Outdoor Sports

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 obliged to learn from the compounds of our homes. We had been able to get only limited exposure to the outside world.

Spending more time outdoors is imperative to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, we have been told, especially at such a crucial age as mine. While most aspects of daily life have now returned to normalcy, many of us have found it challenging to introduce open-air activities back into our routines. We teens need to find a place to begin. To that end, here are various ways in which teens can properly unplug throughout the year.

I have been playing tennis for the better half of my young life, I can attest that it is a great year-round sport for those looking to become more active. Teens who seek a break from the competitiveness that can come with team sports might find casual tennis the perfect solution.

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

Kiwanis Ice Arena in Saugerties.

I would recommend the Red Hook recreation center to those near the area. Its tennis courts are free of charge usually vacant. The center also has pickleball courts, a sport similar to tennis that has seen a surge in popularity due to itsiwanis simplicity.

Other spots with tennis courts include the Saugerties High School tennis courts, Forsyth Park in Kingston, and Andy Lee Field in Woodstock. For all the benefits that tennis offers, teens who give the sport a try may come to see it as an excuse to get out more while having genuine fun.

In the fall and spring, during which temperatures are mild and sights are grand, simpler activities can be easily enjoyed. Nature often goes unappreciated, and it is important to stimulate the senses by embracing it. Taking a nice hike through the countryside can be an enriching experience. Other casual activities including fruit and pumpkin picking, trail walks, and picnicking can be valuable bonding experiences.

Red Hook Recreation Park.

Visiting farms is a sometimes overlooked activity in the Hudson Valley, where there are numerous 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 of so many, provide affordable options for these expeditions. They are well worth visiting.

Another notable, more invigorating venture is ziplining, which offers breathtaking views and thrilling highs; one popular location that offers ziplining tours is Hunter Mountain in Greene County. These activities are merely examples among limitless possibilities, as the vibrant nature of the fall and springtime allows for a pleasant time in any case.

Saunderskill Farm in Accord.

Winter may tempt teenagers to spend the majority of their waking hours sitting by the fireplace, hot cocoa in hand, browsing through social media. While the chilly weather can be discouraging when it comes to going outside, there are numerous winter activities in upstate New York perfect for preventing cabin fever.

Although various common winter habits like sledding and ice skating are enjoyed by many, other activities can be intimidating to those who are yet to try them. Skiing and snowboarding, for example, may not seem worth the effort to some, but can be learned with ease and never fail to pass the time.


The state’s luscious mountains provide for several high-quality ski resorts, like Belleayre, Hunter Mountain and Windham. They feature a variety of slopes to accommodate all levels of proficiency as well as skiing and snowboarding lessons for those just starting out. These exhilarating sports are best experienced with others. They help make staying indoors during a winter day become an infrequent occurrence.

With technology becoming more embedded into our daily lives, it can be easy to underestimate the importance of having regular physical activity and time in the sun. Taking measures to increase one’s efforts can have significant benefits on both physical and mental health, including on stress levels and self-esteem.

Finding motivation in what is often a difficult stage of one’s life, however, may serve as a barrier to unlocking all these benefits. Nonetheless, with proper goals and ideas in mind, the potential to adjust one’s lifestyle is present in all teens. It only takes a healthy mindset to get started.

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