It may be chilly outside, but don’t let that keep you from making memories with your family! I hope these activity ideas inspire you to create your winter fun this year!
Winter is a great time to focus on rest. But that also means cabin fever can creep in – and quickly! So what do you do when you need to get off the couch and get outside? You throw on as many winter layers as you need and you get outside!
Before bundling up, take a look through these 27 cheap or free winter activities for families. Which one will you be doing today?
27 Best Cheap or Free Winter Activities for Families
I’ve broken this list up into season-specific activities and indoor activities. Some are free and some have an expense. All are fun!
When you think of winter activities, do you normally think of looking at Christmas lights and ice skating? I did too until I truly took the time to realize everything you can do during the winter!
If you live somewhere that doesn’t snow or get winter weather like we do, I would love to know what kinds of outdoor winter activities you participate in! Are there ways to build a snowman without snow? Comment on this blog post and let me know!
Indoor Winter Family-Friendly Activities
1 Hot Chocolate Face Off
I love cooking up something in the kitchen! Get your kids involved and encourage them to find their favorite hot chocolate recipe. Have a hot chocolate face-off, or try a new recipe every day!
2 Family Game Night
Does your family prefer board games or video games? We are a board game family!
3 Science Experiments
As a homeschool mom, I have so many ideas when it comes to indoor science lessons! Since it’s winter and there may be snow on the ground, consider experimenting with melting points and freezing points.
Other ideas for science experiments unrelated to cold weather include creating oobleck, creating a homemade lava lamp, and tracking how capillaries work with celery, just to name a few.
4 Make Sock Snowmen or Homemade Play Dough
Arts and crafts are a great way to pass the time! Check out this blog post for drawing prompts.
Other craft ideas include creating a fall scrapbook, winter-themed crafts like a wreath or blue play dough, and for older children, something more involved like knitting or sewing a blanket.
5 Finish a Reading Challenge
Reading challenges aren’t just great for summer! Consider doing a reading challenge to get you through winter while you’re cooped up inside.
Frequently Asked Questions
What can families do for fun at home?
We just talked about a few things you can do at home for fun. Other options include bringing the outside in! You can create a drive-in movie theater or create a salon. When you use your imagination, the possibilities are endless!
How do you entertain kids in the winter?
Entertaining kids in the winter extends beyond the fun activities we talk about in this blog post. Bring them along to do life with you! Let them help you shovel snow or go for a drive and look at Christmas lights. Not all fun has to be premeditated or end with any sort of life lesson.
Outdoor Winter Family-Friendly Activities
6 Go Ice Skating at an Ice Rink
We have a few ice skating rinks that pop up in our area come winter and one in particular that’s open year-round! What winter sports are available in your area?
7 Visit Local Nature Centers
I am so thankful for the walking trails in my area. On one of the most popular walking trails there’s a nature center! In the downtime we have on the homestead during the winter, I’m always looking for educational ways to supplement what my children aren’t learning during the summer. This is a great way to do just that!
Beyond general nature centers, you can look for other attractions like zoos, aquariums, and greenhouses.
8 Host a Scavenger Hunt
Scavenger hunts are a great way to get a group of friends together. You can even make it fit a certain theme, like indoor activities or Christmas!
9 Visit an Indoor Pool
If you’re traveling away from the cold and snow in your area, stop by an indoor pool in your hotel or Air BnB! If you can’t get away, look into community centers in your area. Even if you aren’t a resident in that city, you may be able to pay an annual fee to take advantage of the services provided there!
In my area, we have several indoor pools. You can pay by the day or pay an annual fee to enjoy these commodities all year round.
10 Go Through an Obstacle Course
Our area has several obstacle courses for kids of all ages. We have child-focused centers that are bright and colorful and teen-focused centers that are trampoline park-inspired.
You can also rent an obstacle course for some winter fun! This may be quite an investment upfront. But if you have a winter birthday and the weather is nice, it may be worth spending the money on. Search rental bounce houses in your area. There may even be indoor options for you!
11 Watch Live Music
I love fall and winter festivals in my area because it always means good food and live music! What’s your favorite kind of live music?
12 Attend Story Time at Your Local Public Library
Storytime at your local public library is a great way to get involved in your community and attend an indoor activity on those cold, winter days. Our library hosts things like reading challenges during the summer. So be sure to look into special programming your local library may host!
Frequently Asked Questions
How can I get 1,000 hours outside during winter?
I once read that the 1,000 hours outside breaks down into 1 to 2-hour increments during the winter. It’s whatever your children can tolerate.
I’ve also read that the 1,000 hours outside doesn’t apply to preschool age and younger, simply because things like nap schedules and overstimulation don’t allow for it.
But if you are trying to get your 1,000 hours outside during the winter, you could do things like eat meals outside, spend warmer days outside, or even go camping.
But again, this needs to be specific to your family and what your children need.
How do I stay warm during winter?
If you are planning on venturing outside this winter, look for thicker materials like wool, cotton, or fleece fabric. And don’t be afraid to layer! Consider long-sleeved shirts, vests, and coats. And don’t skimp on scarves, hats, and gloves!
13 Exercise at an Indoor Playground
There’s no better way to beat cabin fever than to run off some of that energy!
14 Go Cross-Country Skiing
If skiing isn’t a sport that your climate accommodates, consider adding it to your winter bucket list if you’re traveling this season! In our area, hockey and ice skating are the two most popular winter sports.
15 Make Snow Angels
Getting outside is a must for your overall health. What better way to get outside than to make a snowman? And when you’re finished, drink some hot cocoa as I mentioned at the top of this blog post!
16 Visit Local Trampoline Parks
Trampoline parks are a great way to burn off some of that energy from being cooped up during the winter.
17 Visit Your Local Park
Where I live, snow doesn’t stick to the ground all winter long. We have days when the sun shines and lets us go outside with only a sweatshirt on! Take advantage of those days for a simple park day. Take a picnic and spend some quality time together as a family!
18 Winter Hikes
Winter hikes are another great way to spend time together as a family. You could pair a hike with a homeschool lesson about animals in your area, or even start at a nature center in your area.
19 Attend Interactive Exhibits
We have quite a few museums of various kinds in our areas. History is the most popular, but we also have art and children’s activity museums. Look into your area and see what’s available to you! Be sure to look into free museum days. Once a week, we can take advantage of our local children’s activity museum for free!
20 Hockey Games
Hockey games are in the same vein as ice skating. Since it’s in season, give it a try! You could also try your hand at snowboarding. italic – fun fact. Skiing and snowboarding are the two most popular winter sports in the US!
21 Train Ride
Train rides in the winter are nothing short of magical. If you’re a fan of the movie italic – The Polar Express, it will make the experience that much more magical! The last train ride I took in the winter we went through rolling hills where the leaves were falling and fog was cascading into the valleys. As we turned and chugged through the mountains, you could see where storms had battered parts of the forest. But in the spring, new life took over and the forest sang again. It was incredible!
22 Visit Local Landmarks
Being a tourist in your city is not a new idea, but winter could give it a fun spin. Visiting something out of season is also a great way to learn something new, or gain a new appreciation for what you already have.
23 See Area Christmas Lights
This is by far my favorite Christmas activity. Where we live, each major city has a downtown city square that conducts a lighting ceremony each year.
If we aren’t able to make the lighting ceremony, we try our hardest to make a stop at the city square so we can see the lights! Some cities will shut down traffic so you can enjoy things like animal rides, hot cocoa, and other seasonal vendors.
24 Watch a Production from a Local Theater
Winter means The Nutcracker. Search for dance companies in your area that may host a performance of The Nutcracker! There are a few dance companies in my area that host auditions at the beginning of September.
25 Watch a Christmas Parade
The only thing that could top this is being involved in a Christmas parade!
I love being involved in my community, and part of that means checking out my annual parades! We always have one for Christmas and the Fourth of July. Find out when your city is hosting a Christmas parade. And see what you can do to be a part of it!
26 Attend a Winter Farmer’s Market
Just because the weather is dreary doesn’t mean plants aren’t producing!
You will be surprised at what you will be able to produce during the winter. If you have a good cold frame set up or proper coverings, you could even grow a hearty lettuce during the winter!
Take advantage of locally grown produce all year round by supporting local farmers or growing your own. For more gardening inspiration, check out my Homesteading Tab.
27 Build a Snowman
A staple winter activity is building a snowman. This is also a great way to get young children involved!
Snowmen don’t have to be elaborate, They also don’t have to have the traditional carrot and coal. Grab some sticks and rocks and you have a snowman!
What do you like to do for winter?
This list is not extensive. And I look forward to adding to it in the years to come!
I do hope you’re encouraged by all you can do for little to no money during the winter. And the majority of this list is outdoor activities!
I also didn’t touch on all of the seasonal traditions you can take part in this time of year. Think of things like caroling to people who are home-bound, or creating a goodie basket and handing it out to area first responders who are working during the holidays. There are so many other activities you can do during the winter!
What are some things you and your family like to do during the winter? Comment on this blog post and let me know!
Check out these other great blog posts
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Ultimate Gift Guide for the Homesteader in Your Life
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