Although there's no snow on the ground yet, there's a distinctive chill in the air reminding us all that winter is here (officially starting Dec. 21). Looking for something to do? We have 30 ideas for both indoor and outdoor fun in the Hudson Valley.
1. Go ice skating at a local spot: Whether you're new to ice skating or are a hockey pro, there are plenty of indoor and outdoor rinks in the Hudson Valley where you can get your skates on. Looking for even more fun? Many venues offer lessons, rink-side treats and special events like ice skating dance parties on weekend nights. >>Find local ice skating rinks
2. Visit a cool coffee shop for a seasonal drink: If you're looking for a way to warm up, seasonal specialties like peppermint mochas and hot apple ciders can be found at local spots outside of Starbucks. With quirky decor, friendly baristas and comfy settings, there are plenty of independently owned coffeehouses right here in the Hudson Valley. >>Find a dozen cool coffee shops
3. Reach new heights while rock climbing indoors: The sky's the limit for adventurous kids and adults at The Rock Club in New Rochelle (climbrockclub.com), which features about 80 climbing stations, and The Cliffs at Valhalla (www.thecliffsclimbing.com), with more than 200 climbs. Both facilities offer open climbs and introductory classes. >>See photos from The Cliffs
4. Get a festive winter wardrobe: The winter season means lots of opportunities to attend festive events. From a day-to-evening look that you can re-accessorize for an office party to a sequined number you'll be rocking when the ball drops, we found five Hudson Valley shops where you can find the perfect party dress for every occasion. >>Find great spots for holiday shopping
5. Bring your own wine to an area restaurant: From the elegant Crabtree's Kittle House in Chappaqua to the perpetually packed Ocean House in Croton, many local restaurants allow patrons to bring their own wine. You can save big money as you pop open a bottle of that special occasion Champagne without having to worry about preparing a meal, too. >>Find BYOB restaurants
6. Watch local talent in a classic holiday show: Megan Fairchild, a 28-year-old Dobbs Ferry resident, alternates between dancing the Dewdrop and Sugar Plum fairy roles in this year's New York City Ballet production of "George Balanchine's The Nutcracker." The classic holiday show runs through Sunday, Dec. 30, at Lincoln Center in New York City. >>Read more on "The Nutcracker"
7. Laugh out loud: Top comedic talents are bringing their routines to venues beyond Levity Live this season. The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester brings George Lopez (Feb. 22) and Jim Gaffigan (March 1) to the stage; Tarrytown Music Hall has Artie Lange, pictured, on their schedule (3/23); and noted humorist David Sedaris hosts a reading at Bardavon in Poughkeepsie (April 5). >>Read more on David Sedaris at Bardavon
8. Sample one of Oprah’s favorite things: Oprah recently announced her annual list of Favorite Things, and a sweet treat from Nanuet’s Carousel Cakes, a Holiday Blue Velvet Cake, made the cut. The cake retails for $42, but can be bought from Carousel Cakes' website for a discounted price of $34 with the coupon code OPRAH through Dec. 31. Or just try one of the delectable cupcakes, pictured. >>Read what Oprah said about the blue velvet cake
9. Learn how to ski without leaving the region: You don't have to head to Vail or Vermont to hit the slopes. The Hudson Valley is home to a number of ski areas catering to a wide range of skill levels, many which offer perks like ski lessons for all ages, children's activities and more. The 3,429-foot-high Belleayre Mountain in Pine Hill, pictured, is just one of the options. >>Find more ski spots in the Hudson Valley
10. Learn how to blow glass in an introductory class: Hudson Beach Glass in Beacon is more than just a shop selling decorative bowls, jewelry and other blown glass gifts. The venue also runs a number of glassblowing classes, including intro to glassblowing and glass bead making workshops. And what better time to learn a new skill than in a new year? >>Learn more about glassblowing classes
11. View a holiday light display: There’s still plenty of time to take part in a seasonal tradition: viewing sparkling, often synchronized, holiday light displays. From the Orange County Arboretum's annual Holiday Lights in Bloom event to a Frosty Fest in Ulster Park, we found seven Hudson Valley attractions where you can experience the holiday splendor. >>Read more on holiday light displays
12. Watch a Broadway show featuring local stars (and kids): A number of Broadway and Off-Broadway plays featuring celebrities and playwrights with connections to the Hudson Valley recently debuted in Manhattan theaters. "Glengarry Glen Ross," David Mamet's Pulitzer Prize-winning play about cutthroat real estate agents, boasts two actors with Hudson Valley ties: Palisades resident Al Pacino (pictured) and Armonk native David Harbour. Child stars who've attended Elmsford's Random Farms Kids' Theater are now on Broadway, too: Emily Rosenfeld, an 8-year-old from Scarsdale, is playing Molly in "Annie" and 9-year-old Zachary Unger is in "Chaplin." >>Read more on Random Farms Kids' Theater
13. Take part in a brewery trivia quiz night: Do you want to test your knowledge of trivia while trying local beers? You're in luck. Newburgh Brewing Company holds a weekly trivia night from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. every Wednesday, with the top team winning a $50 gift card to the brewery. Captain Lawrence Brewing Company in Elmsford, pictured, also hosts a trivia night from 7 to 10 p.m. every other Thursday (next dates are Dec. 20 and Jan. 3). Prizes include kegs of beer, private tours and more. >>Check out our complete guide to Hudson Valley breweries
14. Get a pretty party makeover: Looking your best means more than just having the right outfit. Having your hair and makeup done by the professionals can give you that extra oomph to carry you through a night on the town. We found three Hudson Valley salons that specialize in party makeup and updos (although they also do cuts, colors and more). >>Read more on local salons
15. Visit Dia:Beacon museum: One of the artistic treasures of the region, Dia:Beacon offers 30 galleries of large contemporary art including colorful sculptures from John Chamberlain and massive steel monuments from Richard Serra, all housed in a 34,000-square-foot converted Nabisco box factory. Don't miss the museum's bookstore, a treasure trove for contemporary art enthusiasts. Dia:Beacon is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays through Mondays in the winter. >>See more photos from Dia:Beacon
16. Enjoy a meal near a crackling hearth: Of the limited reasons to welcome the frigid season, enjoying a meal near a cozy fire ranks right up there, especially if the fireplace in question happens to be in a comfortable restaurant where the food and drink are equally exhilarating. We found 11 Hudson Valley restaurants where you can sit near a crackling hearth while enjoying your meal. >>Read more on restaurants with fireplaces
17. Buy a gift made in the Hudson Valley: Whether you're shopping for Christmas, Valentine's Day or another special occasion, Hudson Valley artisans and shops are selling a number of items that make perfect gifts. Take for instance this travel gift set ($142.50) from Hudson Made, a year-old company founded by Billy Hovard that promotes the local artisans and farmers he loves so much. >>Find more gifts made in the Hudson Valley
18. Watch an awards season hopeful with a local connection: Golden Globe nominations were announced Dec. 13, and movies with local connections including "Life of Pi" (directed by Larchmont's Ang Lee) and "Les Miserables" (starring former Vassar student Anne Hathaway) scored nods. Palisades resident Bill Murray, pictured, received a best actor in a musical or comedy nomination for portraying Franklin D. Roosevelt in "Hyde Park on Hudson," too. Now's the perfect time to see some of these flicks before the Globes ceremony on Jan. 13 and the Academy Awards on Feb. 24. >>Learn more about "Hyde Park on Hudson"
19. Get away for the weekend at Diamond Mills: Opened in 2011, the Diamond Mills Hotel & Tavern is a 30-room luxury hotel on the picturesque Esopus Creek in Saugerties. Open nightly for dinner and for brunch on weekends, the hotel's contemporary American restaurant, the Tavern at Diamond Mills, is a dining destination. With its close proximity to antique shops and bookstores plus a relaxing environment, it's the perfect weekend getaway for those looking for some peace and quiet or romance. >>Read more about Diamond Mills
20. Meet pop culture icons in White Plains: An eclectic event called Pop Goes the Culture, whose expected special guests include "30 Rock" star Grizz Chapman, pictured, is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 19, at the White Plains Performing Arts Center. In addition to Chapman, the event is expected to include appearances by wrestler "Superfly" Jimmy Snuka; "The Magic Garden" stars Carole Demas and Paula Janis; "Slim Goodbody" himself, John Burstein; and ABC meteorologist Bill Evans. >>Read more on the event
21. Go sledding: As soon as snow is on the ground (and sticks), it's time to pull out the snow pants, boots and toboggan for a day of slipping and sliding down hills large and small. Whether you're taking the kids to Franklin D. Roosevelt Park in Yorktown Heights, Ward Pound Ridge Reservation in Cross River or a far-flung slope up in the Hudson Valley, there's plenty of fun to be had during a day in the snow. >>Read more on Ward Pound Ridge Reservation
22. Take a holiday train ride from Kingston: All aboard! Looking for some holiday fun? The Catskill Mountain Railroad's 2012 Winter Holiday Train runs at various times on Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 30. Decorated with lights and ornaments, the trains offer a fun ride with Santa on board. Rates are $6 for adults, $4 for children ages 2-11 and free for children under 2 years old with a paid adult fare. >>Read more on winter Kingston events
23. Visit the Newburgh bike shop behind “American Chopper”: Although "American Chopper," the Discovery Channel reality-TV series about a family's custom motorcycle shops, ended it's run on Dec. 11, Orange County Choppers, the Newburgh shop owned by Paul Teutul Sr., lives on. Open daily, the shop features memorabilia from the show as well as merchandise, and is worth a visit if you're a fan. Paul Teutul Jr. owns and operates Paul Jr. Designs in nearby Rock Tavern. >>Read more on the end of "American Chopper"
24. De-stress at a local spa or work up a sweat: After a hectic holiday season, the new year is a time to re-assess what's important and find some balance. And part of that mix is removing stress. A visit to a local spa, like o2Living in Cross River (www.o2living.com) or Oasis Day Spa in Dobbs Ferry (www.oasisdayspanyc.com/westchester), may be just the way to find some peace. Or if you're more likely recharge with exercise over relaxation, try a pilates class at Apogee Welness Center in White Plains or Bedford Hills (www.apogeewellness.com) or a ballet barre workout at Go Figure in Armonk or Scarsdale (www.gofigurestudio.com).
25. Watch a new TV show shot in Westchester: Kevin Bacon plays a former FBI profiler tracking a serial killer in "The Following," a new midseason Fox drama set to premiere on Monday, Jan. 21. The show shot scenes at Rockefeller Park in Mount Pleasant in October and at Womrath Bookstore and other Pondfield Road locations in Bronxville in August. We plan on watching, both to see Bacon in his first TV role, and to look for familiar locations. >>Read more on "The Following"
26. Give skateboarding a try: California may be the birthplace of skateboarding, but there are plenty of places in the Hudson Valley to shred and show your skills. While the Skate Park at Murray's in Yonkers, pictured, remains open through the winter, you might try one of two indoor spots: 2nd Nature Skate Park in Peekskill or Drop In Skatepark in Hillburn. Both offer lessons and gear for newbies and ramps, bowls and ledges that seasoned pros will love. >>Read about indoor and outdoor local skate parks
27. Visit a local winery or distillery and sample local booze: Tuthilltown, the first Whiskey distillery in New York since Prohibition, sells a variety of spirits including vodka, gin, and the well-known (and well-liked) Hudson Whiskey, pictured www.tuthilltown.com). Tours and tastings are offered at the Gardiner distillery, which also sells the product. If wine is more your style, you might try the Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery, which features ciders, fruit brandies and more. >>Read more on the Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery
28. Design your own shirt, bag or scarf: Kids ages 6 and up can express their creativity by personalizing items such as T-shirts, leggings, sweatshirts, pillows and blankets at the Groovy on Grand Design Studio in Croton-on-Hudson. With design options including silk screen, studs, paint, dye, vinyl and appliqué, a day spent designing will keep kids (and adults) entertained when the weather is cold and dreary. >>Read more on Groovy on Grand
29. Go out to eat somewhere historic: With weathered plank floors, beamed ceilings and cozy nooks, the Old '76 House, a Revolutionary War-era tavern, is something to see if you're a history buff. The Tappan venue, which serves mostly traditional American fare like Yankee pot roast, crabcakes and roast duck with black cherry Cumberland sauce, boasts four fireplaces, live music in the evenings and its popular Sunday brunch. >>See photos from the Old '76 House
30. Bounce!: Bounce! Trampoline Sports in Valley Cottage offers a way for kids and adults alike to jump, flip and twist on trampolines. Set in 25,000 square feet, there are five jumping courts and special areas for the tiniest of tots. In addition to open bounce times, the venue offers fitness classes like Bounce! Aerobics and boot camp, plus special events like slam dunk basketball and dodgeball, and more. >>See photos from a Bounce! boot camp