Winter in Greeley on a Budget

Winter in Greeley on a Budget

Christmas shopping is all fun and games—until you’re regulated to the dreaded after-Christmas budget.

It’s poor timing, honestly. Christmas is at the beginning of winter, leaving everyone here in Greeley to face five-ish more months of cold and snow. The sun may shine in our always-blue sky, but don’t be fooled. It is icy out there.

If you’re new to the area, you might wonder how we spend these long winter months—especially while our wallets recover from the holiday hubbub. Thankfully, Greeley offers tons of opportunities to enjoy the season without breaking the bank. In fact, many of them are free!

For instance, my family (and most of the community) loves sledding on the hill at the UNC practice field. It’s practically a rite of passage when you move here. Fresh snow means cars will line 17th Avenue, and colorful sleds will carry folks of all ages down the popular hill. Snapshots of any given snow day could include toddlers careening down the slope, teens building packed snow ramps for an extra challenge, and adults letting their inner child out to play. It’s Greeley’s brand of winter magic. I look forward to it every year.

After you’re thoroughly frozen, head to Aunt Helen’s for some hot chocolate (or another delectable hot beverage). The shop is named after the owners’ great-aunt, who lived in Greeley to the ripe old age of 108! She was known for her no-nonsense countenance, so she’s the inspiration behind the “exceptional, warm, and sassy” environment that makes Aunt Helen’s unique.

Another budget-friendly activity that my family loves is exploring the Colorado Model Railroad Museum. It’s $12 for adults and just $6 for kids, making it the perfect adventure on a cold, post-holiday afternoon.

The railroad museum is home to Colorado’s largest operating model railroad. See trains wind around the 5,500-square-foot layout, with classic train cars from the Oregon, California and Eastern Railway.

The exhibits are intricately detailed and impressive, featuring towns, sawmills, rivers, mountain vistas, and tiny cars and people. And they’re interactive! You can press buttons along the tracks that initiate a model forest fire, blow train whistles, or set tiny chickens to pecking. Plus, the popular “I spy” games help you slow down and appreciate the details as you look for specific miniatures.

We also have a free museum in Greeley called the LINC. This 62,000-square-foot “community centerpiece” provides endless opportunities for creating and exploring through its combination of a library, innovation center, and art space. For kids, there’s an incredible children’s-museum-like experience. Design paper airplanes and give them flight with air-powered launchers. Create “inventions” with recyclables. Mix colors and change the lights in the room. The LINC is a must-visit whether your kid is interested in the arts or STEM.

The main draw for teens and adults who are avid readers is not only the expansive library, but the space to enjoy the books as well. There’s an outdoor courtyard in the middle of the LINC, rooms filled with beautiful natural light, comfy chairs by the fireplace, and even seating hollowed out in the middle of the bookshelves.

Other opportunities include a gaming room, a recording studio, and innovation bays to learn and practice woodworking, 3D printing, sewing, and weaving, to name a few. (Plan ahead to use some of these more complex offerings because many require a class or reservation!)

Not big on museums? No worries. Winter is also the ideal time to watch some UNC basketball, with tickets ranging from $5-$55.

You’re missing out if you’ve never been to a college basketball game. There’s so much energy and passion on the court. The athletes compete with amazing skill that’s fun to watch, whether you’re a huge sports fan or not.

Getting to UNC is easy, parking is free, ticket prices are more than reasonable, and the atmosphere is worth every penny. So, grab some friends and concessions and support the UNC basketball teams. (Go Bears!)

Finally, no Greeley winter is complete without skating at the Ice Haus. It’s just $9 per person if you bring your own skates, and they have weekly open skate hours to enjoy gliding across the ice with family or friends. It’s a great inside activity that’s both active and wintery, no matter what the weather is like outside.

Pro tip: Greeley Ice Haus has discounts for students and kids under five, and they often have Groupons available, too. Check their website for details before you head over.

No matter how tight your after-Christmas budget is, you and your family can enjoy winter in Greeley. Grab your sleds, your skates, and your sense of adventure, and have fun!