It may be dark and dreary more often than not nowadays, but that doesn’t mean you need to be confined to your couch and a pile of covers. We are the region of much snow, after all, and even though the white stuff is annoying for a morning commute, it provides some pretty awesome opportunities otherwise.
You can ski, snowboard, skate, or even stick to the indoors this winter – no matter what you choose, just be sure to get out there and get moving. Nobody likes the winter blues.
HITTING THE SLOPES
Ever since the summer (and new ownership), Montage Mountain (1000 Montage Mountain Rd., Scranton) has been adding new and exciting things to its repertoire, and the winter season is no different.
To start, there have been massive improvements before even venturing outside, as the lodge has been revamped.
“It’s a complete remodel, from top to bottom,” said Sarah Farrell, director of sales and marketing. “We’ve got a new guest services area, new carpeting, a brand new bar and grill, new lighting – the works.”
One of the most notable new features (simply through its size) is a custom light sculpture that was built by local artist Warren Muller, who took old chair lifts and skis and various other items to make a fixture that spans the ceiling of the lodge.
“He turned a pile of what other people would say is junk into an absolutely beautiful piece,” Farrell said.
As for the outside, there’s new LED lighting on all of the trails, and mini tubing lanes have been added to the snow tubing area that are perfect for children.
It’s double the fun as far as terrain parks go, as Montage just added a second one to the mountain. The Whistler Terrain Park is made for beginners and intermediates; it features a long mailbox, 30-foot single barrel, 25-foot flat rail, a wall ride, small rails, and much more. The Spike Terrain Park is the place to be for those who are more advanced with two rail features, butter boxes, a step gap, a double hip small half pipe, and more.
The popular adult nights from the water slide season will carry over into the cold weather, taking place on Dec. 26, Jan. 16, and Feb. 20. One night will be dedicated to tubing, another to skiing, and each will have bar specials, entertainment, and some games to be played inside.
Other events include an Ugly Christmas Sweater Night on Dec. 21 and on a polar plunge on Feb. 1 for a non-profit, the friends of Shannon McDonough, an area native who passed away at a young age of colon cancer.
Take a look at montagemountainresorts.com or facebook.com/montagemountain to check it all out.
OTHER PLACES TO SKI:
Camelback Mountain Resort: 301 Resort Dr., Tannersville, skicamelback.com.
Jack Frost Big Boulder: 1 S. Lake Dr., Lake Harmony, jfbb.com.
ICE, ICE BABY
If heights or flying down a mountain at high speed isn’t quite your thing, the perfect way to catch the winter spirit is through ice skating. The Toyota Sportsplex (38 Coal St., Wilkes-Barre), as the Coal Street Ice Rink is now known, provides ways to get out on the ice that don’t involve simply doing lap after lap at a leisurely pace – though, if that’s what you want to do, that’s perfectly fine.
“Since the arena has been opened and the Penguins have been in town, it’s reaching a much larger demographic,” said General Manager Jason Jarecki. “It’s a great activity for the winter and beyond. You can come here and sit by the fireplace, have a hot chocolate, and hang out with the family or some friends.”
“The most popular thing to do in the winter months is come in with your friends or family to the public skating sessions and have a good time,” said Jarecki. “We try to keep it affordable so that when you come here it costs about the same as going to a movie.”
Outside of the public skating sessions, there’s still plenty to partake in. There are Youth and Adult Learn to Skate lessons, as well as Youth and Adult Learn to Play sessions for those interested in learning the ropes of hockey.
“A lot of people don’t realize that you can actually come to a Penguins practice and watch our guys,” said Rob Belza, vice president of corporate sales for the local hockey team.
The Diamond City Figure Skating Club is there for those who would like to take a graceful approach to cutting the ice, and there are several other camps and clinics that go on throughout the season.
Not seen anywhere else, there’s also the Anthracite Curling Club (anthracitecurling.com), where you can learn the unique sport that involves sliding stones across the ice towards a target area.
There’s also room to party, as the Sportsplex can play host to a birthday or private and corporate events.
“It’s a community rink where people can show up and experience so many different things,” Belza said.
For a full schedule of events and sessions, visit toyotasportsplex.com.
OTHER PLACES TO SKATE:
Revolution Ice Centre: 12 Old Boston Rd., Pittston, revolutionicecentre.com.
SAY NO TO SNOW
There are many of us who simply cannot stand the bone-chilling temperatures of the season, but that doesn’t mean we need to be excluded from all the fun. There are many other activities to take a crack at while outdoor frivolity is put on hold.
BALLIN’: Who doesn’t love taking out some frustration and having a blast while doing it? There are two paintball fields locally: Gotcha Indoor Paintball (257 S. Main St., Wilkes-Barre) features three fields that include a close-combat urban field with walls and doorways and a three-man speedball field. Luzerne County Paintball (1082 Wyoming Ave., Wyoming, luzernecountypaintball.com) is new to the area and is one large field with various inflatable obstacles placed throughout.
GET ARTSY: Drinking and painting? How could a masterpiece not be produced by this approach to artistic creativity? Art n’ Vino (667 N. River St., Plains Twp.) provides such an environment, allowing groups to bring their own wine and socialize while creating a masterful work of art.
ALL ABOUT THE CLIMB: Rock climbing is a great way to keep the blood flowing as the temperatures fall. Wilkes-Barre Rock Climbing Gym (102-104 S. Main St., Wilkes-Barre) provides walls fit for beginners to those who are advanced, and it has instructors that will show anyone totally new to the sport the ropes (literally).
FULL OF DRAMA: Local theater provides several venues that stage productions of varying genres, so there’s a little something for everyone. Check out the all-children KISS Theatre Company (located inside the Wyoming Valley Mall), Music Box Players (196 Hughes St., Swoyersville, 570.283.2195 or 800.698.PLAY, musicbox.org), Theatre at the Grove (5177 Nuangola Rd., Nuangola, 570.868.8212, nuangolagrove.com), Little Theatre of Wilkes-Barre (537 North Main St., Wilkes-Barre, 570.823.1875), and The Vintage (326 Spruce St., Scranton, scrantonsvintagetheater.com) to start.