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10 Fun Outdoor Activities for Families This Winter

10 Fun Outdoor Activities for Families This Winter

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10 Fun Outdoor Activities for Families This Winter

As it gets closer to winter, we all usually begin to shift our outdoor activities for families to indoor ones. Because, well…it’s cold! But should we be giving up on our outdoor time so entirely? 

It’s no secret that we all need sunlight for our health. Too much can be cancerous, but too little can be depressing. Seasonal Affective Disorder (or SAD – a conveniently appropriate acronym) is no joke, affecting an estimated 10 million to 30 million Americans each year. SAD is a form of depression usually occurring in the late fall and winter months and is directly caused by a decrease in available sunlight. 

So clearly, sunlight affects our mood. But besides elevating your mood, did you know that sunlight also positively affects our health by:

  • Improving sleep
  • Promoting bone growth
  • Strengthening the immune system
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Promoting weight loss

It’s been a rough year, and we are all, honestly, a little on the low side to begin with this season. We’ve never needed the health-boosting effects that a little daily sunlight can give us more than now! 

But since it’s cold and not as easy to just casually hop outside, it might take a little extra planning and creativity (especially with kiddos) to get the whole family outdoors for a bit of sunshine on your faces. So we’ve put together some ideas that might help!

Here are 10 fun outdoor activities for families this winter:

1. Play in the snow, obviously (if you can!)

2. Outdoor ice skating

3. Take a walk

4. Cut down a Christmas tree

5. A trip to the zoo, followed by Zoo Lights

6. Create a nature ornament

7. Simple backyard bird feeders

8. Winter hike

9. Candy cane hunt

10. Campfire

1. Play in the snow, obviously (if you can!)

If you live in a climate that features snowy winters (or just a random lucky snowdrift now and then some years – looking at you, Texas), one of our favorite outdoor activities for families is simply to play in the snow!

Make it a daily treat you all look forward to. Get all bundled up and spend some time in the sun and the snow making snow angels and snowmen. Find a hill and go sledding. Have a snowball fight. Or even scoop up some clean snow and snag your favorite flavored syrups to make real snow cones for a fun wintery treat! 

2. Outdoor ice skating

One of the most classic and always enjoyable outdoor activities for families this winter is outdoor ice skating

Whether you’re a pro practicing frozen pirouettes or a novice just struggling to stay vertical, ice skating outdoors is fun for the whole family.

And if you’re a parent who feels a little too fragile these days to risk the falls, it’s still entertaining to sit on the sidelines with some hot cocoa and enjoy seeing your family have a good time, and watching the spectacle of all the slips, trips, and falls. It’s all part of the fun!

3. Take a walk

Outdoor activities for families this winter don’t have to be complicated or expensive. Simply getting outside for a daily walk around your neighborhood will do wonders for everyone’s mood and any beginning stirrings of “cabin fever.”

Have a regular route or explore the neighborhood. Discover what decorations the neighbors all have up close and pick your favorites. Take thermoses of hot chocolate along to help you stay warm as you breathe in the crisp winter air, feel the crunch of snow and leaves under your shoes, stretch your legs, and soak up some much-needed sunshine.  

4. Cut down a Christmas tree

As more Americans have begun switching to artificial Christmas trees each year, one of the most underrated outdoor activities for families in the winter is going to cut down your Christmas tree (or choose a pre-cut tree) for the holidays together!

Choosing a tree as a family is a great way to get everyone outside and brings the family together in the choosing process. The tree becomes infinitely more special and holds so much more fragrance and character and life than that old musty thing stuffed in a box in the attic.

Contrary to what some people might think, proper live Christmas tree care is actually quite simple. And there are plenty of ways that communities and individuals can repurpose and recycle Christmas trees once the season is over. 

5. Zoo lights

Tired of taking walks around your neighborhood? Mix it up a little and head over to the Houston Zoo (if you’re close, otherwise visit your local zoo!) for one of the best outdoor activities for families in any season!

A day at the zoo is fun for the whole family, and a great way to spend the day outside. Upgrade and transport those daily neighborhood walks to a promenade through African savannas and Tropical wetlands. And during the holidays, the zoo is fitted up festively with seasonal decorations, lights, and yummy holiday treats. 

Get the most out of your zoo day by spending the daylight hours visiting all the animals. Then after going out to grab dinner somewhere, come back in the evening for the Houston Zoo’s annual Zoo Lights presented by TXU Energy to see how everything has magically transformed into a twinkly, Christmassy winter wonderland! Tickets to this exhibition also make great holiday gifts for other families. 

6. Create a nature ornament

One of the cutest outdoor activities for families this winter is to go outside and collect foliage elements to create nature ornaments.

This craft is great because it gets everyone outside for awhile gathering bits of twigs and leaves and any greenery pieces. Then you can all go back inside to get warm and start creating! 

Arrange, tie with twine, glue, or paste the pieces together to make recognizable holiday shapes such as crosses, stars, and candy canes and turn them into cute, rustic ornaments. These also can be adorable gifts for grandparents, neighbors, and teachers.

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7. Simple backyard bird feeders

Making simple birdseed feeders is a fun outdoor activity for families and an excellent way to get kids interested in the animals in their own backyard. 

Watch them get excited about seeing the squirrels and birds coming to eat from the food they gave them, and start introducing how to care for animals.

Making the feeders can be a lot of fun, especially when it gets a little messy! Simple bird seed feeders can be made from apple cores, orange peels, pinecones, etc., dipped in peanut butter and sprinkled or rolled with the bird seed. Then all you have to do is hang them outside and wait! 

Having these feeders in your backyard is also advantageous because it further draws birds into your area to feed on worms, spiders, and bugs. Hello organic, natural pest control!

8. Winter hike

Another great way to upgrade your daily family walk to get the family outdoors this winter is to go on a winter hike!

Take a break from all of the sitting around in front of the tv watching Christmas movies and indulging in treats. Make a day of it and bring a picnic and thermoses of hot apple cider, put the kids in something warm and comfy with sturdy shoes, and head out to the woods or a local park with trails and truly embrace the outdoors.

You can even make it a yearly family tradition to kick off the new year in a healthy way with a family winter hike!

9. Candy cane hunt

Another fun outdoor activity for families this winter you’re sure to love is creating a candy cane hunt in the backyard!

You don’t have to have snow in the backyard to make a candy cane scavenger hunt, but it’s even more fun if you do!

Get everyone outside crunching around in the snow hunting for candy canes, and have tons of fun doing it! It’s as simple as a typical Easter egg hunt in the spring, but the snow adds a little extra kick to the scavenging fun. A candy cane is the perfect little shape and pop of color to hunt for in all that blanket of white, and it is its own yummy reward! 

Introduce different colors/flavors and sizes of candy canes to represent a point system and make it more competitive!

You’ll be amazed and delighted at how much fun the kids (and adults!) will have with the challenge of hunting for the well-hidden candy canes in the snowy backyard. But don’t be surprised if everyone just ends up playing around in the snow, too.

10. Campfire

Last but not least in our list of fun outdoor activities for families this winter is to have a campfire.

Since it’s winter and probably chilly all day, you don’t have to wait for the evening to have a campfire. Get everyone outside in the daylight to catch some sun and snuggle up to the fire at the same time. 

Create a fun lunchtime campfire with your go-to campfire treats like hotdogs and s’mores for dessert. Have hot chocolate for the kiddos, and maybe some hot mulled wine for the adults, and just enjoy each other’s company and conversation around the fire. 

And that’s what creating memorable holiday moments together as a family is all about. 
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