What can you do over Christmas break?

The best antidote to children annoying each other (and you) into a frenzy over the holidays, in my opinion, is keeping them busy. Busy outdoors is even better, because all that fresh air will turn them into marshmellows when they hit the warmth inside, happy to zone out in front of your favorite Christmas movie or cuddled up with a book in bed.

Here are a few ideas for those who are stuck:

Hit the slopes, but bring your own sled

Go sledding, or sliding, whatever your family calls it. While “Deadman’s Hill” in Pinehurst Park is a big favorite, only go there if you’re OK with crowds and don’t mind being hurt by running into trees, fences and/or strangers. Churchhill school has a great hill that’s excellent for the younger crowd, and it doesn’t get too busy. Also, I have heard that the hill behind Barnum High School is worth the trip. Cost for any of those places: Free.

Got skates?

Cloquet’s outdoor rinks — located in Pinehurst Park, Athletic Park (on 14th and Prospect) and behind Churchhill Elementary School — are fantastic. Come on down, the ice is great! But don’t count on the warming house being open or the lights being on. Just be pleasantly surprised if they are.

For those who prefer to skate indoors, there is open skating at the Cloquet Area Recreation Center from 11:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Christmas Eve day and 3 to 5 p.m. the day after Christmas. Sunday, Jan. 2 there is an open skate from 1:45 to 3:15 p.m.

There are also free skating options in Duluth, a mere 22 miles away (or thereabouts):

Duluth Entertainment Convention Center DECC Skating Party

On Sunday, December 26th  Parks and Recreation will host a skating party at the DECC from 3:00-5:00 PM.  This event will be held in the DECC Arena. The skating party is free and open to all ages. This is a great event for families. Music will be provided by Shelly’s Mobile Music Machine. There will be free door prizes and cookies for kids. Please bring your own skates.

Bayfront Park Outdoor Skating

Located in the heart of Duluth adjacent to Bentleyville Tour of Lights is the Bayfront Park outdoor skating rink. Bayfront Park skating hours are 5:00-9:00 PM until Decemeber 26th. During the holiday break Bayfront will be open December 27-31 from 1:00-8:00 PM and closed on January 1st.  On January 2nd Bayfront will be open weekly Monday-Friday 4:00-8:00 PM, Saturday 1:00-8:00 PM and Sunday 1:00-5:00 PM.

Heritage Sports Center Indoor Skating

Duluth Parks and Recreation is also offering a free holiday break skating session at the Heritage Sports Center on Friday, December 31st from 1:30-3:00 PM.  Skating is free and open to all ages for pleasure skating. Please bring your own skates. The Heritage Center is located at 120 South 30th Avenue West.

For a complete winter skating schedule, please visit the City of Duluth Parks and Recreation web site at www.duluthmn.gov/parks

Go skiing on the cheap:

Cross country ski for free at Cloquet’s very own beautiful Pine Valley, provided you have the proper equipment. The trails are groomed and it’s a winter wonderland out there.

For those who want the thrill of downhill but lack the cash, check out Chester Bowl in Duluth. You have to bring your own equipment, however, they do not rent out equipment on a daily basis (just to season pass holders).

Regular ski lift operations are open Mondays, Thursday, and Fridays from 4:30-8:30 PM and Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 AM-4:30 PM.  Closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

During the school holiday vacation, beginning Thursday, December 23 though Sunday, January 2, the ski lift will then be open daily from 11:00-4:30 PM except December 24, 25 and Januaary 1st. The ski hill be closed on those dates.

The daily lift ticket rate for all ages is only $5.25 per day.  Individual season lift ticket is $106.62 ($50 refund with 3 volunteer hours) and a family lift ticket is $165.59 ($75 refund with 6 hours of volunteer hours). Besides being very affordable, Chester Bowl is a great place to learn how to downhill ski for people of all ages.  Alpine ski lessons will take place during the holiday break.

Cheter Bowl is located in the heart of Duluth at 1800 East Skyline Parkway.

For more information go www.chesterbowl.org or call Thom Storm at 724-9832.

Drive around and check out the lights, there a  number of homes in the Cloquet area that could certainly compete in any Griswald lighting competition …


There is a talented man somewhere around Sawyer, they say, who has set his lights to music and folks can pull in his driveway, tune their radios to the correct spot on the dial and prepare to be wowed. I haven’t talked to him, though, so I don’t know if the show goes on during Christmas or what.

In Duluth, Bentleyville is in full swing and Marcia Hales House on Park Point is dazzling (and less crowded), plus you can walk back to the lakeshore then come in and warm up in her new garden house. Both displays are free and great fun for the whole family.

And just in case you missed going to Bentleyville before Christmas …

Celebrate New Year’s Eve at Bentleyville

Bentleyville Tour of Lights will re-open after Christmas for one night only on Friday, Dec. 31, 2010.  This special night will allow families to celebrate the New Year from 3-10 p.m.  at Bayfront Park.

Gather the kids, head down to Bentleyville Tour of Lights and enjoy the last day of the year experiencing fun activities such as holiday skating with music and games, bonfires, roasting marshmallows, smores, hot chocolate and a final tour of the 2010 lighting display.

This fun-filled day will include a spectacular fireworks display scheduled to start at 6 p.m. Admission is free. For more Bentleyville New Years Eve information go to www.bentleyvilleusa.org

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