Start the New Year off with healthy family fun

2014-01-02T07:45:00Z Start the New Year off with healthy family funAshley Boyer Times Correspondent
January 02, 2014 7:45 am  • 

This year resolve to have more fun and spend more family time together, all while staying healthy, with these winter activities in Northwest Indiana.

Ice Plaza at Deep River Waterpark

Each year Deep River Waterpark freezes over and transforms into a winter wonderland featuring a 14,500-square-foot ice plaza where families can skate the day away.

“The Deep River Skating Plaza is designed to provide the finest in family and group winter activities in Northwest Indiana at an affordable price,” Superintendent of Business Development Jim Basala said. “With a groomed surface, heated food service and rental facilities Deep River is always geared to family skating no matter what the age.”

The skating plaza features food and beverage locations, a birthday party room, the U.S. 30 Surf Shop and heated bathrooms. The rink opened for the season on Nov. 29 and remains open through Feb. 23, weather permitting. Families can skate Thursday through Sunday (see sidebar for hours).

Winter Wonderland at Wolf Lake

For the 13th year, the Association for the Wolf Lake Initiative (AWLI) sponsors the annual bi-state Winter Wonderland festival. A non-profit organization, the AWLI seeks to protect and enhance the Wolf Lake watershed and this festival helps spread the word about the wonders of the area, Executive Director of AWLI Michael L. Boos explains.

“This festival, free to the public, seeks to showcase Wolf Lake and demonstrate to young and old alike the many ways they can enjoy the lake throughout the year,” Boos said.

The festival is held in two locations, at the Environmental Center in Hammond and William Powers State Fish & Wildlife Area in Chicago. Both locations feature exhibits and displays, seminars, tours and winter sports. The Hammond location features cross-country skiing, skating and a hike, while the Chicago location offers cross-country skiing, skating and ice hockey.

Outdoor Fun at Lake County Parks

From sledding and hiking to cross-country skiing, outdoor activities abound at Lake County Parks.

As a member of the Chicago Wilderness consortium of “Leave No Child Inside,” Lake County Parks is part of an alliance comprised of more than 200 public and private groups working together to offer outdoor programs for children year round.

“We know that just being outdoors in nature contributes to early learning as well as emotional and physical development in children, and it's not bad for adults either,” Superintendent of Visitor Services at Lake County Parks Sandra L. Basala, Ph.D. explained. “Our goal is to promote health through outdoor play and exploration, no matter what age or what season.”

Families can enjoy a brisk winter walk at the many trails of Lake County Parks, hit the sledding hills at Oak Ridge Prairie or Lemon Lake County Parks or strap on some skis at Oak Ridge Prairie, Stoney Run or Lemon Lake County Parks, weather permitting. Rental staff can help families get fitted for boots, skis and poles and offer hints on getting started. Cross-country skiing is great for all ages, easy to pick up and fun to do as a family.

“If you can walk, you can pretty much cross country ski. The more you do it, the better you become,” Basala said. “We often see multi-generational groups of beginners trying it out.”

Families should call after 9 a.m. to see if the hills are open for sledding or if there is enough snow for cross-country skiing. See sidebar for park locations or visit for a complete list.

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