20+ Fun Outdoor Winter Activities for All Ages

February 01, 2024
A woman snowshoeing

Many people are inclined to stay inside when temperatures drop, and to be fair, there’s no shortage of entertaining indoor winter activities. But if you’re wondering what to do on a snow day, the great outdoors has plenty to offer.

Physical activities in the cold, such as hiking, skiing and building a snowman, offer huge benefits to your mental and physical health. Getting exercise helps relax your mind, and exposure to the sun can improve your mood. Plus, the Vitamin D boost helps your body fight off diseases. Studies have even shown a correlation between spending time in nature and lower levels of depression and stress, so bundle up and safely enjoy the cold with one of these outdoor activities.

1. Visit a hot spring

The temperature of a hot spring is substantially higher than that of the air surrounding the area, and it’s perfect for thawing your cold body in winter. Soaking in a hot spring is a warm and relaxing experience, but this getaway may require some advance planning. Most hot springs are out west, with far fewer found in other regions of the United States.

2. Go dogsledding

When looking for fun things to do outside, dogsledding is a thrilling and one-of-a-kind winter activity in which you can drive a team of dogs or just sit back and enjoy the ride. It’s also a great way to see miles of beautiful winter scenery. Although Alaska is the dogsledding hub of the United States, there are many great tours available throughout the rest of the country, so individuals of any experience level can join in the fun.

3. Build a snowman

Kids will especially love getting outside when the snow starts falling. Grab a few things from around the house on the way out — like a hat, scarf, and carrot — and you’ve got what you need to build a snowman! Let the kids get creative, finding special additions around the yard such as sticks for the arms and rocks for the eyes, mouth, and buttons.

4. Build a snow fort

There’s really no shortage of exciting snow activities your family can enjoy right in your own backyard. A snow fort is fun to build, and kids can enjoy hanging out inside the finished product. To ensure safety, never build alone and do not enclose the structure, since a collapsing roof can cause serious injury.

5. Have a snowball fight

A snowball fight is the perfect solution if the whole family, or even the whole neighborhood, is stuck at home on a snow day. It can be as simple as tossing a few snowballs back and forth, or it can be a more epic experience with forts, rules, and strategy. Just make sure everybody plays fairly and is mindful of younger kids so nobody gets hurt.

6. Go ice fishing

If you love fishing, don’t let the cold stop you over the winter. Ice fishing is a great excursion that involves fishing through a hole in the ice of a frozen body of water.

Make sure you do your homework to find a safe fishing spot and show up prepared with the right equipment, like an auger, a sled, ice rods, and a bait container. A successful ice fishing trip is a rewarding experience on its own, made all the better when you sit back and enjoy your catch.

7. Go tubing or sledding

Take advantage of any nearby hills over the winter with a sledding adventure. If that’s not an option, find a nearby ski resort that offers tubing. Sledding and tubing provide an exhilarating adrenaline rush for the young and old. For the youngest thrill seekers, you can start out by simply pulling a sled or tube around the backyard.

8. Go ice skating

Many people stick to inside rinks for ice skating, but getting outside for this activity is a magical experience. Some states have ponds or lakes that are safe for ice skating over the winter. You can rent skates at an outdoor rink at a park or even in the heart of a downtown metropolitan area. Ice skating makes for a great solo activity, romantic date, or family and friend outing.

9. Go snowshoeing

If you enjoy exploring parks during the warmer seasons, snowshoeing is the perfect way to extend the fun through the winter. It’s a form of hiking in which you wear special footwear that distributes your weight to keep you from sinking in the snow.

Snowshoeing is one of many outdoor winter hobbies perfect for the whole family, because many ages and ability levels can enjoy it together. It’s also great exercise and is inexpensive. All you need to get started is warm, waterproof boots and snowshoes that are right for your weight, the terrain, and the snow conditions. Adjustable poles with snow baskets are optional but recommended.

10. Go skiing or snowboarding

Skiing and snowboarding are among the most popular winter sports. Both skiing and snowboarding will take you on a thrilling ride over the snow, either with a pair of skis or a single snowboard attached to your boots. Spend some time finding the right ski resort, whether you’re looking for a beginner’s package or a challenge on the slopes.

11. Ride ATVs

Kick your winter fun up a notch with a ride on an all-terrain vehicle (ATV). If you usually ride only during the warmer months, make sure you bundle up, wear protective gear, and properly prepare your ATV to keep you from getting stuck out in the cold. This includes adding a fuel stabilizer to your gas, keeping your battery warm, and checking your spark plugs, oil, air filter, and tires.

But accidents can still happen. It’s important to understand the risks of riding an ATV when purchasing ATV insurance so you can be protected while enjoying your off-road adventures. Check out our ATV/UTV safety tips before you head out.

12. Go snowmobiling

If you’re unfamiliar with snowmobiling, you might be surprised by the diverse uses of these motorized vehicles. Snowmobiling encompasses much more than just winter transportation.

For many, snowmobiling is a great way to explore the outdoors on or off trails. Snowmobiles are also used for snocross racing, a spectator sport similar to motocross, or cross-country racing.

If you’re looking for great snowmobile vacation spots this winter, you’re in luck. More cities, resorts, and parks are accommodating the booming activity of snowmobiling.

Snowmobile insurance is required in some states, and it is always a smart idea to avoid paying out of pocket for damages. Learn more about snowmobile coverages so you’re protected on your next winter adventure!

13. Place ice hockey

Find a park or outdoor rink, grab some friends, skates, sticks and a puck and you’ve got yourself a fun afternoon. If you can’t find an outdoor rink, you can play ball hockey just in your neighborhood, in a safe location, without skates.

14. Go for a hike

Bundle up, grab some family members or friends and head into the wilderness for a relaxing hike in the woods. Ensure that you don’t trip on any slippery terrain by putting on boots with good tread and checking the weather before heading out to make sure you won’t get caught in a storm.

15. Admire holiday decorations

It probably won’t take traveling too far for you to enjoy holiday decorations this winter season. Simply take a walk, or even a drive, around your neighborhood to take a look at the lights and other festive decorations.

16. Do a nature scavenger hunt

While you’re out in nature, make your walk a little more interesting with a scavenger hunt. Look for all the things nature has to offer, such as berries, acorns, evergreens and seedpods. You can even look for bugs if you’re extra adventurous.  If you’re not sure if it’s safe, it’s best not to touch vegetation and wildlife.

17. Check out local winter carnivals

From snowshoe races to polar plunges and ice palaces, winter carnivals bring locals and visitors together. Check out whether any are coming to an area near you, or even travel to see one and join in on the fun.

18. Shovel a neighbor’s sidewalk

Bring the spirit of the holidays to life by doing a random act of kindness for your neighbor. Even better, teach your kids about the power of doing something for others. Your neighbor will hopefully appreciate the kindness and maybe even pay it forward.

19. Make snow angels

Grab the kids, bundle up and head out into the snow to make some snow angels. It really isn’t winter until you do! Afterward, you can even decorate your indentations with pinecones, sticks, and berries.

20. Look for winter constellations

When it starts getting darker earlier in the winter months, conditions make for great stargazing. Take the kids outside and teach them about the constellations. You can even make a game out of who can find each constellation first.

21. Go ice bowling

You can create your own bowling alley outside with inexpensive things you probably already own. For the bowling ball, simply fill up a balloon with water and let it freeze overnight. For the pins, fill up water bottles with water and freeze overnight. Set up the alley outside on the concrete and enjoy!

22. Try winter horseback riding

Contrary to what many people might assume, winter is a great time for horseback riding. Enjoy the nature in an amazing way by bundling up yourself and your horse and popping out for a trail ride.


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