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Winter Wander for Wonder

Put on your thickest coat, your toastiest socks, and bundle up your littles because it's time to get outside. 40+ ways to enjoy the outdoors in the winter.

Getting outdoors daily throughout all seasons is imperative for physical, mental, and emotional health; however, with the days shorter and colder, it’s tough to determine the best ways to engage in nature. It is especially tricky when there are children involved. In America, we are anxious about our children being “too” cold. We are also a country that doesn’t encourage a ton of independent and unstructured play. It’s relatively rare to see kids as young as seven at the top of a huge snow hill with cardboard sleds and no parents. Therefore, outside play for kids often means the dreaded standing in the cold (for parents). But no fear! Here are some ways to enjoy family/friend fun in the winter:

Let’s start with our traditional winter pastimes (with snow):

  1. Make a snowman

  2. Snow fight

  3. Ice skating 

  4. Sledding with cardboard (or an actual sled) - making the sled is an entertaining family activity 

  5. Snow angels 

  6. Find a hot tub and enjoy

  7. Go skiing  

  8. Go tubing 

  9. Go to a snow park 

  10. Go snowshoeing (you can rent the shoes) 

  11. Go “glamping” - a cabin or warm and cozy RV to return to after time outdoors

  12. Join a forest or nature-centered school with your child - being outdoors with great people makes the cold weather more bearable

  13. Make, and then dive, into a huge snow pile

  14.  If before Christmas, walk around and see the lights

  15. Attend a tree lighting

  16. Shop in an outdoor market or shopping "center" 

New Ideas (with snow):

  1. Make a snow castle

  2.  Attend an art installation - there are so many dope outdoor art shows in the winter 

  3. Snow ATV

  4. Winter Bathing or Winter swimming

  5. Make snow ice cream/icies with fresh snow (don’t use the yellow or brown snow)

  6. Paint the snow using a nontoxic dye to tie-dye the snow 

  7. Photograph snow creations 

  8. Be winter explorers - take a backpack with an “explorer” kit 

  9. Create a snow sculpture

  10. Set up an obstacle course in the snow

  11. Enjoy a picnic or a snow happy hour (HOT DRINKS ONLY) 

  12. Create a treasure hunt for folks - hide things in snowy places (remember extra mittens) 

  13. Create bird feeders - it truly helps the birds (Hang them somewhere that you can replenish food until spring without going too much out of your way.)

  14. Watch winter movies and then head to landmarks or re-create something in the film (Ex. once my friends and I watched Serendipity and then went into NYC to get frozen hot chocolates at the Serendipity 3 restaurant. It was a frigid walk - and I learned I don't enjoy frozen hot chocolate on a cold day - but beautiful memory)  

  15. Pretend to be “Uncle Russ” (Russell Winfield) and snowboard 

Fun times when it’s cold, but not snowing (or incredibly icy):

  1. Take a winter jog (BUNDLE UP)

  2. Bonfire with hot chocolate and s’ mores

  3. Read outside by the fire or with a big comfy blanket

  4. Have a communal potluck - hot ciders, mulled wine, chocolate, fruit, small eats, and pastries 

  5. Take a big cozy blanket out, sit with hot drinks, and talk!!! 

  6. Put your napping toddler asleep - bundle up (and have a big comfy blanket) and allow for your small child to fall asleep in your arms or the stroller

  7. Take a Bourbon or Whiskey walk with friends and family

  8.  Walk to grab your mid-day coffee/tea/hot chocolate

  9.  Walk to grab a hot soup - if it’s not too cold eat it outside, especially if it’s in a thermos (NOTE: Soup/stew/chili are delicious ways to get your veggies in during the colder months)

  10. Take a hike in the forest - for a novice, I wouldn’t travel uphill or downhill in case of snow

  11.  Bundle up and go to the park 

  12. Check out your local “parent” or city magazine and participate in the listed outdoor activities 

  13. Enjoy a Christmas market in your town - I used to love the ones in both NYC (Union Square) and Philly (Center City)

This list is just the start! Regardless of what you choose to do in the winter, ENJOY the cold or move to a warm-all-year climate (lol)!

Get a double shot of happiness and relish these activities with other folks. Then at night, when it's time to curl up and get cozy with your book, movie, or music, it will be a day well spent. Or do the opposite - get outside by yourself and then retire with friends. I pray that your winter's rhythm will be one that allows time to get out (breathe and take in some Vitamin D), move around naturally, enjoy your people, and nourish your body and soul.  

Shalom and Polepole,


Edited by Ashley Yancey


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