Once the exuberance of the holidays and the glorious relaxation of break come to an end, students face a long, dismal winter. Still, this season brings a wide variety of unique opportunities for entertainment. Here are some ways to embrace Erie’s notoriously frosty weather:

1. Take a Peak. Only a 40-minute drive from Gannon’s campus, Peek’n Peak is a favorite among snow sports enthusiasts. The resort offers over 100 acres of prime terrain for skiing and snowboarding, with slopes to suit amateurs and experts alike. There’s also tubing if you prefer an exhilarating, no-skills-required activity.

2. Hit the ICE. The bay and the Waterworks ponds at Presque Isle are ideal sites for ice skating, depending on weather and ice conditions. A more reliable place is the Ice Center of Erie. There you can enjoy the fun of skating as well as music, special effects lighting and a cafe.

3. Start a Snowball Fight. Get a group of friends together and head off campus for a (friendly) snowball fight. Politely encourage other students to join in. Tip: Avoid hitting any passing professors.

4. Play Golf? Created by the owner of Joe Root’s Grill in Erie, the Joe Root’s Frostbite Open is a nine-hole charity golf tournament held on the frozen waters of Presque Isle Bay. Groups of four can purchase tee times, with the money benefiting the Presque Isle Partnership, a nonprofit organization that supports the park.

5. Sled Ride at Frontier. Grab a sled — or something that can be used as a sled — and make the short journey to Frontier Park. Not only is the snow-covered landscape lovely to see, but it also has hills aplenty for solo sledding and/or races.

6. Cheer On the Otters. As anyone who has ever been to a professional ice hockey match will tell you, the sport is ten times better live. Experience this distinctive thrill at Tullio Arena, home of the Erie Otters. The team boasts alumni who now play for NHL giants such as the Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks and Toronto Maple Leafs.

7. Warm Up with Starbucks. Simply unwind and enjoy an intimate chat with friends over coffee or one of Starbucks’ FOUR different kinds of heavenly hot chocolate — regular, white, peppermint or salted caramel.