When winter comes calling in the Pocono Mountains, don’t feel trapped inside if skiing is not in your skill set. The area’s 2,400 square miles are home to a rich range of snowy adventures that stretch far beyond the ski slopes. From adrenaline-pumping pursuits like dog sledding and snow tubing to relaxing jaunts like ice fishing and snowshoeing, there’s plenty to keep you entertained outdoors. So even if you’re not a skier, don’t let that stop you from experiencing winter adventure in the Poconos. Here are 10 winter activities to get you started.
The easiest way for non-skiers to get on the slopes is snow tubing. It takes no skill, and thanks to magic carpets (conveyor lifts), you don’t even have to walk back up to the top of the hill. The snow tubing hills at Pocono ski areas range from steep, fast-racing chutes to gentle, family-friendly lanes. Resort and day guests at Skytop Lodge can make a reservation to enjoy an afternoon gliding over the snow. Want to ride with your whole crew? For an out-of-this-world adventure, try Galactic snow tubing at Camelback Mountain, which features America’s biggest snow tubing park with an impressive 40 plus lanes to slide down. Come at night to enjoy a ride down the illuminated runs with an LED-light display you won’t want to miss.
2. Indoor Waterparks
A winter trip to the Poconos has increasingly meant bringing along a bathing suit, as a number of indoor waterparks have made the area a hub for family fun year-round. Kalahari Resorts and Conventions are America's largest indoor waterparks, with 220,000 square feet of water slides, lazy rivers, splash parks, and flow riders, which allow you to surf or bodyboard. Other indoor waterparks in the Poconos include the Aquatopia Indoor Waterpark at Camelback Lodge (a great way to combine winter and water fun in one place), Great Wolf Lodge, and Split Rock Resort and Golf Club.
3. Cross-Country Skiing and Snowshoeing
Cross-country skiing is a great introduction to sliding sports—and an excellent way to stay fit. Choose from natural trails in the state parks or groomed trails at local lodges. Both offer trail options for beginners through experts to make this sport welcoming to all. But if you’re feeling clueless about the technique for climbing and descending on skinny skis, take a clinic first and head for the hills confident in your new skills. Another option for exploring the tranquil winter landscape is snowshoeing. Go at your own pace and amble through wintry landscapes as you enjoy sunshine and mountain views.
4. Indoor Go-Karts
You don’t need to go outside to get winter thrills in the Poconos. S&S Speedways in Stroudsburg is an indoor go-kart track that races year-round. It’s great entertainment for older kids, and the video arcade and pool tables at the facility can provide an afternoon of fun.
Defend your teammates and dodge enemy fire in a high-stakes winter paintball battle in the Pocono Mountains. Bring an army of friends along and trek through the snow at Skirmish Paintball, which offers multiple fields where you can battle it out all day long. Entry includes your paintball gun, goggles/facemask, unlimited N2 air fills, professional referees, and full-day play.
6. Ice Skating
Whether you’re sliding around the rink with your tiny tots or channeling your inner figure skater, there are plenty of places to skate. Glide on over to Skytop for a more formal skating experience with rentals available. If you have your own ice skates, head to the Promised Land, Hickory Run, Gouldsboro, and Tobyhanna state parks to skate their lakes when the weather permits.
7. All-Terrain Vehicles
Ride through a winter wonderland to views throughout the region on a Poconos UTV tour. Go far beyond where your feet could take you on miles of snow-covered trails, passing mountain streams, open fields, and sprawling pine forests with Pocono Outdoor Adventure Tours.
8. Ice Fishing
The allure of lake fishing doesn’t have to end when it gets cold; the Pocono Mountains region has thousands of acres of lakes great for ice fishing in the winter. Just be sure the ice is at least four inches thick before you venture out. Catch largemouth bass, perch, and pickerel, among others. Don’t forget, you’ll need a Pennsylvania fishing license for anyone 16 and up.
9. Sleigh Riding
One novel way to enjoy the winter landscape is horse-drawn sleigh rides in the Poconos. Get cozy under a blanket and jingle through the woods on a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the Poconos at Daisy Field Farm. You’ll glide along forested paths through fresh-fallen snow on these relaxing rides featuring stunning mountain scenery. Surprise your family at the end of the ride with a bonfire at Daisy Field Farm.
10. Indoor Fun
Want to put your brain to the test? Escape rooms are a new addition to the list of Poconos activities. Gather a group together and work to escape these rooms of various themes by following clues and solving puzzles. You have a limited amount of time to work as a team and overcome the challenging obstacles. Some options in the Poconos include Escape It, Klues Escape Room, and the Wrath of a Anubis. If you want more of a physical challenge, Pocono Rocks has a great ninja warrior course, with similar obstacles to the ones you see on TV—see if you’re up to the challenge.
Written by Jenny Willden for RootsRated Media in partnership with Pocono Mountains Visitors Bureau