As those wintry cold fronts drop down from Canada, there’s nowhere in the U.S. that feels more like winter than Boston.
Boston is by far the largest city in New England, but even in this metropolis known for Irish firefighters, historic acts of rebellion, and fried cod, there are some epic winter sports pursuits to be had right in and around the city.
“People in Boston are known to be willing to drive an hour or two for great snow in the mountains of Southern New England or really good surf on the coast,” says Ronnie Lees, owner of Northeast Surfing, a brick and mortar (and online) surf shop on the South Shore of Massachusetts. “But sometimes it’s right in the city. I’ve actually snowshoed to a point in Hull and skied down. Every big snowfall, there’s someone who glides right down the streets downtown.”
In a good year, Boston will get over 48 inches of snow. Here’s how you can take advantage of all that without going outside of I-495.
The beauty of snowshoeing? There’s not much to it. You’re just basically floating around on snow (and Boston gets plenty of that).
You can always hit up Weston Ski Track, just west of the city, which has snowmaking capabilities and 10 miles of trails, or Blue Hill, just 30 minutes outside the city.
But if you’ve got a pair of snowshoes, pretty much any park can be great after a good snowstorm. Try floating over the snow at the Esplanade or Boston Commons.
“We see people snowshoeing up here around the Middlesex Fells Reservation,” says Jay Phipps of the Ski and Sport Shack in Stoneham. “I know folks do it closer to the city as well.”
The Ski and Sport Shack rents snowshoes for $19 a day. And they let you pick them up the evening before and return them the morning after the full-day rental.
New England is known for having a much more dynamic coastline than the rest of the East Coast in terms of points, reefs and crags. Boston doesn’t really have any epic, consistent surf, but the spots around Hull are a bit more than just a novelty wave. Northeast swells do find their way into these stretches of beach and you can see the downtown skyline from the break.
You’re going to need the full gear in the winter here – hooded 5mm wetsuit, booties and gloves. But hey, if you didn’t like the cold, you wouldn’t be in Boston.
Northeast Surfing does rent boards, but it’s really basic equipment. If you keep your expectations in check, there’s something really special about surfing Boston.
Cross Country Skiing
Like snowshoeing and skiing, there are a bunch of options just outside the city. Beginners can try cross country from December to March at Leo J Martin Memorial Ski Track in Weston. They offer on-site rentals (adults $18/day or $39 for any three days), so there’s no schlepping your sticks. Lessons are also available.
But when those heavy storms dump a foot of white, skating around the Cradle of Liberty on a pair of Nordic skis is awesome. Parks that are known for sledding can have some great open terrain for cross country. And in a heavy-snow winter, you can make fresh tracks all over Bunker Hill.
This might surprise you, but you can actually link a few turns 14 miles from downtown Boston. Granted, you can’t link a lot of turns, but Blue Hills Ski area is so close you can almost smell the food trucks downtown.
Located in Canton, Blue Hill is part of the State Park system with 16 trails, night skiing and even a terrain park. It’s mostly geared toward beginners, but it’s right in the city’s backyard.
If you can drive an extra few minutes, Nashoba Valley Ski Area has lights and three triple chairs accessing 17 trails, snow tubing, terrain park and a 5-mile ski trail.
And if you’re down for urban shredding, Boston may be one of the best cities in the U.S., as shown by this photo:
Happy Snow Days!
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