Winter survival guide: Activities to beat cabin fever

From the January 19, 2012 edition

The stockings have been unhung and that sinking feeling has set in. Let’s just say it: Winter in the Midwest sucks. But it doesn’t have to. We found a plethora of ways to beat the blahs that come with cold temperatures* and gray skies and perma-slush** that lines the streets.

Winter in Central Ohio can be downright exotic (scuba lessons, anyone?), fresh and exciting. Who knew? If that sounds better to you than ticking off the days until May, read on. —Kristen Schmidt

*Oh, they’re coming. Just wait.

**Also on its way

Sweat it out

Ace of Cups

2619 N. High St., Campus

614-262-6001

facebook.com/heatwavecolumbus

It might be frigid outside, but Ace of Cups is blazing, at least on the first Saturday of the month. That’s when warm bodies pile inside to twist and shout to the sounds of Heatwave!, an all-vinyl dance party by drummer-about-town Adam Scoppa (The Main Street Gospel, Burglar, Psychic Wheels) and fellow DJs Ann Glaviano and Chris Johnson. Though we don’t suspect they’ll play C+C Music Factory’s “Gonna Make You Sweat,” they will in fact make you sweat. —Chris DeVille

Spin the wheel

Clayspace

831 S. Front St., Brewery District

614-449-8144

clayspace831.com

This ceramics studio has myriad weeks-long workshops, but if you’re looking for something less committal, reserve a pottery wheel for a Free-Throw Friday. The easy-going classes (6-9 p.m. Fridays) are $35 per person. Every student gets six pounds of clay to play with, which usually garners four to five pieces. Clayspace fires and glazes them after class, and they’re ready for pick-up about two weeks later. Most importantly, the teacher will show you how best to drink your BYOB supply with clay-covered hands. —Jackie Mantey

Cook something up

Bleu & Fig

1394 Cherry Bottom Road, Gahanna

614-348-3328

bleuandfig.com

Learn a few things about cooking — and reap the benefits immediately — with a class at catering and event company Bleu & Fig. Chef Brooke Kinsey leads small classes through a themed multiple-course menu (each group works on one or two recipes), and then everyone eats a hearty meal. On Feb. 1, the class is football themed, and on Feb. 14, it’s a no-date-required lesson on big flavors anyone could love. Classes are held in the evening, those dark and frigid hours we dread this time of year. Maybe a little creme brulee will change that. —Kristen Schmidt

Rock the house

Double Happiness

482 S. Front St., Brewery District

614-220-5558

doublehappinessohio.com

Anybody can make a Spotify playlist and share it with friends, but how often do you get to broadcast your favorite sounds to a bar full of strangers? The genuine DJ experience is within reach thanks to Wax Jam, a sort of open stage for DJs. Every third Thursday — including tonight! — aspiring party-rockers can haul a crate of records to the bar, sign up for a time slot and wow listeners with their exceptional taste. —Chris DeVille

Dine outside

Basi Italia

811 Highland St., Victorian Village

614-294-7383

basi-italia.com

I’ve never been on the patio at Basi in summer. I think I could live without the experience, frankly, because I’m in love with it in chilly weather. It is warm, both in temperature and temperament. The room (and it feels like a room) is perfectly lit with a photogenic glow. A group of friends are perpetually perched around bottles of wine at a central table. The full menu is available, and an eager bartender is there to mix something to cure your ills. —Kristen Schmidt

Fly away

Infinity Dance and Wellness

1039 Mediterranean Ave., Worthington

888-762-4077

infinityaerial.com

It’s hard to beat out sexy offerings like pole dancing and “chair-ography,” but this fitness studio’s most intriguing class is Aerial Arts. Instructors teach strengthening, stretching and conditioning drills to prepare students to use circus and aerial equipment. Swing on the trapeze, contort through silks or dangle amid aerial hoops. You’ll learn proper grip and wrapping techniques and, eventually, difficult acrobatic tricks. It’s so fun you’ll forget you’re getting an intense workout.—Jackie Mantey

Take it easy and eat a tart

Pistacia Vera

541 S. 3rd St., German Village

614-220-9070

pistaciavera.com

No need to run in, struggle to select the right flavor of macarons and rush out. (For the record, every flavor is the right flavor.) Open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Pistacia Vera is a joyful place to leisurely start the day with strong coffee, delectable quiche and Parisian pastries, and some good old people-watching. Even better, bring a book or some good company to the patisserie after dinner and end the day right — with some Ohio apple cider or those colorful, melt-in-your-mouth confections. —Heather Gross

Dive in

Aquatic Adventures

3940 Lyman Drive, Hilliard

614-545-3483

aquaticadventuresohio.com

Put a little tropical fantasy in your January with scuba diving lessons. In 16 hours, you can complete the coursework and in-pool training you need. Then you’re just four open-water dives away from certification. One hitch: Open-water dives, Ohio and winter don’t mix. One more excuse to decamp closer to the equator for a few days (you can complete your training with any certified dive instructor, anywhere). Not ready to commit? A $35 introductory course at Aquatic Adventures is fun, inexpensive and puts you underwater in scuba gear. —Kristen Schmidt

Stay fresh

The Greener Grocer

59 Spruce St., Short North

614-223-1512

thegreenergrocer.com

One luxury that doesn’t have to disappear along with pleasant weather is fresh fruits and vegetables. The North Market’s local, seasonal food hub will keep you stocked up all winter long with its Weekly Winter Fresh Market Bag. For $20 (medium) or $30 (large) per week through May 8, you get a bag full of local produce to save your body from months of non-stop comfort food. —Chris DeVille

Stop and smell the orchids

Franklin Park Conservatory

1777 E. Broad St., Olde Towne East

614-645-8733

fpconservatory.org

One of the biggest bummers about winter is the void of color. Get a shot of living green at the Franklin Park Conservatory, where a Victorian-themed orchid exhibition just opened. Those with more than a passing curiosity should visit on a Saturday, when staff horticulturists offer guided tours. Or visit from 5:30-10 p.m. Thursdays for Cocktails at the Conservatory. Stroll through the conservatory while enjoying the fruits of a full bar and a small-plates menu. Admission is $11, which includes $10 in tokens for food and drink. —Kristen Schmidt

Try tipsy painting

Colors & Bottles

Various locations

773-472-5124

colorsandbottles.com

Few things are better stress reducers than drinking and exercising those creative muscles. Colors & Bottles lets you do both at the same time by hosting painting classes at area bars, wineries and galleries. Each session is taught by a local artist, and amateurs can either choose to create a painting similar to one of the teacher’s or create something unique. Art supplies are provided, but some of the class locations require that participants bring their own beverages. —Heather Gross

Head for the Hills

Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls

21190 State Route 374, Logan

800-653-2557

innatcedarfalls.com

Escape is an essential component of winter survival, but the distance need not be extreme. An hour south of Columbus, the road starts to dip and heave, as if nudged by magic out of its flatness. Romantic cabins dot the Hocking Hills; a Google search will turn up several outfits dedicated to such things. Fireplace and hot tub are standard. Make dinner reservations at the acclaimed Inn at Cedar Falls. Drive down, lock the door and — later — return to reality slowly. —Kristen Schmidt

Make a splash

Fort Rapids

4560 Hilton Corporate Dr., East Side

877-337-7527

fortrapids.com

The trouble with water parks is they have to close when it gets cold — unless they’re inside like the East Side oasis known as Fort Rapids. Then you can enjoy slides, lazy rivers and hot tubs at a toasty 84 degrees. There’s even a hotel attached so you can make a weekend of it. Who says you have to go on vacation to enjoy this kind of reprieve from the elements? —Chris DeVille

Take a hike — with snacks

Scioto Audubon Metro Park

10 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 21

400 W. Whittier St., Brewery District

metroparks.net

The 39th annual Metro Parks winter hikes series is well underway, but you still have plenty of opportunities to earn your participation patch (details follow). The series is a great way for city folk to get in touch with nature in a season in which the landscape is stark and beautiful. Guided and unguided hikes are offered. Walks vary in distance — they’re as short as a mile and as long as seven miles. No matter how you do it, snacks await at the end. Participate in seven hikes and earn a patch that you can proudly sew on your backpack. —Kristen Schmidt

Putt around

Glow Putt Mini Golf

161 Granville St., Gahanna

614- 428-4569

glowputtohio.com

For a flashback to the days when you were too young to get into bars, pick up a putter at Glow Putt Mini Golf in Gahanna. The indoor putt course ($7 per round on Saturday and Sunday, or $5 Tuesday through Friday) has a dependably temperate climate, and generally it’s not overrun with small, screaming children in the later hours. Wear white if you like to stand out, or stick to black or red if you’d rather keep the focus on your golf skills. —Heather Gross