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Father smiles while pushing his sun down on a snowy hill on a sled.

6 Winter Activities for Families

December 8, 2023 | Family Life

As the temperature drops and the first snowflakes start falling, winter is the ideal time for families to explore outdoor activities with their loved ones. Families in the Midwest, especially in states like Illinois and Wisconsin, greet cold temperatures with warm winter clothing, boots, and gloves. All are must-haves to keep everyone in good spirits.

Outside big cities, rural landscapes offer opportunities for families to get outdoors when the days are shorter( and colder!). From the exhilarating rush of sledding downhill to the beauty of a winter hike, the possibilities for family fun can be as simple as creating snow angels in the backyard. Here are some activities to start planning this winter. 

1. Go Sledding or Tobogganing

Embarking on a sledding adventure as a family for the first time is an exciting and memorable experience that offers downhill thrills for all ages. Start by selecting an appropriate sledding location. Look for a gentle hill with a smooth slope, free of obstacles like rocks or trees. Local parks or designated sledding hills are often ideal for beginners.

Bring an assortment of sleds for different ages and sizes, ensuring a thrilling ride for every family member. Additionally, helmets should be worn for everyone’s safety, especially if you have young children. Dress everyone in warm, waterproof clothing to stay comfortable in the snow and bring a change of socks and gloves for little ones.

2. Go Skiing or Snowboarding

Another highly recommended family winter activity is snowboarding or skiing. If your family has yet to do either, the best way to fast-track off the bunny hill is to take a group lesson (or two!). Be sure everyone loves this winter sport before investing in equipment, which can be pretty pricey. Ski resorts rent almost everything everyone will need for the mountain, including skis, boards, boots, and poles.

Dressing everyone appropriately for exposure to the cold will help prevent little ones from a meltdown. If your town doesn’t offer an annual ski swap, look for seasonal discounts at major retailers on insulated jackets, ski pants, warm gloves, helmets, and goggles.

3. Stay in a Cozy Cabin

A cozy wooden cabin glows with yellow lights in a snowy mountainside forest near a lake

Staying at a cozy cabin during winter is an outdoor and indoor adventure that is the perfect opportunity for families to bond. Especially if everyone agrees to leave their phones and tablets out of sight. To avoid cabin fever, plan to get everyone outdoors daily with a snowshoe adventure or to make a snowman. Be sure to bring your favorite board games, movies, and good tunes for an impromptu dance party when it’s time to warm up indoors. Also, score points by packing favorite food and cozy clothes like fleece sweaters and blankets. Everyone will appreciate flannel pajamas, warm socks, and slippers.

4. Build a Snowman

Building a snowman is a delightful impromptu activity that brings families joy, laughter, and perhaps a touch of frustration if you’re dealing with uncooperative snow. The optimal snow consistency for crafting the perfect snowman is somewhere between damp and powdery. Your next consideration is choosing a location with partial shade before beginning your snowman so that Mr. Frosty’s face avoids excessive sun exposure and the risk of melting.

Enlist the kids in gathering accessories to adorn your snowwoman, ranging from a sizable plastic flower pot as a hat to a shovel instead of a broom. Alternatively, major retailers offer snowman kits containing all the essentials, from button eyes and a nose to a cap, scarf, and even a stuffed carrot for the nose.

5. Take a Winter Hike

Hiker walks down a snowy path lined with evergreen trees while a yellow lab dog walks beside them

At certain times of the year, your winter hiking destination will be wet and rainy; at other times, it could be cold and snowy. Either way, winter hiking doesn’t have to be a miserable experience. Everyone will enjoy hiking with the right gear, like waterproof boots, a rain jacket, and shoe spikes for icy and snow conditions.

Winter is also a time when the trails are less crowded, and the air is crisp and clear. However, keep the age of your children in mind when planning a winter hike. You and the kiddos will hike slower in the winter than in summer because snow and mud are more challenging to walk on.

Time in nature eliminates distractions from phones and to-do lists, giving families an opportunity for quiet time and conversation. Moreover, many animals are active during the winter, so look for tracks and other signs of wildlife to create teachable moments. Another significant benefit of hiking outdoors with your children is that kids get both a physical and a mental health boost from outdoors, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics.

6. Make S’Mores

Lastly, sometimes planning a winter activity and packing everyone’s winter clothes and gear requires more time than busy parents have. Whenever that’s the case, you can still create some sweet memories with S’mores.

Roast marshmallows on an outdoor fire pit or over the barbecue to provide just enough heat to make the chocolate gooey. Fun fact: S’mores is a contraction of the phrase “some more.” And that is what the whole family will say after the first bite of toasted marshmallows, chocolate, and graham crackers.

Whether sunny or snowy, playing outside over the winter season brings health benefits to everyone in your family.

Store Your Family’s Winter Gear with Metro Self Storage

Metro Self Storage can easily switch your recreational gear between seasons at our state-of-the-art storage facilities featuring climate-controlled units, interior loading bays, and flexible monthly leases. In addition, you’ll find Metro Storage facilities at convenient locations with professionally trained storage teams to help you along the way. So, if you’re ready to rent your storage unit online and take advantage of all these benefits, it’s easy to reserve or rent your unit online now.