Enjoying a Winter Wonderland: Tips & Trips
November 28, 2012

Over the years, I have come to realize that the key to enjoying the outdoors, especially in winter, is the right clothing and gear. This may seem obvious, but some of us, sometimes, take shortcuts or rush when getting ready for a day out in the cold. For adults, being cold is usually tolerable, if uncomfortable.  For kids, who may not realize when they are too cold, it can be not only miserable, but dangerous too. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on special fabrics or gear, either. You just need to dress them (and yourself) wisely.

Usually, one bad day will convince you to plan better. Don’t risk it though! To truly enjoy winter and all its wonders, here are some tips to go by:

• Don’t overdress your children for winter. When active, people generate heat quickly. Kids will start shedding clothes and then will get cold. It’s a vicious cycle. Dress in layers instead and remove a layer as necessary.

• One-piece snowsuits work best for younger children. Older children should practice the same layering system as adults.

• Balaclavas are great winter hats for kids because they cover both head and neck, leaving just an opening for the face.

• Keep toes warm—invest in a pair of wool or fleece socks. Liners are a good idea, too.

• Mittens keep small hands warmer than gloves, so unless children need to use their fingers, mittens are best in winter.

• Remember sunglasses when out on the snow.

For a further suggestions and tips, see Heather Stephenson’s “Kids Clothing Checklist.”

Once everyone’s all bundled up, head outside! Check out some of my family’s favorite winter spots:

Arnold Arboretum
We love the Arboretum in all seasons, but in winter after a snowfall, it is magical. There are numerous hills to sled down and snowshoeing through the park is a delight. Cross-country skiers also flock here.

Jamaica Pond
A mile-and-a-half around, this 68-acre pond is a “kettle hole” (a shallow body of water formed by retreating glaciers), and is a popular spot for families all year. Once snow falls, you can traipse along the easy path in snowshoes or boots. The “Bowl,” next to the pond, is a safe and fun place to sled.

Blue Hills Reservation
You can cross-country ski on trails throughout the reservation when there is sufficient snow cover. A free cross-country ski routes brochure is available at the reservation headquarters, located at 695 Hillside Street in Milton. You can also go downhill skiing at the William F. Rogers Ski Slopes on Great Blue Hill.

Borderland State Park
This 1,800-acre property has more than 20 miles of trails, six ponds, and a historic property to explore. In winter, you can sometimes ice skate on the ponds (call ahead to check conditions) and sled behind the mansion.

Great Brook Farm State Park
The Great Brook Ski Touring Center at this park provides over 10 miles of machine-groomed trails for cross-country skiing from December 1 to March 20, conditions permitting. The trails include all levels of difficulty; some trails are perfect for beginners. You can rent also everything you need on-site.

Do you have any winter tips to share? We'd love to hear them!

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