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I won’t deny it. I’m no fan of the winter cold despite living in the frigid state of Michigan, which this year has felt like the Arctic. In fact, if I didn’t have to step outside once from November through April here, I’d be happy. Fortunately, when it came to outdoor winter family activities while my kids were growing up, their dad had plenty of gung-ho. I, on the other hand, loved planning fun indoor winter activities with the kids – some of which I did have to step outdoors for briefly. Thankfully, I survived!

The following are some of the ways my family made the most of the season plus some other fun ideas. So get your family into the spirit of the season with some of these indoor and outdoor winter family activities.


Take a snowshoe hike. Purchase or borrow snowshoes for the family, and take a walk through the woods or a field. Take your compass, and tie brightly colored strips of fabric to tree branches to mark your path. Dress warm and keep track of time to prevent overtiring and frostbite. Look for animal tracks and burrows; identify trees by the bark and shape of their trunks; learn how to tell the time or direction by the position of the sun; and other nature and survival activities.

Visit an ice sculpture show. Look for these captivating displays on college campuses, in city parks, and even indoor arenas. Check with your local chamber of commerce or state travel bureau for an events listing.

Visit a zoo. During the winter season, zoos often bring guest animals and offer special exhibits. Arctic and cold climate animals may be more active, and indoor exhibits may be easier to view because of smaller crowds.

Build an igloo or snow fort. Choose a day when the snow is good for packing. Use a square or rectangular container often available in toy departments for building snow forts. Be sure to stagger the blocks for support.



Take a winter carriage ride. Look for horse-drawn carriages in tourist or trendy towns and quaint villages. Bundle up, and take warm blankets and hot beverages. Then enjoy a cozy ride through a snowy, festive town.

Enjoy a winter fest. Visit your chamber of commerce or state travel bureau website for a list of winter festivals and events. Activities to seek include light displays, fireworks, winter sports competitions, recreational activities, exhibits and ice sculpture displays, sleigh rides, snowshoe tours, and more.

outdoor winter family activitiesHave a snow-sculpting contest, and invite your neighbors to participate. Roll a snowball as large as you can. Then fill buckets with snow and carefully dump them on top. Gently pack the snow and smooth it with your mittens. Sculpt and shape your creation using small shovels and gardening tools. When your sculpture is complete, gently pack and smooth it with your hands again.

Make an ice tree. Instead of throwing out your holiday tree, make use of it as a winter display. Stand it in your yard, turn the water hose on low, and spray upward and toward the trunk of the tree. As ice forms, continue spraying until you achieve your desired effect.

Go sledding. This is perhaps one of kids’ favorite outdoor winter family activities. If you have small hills in your backyard, use a trash bag for sliding down. Better yet, head to some real hills with your toboggan or sled, keeping safety rules in mind for safe wintery fun.

Get away at a weekend resort. Check your travel agency for one of the many resorts for outdoor winter family activities. Try downhill or cross-country skiing, snowshoe excursions, and more.




When you’ve had your fill of outdoor winter family activities, warm up with some indoor family fun.

Head to a museum. Most cities, even small towns, have a historical museum. Hands-on science, art, or natural history museums are found in most metropolitan areas or at nearby universities.

Grab your roller blades or skates and head to your nearby indoor rink. These old-fashioned arenas, updated for today’s kids, are great for parents and kids alike. If you’ve never roller-skated, take a class at the rink.

Create an indoor snow family. Buy white and black clay from an arts and crafts supply. Roll snow people out of the white clay, and shape hats with the black. Make arms with tiny twigs, scarves from narrow fabric strips, eyes and buttons out of whole pepper, and noses from broken orange colored toothpicks.

Tour a manufacturing plant. Tours are often available to the public even if not publicized. Just call and see.

View the winter sky. Visit a planetarium to see constellations and some of the brightest stars of the year.

Hold a winter movie fest. Invite friends over, rent a selection of movies and ask everyone to bring their pillows or bean bag chairs. Don’t forget the popcorn and hot chocolate. Or, if you’ve had enough of winter, make it a Hawaiian luau. Choose summery or vacation movie themes. Serve cold drinks with little umbrellas and fruit on top. And don’t forget the beach towels.

Make up funny skits with friends then put on a show for parents. Choose household products and create silly advertisements. Make up goofy songs or poems about each product and dress up for the part. Be sure to videotape the skits for hilarious family memories.



Put together a winter emergency kit. A car emergency kit should include spare hats, mittens, scarves, and boots, a flashlight, and other items in case you are stranded. Your home kit should include items for a snow in or power loss. Everyone can work together to create a list and gather items for your kits.

String a snowflake streamer. Make snowflakes by folding white paper several times and then trimming different shapes around the edges. Open the snowflakes. Then string them on a piece of yarn, and hang it across the room.

Visit the library, then snuggle up for a relaxing read. At the library, learn how and where to find books on your favorite interests such as sports, science, or a hobby and choose several to bring home. Don’t forget to check out the music CDs, audiobooks, videos, computer games, and magazines for plenty of indoor entertainment.

Make a winter-safety trivia game. Buy a pack of small index cards. Then parents can write a question on each card related to winter safety with the answers written below. To play the game, take turns reading the questions while other players shout their answers. The first person with the correct answer scores a point.

More indoor family fun. Check out another one of my other posts for more ideas for indoor family fun.


by Kimberly Blaker
Posted: January 25, 2018

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Indoor & Outdoor Winter Family Activities to Make the Most of the Season

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