Embracing the winter season with kids in tow can be a chilly challenge. But kids (and their parents) need time outside during the winter, just as much as any other time of year. There are so many amazing benefits of spending time outside together during the winter season. Today, Teri Walzenbach, Washington mom of two, is here to share her invaluable tips, tricks, and family-favorite outdoor adventures that will have you and your little ones eagerly donning those snowsuits. Get ready to transform your winter perspective and discover the joy of creating lasting memories amidst the frosty landscape as we invite you to shift your mindset and savor the unique magic that the winter season has to offer.

Getting kids outside in the winter

Getting kids outside in the winter isn’t always (or ever) easy.  The cold, the snow, the lost mitten, all the layers, and the pull of the cozy warmth of the indoors can all prevent us from going outside.

But, getting outside in spite of these challenges is important for several reasons. First, it can help children stay active and healthy. And, of course, it helps kids get enough Vitamin D, which we know helps with your immune system. Spending time outdoors can also help kids reduce stress and anxiety. It can also help mamas too, for all the same reasons. It’s not always easy, but it is definitely worth it.

As a lover of the outdoors in every season, I am hoping to help inspire you today to get outside during the cold winter months. I’m here to share some of our favorite activities (and tips and tricks) that help get our family outside in the winter, in the hope that they help you, too!

Mindset shift

Depending on your location, there will be certain seasons that are more conducive to getting outside than others. Winter is probably not too many parents’ favorite season for outdoor play. Winter can be hard. It brings its own set of challenges, but it also brings special magical outdoor activities you can’t do any other time of year. Kids need outdoor time year-round, and so do you! We’d hate for you to miss out on months of adventures just because this is a hard season. 

But, as moms, we can do hard things! And getting outside may just take a bit of a mindset shift so that you can embrace (and maybe even enjoy!) the season. Instead of looking at winter as a season of inconvenience and uncooperative weather, it’s time to shift our perspectives. Infusing gratitude into this season can make a huge difference in our attitude and feelings about going outside, transforming our perspective from dread and reluctance to excitement and appreciation. 

Winter also provides opportunities for unique and memorable experiences that can only be found in the chill of the season. If you’re lucky enough to live in a place that gets snow, there are all kinds of new possibilities for creative play, imagination, and construction.

Simple and practical tips for getting kids outside in the winter

Keep it simple

Make it easy on yourself, and keep the outing simple. I get wanting to make every outing as epic as possible, but it can burn you out. It’s good to have the big adventures, but the small can also be memorable and check all the needed boxes. Sometimes, just getting out and taking a walk around the neighborhood or heading to your local playground/park can be enough to really help your mood and attitude. If a big outing feels overwhelming, keep it simple and close to home. Short and sweet is the way to go. Set reasonable limits on the amount of time spent playing outside to prevent hypothermia and frostbite, and, of course, just keep it fun. It’ll still be worth it. 

Plan ahead

Plan ahead with your clothing, gear, and layers. Gather all of your hats, mittens, boots, and other necessary clothing before you start to dress your kids. You want to make sure it’s as quick and painless as possible for everyone! Put it all by the door and have it ready for everyone when they’re ready to go out. Not having to stop and look for a missing boot or glove for 20 minutes will help get you outside quicker and cut down on stress.

Make it fun

Make the process of gearing up for the cold a fun family affair. Involve your kids in picking out winter gear, from colorful snowsuits to cozy hats and gloves. When they have a say in their attire, they’ll be more eager to venture outside. If the process of getting dressed and gearing up makes you want to scream, you’re not alone. Find a way to make it fun or turn it into a game. Turn on fun music and have a getting-ready-dance party, or make it a race to see who can get dressed the fastest. 

Change things up

Sometimes, the winter can feel like it lasts FOREVER. In that case, I start getting antsy and tired of visiting the same places again and again. I like to take winter mini vacations and change the scenery. These can be big and small adventures. Sometimes, getting out of town or into a new environment gets my kids more excited for outdoor adventures. 

Be a winter role model

Kids often take cues from their parents. If they see you embracing and enjoying the winter season, they’re more likely to follow suit. Demonstrate a positive attitude towards the colder weather and make outdoor time a family priority. Get out there with them and try to enjoy the season! Observe and point out things that are unique about your location during the winter months. Show them you enjoy being outside and they’ll enjoy it, too! 

Don’t forget the snacks

Add special treats to keep it exciting! Anything you do with kids is better with snacks. In the winter, I often pack a thermos with hot chocolate or the kids’ favorite warm soup. Or, if we are planning to make a fire in the snow, then I bring fixings to make good ole s’mores. Having something warm and delicious to break things up always adds to the overall mood. 

How to dress for outdoor winter activities

Warm kids are happy kids who are likely to stay outside longer. If you want to spend time outside during the winter in comfort, you may need to invest in quality winter boots, insulated gloves, and thermal layers. When kids (and moms!) are comfortable, they’re more likely to enjoy the outdoor experience.

Before heading out, check the weather forecast and keep an eye on changing conditions throughout the day. Layers are the best because you can modify them depending on the activity level and find the just right body temperature.

Start with a base layer of moisture-wicking fabric, then add a layer of fleece or wool, and finally, a weatherproof outer layer. Try to steer clear of cotton. Don’t forget to cover your kiddo’s head, neck, hands, and feet. Warm hats, gloves, and boots are essential!

If you need help finding the perfect winter gear, check out the following articles by fellow RWMC mamas:

Fun outdoor winter activities for kids

There are so many ways to get outside with kids in the winter! We have a great, super comprehensive post with 100+ Outdoor Winter Activities for Kids, but honestly, the list could go on and on beyond that!

Of course, my family has our favorite outdoor winter activities and traditions that we love to do every year. Here’s a list of our family’s favorites. These are the activities that we keep going back to for more!


Sledding is a classic and a quintessential outdoor winter activity for kids of all ages! All you need is a sled and a hill with snow on it.  This one is probably the most obvious because, let’s face it, what kid doesn’t LOVE sledding? Hours of downhill fun and lots of walking the sled back up to get in all that needed exercise. It’s a win-win for a great night’s sleep and a heavy dose of fresh air. Check out your state’s recreational website for sno-park locations and pass information. Here is an additional article about visiting Sno-Parks

Sledding safety tips

However, as with every fun activity, especially when children are involved, it’s important to be safe as well as have fun. Here are some sledding safety tips for your little ones.

  • Young kids (5 and under) should sled with an adult and wear a helmet when sledding.
  • Everyone should sit face-forward on their sleds with their feet downhill. Never godown the hill face-first because this can lead to a serious head injury.
  • Go down the hill one at a time and with only one person per sled (except for adults with young kids).
  • Keep arms and legs within the sled at all times.
  • If you’re on a sled that won’t stop, roll off it.
  • Walk up the side of the hill and leave the middle open for other sledders.
  • Don’t ever pull a sled with a moving vehicle (like a snowmobile or all-terrain vehicle).


Snowshoeing is an amazing way to get outside and enjoy the beauty of the winter months. This is probably my favorite activity because it is really just winter hiking. It’s a great way to get out into the woods and walk through a winter wonderland.

It’s a relatively easy sport to pick up, even for kids, and requires no prior experience or training. Everyone who is able and willing to snowshoe can and should, no matter their age! It is a great way to get the kids outside and hike through pristine powder snow.

Basically, snowshoeing is a type of hiking that involves walking over or on top of the snow with the assistance of footwear that displaces your weight over a larger area (so you don’t sink). No snowshoes? Don’t worry! If the trail is popular enough, you might not even need the snow shoes. But, wearing them is sometimes half the fun for kids,  so check to see if you can rent some at your local outdoor sports shop or even check them out at your local library or nature center. 

For more information on getting started snowshoeing with kids, be sure to check out our full post on Beginner Snowshoeing Tips for Kids

Ice skating

Ice skating is a fun and fabulous activity for kids that offers SO many benefits. Skating helps kids develop better balance, coordination, and flexibility, strengthens muscles, and improves their endurance. Skating can also be a social activity that allows kids to make new friends. Finally, ice skating is just so awesome and fun! The feeling of sailing across the ice is delightful and can provide hours of entertainment for kids.

Our family loves skating so much that we make a vacation around it to help us with getting outside during the winter. We have found an incredible free outdoor skating rink in Stanley, Idaho, that is surrounded by the Sawtooth Mountains. We rent a cabin nearby and skate till our hearts are content. Another awesome trip would be to ice skate through the forest outside of Quebec City. I’ve heard it’s a magical experience!

Building a snow fort

My kids LOVE building snow forts! Building a snow fort has to be up there at the very top of awesome winter outdoor activities. Last year, my kids built an amazing snow fort that they played in for hours and hours over the course of a few weeks (until it melted). They were so incredibly proud of their fort and had so much fun building it! Always be extra careful not to make it too heavy on top and make sure kids have proper adult supervision.

If you want to take it up a notch, throw in a fire and some hot chocolate, and you have a memory that lasts a lifetime. Seriously, a snow fort with kids is a fun and creative activity that can provide hours of entertainment. All you really need is a shovel and some creativity. It’s a great way to get a workout, enjoy the outdoors, and teach kids about physics. Snow forts are fun snow construction projects!

Book a getaway cabin

Does winter give you cabin fever? I’m talking about the kind of cabin fever that makes you want to rent a cabin in the woods and get immersed in nature!

Renting a cabin in the woods in the winter with your kids can be a great way to spend quality time together and create lasting memories. Cabins in the woods offer a unique opportunity to get away from the daily hum-drum and experience nature up close. You can explore the surrounding forests, go on hikes, and spot wildlife. There is something invigorating about being in a new environment. 

Visit the beach

Beaches in the wintertime are magical places. While the cooler temperature makes the water a bit too cold for swimming, there are still many activities the whole family can enjoy doing at the beach during the cooler winter months. Take advantage of the lack of crowds and spend some time shelling. For the best shelling, arrive at the beach at the earliest low tide, when the water recedes, uncovering thousands of shells. Shells are especially abundant after winter storms stir up the ocean water.

Bring along some binoculars to spot all sorts of birds and marine life, from crabs and live sand dollars to dolphins. Look for a place where the sand is dotted with rocks and branches so that the water gets trapped when the tide is low, and you will find many critters in these small tidepools. 

A place like the PNW coast in the winter is a definite playground. We hit the Oregon Coast a few years ago in November, and it was incredible. It rained the entire week, but it didn’t stop us. My kids chased the tides, made sand angels, and looked for anemones and starfish. If you dress right, the weather just adds to the fun. Misty and foggy beaches are like another world!

Visit your favorite park in the snow

Playgrounds can be a ton of fun in the snow. If it’s snowy and/or muddy outside and you’re not in the mood to track through the muck and get filthy, consider a playground. Most local parks have some sort of outdoor playground equipment that can be enjoyed no matter what the season or weather. You’ll likely have it all to yourselves, which makes it the perfect place to play games. There is usually enough space to spread out, things to climb on and the possibility to meet new friends. 

My kids love playing Follow the Leader on playgrounds. They take turns being the leader and lead each other through a maze of playground equipment, doing silly and challenging things. For example, they love walking across the swings without touching the ground, climbing up the slides, and leaping from thing to thing. Check out our post for even more ideas of park playground games for kids

Cheers to an active and wonderful winter

Just because it’s cold and snowy outside doesn’t mean you can get out there and have fun! Kids need time outside in the winter just as much as they do in the summer. Time spent outdoors during the winter helps their immune system, gets their blood flowing, and helps them get essential nutrients. I hope this post gave you some ideas for fun new things to do to keep your kids active, outdoors, and having fun! So bundle up and get ready for a fun winter of outdoor fun. Adventure awaits even when it’s cold outside!

About the author

Teri is the mama of 2 adventurous kiddos (ages 7 and 9), living in Washington State. She loves to explore the outdoors, and her kids often tell her she has a “crush” on the mountains (she agrees). Teri is an avid hiker and backpacker, who enjoys getting out on solo trips as well as trips with her kids. She has been taking her kids camping, hiking, and backpacking since before they could walk. Teri loves to unplug with them, be fully present, and immerse themselves in the outdoors. She has traveled a lot of the world with her kids, they lived in China for a while, but she keeps finding herself most excited about her own backyard. Teri is passionate about inspiring other families and moms to get outside and explore the outdoors with and without their kids.

You can find more from Teri online in the following locations:
Instagram: @the.trekking.mama
Website: www.thetrekkingmama.com
RWMC posts: Teri Walzenbach