Because Philadelphia is in the top six metropolitan areas in the U.S., you might think that the great outdoors are out of reach. The truth is that there are lots of fun winter activities and fun things to do outside. Whether you’re looking for outdoor activities for kids, fun activities for adults, or just a few fun things to do when you’re bored in the winter, here’s what you need to know about day trips around Philadelphia!
Skiing Near Philadelphia
Spring Mountain is a quick ride from the heart of Philadelphia and is open year-round for family fun. Outdoor winter activities include skiing and snowboarding, and the Woodside Lodge has a warm and cozy pub and restaurant to grab a bite and warm up. If it’s too cold outside, year-round activities include ziplining, canopy tours, geocaching, rock wall climbing, and downhill mountain biking.
If you’re planning your ski or snowboard trip, there’s no need to worry about snow or equipment. Spring Mountain keeps its slopes snowy and has a full range of skiing and snowboarding equipment for rent—even boots and helmets. You don’t need to know how to ski or snowboard, either! Lessons are provided and tailored to your abilities. If you’ve never tried either, Spring Mountain will get you hooked!
Sleigh Rides in PA
Northern Star Farms, located just 11 miles north of Valley Forge National Historic Park, is one of the only places to experience an authentic, 19th-century sleigh ride experience. Bring a date, your family, or group of up to 12 people and get ready to enjoy the full horse-drawn sleigh experience—driver in top hat and cape included! The sleighing season typically extends from January through March, and gift cards are available, making it a perfect gifting opportunity! Conditions need to be cold and snowy enough, especially for large groups, so be sure to check in before heading out for the day.
Authentic Valley Forge Experience
The winter encampment of the Continental Army at Valley Forge is a story most locals have heard, but how many have experienced the camp as the soldiers did during the winter of 1777-1778? If you’ve never visited Valley Forge Park or have limited your excursions to the warmer months, now is the time to go. Take a look at reconstructed huts that are just like the original ones the soldiers endured the winter in. And, if you visit on the weekend, you can take a tour of Washington’s encampment headquarters. For a completely unique experience, cross-country skiers are welcome to glide through the 3500 acres!
Red Buffalo Ranch
Get a unique look at the beautiful Evansburg State Park with guided trail rides from Red Buffalo Ranch. If you’ve never tried horseback riding, Red Buffalo Ranch works hard to make the experience enjoyable for visitors of all experience levels. The guides have seen it all, and the horses are well-trained to provide one- or two-hour rides, or longer as reserved. Riders must be at least seven years old and under 250 pounds, and winter hours extend from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on weekdays; 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on the weekends. Tip: Credit cards are not accepted, so be sure to bring cash or check!
Green Lane Park
Located in northwestern Montgomery County, Green Lake Park is perfect for families, couples, groups, or even a solo stroll. More than 25 miles of trails are available for hiking, biking, and horseback riding, and cross-country skiing, ice fishing, and ice skating are all available. If the weather is warm enough, two playgrounds are also available for kids. The park opens at 6:00 a.m. and closes at sunset every day. Pack a picnic (no icepacks necessary!) and enjoy the great outdoors.
Elmwood Park Zoo
The Elmwood Park Zoo, conveniently located in Norristown, PA, is home to a variety of animals, from amphibians and birds to mammals and reptiles. Many of them are cozied up indoors for the winter, but some—like the giant American bison—are right at home in the snow and cold. When visiting in the winter, you’ll get a good look at their thick, shaggy coats that keep them warm all season long. The zoo hosts a number of events throughout the cold months, including their Wild Lights exhibit through January 5th, Day Camps for days that schools are closed, and more.
Blue Cross RiverRink
You don’t have to leave the city to enjoy outdoor activities in Philadelphia. The Blue Cross RiverRink is free and open to the public every day—including holidays—and a host of activities to keep you warm. Along with the world-class skating rink, visitors can enjoy an outdoor seating area with cozy fire pits, freshly decorated warming cabins, a sweet treat from the Franklin Fountain Confectionery Cabin, and a bite to eat from Garces or Chickie’s & Pete’s. The littlest visitors can enjoy the kid-friendly Children’s Lodge and arcade; grownup guests can warm up with a drink at the chalet-inspired Lodge.
Montgomery County Recreation All Year Long
Living in or near the big city doesn’t have to mean missing out on the great outdoors all winter long. Whether you enjoy sports and activities such as skiing and snowboarding, or you’re more the cuddle-up-to-the-campfire type, there are plenty of places to visit in PA and easy day trips from Philadelphia to keep you busy until the spring arrives.