10 Blues-busting Outdoor Winter Activities to do with Kids [+ what to wear]

This post is written in partnership with L.L. Bean, one of my favorite brands, as part of a sponsored campaign. All opinions are my own.

Winter is coming, as the Starks would say, and whether you like the cold weather or not, if you live in the north you have to learn to deal with it. You can choose to stay indoors, but I think we have all had enough of being inside recently. If you are getting cabin fever, it is time to embrace outdoor winter activities this year!

When we get bored at home on a typical winter we can book a trip, go to the movies, spend time shopping indoors, enjoy the theater, have dinner with friends, and other indoor pursuits. Now we need to find ways to safely social distance outside. Because fresh air and exercise is exactly what will help our bodies and minds this winter.

Dad and daughter sitting on rocks in front of Beavertail Lighthouse in Rhode Island

10 Fun Outdoor Winter Activities

Remember to follow all local travel restrictions and guidelines, wear a mask when in public, and keep a safe distance from others outside of your household. But most of all, have fun! I hope this gives you some ideas for fun activities for a cold winter day.

1. Take a hike

We usually think about hiking in the summer or fall, but the nice thing about a winter hike is that the trails are not as crowded but the views can still be spectacular. Like all good hikes, you need to make sure you have right gear (love those layers and boots with good grip!) And you don’t need to climb mountains, there are plenty of wildlife preserves, public lands, parks, and Audubon Societies that have flat, well-defined walking trails. See my favorite hiking and walking trails in Rhode Island.

Woman walking on path with ocean in the distance at Sachuest wildlife refuge

2. Try a nature scavenger hunt

If you need to keep kids entertained and motivated to spend time outside, why not try a nature scavenger hunt? My friend Kim from Stuffed Suitcase put together a great printable nature scavenger hunt for kids that you can try.

3. Walk on a beach

Watching the waves roll in and listening to the crash of the surf does so much for the soul and calming the mind. The beach is not just for swimming and sunbathing. The water is actually really gorgeous in the winter and if you go in the mid-to-late afternoon, you will catch that gorgeous golden hour and enjoy an early sunset. Take the dog for a walk, enjoy a family stroll, play catch, or play a game of chase to enjoy the beach in the winter.

Mom and daughter running on the beach with dunes and dark blue sky in the background

4. Try backyard camping

Maybe travel restrictions are keeping you at home or your favorite campground is closed for tent camping, but that doesn’t take camping off the table. If you are up for a little adventure, try some backyard camping. The great part is you can run inside for bathrooms or if it gets too cold. Just make sure to keep warm in the right gear like the L.L. Bean adventure mummy sleeping bag that keeps you warm to 25 degrees.

5. Enjoy an outdoor fire

S’mores may scream summer but they taste just as good in the winter, especially with a nice mug of hot chocolate. So break out that fire pit, and a patio heater if you have it, to extend your time outside. Roast some marshmallows, cook up some hot dogs or even try your hand at a gourmet camp meal over the fire. Here’s a pro tip: start your fire in the late afternoon before it gets too cold.

Mom and daughter roasting marshmallows by an open fire outside in the backyard

6. Go snowshoeing

This is the perfect year to invest in a pair of L.L. Bean summit trekker snow shoes to get outside this winter. Snow shoeing is so much fun, but also a great workout! Everyone is predicting high demand for snow shoes and Nordic skis this year so be sure to buy early!

7. Play ball

In our house we tend to hang up the cleats in November and leave them in the garage until the next year. But why not keep those ball skills fresh with a little backyard pick up game?

Teen girl kicking soccer ball in backyard

8. Build a snowman

If you are lucky enough to get some snow, don’t just grumble about shoveling it, take some time to go out and play. Build a snow man, construct a snow fort, “paint” on the snow with water mixed with food coloring, have a good old fashioned snowball fight, or make snow angels. There is plenty of fun to be had in the backyard. Just make sure you are bundled up with some Darn Tough socks from L.L. Bean and a good pom pom hat and gloves.

9. Go ice skating

L.L. Bean offers cozy ice skates for all ages, perfect for finding that local frozen lake or avoiding the rental crowds at the ice rink. If visiting an ice rink, check in advance to see if you need reservations and find out what capacity restrictions and safety protocols they have in place.

10. Hit the slopes

Skiing is definitely going to look different this year, but it can still be a great way to get outside. Many ski resorts will require reservations and give priority to season pass holders. Ski resorts are limiting capacity and lifts restricted to those in the same party. Things will be a little different in the lodge too, with reservations required at restaurants and time limits in place. I would recommend taking local day trips or renting a slope side condo to make your own meals. If you are renting equipment, I would also recommend renting at a local ski shop or getting your rentals delivered.

What to Wear to Stay Warm in the Winter

Woman in plaid flannel shirt crouching on rocks with Beavertail light house in the background

If you aren’t used to spending a lot of time outside in the winter, you will need to make sure you have the right gear. My favorite brand for outdoor apparel and gear is L.L.Bean. (Yes this post is sponsored but you should see all the L.L.Bean gear already in my closet long before they became a partner.)

Dressing for the weather is all about layering. Start with a L.L. Bean waffle knit henley, then layer on a sherpa-fleece lined Scotch plaid flannel. These shirts are so warm they can also be used as a jacket when the weather is mild.

Family in LL Bean gear on the beach

Top it off with a Mountain Classic fleece vest or flannel-lined hoodie. I also love the front-zip flannel hoodie for layering. For wet and windy days, my L.L. Bean women’s wildcat waterproof insulated jacket is the perfect outer layer.

LL Bean Boots on with rocks and ocean in the background

Of course you can’t go wrong with classic L.L. Bean boots that are Thinsulate or sherpa-fleece lined to keep your feet warm and dry. Learn more and shop for L.L. Bean gear to get ready for your outdoor winter activities.

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Outdoor winter activities with kids

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Publish Date: December 3, 2020

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