Ah, winter. With cold temperatures, snowy blizzards and short days, it might not be everyone’s favourite season. But, for those that adapt and embrace it, it is a season of fun and adventure. With so many outdoor winter activities to choose from, making the best of the season can be fun for the whole family. There is no bad weather, only bad clothes.
Canada is one of the coldest countries in the world, with long and often harsh winters. That doesn’t mean that life stops and everyone is miserable—quite the opposite.
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10 Fun outdoor winter activities to enjoy now
I’m not sure if it’s the fact that I’m a winter baby or that I grew up with snow that makes me enjoy winter. There is magic in the snow. The fluffy white powder has the power to transform landscapes into picturesque settings, full of mystery and wonder. The frost paints magical paintings on window panes while melting water creates icicles that can be both stunning and deadly. What’s not to love?
To enjoy winter in all its glory, you need proper clothes and shoes. There is outerwear like heavy wool coats, jackets, scarves, hats, gloves and mittens. Then you have the pieces that go underneath. This includes multilayered clothes like thermal tops and bottoms as well as socks. Layering is key during winter and a great way to keep warm. A decent pair of winter boots will also ensure that you stay warm and dry.
I wouldn’t recommend frolicking in the snow in jeans and sneakers. Neither are ideal for dealing with snow and cold weather. Also, just because it’s sunny outside, it doesn’t mean it’s warm. Trust me. Now that we have the basics out of the way, here are some ideas for outdoor winter activities you can enjoy.
Snowshoeing has been around for thousands of years, although it was used more for survival than for sport in the past. So, what exactly is snowshoeing? Well, it’s pretty much what it sounds like. Snowshoes displace the weight over a larger area, allowing for a quicker way of walking in the snow.
Traditionally, snowshoes had wooden frames with latticed rawhide lacing. Think of a longer tennis racket style that you strapped onto your boots. Today, many snowshoes are made from lightweight metals and plastics with synthetic fabrics. They are durable and light, which is makes them easier to get around.
Snowshoeing is one of those outdoor winter activities that are both fun and can be used as a workout. Depending on the distance and the extent of your adventure, you might need trekking poles, goggles and a GPS. If you go on a longer adventure, you might need to consider food provisions, shelter and heat.
Ice fishing is one of those outdoor winter activities that takes patience, commitment and stubbornness. It can be as basic as drilling a hole in the ice and sitting around it with a fishing rod, waiting for something to bite. But, for the most part, ice fishing is an experience.
Often, it’s more about the event itself rather than the bounty. Ice fishing huts are brought on a frozen lake and serve as shelter for those fishing. A massive drill is used for drilling through the ice to create a hole for the actual fishing. There is usually a heat source like a stove, booze and camaraderie that go hand-in-hand with ice fishing.
You might not catch a lot of fish, but you’ll come back with a story. If you’ve never gone ice fishing before, it’s best to rely on professional guides rather than going on your own. Ice on a lake can be unpredictable, and you wouldn’t want to get stuck or, worse, fall through it.
If you’re looking for something more adventurous, then snowmobiling might be for you. There is something exciting about gliding through the snow with speed and efficiency. Whether you’re on trails, frozen lakes, hills or glaciers, snowmobiling makes winter so much fun.
Snowmobiling is fun, although you should exercise caution if you’re not familiar with your surroundings or the snowmobile. It’s easy to lose yourself in the excitement and overestimate your abilities or the terrain. You don’t have to own a snowmobile to enjoy the experience, as there are many rentals available in most winter destinations.
Looking for more outdoor winter activities fun? Check out My epic glacier snowmobile tour in Iceland!
Going down the hill on a sled, toboggan or tube is a rite of passage when you live in a winter climate. That hill doesn’t have to be a big one, just large enough to enjoy a few moments of fun. No matter how you get down, head first, feet or with a buddy, avoiding smashing into others is half the fun. Collisions do happen, especially if there are many people around.
This is one of those outdoor winter activities that can be done without real equipment. If you’re inventive enough and have enough padding, you can down a snowy hill in pretty much anything. I’ve seen people use flat plastic sheets, large garbage bags, tarps, lids from plastic contains and many more. Whatever you decide to use, make sure it’s safe and actually glides down the hill. Wipeouts and collisions are not fun.
Ice skating is one of those outdoor winter activities that take a bit of skill and coordination. Once you figure it out, skating is fun. It’s one of those things that you can easily enjoy alone or in the company of others. I can’t remember how old I was when I learned how to skate, but I remember the triumph of finally mastering the ice and gliding across on my skates.
I’ve always used figure skates, but many people prefer hockey skates. Whatever your preference, make sure the skates are sharp and fit you properly. There is nothing enjoyable about dull skates and cold, cramped toes. Also, don’t forget to layer, as skating can quite a workout.
Winter hiking is not that much different from hiking during any other season. The snow adds a bit more of a challenge, and you get to enjoy some pretty epic scenery. Snow-covered forests and valleys, frozen waterfalls and quiet trails make for some unique winter adventures. When you’re feeling cooped up at home, needs some relaxation or simply want to get outdoors, winter hiking is a great option.
Partake in winter sports
You don’t have to look at the Winter Olympic Games to know that there are many winter sports to enjoy. Whether you prefer your outdoor winter activities individually or as part of a team, you have many choices. Who said winter was boring?
Many of the winter team sports can be played indoors or outside. If you enjoy being on the ice, you might enjoy curling, hockey or speed skating. For those who enjoy the hills and fresh powder, there is snowboarding, skiing (including cross-country, alpine or freestyle) and bobsledding, to name a few.
Marvel at the beauty of ice
Snow is not the only tool of winter used for beautiful creations. The real art is in ice. From stunning icicle formations, frozen waterfalls to artificially made art, ice can be quite incredible. If you don’t believe me, then you haven’t seen any ice sculptures that are as impressive as they are fleeting.
Ice sculptures tend to draw a crowd, but none are as impressive as ice hotels. You know you are in a cold place when an ice hotel lasts longer than a week. If you’re looking for a unique experience or want to channel Elsa from Frozen, ice hotels are for you.
Related: 5 Coolest Ice Hotels in the World
Winter spas and saunas
Winter is a great time to enjoy a visit to an outdoor sauna or a spa. There is something soothing about sitting in hot bubbly water as you admire the snowy landscape around you. We’ve been trying to visit as many of them as we can find and so far, we’ve had some memorable experiences.
From the thermal springs in Iceland and Banff to a Nordic spa in Quebec, we’ve discovered that there is much to enjoy about spas in winter. If you’re into a more chilled experience, then you can always try cold water swimming. It’s your winter experience, so you do you.
Learn to enjoy the snow
You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy playing in the snow. It’s all about finding the one thing that makes you smile. From good old snowball fights, building a snowman, a fort or making snow angels. The choices are endless.
Snow is one of my fave things about winter, because it offers a range of options for outdoor winter activities and makes everything look so pretty. Winter without snow is just not the same. Trust me. I don’t know if I need to say this, but don’t eat yellow snow. Ever.
Final thoughts on outdoor winter activities
When you live in a place where winter lasts for months, you have no choice but to adapt. It’s one of those “it is what you make of it” things. I personally enjoy winter and all it has to offer. Don’t get me wrong, after months of dark and cold, it gets to you. That’s why many people opt for tropical winter getaways and let me tell you, they are glorious.
With so many great fun outdoor winter activities for everyone, it’s not hard to enjoy winter. Having fun makes it easier to get through winter and enjoy spring even more. Then, all you have to do is wait for the next one and do it all over again.
What are some of your fave winter activities?