Best Winter Activities Near Pittsburgh

Looking to try a new activity this winter? Check out my list of best winter activities near Pittsburgh!

lake surrounded by snow covered trees
Kooser State Park looking beautiful in the snow

Winter is ROUGH in Pittsburgh and sometimes the cabin fever really starts to set in! I love to get outside as much as possible all year round so I don’t go stir crazy. Here are some of my recommendations for staying outside even during the long winters! (And if you really can’t face the thought of being outside in freezing temperatures, I have a list of “outdoorsy” indoor activities at the end of the post!)

Read on for the best winter activities near Pittsburgh!

Table of Contents
Ski in the Laurel Highlands
Rent a Cabin in a State Park
Go for a Hike
Go Tubing at Boyce Park
Go Sledding
Go Ice Skating
Do a Sauna & Cold Plunge
Indoor Activities that Feel Outdoorsy

Note: Winter conditions can be dangerous. Please make sure that you dress appropriately, including proper footwear, and keep an eye on changing weather conditions. Always pack the 10 essentials for every activity!

As always, follow the principles of leave no trace when you're out exploring! Pack out all trash, leave wildlife alone, and generally leave it better than you found it - for more information visit the Leave No Trace Center.

Ski in the Laurel Highlands

The Laurel Highlands, a little over an hour outside of Pittsburgh, have great skiing options whether you’re into shredding the slopes or grinding it out through the woods!

Downhill

There are multiple ski mountains to choose from in the Laurel Highlands. Seven Springs is the largest, with 33 slopes and 285 skiable areas. Hidden Valley has 26 slopes and 110 skiable areas. Nemacolin also offers skiing in the winter at a much smaller scale – with only six slopes. Laurel Mountain State Park is a park that is just a ski mountain (and boasts the steepest slope in the state!) If you’re just getting started, all four mountains offer ski lessons. There are tons of options for skiers of all levels – including those who would rather just hang out at the lodge!

Cross Country Skiing

Cross country skiing is an amazing way to get outside if you’re too risk averse for downhill (like me!). There are multiple places in the area to cross country ski, but the Laurel Ridge XC ski center is my favorite and the best place for beginners.

If you don’t have your own equipment, rentals at Laurel Ridge cost $20 (for the 2023-2024 ski season). Permits are also required. Daily permits cost $15, however, the park offers two options for frequent skiers. A season pass is $175 for unlimited visits during the season. Early season options (to be purchased in November) cost $125 for unlimited or $75 for a pack of six passes (saves $15!).

If you want to try cross country skiing this winter, check out my guide to Cross Country Skiing in the Laurel Highlands!

Cross Country Skiing in Laurel Ridge State Park

For more detailed information about downhill and cross county skiing in the Laurel Highlands, check out the GoLaurelHighlands website.

Rent a Cabin at A State Park

Renting a cabin at a state park is one of my favorite activities all year around. Some parks close some of their lodging in the winter but a handful allow rentals all year! Prices are actually better in the off season so if you’re adventuring on a budget, this would be a great time to try it out.

The following State Parks have rental cabins near Pittsburgh (please check with each individual park for availability/seasonality of lodging before planning your trip!):

  • Raccoon Creek State Park (35 min from PGH – modern cabins)
  • Moraine State Park (40 min from PGH – modern cabins)
  • Keystone State Park (1 hr from PGH – camping cottages, modern cabins, & yurts)
  • Kooser State Park (1 hr from PGH – modern cabins & rustic cabins)
  • Linn Run State Park (1 hr 5 min from PGH – modern cabins & rustic cabins
  • Laurel Hill State Park (1 hr 5 min from PGH – camping cottages)
  • Ohiopyle State Park (1 hr 15 min from PGH – camping cottages & yurts)
  • Ryerson Station State Park (1 hr 15 min from PGH – camping cottages & deluxe cottages)

All lodging can be reserved through the PA Reserve America site.

For more information about all of the state parks near Pittsburgh, check out my guide to the state parks near Pittsburgh here!

Go for a Hike

Of course I am going to recommend my favorite activity in the winter! I love winter hiking. Even though it comes with its own set of challenges, it also comes with some great benefits. There are fewer crowds and zero bugs! Hikes with views are great in the winter because the views are more visible without leaves on the trees.

Some of my favorite winter hikes near Pittsburgh and their locations:

dog in jacket with snow on his face
Tom enjoying a winter day at Hartwood Acres

I have definitely made some mistakes picking hikes in the winter, so make sure to do your research and have the proper gear. Start with a short hike to test that your clothing and gear can withstand the winter conditions before tackling something more challenging!

Go Tubing at Boyce Park

Boyce Park, part of the Allegheny County Parks system, offers snow tubing in the winter! Tubing is one of my favorite winter activities – I’ve loved it since I first tried it in the Pocono Mountains when I was ten! Unlike your local sledding hill, Boyce has concessions and indoor restrooms

Prices differ for residents and non-residents, but are pretty reasonable (resident ticket cost for 2023-2024 season is $17, non-residents are $21). Tickets can be purchased online in advance of your visit.

For more information about tubing at Boyce, visit the Allegheny Park website here. (Seven Springs also offers tubing if you want to travel further).

Go Sledding

I used to go sledding all the time as a kid. There’s something so freeing about speeding down a hill on a snow day that fills me with joy even as an adult.

Below are some of the best places to sled near Pittsburgh:

  • The hill near Blue Slide Park (Frick Park)
  • Flagstaff Hill (Schenley Park – across from the Phipps Conservatory)
  • Observatory Hill (across from the Observatory in Riverview Park)

If you don’t like sledding, watching the shenanigans on these hills after a fresh snow is also worth a trip to the hill!

Go Ice Skating

In college, I was on a sports team that practiced really early on Saturday morning. Instead of going to out to the bars on Friday nights, we used to go to the local civic center for DJ skate nights. I’m not good at ice skating, but have a ton of fun memories from those nights! Pittsburgh is a great city to get out and ice skate.

The following places are great to go ice skating near Pittsburgh:

Sauna & Cold Plunge

You might think I am crazy for advocating for dunking in a freezing tub of water in the middle of winter, but trust me on this one. Signal Sauna, a pop-up sauna, has proved to me that the sauna/cold plunge combo is absolutely worth the hype. I went for the first time in February for a friend’s birthday party and fell in love. There’s science behind it that I’m not entirely clear on, but I know for a fact that sauna/cold plunge have been helping me manage my anxiety and depression during these long gray winter months. It’s also a great place to meet people!

Indoor Activities that Feel Outdoorsy

I get it. Some days are just too cold or gross to face going outside for a fun activity. Here’s my round-up of ideas for winter indoor activities that can help you feel outdoorsy, even though they’re inside.

woman looking at flowers in a greenhouse
Visit the greenhouses at Phipps if you’re really missing greenery in your life

Got any other favorite winter activities near Pittsburgh? Let me know in the comments!

Updated March 16, 2024

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