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Outdoor Life: 6 Unique Heart Pumping Winter Activities

by kelly / November, 19 2014 01:30

Ice Climbing by Laurel F on Flickr

© Laurel F / Flickr

Winter is almost here in New England and while half of me wants to stay indoors all season, I know there are a ton of cold weather activities that will get me excited.   They just require a little bit more clothing, sunscreen (yes you need sunscreen even in the winter) and some hot cocoa.  Everyone knows the usual winter sports like skiing, snowboarding and ice skating - all are awesome and snowboarding is one of my favorites. But what if you want something off the beaten path? 

Below is my list of heart pumping, unique and just plain old fun winter activities in New England. So enjoy...

Polar Bear Clubs

How about taking a swim with some friends in the Atlantic in the middle of winter?  Well then you can join a Polar Bears club.  The most famous and original one is the Coney Island Polar Bear Club.  Their members swim every Sunday from November to April off Coney Island.  Swim sessions begin with jumping jacks and chanting to warm up.  Then swimmers are allowed 10 minutes in the water.  Any longer and the could catch hypothermia!  Afterward many members take hot showers or visit local steam baths.  Their most well known swim is on New Year's Day.  So if you want to try it once, The New Year's Day swim is open to non-members as well.  All proceeds from the day go to a great cause called Camp Sunshine which supports children with life threatening illnesses.


I'm not sure how to pronounce this one and it definitely goes under the unique activities on the list.  Skijoring involves strapping on cross country skis while being harnessed to either dogs, a horse or a motor vehicle.  This sport is not for the beginner cross country skier as you can imagine.  You can find more about Skijoring in New England here.

Snow Tubing or Airboarding

Both are a take on sledding.  If you want something a little more relaxing and great for the whole family, try snow tubing where you slide down a hill on a circular tube.  If you like a lot more speed, try airboarding.  In air boarding you zoom down on a purpose built triangle shaped inflatable raft.  Special grooves on the bottom of the raft that give you traction for maneuvering.  I couldn't believe t, you can actually get up to speeds of 80 MPH in air boarding!  Some locations to snow tube and air board are here.

Ice Climbing

They say it's like rock climbing but on a sheet of ice.  You also get to wear these cool shoes with metal claws and use ice picks all to dig in.  Fortunately, there are beginner to expert ice climbing options.  I found this site called that has a top 10 list of ice climbs in the northeast so check it out if you want to try your hand at climbing up a cold mountain.

Ice Sailing

I never knew this sport existed until I did research for this post.  Ice sailing is like sledding really fast across a frozen body of water on a specially designed sail boat.  Except the sail boat sits on top of three steel runner blades.  The New England Ice Yacht Association has more information on where you can go ice sailing, the latest ice reports and a calendar of events.  Will even tells me his ancestors used to ice sail on the Hudson back in the days when it froze over.

Snow Kiting

Combine snow, skis or a snowboard, a parachute and some big air and you get snow kiting.  The parachute acts like a kite in the wind to power forward the skier / boarder and you can travel both uphill and downhill depending on the wind.  Obviously this sport is for the experienced and not faint at heart.  In fact, snow kiting should take place in open spaces with lots of snow because in this sport the power of the parachute can give you great height and flight.  To me it sounds like the winter equivalent of kiteboarding except that takes place on the water.  Here are a few sites where you can find more information on snow kiting: Hardwater Kiting and Kiteboard New England.


Hope you liked my list and please let me know if there any unique winter sports I might have missed. My advice - if you decide to partake in any of these more adventurous activities, be careful!

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