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7 Ways to Chill Out (Literally!) in Ames
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7 Ways to Chill Out (Literally!) in Ames

Head outside and stay active this winter! Whether or not there is actually snow on the ground, there are plenty of winter activities to keep you busy. Bundle up and get out there!

1. Ice Skating

If you enjoy ice skating and being outside in the winter, you have two options to grab your skates and get some exercise! A rink geared for hockey players is located in North River Valley Park near Cottonwood Shelter and maintained by the Ames Minor Hockey Association. A second rink is open in the Homewood Golf Course parking lot for the recreational skater. Plan to bring your own skates to both of these locations! 

2. Seven Oaks Recreation

Skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing at Seven Oaks in Boone, Iowa makes for great family or group activities for all ages. Seven Oaks consists of 11 runs varying from beginner to expert, a terrain park, rail yard, beginner area and snow tubing park. If you need some lessons, have no fear as you can get a free mini ski or snowboard lesson before hitting the slopes.

Every Wednesday and Thursday from 4-9 p.m. there are $10 lift tickets and $20 rentals... that’s a tough deal to beat! You may also want to take advantage of “Late Night at Seven Oaks” on January 28 and February 25. From 8 p.m. to midnight you will enjoy a fun-filled night with music, bonfire, pizza, drinks and more for a discounted price! 

3. Snowshoeing

Learn some basic snowshoeing skills and then test them out on a fun hike! The hike will be on Saturday, February 4 at McFarland Park and include activities to help participants practice snowshoeing.

January 20th of each year is Penguin Awareness Day! Walk like a penguin as you explore McFarland Park and celebrate these quirky flightless birds. No experience is necessary to waddle and sway as snowshoes help conquer the snow. Learn about penguins from around the world and what makes them so extraordinary.

Lastly, let luminaries light your way around McFarland Lake on a special snowshoe hike. End the experience with a sweet treat and hot cocoa. Participants will register for a specific start time for this self-guided, one-mile snowshoe hike. These programs are dependent on snow conditions, so keep checking for updates!

The Iowa Arboretum in Madrid also offers an opportunity to learn some history of snowshoeing and basic hiking skills. From 1-3 p.m. on January 22, you can enjoy a hike on rolling trails and beautiful winter vistas with hot chocolate afterwards. 

4. Story County Conservation and the Outdoor Alliance of Story County Hikes

Get out of the house with other outdoor enthusiasts and get some exercise! Story County Conservation and the Outdoor Alliance of Story County lead the hikes Thursdays through February and the locations rotate. They are geared toward those with a passion for the outdoors looking to explore local public areas during the wintry months. The hikes may vary from good exercise to a social stroll, and will end with snacks and beverages brought by the participants. 

5. Reiman Free Admission Days

On the second Wednesday of every month, all guests may visit Reiman Gardens free of charge. On Wednesday, February 8, head to the gardens to see both indoor and outdoor beauty! 

6. Cross Country Skiing

Once the ground is snow-covered, check out JAX Outdoor Gear for all your winter rental needs. They offer everything from snowshoes, cross country skis and accessories, and gaiters. The Iowa State Cross Country Course is an ideal place to burn off some of that pent-up energy while getting active and having fun! Rental equipment is available on demand or can be reserved in advance. 

7. Cyclone Hockey

Although technically indoors, the Cyclone Hockey team offers plenty of opportunities to catch this “winter sport” in action! Friday and Saturday evenings through March, the players take the ice at the Ames/ISU Ice Arena with a competitive Division 1 schedule. Cyclone Hockey also offers discounts on group rates for groups of 10 or more fans. 

These are just a few events and activities that will fill your winter days with fun. For a full list of things to DO, EAT, and SHOP in Ames and the surrounding community, check out our event calendar at

Leave a Comment

  1. Travel Iowa Team
    Travel Iowa Team
    What a wonderful winter list! Thanks for contributing to the Travel Iowa blog!
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