Don’t Panic, It’s Just Winter

Winter recess, love it or hate it, will be here before you know it.


Sledding is only allowed in the following locations:

Black Creek Park has one designated sledding hill that is located behind the Woodside Lodge.

Ellison Park offers one designated sledding hill located off of Landing Road by the Disc Golf Course.

Mendon Ponds Park has two designated sledding hills located across from the Cavalry House Lodge on Douglas Road, and next to the East and West Lodges on Canfield Road.

Northampton Park has one sledding hill located across the street from the Ski Lodge on Hubble Road.

Powder Mills Park has one designated sledding hill located by the North and South Lodges.

Webster Park has one sledding hill located next to the Parkview Lodge, right off of Holt Road.

Sledding is NOT PERMITTED in any other areas of Monroe County Parks.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions at 585-753-PARK

For some families, presumably those that “love it”, winter recess is an opportunity to make like the Cleaver family, the idealized suburban family of the mid-20th century from the “Leave it to Beaver” show. Theodore “The Beaver” Cleaver heads out to play all day in the quiet neighborhood with his friends. He gets in a little predicament. Mrs. Cleaver is home baking cookies and preparing for Mr. Cleaver’s arrival home from work. Just as Mr. Cleaver walks through the door, a nice Campbell’s soup-based casserole is being pulled hot from the oven by his well presented wife. The discussion during their family dinner will resolve all of the issues of the day and then they’ll turn around and do it all over again the next. This is a great winter break plan for those that “love it” and can make like the Cleavers. Note that a locally sourced “scratch” meal would substitute for the casserole.

We don’t “hate it”, but the Cleaver family scenario is not happening here at our house. The first couple days with a hands off approach are great. After that we’ll start to sleep in too late, waste a good portion of the day laying around in our pj’s, and begin to get on each others nerves. By day three, boredom will have set in. We’ll need something to do or it will get ugly.

For this break, we look no further than the great outdoors! For those Rochesterians that continue to whine and gripe about the cold and snow should recognize that it comes every year and has for longer than you’ve been around. For those in the neighborhood, it’s sort of like the Highland Bowl. Don’t whine about the music or “noise”. One should expect there to be a little noise around the venue. It’s an outdoor amphitheater. It was here when you moved in; what did you expect?!

Presumably in December it will be cold and there will be snow. Let’s expect and hope for it. If global warming has totally taken over by December, please kindly skip to the last two paragraphs. Otherwise, the cold and snow works well for our family for lots of reasons. First, Cold = Free entertainment. Second, Cold + Snow = Free entertainment with options!

Provided there is snow, sledding is the way to go. Webster Park, Black Creek Park, Ellison Park, Mendon Ponds Park, Northampton Park, and Powder Mills Park all have designated sledding hills, many of which easily provide an afternoon of exhilarating rides. The Monroe County website identifies all of these locations and bans sledding in any other areas of County Parks. Of course, I would never recommend a quick trip to Highland Park for sledding on one of its many undesignated hills. The hills by the conservatory or the bowl that are littered with children and those young at heart on snowy days are clearly not for sledding. Neither is the amazing hill by the overlook in the park that might just land you way down by the Katsura tree with the right conditions. No, this location is not for sledding.

Just cold, no snow? Then ice skating is the best bet. The free outdoor option is the Lily pond on South Avenue. If you don’t have skates, grab your friends and some brooms. Broom ball is the way to go. For those that have never been to the Lily pond, this premier skating location boasts a bathroom and a heated building to change into your skates. You can even skate as late as 10 p.m. or so because there are lights! There is also another one of those darned undesignated hills (known as “Big Bertha” by the old-timers) right behind the skating area. Of course, I wouldn’t recommend sledding here. The mini “jump” that often appears about half way down when the snow allows is definitely not recommended despite the air one might get if it were legal and you could sled down it.

Not feeling quite so adventurous and want to skate? The outdoor ice rink at Manhattan Square Park and indoor rink at Genesee Valley Park offer lots of affordable skating opportunities and extra open skates during breaks.

Okay, so you or your child is allergic to the cold or global warming has set in. Then join the masses and crowd into the Strong Museum of Play, the Strasenburgh Planetarium, or the Rochester Museum and Science Center. There will be hoards of people and those that have guests from out of town will make these spots their destination as well. A solid choice if you like a crowd. (Dr. Vargas, if you’re reading this please jump to the next paragraph.) Personally, we only make these stops if we’re playing hooky from school. There are just too many people for me on school breaks and weekends.

Finally, for those that don’t have the luxury of being home with the kids and need the 9 to 5 covered while you’re at work, there are of course lots of options for you too, like the YMCA Vacation Fun Clubs. But why not think outside the box a little? Check out the Rochester Chess Center for a change. They’re in their 24th year of offering camps. It’s not just for the seasoned chess player; anyone ages 5-13 is welcome. The engaging staff offers a wonderful day of chess and more. Their counselors are incredibly experienced and kids come back because they have fun. Not only do you play chess but there are daily outings to the park for Frisbee, soccer or hiking all for just $50/day or $200/week. Become a member of the center for $95 and the cost goes down to just $35/day and $140/week. What’s not to like.

Whatever you end up doing, whether sledding, skating or chess, everyone will be ready for that Campbell’s soup casserole by the end of the day.