Don’t let short days and cloudy breath keep you and your active family indoors. Now is the time to make the most of those short days and long nights. Here’s how to stay active and keep spirits high until the spring thaw.
Ice, Ice, Baby
For a quintessential winter afternoon, hit the local ice rink, even if the little ones are shaky on their skates. Remember, the balance cone is not the cone of shame. Local options include SONO Ice House (300 Wilson Ave, Norwalk, which offers Friday Night Skate as well as weekend public skating on Saturdays and Sundays. Admission is $9 for adults (13+), $7 for children and seniors, and $5 for skate rental. At the Darien Ice Rink, (55 Old Kings Highway North, Darien), skate weekdays and on Sundays. Pay $7 for adults, $6 for children, $5 for seniors, and $4 for skate rental. Stamford Twin Rinks (1063 Hope Street, Stamford), allows open skating Monday through Thursday at varying times, and weekends from 12:00 – 1:30 p.m. Cost is $9 for all ages, except Friday night glow skate for $10. Skate rental is $4.50.
Rally the kids for some fresh air, competition, and social engagement on a chilly winter’s day or night. Local locations include Weed Beach (155 Nearwater Lane, Darien), where courts are kept open seven days a week until March 26. Cost is $20/hour before 5 p.m. and $25/hour after. Courts can be reserved (by Darien residents only) a week in advance online or directly at the courts. Over at Waveny Park in New Canaan, courts are open through mid-April from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. A permit and New Canaan residency are required to play. Permits vary in price from $20 to $95 per individual or $170 for a family pass. Guests may play with a permit holder for $5/hour. Permit holders can reserve a court online one week in advance
Spare yourself – and the kiddos – from the inevitable restlessness and resulting meltdowns that come when inclement weather forces the clan to hunker down close to home. Take a short drive to Norwalk and get your bowl on at Bowlmor Norwalk, (701 Connecticut Avenue, Norwalk), where there are 38 glow-in-the-dark lanes with laneside server delivery. Other highlights include the arcade and city-themed laser tag challenge. Open Monday through Thursday at 3 p.m., Friday at 2 p.m., and weekends at 11 a.m.
Climb away from winter blues at either of the following locations this season. Rock Climb Fairfield (85 Mill Plain Rd., Fairfield) has thousands of square feet of bouldering terrain, more than 100 top-rope stations, a 40-plus-foot climbing wall, training boards and fitness equipment. A one-hour beginner’s session is ideal for kids, families and first-time climbers of nearly any age or ability. Pay $50 for up to two climbers and $20 for each additional climber. Open until 10 p.m. seven days a week. At the Darien YMCA ( 2420 Post Rd, Darien) there are Family Open Hours at the rock-climbing wall on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. for kids ages 6+. An adult must accompany children under age 15, but accompanying adult does not need to purchase a pass if they are not climbing, and just needs to be in the rock wall area. Admission for YMCA members is $10 for 30 minutes and $15 for non-members.
Your little ones are sure to remember these spots from their favorite birthday parties, but a visit with mom or dad will have them so blissfully tuckered out they’ll fall fast asleep on the drive home, dreaming of bouncy houses and laser tag. My Three Sons (62 Wall Street, Norwalk) is a 22,000-square-foot facility known for birthday parties, but perfect for a snow day, too. day. Kids ages 5+ can run around the laser tag maze arena (complete with fog and heart-pounding audio), while the munchkins play in a designated area dubbed Kiddytown. Youngsters choose from four inflatable Jumpy Houses with slides and obstacles, the Balladium attraction, and The Mining Expedition. You’ll also find arcade games and thin-crust Italian pizza. Also in Norwalk is Pump It Up, (145 Main St, Norwalk), where families share quality time and get fit while bouncing, sliding, climbing and jumping on giant interactive inflatables. Family Jump Time is very Thursday night from 5:30 – 7 p.m.
En garde! A small child with a pointy sword may sound like a nightmare, but if you’re ready to take the lunge, pay a visit to the Darien Fencing Club (205 Noroton Avenue, Darien), and learn why the Olympic sport is the perfect combination of physical skill and mental strategy. There are group fencing lessons for children ages 7 to 13. The club’s core philosophy is that sports should develop good health, good character, demonstrate the power of teamwork as well as individual achievements, and be fun! Classes are on Sundays from 4:00 – 5:30 p.m.
Worried that you and your little ones aren’t getting enough exercise? Don’t sweat it. Local sports complexes have all the resources you’ll ever need to keep the whole family in shape during the cold winter months. At Chelsea Piers (1 Blachley Road, Stamford) keep the blood pumping in the “Jump and Climb Zone” that costs $16 for non-members. The “Little Athletes Zone “is $10 for non-members. MLB all-stars in the making will love the batting cages, just $2 for 12 pitches for non-members. Chelsea Piers also has a splash zone ($20 for non-members), gymnastics and parkour facilities, ice-skating and hockey, as well as open lacrosse, soccer, basketball, and volleyball. SONO Field House (365 Dr. Martin Luther Kind Jr. Drive, Norwalk) is a first-class sports and special events venue that offers indoor facilities for lacrosse, field hockey, soccer, dodge ball, baseball/softball, and football, as well as a High Ropes Challenge Course and an indoor rock climbing center.
Nothing melts hearts faster in sub-zero temps than acts of kindness. To teach your children the value of community service, volunteer. At Home in Darien (2 Renshaw Road, Darien), is non-profit that provides services for seniors so that they may live independently, comfortably and with dignity in their own homes and the community. The group needs volunteers to shovel driveways. For information, call (203) 655-2227.