With its warm, clear nights, verdant foliage and musical wildlife, summer is nearly always a wonderful time to be in Oxford. The weather allows for comfortable outdoor exploration, and the magic that is air conditioning provides relief whenever the sun gets to be too hot. Truly, summer is a season for exploration, activity and enjoyment.

But once the calendar rolls around to winter and the days begin to shorten, that summer sun can feel hopelessly far away. Biting cold and persistent snow often make traveling outdoors a daunting prospect. The number of backyard parties dwindles, and the lush and vibrant trails lose some of their appeal as the leaves fall from their trees.

In this bleak and barren season, it can often feel like there really isn’t that much to do in and around Oxford. Looking past the tried and true options of going Uptown or staying in your dorm, there are several alternative ways for Miamians to occupy themselves during the winter months.

When Miami advertises the miles upon miles of wooded trails to traverse, they likely do it with spring and summer in mind. And, although the forests are certainly more colorful during those seasons, there’s a stark beauty to the woods of winter time. With snow on the ground, the forest trails become scenes straight out of a holiday card, and strolling through the pristine white woods is sure to evoke a sense of peace, quiet and tranquility that may be much needed as classes intensify. For those who want to escape campus, drive or snag a ride with friends to Hueston Woods, Oxford’s local state park, which boasts miles of trails. In addition, Hueston Woods features a fully furnished lodge, a nature center, dog park, historic pioneer house and covered bridge.

If the cold weather isn’t too much to bear, quintessential winter activities such as sledding or snowboarding remain fun and accessible at Miami. Despite the relatively flat nature of the Oxford area, there are a few hills around campus that offer prime sledding opportunities. For instance, just past Flower Hall, on the way toward the football field, there’s a hill that could fulfill any and all sledding/snowboarding needs, provided that there is snow on the ground. Whether hiking or sledding, those first few moments after stepping back inside, cold-nosed and rosy-cheeked, are magical, and a post-winter activity cup of hot cocoa is not to be missed.

However, the chill of winter can often prove too formidable, and on the days when it’s just too chilly to venture out into the winter wastelands, there are certainly indoor activities to take the place of outdoor adventure. Throwing movie nights with friends is always nice, but there are times when watching films on a tiny screen, crammed into a dorm room or common area just isn’t grand enough. Hamilton, a few miles southeast of Oxford, offers the AMC Classic Hamilton 8 movie theater. Tickets are $5.99 for adults, making them affordable enough, provided that any would-be movie goers can make the drive.

Other indoor activities can be enjoyed at Oxford’s Community Arts Center, which hosts various performances, rotating art exhibits and a monthly celebration called Second Sunday, a free event which offers access to local artists’ studios and musical performances.

For those seeking a fresh place to study, relax or grab a cup of coffee, the Oxford Coffee Company provides a quiet environment to drink some java and take a breather. The Company sells house-roasted coffee and the right equipment for those who want to enjoy coffee at home, and their store, located at 21 Lynn Street in Oxford, offers an excellent place to unwind if Kofenya is packed, as it often is.

So whether indoors or outdoors, winter in Oxford doesn’t have to be a four-month period of waiting for spring to arrive. Consider braving the cold and exploring Miami in the winter. An experience unlike anything summer has to offer might just be waiting behind the next leafless tree or drift of snow. Or, staying indoors and finding a new nook to curl up in and escape the cold might spark a new tradition.