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20 Fun Things To Do Outside Even When It's Cold

Get out there and earn that hot chocolate!

Deena Campbell · 4 months ago

Ice suncatcher

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When the temperature outside is colder than Jack Frost's big toe, it’s tempting to stay inside and play. But even on those super chilly days when the thought of stepping outside is enough to make you cry into your long underwear, it’s worth it to smash on those boots and get out there! With the right games, the right attitude, and — let’s not forget — the right hot chocolate as a reward, there are plenty of fun ways to enjoy the great big beautiful outdoors, even when it’s cold out. Here are 20 things to do outside on winter days that definitely beat hiding under the blankets.

1. Fly a kite

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When the blustery winds of winter stage a major comeback, use the time to fly high. Grab a kite and let it soar!

2. Climb a tree

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You probably haven’t climbed a tree in a few months — and some of you (ahem, grownups) may not have climbed a tree in a few years. But winter is a great time to get up into the branches, with fewer leaves to block your view from on high. And it’s great exercise, too.

3. Plant onions

Winter gardening

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Who says gardening is only for the warmer months? Take advantage of the cold temperatures and plant cold-weather-loving crops like onions, carrots, kale, and beets.

4. Bird watch

Bird watch

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Watching birds gets a bad rap for being uneventful, but it’s a great way to connect kids with nature. And besides, everyone’s patience could use a little refining these days. Bring some seeds to scatter, and the birds (or at least the squirrels) might actually come to watch you.

5. Go on a hike

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Walk off the winter blues as a family. Bonus points for whoever can spot the most birds and insects. (Bring along our printable nature scavenger hunt checklist for more ideas!)

6. Go sledding

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Let’s face it: sledding down a hill is just as fun for adults as it is little kids. Not only is a great exercise (dare you run up and down a hill without breaking a sweat!) but you can do it almost anywhere, anytime.

7. Try ice fishing

Ice fishing

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Let the thought of catching tasty fish be the motivation you need to get outside and enjoy the fresh air.

8. Paint rocks

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Clear off the backyard patio, cover it with newspaper and gather the crew for some colorful, screen-free fun.

9. Sing in the rain

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If you thought singing in the rain was lame, think again. It’s a great way to let out your stress and get energized, too. Just remember to wear your waterproof rain gear.

10. Enjoy tea or hot chocolate outside

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For those who gravitate towards the outdoors, but still like to feel warm on the inside, try sipping warm beverages on an outdoor patio or deck. Don’t forget to load up on marshmallows, whipped cream, and fudge.

11. Animal track hunting

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Animal lovers will enjoy spotting tiny and mega large animal tracks in the dirt and snow. 

12. Play hide and seek

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Hide and seek is a lot more fun — and challenging — when you take it outside in wintertime. With no closets to hide in or big leafy bushes to duck behind, you’ll have to get creative!

13. Feed ducks

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Bring some nuts, oats, rice, birdseed, or frozen peas and corn to the local pond, and give your friendly neighborhood waterfowl a break from foraging for bugs and seeds on their own. (Bread isn’t really the best food for ducks and geese, so try to avoid tossing it if you can.)

14. Walk along the beach

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Regardless of the weather, there’s nothing like breathing in fresh air, soaking up the sun’s rays, and appreciating the rhythm of the waves. 

15. Visit the animals at the zoo

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If you’ve only ever visited the zoo during the warm months, you might be surprised at who’s out and about and acting frisky in their habitats during the winter. Sleepy polar bears, arise! Penguins, let’s party!

16. Build and decorate a bird’s nest

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Think like a bird and create a nest using only natural materials like dried grass, weeds, twigs, and leaves.

17. Start a fire and make s’mores

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Get a campfire going and toast marshmallows to smother with chocolate between graham crackers for as long as your hands will hold up.

18. Play in a sandbox

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Sandboxes aren’t just for the summer! Combine sand with snow for hours of digging and building fun.

19. Make frozen suncatchers

Ice suncatcher

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Forget glass or plastic suncatchers. This winter the real fun is in freezing seeds, pinecones, and leaves in the ice.

20. Make a snow volcano!

Snow Day Volcano

Little Bins Little Hands

Know what your snow day needs? Some red-hot "lava," of course. To make a snow volcano, you’ll need a very snowy day, baking soda, dish soap, vinegar, food coloring, warm water, and a tall cup. Have the materials all ready to go when you head outside because once you get going, the volcano will erupt fast. Head over to Little Bins Little Hands for the full how-to.