Winter Fun Activities for Families

By Greg Hanson

It’s cold outside, there’s a blanket of snow covering the landscape, and the kids are going stir-crazy inside the house. If this describes your home, do not despair. This is a common winter occurrence for families living in northern climates. But other than having a snowball fight, building a snowman, and (of course) shoveling the driveway, what options do families have for winter activities?

When it comes to any outdoor winter activity, you should always be conscious of the weather. You do not want to be caught outside in a blizzard or in extreme cold. It is better to be inside and bored than outside in those conditions. But for typical winter days, here are six suggestions for you and your family to enjoy some winter fun together.

Book a Sleigh Ride

Check the phone book, search online, or ask for recommendations from friends. If you live in an area where snow is common, there are bound to be locations offering sleigh rides. Usually for a small fee, your family can join with others to enjoy a sleigh ride through the countryside. If you recruit a few friends and relatives to join with you, you can book the entire sleigh for yourselves. Go in the afternoon for better visibility and slightly warmer weather. Or go in the evening to ride under the starry sky. And remember to enjoy a rousing chorus of “Jingle Bells” as you go.

Make Maple Taffy

Granted, you need maple trees to make maple taffy, also known as “sugar on snow.” But if you live in an area that abounds with sugar or Manitoba maples, this can be a fun activity for your family. If you know how, you can tap the tree yourself. Otherwise, find a nearby farm or sugar house that regularly taps maple trees. Then boil the sap to a temperature of about 234 °F (112 °C). When the resulting syrup is poured over a layer of clean snow, it quickly hardens and becomes a sweet and tasty treat. Use a stirring stick or a fork to pick up the taffy and eat it while it’s fresh.

Attend an Ice Sculpture Exhibit

Many northern communities create an array of ice sculptures during the winter months, often as part of a winter festival. Take your family to see these amazing masterpieces. If you are really ambitious, try creating your own ice (or snow) sculpture. You can build your creation to be entered into a sculpture competition, or build it for fun in your own backyard.

Go Ice Skating

Depending on your skating ability, this can be either a very enjoyable time or a very comical time. Either way, it’s a great way to spend a couple hours together as a family. If possible, find an outdoor skating rink that is available for public skating. If not, then an indoor rink will do. Skates are expensive, so (unless you plan to go skating often) buy yours at a store that sells used sports equipment or check into rental options.

Go Sledding or Tobogganing

This traditional winter activity truly is timeless. Families have long enjoyed spending afternoons together coasting downhill on sleds and toboggans. You can buy your own sleds/toboggans or borrow them from friends. Then dress up warm, locate a suitable hill, and go for it. Just be careful not to trespass on private property.

Have a Bonfire

While most people think of bonfires or campfires as a summertime activity, they can also be enjoyed in the wintertime. Just be sure to choose an evening when there is little or no wind. Find a countryside location for your fire away from other combustibles. And when you are done, put the fire out. Remember, safety first.

Whatever winter activity you choose, follow it by warming up with some hot chocolate. For added pleasure, prepare a big pot of chili. By planning and participating in these kinds of winter activities, you can create memories for your family that will last for years to come.