As winter presses on and the thought of warm summer days continues to seem like a distant memory, why not focus on some of the more unique ways to get through the colder temps? From bone-chilling dips into frozen lakes to drinks with friends in a downtown rooftop igloo, plenty of uncommon pursuits can help you enjoy the cold this year.
Also known by their French name, cabanes à sucre, sugar shacks are a winter tradition found mostly in Eastern Canada and parts of New England. Originally the places where tree sap farmers boiled down sap for maple syrup, sugar shacks have expanded their offerings through the years. Today, families and friends visit the small cabins for a traditional buffet, warm drinks, and, of course, homemade maple candies crafted on-site. If you ever find yourself in sugar shack territory, it’s certainly worth planning a day to visit with friends.
When the temperatures drop, heading to a rooftop bar isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind. But when those rooftop bars feature climate-controlled igloos, it becomes an entirely different story. In cities like Chicago, New York, and Washington, DC, bar proprietors have begun to use the allure of urban igloos to draw patrons outside. With built-in heaters, comfortable lounge chairs, and appropriately themed winter beverages, there has never been a more unique way to enjoy the winter weather atop the cityscape.
The idea is simple, if not a bit mad: find a body of water cold enough that no rational person would jump in—then jump in. While some extol the health benefits of an ice-cold dunk in the water, most participants are there for the camaraderie. Polar plunges, as they’ve come to be known, are often affiliated with charity fundraising and can be found anywhere there’s cold water. If you’re feeling brave, a quick internet search is sure to turn up a plunge happening near you.
The aurora borealis, more commonly referred to as the northern lights, is truly a sight to behold. A combination of solar winds, charged particles, and magnetospheric plasma makes for a breathtaking show of colors in the sky that must be seen to be appreciated. There are plenty of vacation options for those looking to experience the northern lights, and, typically, the farther north you go, the better your chances. Alaska, the Upper Peninsula in Michigan, and parts of Edmonton are prime locations for catching a glimpse of this ethereal phenomenon.
Pronounced “hoo-guh,” hygge is a Danish word used to describe moments of particular comfort and coziness. In short, it’s curling up with a good book and a cup of hot cocoa when the weather outside is doing its best to discourage you from leaving the house. With plenty of online and social hygge inspiration, you can go as over the top as you wish. Or simply relish the chance to let others know that your decision to sleep in on the snowy weekend is actually a time-honored Danish tradition.
Regardless of how you decide to soldier through the winter chill this year, be sure to add a few of these unique traditions to your list.