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Making the Most out of Winter

A survival guide for indoor and outdoor enthusiasts.

Torpedo Factory artist Tatyana Schremko takes advantage of one of last year's snow storms to make an ice sculpture.

Torpedo Factory artist Tatyana Schremko takes advantage of one of last year's snow storms to make an ice sculpture. Photo by Jeanne Theismann.

We all know the type. Those chipper, cheery souls who bound out of bed in sub-zero temperatures to embrace any opportunity to get outside. But for many people, it's a challenge to stay active during the winter months. Having an arsenal of activities planned can help keep you and your family from spending yet another winter overeating, feeling depressed and thinking about moving to Florida.

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Forget the snowman. Instead build an igloo with Flexible Flyer snow molds.

GET OUTSIDE

When most people think "winter fun," they think of outdoor activities like sledding or ice skating. Not much can be done about the sledding until the snow hits, but when it does, most neighborhoods have a favorite spot for kids and families to gather. Bundle up, take a thermos of hot chocolate and go visit with neighbors.

With or without Mother Nature's cooperation, you can take to the ice at the Mount Vernon Rec Center Ice Skating Rink, which offers open skate times as well as ice and figure skating lessons for children and adults. The ice hockey programs and leagues are some of the best in the state and clinics and pick-up games are also available (703-768-3224).

When the next Snowmaggedon does hit, head outside and build a snow fort. For something different, build an igloo with blocks made with a snow mold. (Flexible Flyer makes one that will do double duty to build sand castles for that Spring Break trip you are planning.)

Grab your digital camera and develop your photography skills with a photo expedition of the winter landscapes. A walk through Dyke Marsh makes a great place for some solitude and scenic photo opportunities.

Put that patio fire pit you bought last summer to good use by lighting a winter bonfire and making S'mores.

Make snow paint. Simply add food coloring to water and put in a spray bottle.T hen go out and paint your yard. Kids especially love this.

The winter months can be the best time to enjoy the local Farmer's Markets. Grab a cup of coffee or hot chocolate and take a walk through Market Square or Del Ray on a Saturday morning to visit with the vendors and regulars who attend.

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Instructor Mike Baker, Jr., right, teaches an acting class at The Little Theatre of Alexandria.

GET ENGAGED

The winter months are no excuse to hibernate inside with cabin fever. Now is the time to try some of the many indoor activities that take a back seat to outdoor events during the summer months.

Take a class, like those offered at The Little Theatre of Alexandria, or music or voice lessons at The Alexandria School for the Performing Arts in Del Ray. Both are among the most affordable in the area. The Art League at the Torpedo factory Art center offers a range of classes for budding artists.

Support the local entertainment scene by taking in a show at MetroStage, LTA or Port City Playhouse. Live entertainment venues like The Carlyle Club and The Birchmere offer a variety of concerts, shows and events.

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The Art League offers a range of classes for children and adults.

GET INVOLVED

With the holiday frenzy behind everyone, now is the perfect time to get involved in the community. Volunteer and mentoring opportunities exist in countless areas from the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria to Community Lodgings and Carpenter's Shelter. Volunteer Alexandria (www.volunteeralexandria.org or 703-836-2176) can help connect volunteers to opportunities.

Still for some, there is only one way to survive the winter months. When asked what he does for winter fun, one city employee (who asked to remain anonymous) responded: "Plan a trip to someplace warm."

That works, too.