Outdoor activities for teens in Ulster County

Greig Farm in Red Hook. (Photos by Theo Sassano)

When the Covid 19 pandemic hit two and a half years ago, many recreational lives took a turn for the worse, especially for teenagers like me, who were forced to learn from the speakers in our homes. We could only get limited exposure to the outside world.

Spending more time outdoors is imperative to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, we were told, especially at such a crucial age as mine. While most aspects of daily life have now returned to normal, many of us have found it difficult to reintroduce outdoor activities into our routines. We teenagers have to find a place to start. To that end, here are different ways teens can unplug properly throughout the year.

I’ve played tennis for most of my young life, I can attest that it’s a great year-round sport for anyone looking to get more active. Teens looking for a break from the competitiveness that can come with team sports might find casual tennis the perfect fit.

Regardless of skill level, tennis is invigorating by nature and a substantial source of exercise. Although there is a learning curve, the sport is easy for a beginner to learn and enjoy with minimal practice. It’s easily accessible, with an abundance of courts spread across the Hudson Valley.

Kiwanis Ice Arena in Saugerties.

I would recommend the Red Hook Recreation Center to those nearby. Its tennis courts are free and generally vacant. The center also has pickleball courts, a sport similar to tennis that has seen a resurgence in popularity due to its iwanis simplicity.

Other locations with tennis courts include Saugerties High School Tennis Courts, Forsyth Park in Kingston, and Andy Lee Field in Woodstock. Despite all the benefits tennis has to offer, teens who try the sport may come to see it as an excuse to get out more while having genuine fun.

In fall and spring, when the temperatures are mild and the views awe-inspiring, simpler activities can be easily enjoyed. Nature is often overlooked and it is important to stimulate the senses by embracing it. Taking a nice hike through the countryside can be a rewarding experience. Other occasional activities such as fruit and pumpkin picking, trail walks, and picnics can be valuable bonding experiences.

Red Hook Recreation Park.

Visiting farms is a sometimes overlooked activity in the Hudson Valley, where there are many wonderful places to choose from. Saunderskill Farm in Accord, Greig Farm in Red Hook and Twin Star Orchards in New Paltz, to name a few, offer affordable options for these expeditions. They are well worth a visit.

Another notable and more invigorating adventure is the zip line, which offers breathtaking views and thrills; Hunter Mountain in Greene County is a popular location that offers zipline tours. These activities are just a few of the limitless possibilities, as the vibrant nature of fall and spring makes for a great time either way.

Saunderskill Farm in agreement.

Winter can make teens spend the majority of their waking hours sitting by the fire, hot chocolate in hand, browsing social media. While the cold weather can be daunting when it comes to getting outside, there are plenty of winter activities in upstate New York perfect for warding off cabin fever.

While various common winter habits like sledding and ice skating are enjoyed by many, other activities can be daunting to those who haven’t tried them yet. Skiing and snowboarding, for example, may not seem worth it to some, but can be learned easily and never fail to pass the time.

Snowboard

The state’s lush mountains are home to several high-quality ski resorts, such as Belleayre, Hunter Mountain, and Windham. They offer a variety of runs to suit all skill levels as well as ski and snowboard lessons for those just starting out. These exhilarating sports are best experienced with others. They help make staying indoors on a winter day an infrequent occurrence.

With technology becoming more integrated into our daily lives, it can be easy to underestimate the importance of regular physical activity and spending time in the sun. Taking steps to increase effort can have significant physical and mental health benefits, including stress levels and self-esteem.

However, finding the motivation in what is often a difficult stage of life can be a barrier to harnessing all of these benefits. Nevertheless, with appropriate goals and ideas in mind, the potential for lifestyle adjustments is present in all adolescents. All it takes is a healthy mindset to get started.