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10 Fun Family Activities to Try This Winter

Not everyone loves winter.  The icy roads, the muddy slush, the shoveling, the sub-zero temperatures … yeah, there are a lot reasons to stay inside and curl up with a cup of cocoa.  After all, not everyone likes to hurtle down a mountainside on skis with nothing but a helmet for protection.  During the height of the season, the lines and fees associated with ski resorts and lift usage are reminiscent of theme parks.

ski lift

But for those willing to venture out into a world of white (or frosted brown as it is around here this year), there are plenty of opportunities for adventure and fun.  All it takes is the proper gear, a little imagination, and some hot tea or cocoa to chase away the chill.  Here are 10 ways for you to get your family outside this winter.

Play Maze Tag

This was actually something I used to play during physical education class in grade school.  Our teacher would have us line up behind him and follow as he stomped a path through the snow.  As he weaved around, circling back upon other paths and stretching out over new areas, we followed and created a maze in the snow.  Then, we’d play.  The rules are the same as normal tag with one big exception – you can’t step off the trail.  It’s a lot of fun, makes you plan ahead, and is a great way to get some much needed exercise during the winter months.

Have a Winter Scavenger Hunt

You can do this multiple ways depending on the ages of the kids involved.  Try a color hunt where everyone picks a color and then tries to find as many things with that color on them within a set amount of time.  If everyone has access to one (or if you have enough to create small groups), use your smartphones to do a photo hunt and take pictures of specific items.  And then there is always the traditional scavenger hunt.  Everyone gets a list, everyone searches for all the items, and the first to complete the list wins.



This is a great one for those of you with younger children.  My daughter, a toddler, is always asleep before the stars come out during the summer time so other than seeing the moon, she had no idea of what the night sky really looked like.  This winter, we were able to take her outside before her bedtime and show her a beautiful black sky brimming with stars.  She was stunned and didn’t want to go back in, despite it being around freezing at the time.

Build Snow Animals

Sick of snowmen?  Why not build snow animals?  Choose your favorite animal and get building.  Use bits of nature to add the details – twigs, pinecones, rocks, whatever you can find.  If the snow doesn’t pack well but you have a snowbank nearby from a plow, you can also carve animals out of the bank.  Just be sure not to play on banks near roads where drivers may not be able to see you.

Track Animals

This isn’t just fun, it’s a great way to learn about the animals in your area.  Explore your backyard, a city park, or a state/national park and look for any signs of animal tracks.  Try to figure out what animal left the tracks, where they were going, and consider what they might have been doing at the time.  Learn about the size of an animal by the size of the track, their pace by how far the steps are, and more.

Play Inspector


This is one of my daughter’s favorites.  Arm everyone with a magnifying glass and head out to see ice crystals and snow flakes up close.  Then, when you’re back inside, try to recreate what you saw by making paper snowflakes.  If your kids are too young for scissors, have them draw the snowflakes instead.

Build a Snow Castle

Don’t put away your sandbox toys just yet.  We love using them to build “snow” castles during the winter months.  Take them out, pack them full of snow, and pretend you’re on the beach.  This is especially nice when you’re working with limited quantities of snow (not enough to build a massive snow fort).

Winter Bowling

Fill a water balloon and set it outside to freeze overnight.  The next day, create an “alley” in the snow and make a few snow pins.  Then, remove the balloon from the ice ball (making sure to dispose of it properly), and slide it down the alley to get a strike.  Safety Tip: Always play this with proper adult supervision and make sure that no one throws the ice bowling ball.  When you’re done, simply bring the ball inside, place it in the sink, and melt it away with hot water.



When the temperature drops below 32 degrees, break out the bubbles.  Venture outside and see if you can freeze the bubbles onto the bubble wand.  It’s a fun project with kids of all ages and doesn’t require snow … just cold.

Winter Mini Golf

You’ll need a large flat surface (a plowed driveway works well), a few snowballs, a few sticks, and some imagination.  Use snow to create the obstacles for your course.  Try making tunnels, walls, ramps, and more.  Then mark a circle to serve as the hole, a line to serve as your start, and play golf.  If your kids are having trouble with sticks, try rolling the snowballs through the course instead.


Hopefully this list will show that there are far more ways to enjoy winter than skiing, snowboarding, and other sometimes costly activities.  With a little imagination and some warm winter gear, you and your family and turn your backyard into winter fun park that will provide memories to last a lifetime.