Top 10 Outdoor Winter Activities For The Family

If you’re thinking it’s too cold (or too rainy, too windy, too snowy) to go outside, you’re not alone. But consider this Scandinavian saying

“There’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.”

There’s no reason to hibernate indoors just because it’s cold or snowing. Just get the right clothing and nothing can stop you from enjoying the great outdoors year-round!

To keep yourself active this winter, just use a layering system when it comes to your outdoor gear. You'll need thin, moisture-wicking base layers that fit close to the body. Your base layers will generally consist of: a long-sleeved thermal top, thermal pants or leggings, wool socks, and thin fleece gloves. The next step is to add a water-resistant layer to protect you from wind, snow, and rain. It's better to wear several thin layers than one big bulky layer. This will ensure that you stay toasty and warm while still being able to move freely. Top off your base layers with a water-resistant or waterproof coat (preferably one that zips up high on the neck), pants, boots, and gloves, as well as another pair of wool socks and a hat that covers your ears. Too cold to go outside? Never!

Once you’re all layered up, check out these 10 ideas for outdoor winter activities with your family.

1. Play Snow Games

Instead of just making a snowman this year, why not try shaking things up a little? You can make it into a game where each family member draws a slip of paper with the name of a different animal on it. Then each person would try to make that animal out of snow.

Or you can create a snow charades game. The person who goes first starts to build their snow object and the family member who correctly guesses what the object is gets to go next.

2. Enjoy S’mores and Hot Cocoa by the Fire Pit

If you have a fire pit, you can get some use out of it even in the winter. Just dress warmly using the layering system. Arrange some cozy blankets on chairs and supply each family member with a thermos of hot chocolate. Set up a DIY S'mores station with a variety of traditional and not-so-traditional ingredients: graham, crackers, marshmallows, chocolate bars, peanut butter cups, caramels, Nutella, potato chips, pretzels, you name it!

3. Rent a Cabin and Go Snowshoeing

If you’re looking for a little winter getaway for the family, why not rent a cabin in a snowy place? Throw on your warm layers and go snowshoeing together. Even if you don’t own snowshoes, you can rent them for the day. Check out this snowshoeing guide for beginners if it’s your first time. This is a great family activity since it’s ideal for beginners or anyone who isn’t quite ready or able to learn more intense winter sports.

4. Take Care of the Birds

If you live in an area with really cold winters, you can try making these DIY winter bird feeders using either the snow outdoors or freezing a blend of water and seed. If you don’t get a lot of snow or it doesn’t get that cold where you live, there are some other options that don’t depend on snow or ice. For those who are crafty, check out this list of 14 easy DIY winter bird feeders. The kids are sure to enjoy building the Lego bird feeder!

5. Visit an Outdoor Ice Skating Rink

Just do a quick online search for “outdoor skating rinks near me” to find a nearby location. If you've got the backyard space and you're a bit handy, you can even try building your own backyard ice skating rink. It's surprisingly inexpensive! Just make sure you build it on a flat space; nobody wants to go ice skating down a hill…!

6. Volunteer as a Family

Teaching your children about the value of volunteering their time will be a meaningful experience and may even become a new family tradition. Check out this list of ideas for volunteering with your children. Not all of these ideas are necessarily outdoors, but plenty of them, like park services, involve being out in the fresh air. You could even reach out to local farms and sanctuaries to see if they could use some help from your family this winter.

7. Make Snow Treats

When life gives you snow, make snow ice cream! Grab a large bowl and mix 1 cup of milk, ⅓ cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. Then, head outside and scoop up 8 cups of clean snow (you could also leave out a bowl to collect the snow beforehand) and toss it in the bowl. Stir everything up and eat it quickly! You can even add your favorite ice cream toppings.

Another fun treat you can make with snow is maple snow candy. For this, you’ll need pure maple syrup, a pot, a candy thermometer, a baking pan, and of course, clean snow. In addition to making a tasty treat, this activity is also a great science lesson as it teaches kids about how liquids become solids.

8. Go on an I-Spy Nature Walk

Read about or watch videos about animals that hibernate for the winter then take a trek out to a local hiking trail. You can do a quick search on AllTrails to find recommended hiking trails in your area. Your family can “spy” different signs of animals and their hibernation spots as you get some exercise and fresh winter air. You could even create a scavenger hunt with different items to locate along the walk, like birds that are found in your area in the winter, animal tracks, or burrows.

9. Build a Snow Fort

Snow forts are fun to build and make a great outdoor hangout until the weather warms up. Just choose a location to build, mark out your perimeter, and start packing down the snow inside that area. It doesn't have to be large, so no worries if you've got limited space. Then, start making snow bricks and putting them into place. Check out these step-by-step instructions for building a snow fort and get inspired by these impressive snow fort masterpieces.

10. View Winter Constellations

Clear winter nights are perfect for spotting winter constellations. Even if you're not familiar with the constellations that are visible this time of year, you can use the Skyview app. The Lite version is free on both Android and iOS. It’s as simple as pointing your device at sky; Skyview will help you locate the constellations. For a little added challenge: try to identify the constellations that you see first, then use the app to confirm your guess.

Layer Up This Winter and Enjoy Outdoor Activities with Your Family!

The key to staying active outdoors with your family this winter is to wear warm, moisture-wicking layers that don’t add a lot of bulk. Top that with water-resistant layers to protect you from wind and moisture so you’ll stay dry and toasty. Follow this layering system and you’ll be prepared for all that Jack Frost wants to throw your way this winter while you go out and play!


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