Snowboarding and skiing are great activities, but face it, they have barriers to entry. Lift tickets are expensive, and it takes a while to learn either activity.
But if you’re interested in having some fun on the snow, there’s one ultra-cheap way of doing it: Go sledding. Buy a sled for $10 at Target or some other retailer. Go to a hill. Walk up it. Slide down. Repeat.
If you’re a parent, sledding is a fun way to introduce young children to the goodness of sliding on the snow. It’s cheap and you don’t have to travel far. You may even be able to park your car near the hill and beat a hasty retreat when the little tot is starting to get cold, tired, or cranky.
It may take a while to find a good place to go sledding. MinnPost has created a tool that might help, though, with an online map. You can “pin” your favorite hill to the map, or browse it within your neighborhood to see what’s there.
Before you go
Here are some tips to make your sledding experience more enjoyable:
Wear some lightweight hiking boots. They will keep your feet warm better than standard shoes. You could wear some snowboard boots, but those are relatively heavy.
Take two different kinds of sleds. Sure, you can get by with just one sled, and share in within the family. But if you have two different kinds–say, a saucer and a rectangular sled–it gives your children the chance to experience how different pieces of equipment affect the sliding experience. Plus, you can avoid fights over whose turn it is to go down the hill.
Take a thermos of hot chocolate. It’s useful if you need to warm up, and can serve as a reward.
Scout the slope before you slide. Since sledding hills are usually unsupervised, you may find some makeshift jumps that may, or may not, add to the experience. Study for the easiest way to walk up the hill, or for flat spots that might slow down the descent.
Most of all, let the kids have fun, and quit when they’re ready.