Don’t let the cold weather keep you on the couch this winter. Remain undaunted by the wind chill factor with a few heart-pumping sports. When the DMV is cold, it’s likely that the nearby local ski resorts are blanketed with that pretty white stuff. There are so many ways to keep adventure in your life. Here are some activities within a three hour drive of Washington D.C. offering nonstop action and family fun.
Always dreamed of being a lumberjack? The newest indoor challenge is the art of axe throwing. Located in NE DC Bad Axe Throwing has a rustic wooden target, similar to darts, but instead of skimpy little plastic, you’ll be aiming an old fashioned metal axe. Playing is typically in teams and is a great birthday party venue.
Try your hand at the Olympic sport of Curling. The Potomac Curling Club offers an open house where you can learn the basics of this dynamic sport. Kids as young as 5 can give it a try. If you’re more serious you can participate in the Learn to Curl program, which offer specialized instruction and a change to play a short game.
National Capital Curling Center in Laurel, Maryland
(there’s also Chesapeake Curling in Easton, Maryland if you want to get them out of town for the weekend)
The coldest lake in Maryland, Deep Creek has 69 miles of shoreline and is high in the Allegheny Highlands. Here, winter sticks around a lot longer than it does in the DMV. Garrett County is the home of Wisp Ski Resort with its downhill skiing, snowboarding and ice skating rink. But for an exhilarating ride through the mountains, visit the resort’s Nordic Center to try snowmobiling. If you rather have someone else drive, take a horse-drawn sleigh ride in New Germany State Park. No matter what winter sport you love, Deep Creek is the place to do it.
Deep Creek Lake in Garrett County, Maryland
Autobahn Indoor Speedway in Loudoun County has an indoor track where you can learn to race souped-up Go-Karts, after learning basic safety procedures. You can go on your own or as a group. Kids must be eight or older to race a Junior Kart, and teens must be 13 to race an adult Kart. These high-tech Go-Karts can reach speeds of 50 mph.
Fat Tire Snow Biking is the hottest new version of mountain biking, and nowhere nearby are you more likely to find the snow that makes this such a rush than at Canaan Valley in West Virginia. Blackwater Bikes will shuttle you and your rental bike up the mountain where you can shred down the North Fork Mountain Trail.
Blackwater Bikes, Davis, WV
Explore the land of the Dinosaurs twice a month at the Laurel, Maryland Dinosaur Park. The bi-monthly open houses have educators who explain the origins of fossils, bones and teeth found at the Dinosaur Park. Check out the model of Astrodon johnstoni, Maryland’s State Dinosaur. This land was home to 112-million year old dinosaurs, and although no digging is permitted, anyone who loves these ancient creatures can follow the path they walked millions of years ago.
ATV riding is a year-round sport. You don’t need snow, just lots of room to roam. Appalachian Adventure in Luray, Virginia has ATV rentals and miles of trails. Experienced guides can teach you how to drive the ATV, then when you’re comfortable, navigate on your own through hilly landscapes. If you want a quieter activity, take their guided horseback ride.
Skeet Shooting is not like playing in an arcade. You’ll feel the kickback on your shoulder as you strive to improve your reflexes and aim. A pitching machine sends a clay target flying, and you take your best shot to break it in-two. At Central Virginia Sporting Clays you’ll get personal instruction that includes gun rentals, shells and targets. Located in Palmyra, just 10 miles east of Charlottesville.
Massanutten is a four season resort, but best known for its winter skiing, tubing and snowboarding park. If you’re tired of the cold, go warm up in the indoor waterpark. There’s no place closer to Northern Virginia that provides more winter adventure than Massanutten Resort in the Shenandoah Valley.
Snow tubing tracks are not created equal. Liberty Mountain Resort has a 10 lane track where you can race your friends. They make snow all winter long so if it’s cold, they’re gonna have tubing. They also offer kiddie tubing and an arcade where you can go warm up. The full service moving carpet makes it easy to ride dozens of times.
Want to do something completely crazy? Take the Polar Plunge at Bryce Resort. In early March, the resort has an all-day festival with a pancake breakfast, pond skimming (skiing into a pond), costume parade and most invigorating of all, a plunge in the icy lake. Bryce Resort has year round skiing that’s especially geared to those learning to ski and youngsters.
Families will bond over a day in Delaplaine’s beautiful Sky Meadows State Park. The hiking trails offer a vista of farms, vineyards and the peaks of the Shenandoah Mountains. The park offers kids Discovery Backpacks with tools for self-guided nature discovery. Learn Beginning Birding or Woodland Wonders. Adults and teens can try Geocaching. Use a GPS to find collector cards featuring the Virginia Civil War history.
Freelance writer and photographer specializing in vivid, deeply reported stories about food, travel and family.