper, the national park says on its website. Before visiting, check the visitor center's operating hours. Snowshoes may be used on nearby trails.
Brandywine Falls, 8176 Brandywine Road in Sagamore Hills Township, is especially picturesque this time of year. Be careful when walking on snowy trails and navigating steps, but the hike on the Brandywine Gorge Loop is absolutely charming when pines and other trees are covered white.
More:Waterfalls await in Cuyahoga Valley National Park — Brandywine, Bridal Veil, Great Falls
Another prize is the smaller Blue Hen Falls, also nestled in the national park.
The 15-foot high waterfall can be reached on a three-mile round trip hike hike from the Boston Mill Visitor Center, 6947 Riverview Rd, Peninsula, along the rugged Buckeye Trail.
Both natural wonders are uniquely photogenic in the winter when temperatures dip low and water freezes while forming gigantic icicles.
More:Boston Store at Cuyahoga Valley National Park features Mitchell's ice cream, other goodies
A roughly 20 minute hike from Blue Hen takes you to Buttermilk Falls, although the third attraction is not marked or listed on park maps, and is not accessed from designated trails. Visitors are advised not to hike to Buttermilk Falls, which requires crossing the sensitive stream habitat and erodes the hillside.
Many people discover the remote waterfall, however, as evidenced by information available online. No wonder they do. Buttermilk is indeed a beauty, water gliding down 25 feet of dark rock and shale.
For more information about trails and sites, Cuyahoga Valley National Park can be reached at 330-657-2752.
Bean and potato soup at Kennedy's warms the soul
Soup at Kennedy's Bar-B-Que in Canton is delicious year-round. Come January, it's especially satisfying.
Bean soup, topped with a pile of the cozy restaurant's signature ham smoked on site, is a longtime tradition at the eatery at 1420 7th St. NW near the McKinley Presidential Library & Museum and Monument Park. A new addition is the potato soup, which also includes ham.
A recent sample of the soup was deeply flavorful with perfectly cooked chunks of potatoes with the skin on; it's yummy enough to compete for the best soup on the menu. Chili, the same served at Taggarts in Canton, is also available.
Smoked turkey, beef, pork, brisket or chicken sandwiches are a recommended combo with soup. Kennedy's unique relish makes the sandwiches even tastier.
Reach Ed at 330-580-8315 and firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter@ebalintREP.
This article originally appeared on The Repository: Best things to do this winter: Snowboarding, comfort food, sled hills