20 hot ideas for beating the cold


January 18, 2001|By Gina Kazimir | Gina Kazimir,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

There is no chance of confusing the seasons this year. Winter has made its presence known, with some very long stretches of cold weather. Heating bills look more like holiday credit-card statements, and it's so cold outside no one wants to step out the door.

You've been locked in your house for so long you're bored out of your skull and want something exciting to do. But something indoors, please. You know you can always go to the library or your local bookstore, and your favorite coffeehouse is a reliable retreat. But you want something different, something to make you forget about the weather and warm up to a new experience.

We can help. We've got 20 cool ideas for beating the cold. Whether your style is to cut loose or chill out, we've found some of the hottest ways to stay warm this winter. So don't just complain about the cold, come on in and have some fun!

If winter makes you feel like a kid, but it's just too cold to go outside and play, why not let your imagination loose and pretend you're a carefree child on a summer pony ride? You can, at the Horse World Expo (410-668-2800 or www.horse worldexpo.com) this weekend at the Maryland State Fairgrounds in Timonium.

From Friday through Sunday you can see hundreds of horses, and thousands of horse-themed products, at this fifth annual show. Internationally respected trainers such as John Lyons will be giving presentations, and Saturday evening's events include a talk by members of the U.S. Olympic Equestrian Team.

For a real remembrance of the warm days of summer, nothing is better than baseball. Come celebrate the boys of summer at Babe's Birthday Bash on Friday, Feb. 2, at Bambino's Pub & Pastimes in the Warehouse at Camden Yards (410-727-1539). Orioles pitcher Sidney Ponson will be on hand to help honor Babe Ruth at a festive evening of ballpark food and baseball talk. All proceeds benefit the Babe Ruth Museum, so you can feel good knowing that you're helping keep Baltimore's baseball legacy alive.

Surrounding yourself with lush tropical foliage and plants from the arid desert is sure to make you feel warm. A visit to the Baltimore Conservatory (410-396-0180) at Druid Hill Park may be just what you need. The greenhouses are the ideal place to feel the heat, and the displays of tropical, Mediterranean and desert plants can't help but put you in mind of warm, sunny weather.

The conservatory is open from Thursdays through Sundays, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Best of all, it's free.

After you've toured the conservatory's tropical realm, you may not want to give up that nice, warm feeling. Why not take a trip to the Amazon? Just visit the National Aquarium (410-576-3800) and its new Amazon River Forest exhibit. Here you can journey down the world's second-longest river without leaving town.

You can also take a trip through the Upland Rain Forest area, where the colorful parrots and lazy two-toed sloths vie for attention with the lush foliage. And don't forget the Atlantic Coral Reef, where you can plunge into the center of a warm Caribbean reef and enjoy a diver's-eye view of hundreds of tropical fish - without getting wet.

Through March 2, you can even save some money if you go to the aquarium on Friday evenings. That's when the Fridays After Five program kicks in - from 5 p.m. on, admission is just $5. For even more savings, check out Syscom Inc.'s deal - a free child's admission with the purchase of one adult Friday After Five ticket. Just log on to www.syscom.com for your coupon.

Being locked up in the house for too long can make you want to climb the walls. Go ahead. No, really, go ahead and climb the walls at Earth Treks Climbing Center in Columbia (800-CLIMB-UP). Earth Treks is the East Coast's largest climbing gym, and it's a great place to go to get a workout whenever you feel like climbing the walls. Every week, it offers classes for novice climbers - either a one-session gym-climbing class for $35 or an introductory package with three three-hour classes and a 30-day trial membership to the center for $95.

All equipment is provided, and every climber is carefully coached on safety measures.

Climbing the walls is a great change from just sitting staring at them.

If you like the idea of being in the air but aren't sure that rocks are your thing, how about trapeze dance instead? Gerstung Intersport (410-337-7781) offers classes in this unusual art form at its Falls Road facility, just inside Baltimore County.

The staff will teach you all about trapeze dance, including what vocabulary like pulling taffy and catchers' hold means, while helping you explore the joy of dance in the air.

Dancers use the floor and a 5-foot-high trapeze bar to choreograph movements, eventually progressing from working with the bar on the floor all the way up to partnering with another dancer both on the floor and in the air. The 10-week session has already begun, but you can still enroll if you act quickly.

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