Winter days are upon us, and as the cold creeps in, many of us will be looking for ways to get out of the house. Here are a few suggestions to help you spend a wintery afternoon.

Try the ancient art of snowshoeing, which is believed to be the method by which people crossed over the Bering Strait into North America over 6000 years ago. Since then, the sport has gone through several modernizations. No longer do you strap on apparatus that looks strangely like a tennis racquet without a handle and try to walk around. Snowshoes today are made of 

lightweight aluminum and High-Density Polyethylene (HDPE) and are more aerodynamically designed than the older oval woven versions. Newer snowshoes are flexible and have sharp aluminum crampons on the underside to grip the ice or snow.

Want to give it a try? Check out these books for beginners…they are not in the Tri-County library system. Still, they are available through Marina:


Want to give it a try? Check out these books for beginners…they are not in the Tri-County library system. Still, they are available through Marina:

Snowshoeing: From Novice to Master by Prater Gene

Basic Essentials: Snowshoeing by Phil Savignano

Another outdoor winter sport that doesn’t require purchasing lift tickets is cross-country or Nordic skiing. Like snowshoeing, it can be done in any open land or park that has a snow base of about six inches. It does require a little more agility and balance than snowshoeing, but because you can glide and cover more territory, it can be more rewarding. If you are planning a trip to the mountains, it might be fun to find places that rent snowshoes and cross-country skis and give them a try. Snowshoes are made for children over about 3-4 years old (25 lbs), and some places carry children’s skis, so these are activities the whole family can enjoy.

Teaching Cross-Country Skiing by Bridget Duoos & Anne Rykken

Another way to enjoy a wintery day is to go ice skating. Cajole a few friends or family members to join you in an afternoon at the rink. If it’s been a while since you’ve laced up skates, try getting your muscle memory in shape by previewing Superguides: Ice Skating by Peter Morrissey. It is a book for kids, but sometimes it’s a good idea to look back at the basics.

There are several outdoor ice skating rinks in the greater Baltimore – Washington area that would be worth a day trip. Visit Outdoor Ice Skating for the latest information, times, locations, and costs.

Information about skating in Washington DC can also be found at Where to go ice skating outdoors in the D.C. area. The information is from last winter, but the names and places are the same, so you can find a place and then go directly to its website.

For those who just can’t imagine putting on layers of clothing, hats, mittens, and scarves and would much rather enjoy their exercise indoors, here is one way to beat the winter doldrums that won’t involve the need for hot chocolate at the end. Try out one of the indoor swimming pools in Charles County. Indoor pools are available at Donald M. Wade Aquatic Center – St. Charles High School in Waldorf, Henry E. Lackey High School in Indian Head, and North Point High School in Waldorf. For information on rec passes, hours, and prices, visit

And while you’re doing a warm-up lap, think of your friends who are out in the snow or on the rinks, and smile as you dive under the water and stretch out to touch the wall.