13 Fun Family Adventures to Have This Winter
Spring, Summer, Fall - I have no trouble at all coming up with adventures for our family to go on but when it comes to Winter I usually have to think a little harder.
The days are shorter. It is cold out there. And with the layers of Winter clothing, shoveling, windshield scraping, and all the other fun (sarcasm there) associated with getting the four of us out the door to have all this Winter fun, it sometimes just seems like too much work.
On the other hand, the idea of being trapped inside with two highly active children sounds like a lot of work too. So, although we do tend to hibernate a bit when Winter blows our way, we still get out for our fair share of adventuring.
Some people are natural Winter people. I have a dear friend that I met in Wisconsin that looks forward to this time of year because she can go for late evening strolls and breath in the bitter cold air. I have another lovely friend from Minnesota that cherishes this time of year because skiing is her favorite thing in the world. I get this, but I don't agree.
I'm one of those (possibly rare) people that like Summer and really could do without the other 3 season. Sorry! I know, I am terrible. Don't worry there are people in my life that remind me of this reguarly with eye rolls and constant attempts to demonstrate the joys of seasons.
Despite my hatred of Winter (and it is intensely dramatic) I feel it is important to now state that we have done all of these adventures below and I have enjoyed them all - even the standing outside in the cold ones for brief periods of time.
Although my kids were born in Minnesota and lived in Wisconsin until they were 3, they don't remember Winter. We spent the last two Winters in Mississippi (where a fleece qualifies as 'winter gear') and they are beyond excited to see snow in New York this Winter. I am equal parts dreading the first snowfall and excited to see how they react. This list of adventures was fun to prepare because I know how much they will delight in these simple outings.
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Be it a trip to the Farmers' Market (yes, some hearty farmers do these year round) or visiting a holiday fair, get outside to do a little shopping. My kids only enjoy shopping for brief periods, but while they are engaged they love this type of adventure.
It is hugely helpful to us all if there is a focus for our trip. A specific person we need to get a gift for or something else specific we are looking for that they can help find. We've been to both the farmers' market and the holiday market in Bryant Park and Union Square this month and all were a blast.
3 years old is probably the youngest age for which I would recommend this family adventure. We took our twins for the first time when they were four and they had a blast.
Rock Climbing is good for ages 5 and up. This is a fantastic way to exert some energy and build muscles while you are unable to frequent playgrounds.
We do this every year, usually while we are in Wisconsin for Christmas but this year we also went to the Dyker Heights Lights. Super simple, zero prep, completely free, and good for all ages - hard to beat that! This year we used this fun Holiday Lights Scavenger Hunt!
Minnesotans do this the best in the country - as far as I have seen. (Feel free to set me straight in the comments!) Between the Holidazzle Parade and the WinterFest, these people really know how to embrace Winter and snow.
Winter often sends me to the local museums. One of our favorite adventures in the different cities we have lived has been the Art Museum. With kids? Really? Absolutely! Many of them even have kid-friendly family events to encourage creativity in the youngest artists. This adventure has been tested and found fun for non-mobile infants and ages 2 and up.
Our kids were 4 the first time we took them to the ballet and I was impressed with how well they sat through the show. I think prep is key to making this successful. We did a whole unit on the Nutcracker in December before we went so they were familiar with the characters and story.
Sledding and skiing are classic Winter events. Sledding works with toddlers and up. Skiing is possible with 3 and up. Find a big hill in a nearby park and whoosh down. Simple fun. All you need is a sled and some warm layers.
My daughter loves animals so she loves the idea for making something for wildlife. I got this idea from the awesome The Kids' Outdoor Adventure Book which is full of nature ideas to do with kids. There are a lot of ways to do this, but the general idea is to make a simple ornament or string of basic food for animals and hang it from a tree. For example, popcorn and cranberry garland.
When we were living near Devil's Lake in Wisconsin we used to walk our todders out onto the frozen lake in the Winter. For safety reason you need to be POSITIVE that the water is frozen so this is best saved for the dead cold of Winter. I waited until there were several big pick up trucks out on the ice to do some fishing before we attempted this. I'm not going to lie, it made me a little nervous, but there is something super cool about big expansive open snow covered space.
Another thing we used to do in Devil's Lake and the surrounding hiking trails was look for animal tracks. This is best done after a fresh snow because the tracks are easiest to find. This is one that I am definitely planning to do with my little animal lover this Winter.
This adventure involves the grocery store and I know what you're going to say. The grocery store is NOT an adventure, it is a weekly parent torture device. I'm with you, but this is not your average grocery store trip. This is a learning opportunity.
For this adventure you are going to walk your kids through making soup from start to finish. Read a recipe, write an ingredients list, buy what you need at the grocery store, cook the soup together, and then enjoy. I did this in the Winter when my kids were about 2. Our little soup adventure took up a whole freezing cold morning and resulted in some delicious soup.
Take advantage of all that early evening darkness with a flashlight walk. All you need are warm clothes and one flashlight per person. (Check the batteries before you get outside!)
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