20 Fun Things to Do with Kids this Winter Season

A list of fun things to do and places to go with kids in Winter

By Ashley N. Johnson
20 Fun Things to Do with Kids this Winter Season

20 Fun things to do with kids in Winter

Having children in the winter can be a lot of fun.  The magic of the holidays, playing in the snow for hours, and snuggling by the fire and watching movies are some of the best things about having little people in your life to warm your heart when it's cold outside.

Winter can also be a time of restlessness, cabin fever, and boredom if the weather isn't cooperative for many days in a row.  Having ideas for how to handle these times, in addition to maximizing the joyous times is a good idea. 

Indoor fun

If you live in an area as I do, although we get our fair share of snow in the winter, there are plenty of days in winter that are bitterly cold without any snow on the ground. These are the kinds of days where indoor fun is the kind to have.  Fortunately, there is no paucity of places to go to warm up and play when it is cold outside. 

1. Indoor Play Places

Knowing where the indoor play places are in my area, the hours of operation, and pricing has single-handedly helped me get through motherhood in the winter months in the Midwest.  Many days, when my kiddos are feeling restless and tired of playing with the same toys in the same room of our house, I'll pack them up and take them to Chick-Fil-A.  It is truly a winning situation if you think about it: we all get lunch that I don't have to cook, my kids can play FOR FREE in a clean playground with other kids, and we all get a change of scenery for a while. It helps that the food is really good.

If you don't live near a Chick-Fil-A, McDonald's, or other similar business with an indoor playground, don't fret, there are plenty of places that cater to the play needs of little kids (and the break needs of parents). Many McDonald's have playgrounds, Burger Kings, and indoor shopping malls have free places for kids to play and stay warm from the cold weather outside. 

2. Legoland

For partial indoor and outdoor experience and if money is no issue, there are places that are happy to take it from you in exchange for a marvelous time for your children.  We have a Legoland near us, and while the cost of entry is rather steep in my opinion, my kids love going there.  It is a great way to spend a day and they are usually pretty spent (like my hard earned dollars) by the time we leave.

3. Chuck E. Cheese's

Another place that is super fun for kids is Chuck E. Cheese.  I remember avoiding the place like the plague for the first few years of motherhood because of the horror stories I would hear about the annoying singing animatronics, screaming children, and diseases. Then, on a very cold day that was full of meltdowns from both kids, I packed them into the car and took them as a last resort.  

I was shocked.  Not only was the experience not as awful as I anticipated, all 3 of us had a blast!  I was able to buy time for games and rides on a scan card rather than carry around a cup full of tokens like the Chuck E. Cheese's of yesteryear.  Both of my kids were able to play unlimited games and ride unlimited rides for 2 hours and it cost me around $25.  We had a delicious and reasonably priced pizza (stuffed crust!), and I even had a local craft beer.  There were no creepy singing animatronic mouses or gorillas.  Instead, a person in a Chuck E. Cheese costume came out, handed out free prize tickets, and hosted a dance party for the kids.  It certainly wasn't a night out at the club, but I have had much less exciting Friday nights than I did at Chuck E. Cheese's. 

3. Build-A-Bear

Another costly endeavor, however, it makes the kiddos happy and you can't put a price tag on that.  You can spend hours in this store designing and customizing a new plush friend for each child. 

4. Library

Source: Omaha Public Library

Another great place to have fun indoors during the winter season, or any season truly, is the library.  Many libraries have kid-centered activities, such as story times or special guest appearances.  My kids have seen professional puppet shows at the library, along with reptiles, and a bird show.  Libraries are generally passionate about fostering a positive relationship with reading, so children are not only welcome there but encouraged to go and go often. 

5. Crafts

Making crafts can be a really fun change of pace when you're stuck inside.  You can either allow your child to lead the crafts by simply giving him or her the materials, or you have the materials for a special parent guided craft. This allows your child to express some creativity, and it will also be a time for you to bond (or have a break!).

6. Baking

Another fun indoor activity, that requires different levels of supervision depending on your child's age, is baking.  I am convinced that the cold weather and being stuck indoors is one of the reasons why holiday baking and cookie exchanges are so popular!  

Source: diycozyhome.com

For a non-food baking project, consider making home-made salt-dough handprints. These can be a fun way to pass the time, preserve memories of little hands, and make gifts to give to family and friends for the winter holidays.

Although technically it isn't baking, making your own playdough is fun and so very easy.  What a fun way for cabin-fever kiddos to learn a new skill and then enjoy the fruits of their labor!

7. Games

Games are a great way to break up a long day or stretch of days inside while building skills and maximizing family bonding. It is also a great learning opportunity for competition and sportsmanship.  Playing games with my kiddos has introduced me to their unique personalities in a way I might not have otherwise witnessed.  One of my kids, it turns out, is very competitive.  The younger one just wants to be in on the action. 

8. Board Games

There are so many great board games for various age groups and number of players.  Some of our favorites are Candy Land, Count Your Chickens, and Splattasarus, and Sorry.  

9. Card Games

Card games are another great choice for indoor games.  If you have a simple deck of cards, the number of games you can play is virtually unlimited.  Card games such as Uno, Old Main, Skip Bo, Rook, and Go Fish are other classics that are fun to play for kids and adults alike. 

10. Physical Games

Sometimes what kids really need when they are stuck inside the house on a cold day is some exercise.  There is no better way to help your child get that need filled while ensuring that some base rules keep them from tearing things apart in the process than games that require some physical activity. 

Source: Newkidscenter.com

Hide and Seek is a great game for indoor play.  This game is also perfect if there are only 2 of you and you're trying to entertain your child and get them moving a bit.  If you have more than one child, try having them play this game together. 


Hot Potato is another favorite in our house.  Although you can purchase an actual Hot Potato game, all you truly need is an object to pass around and your voices for a song.  Whoever has the object, or "Hot Potato" when the song is over is out.  This game works with multiple players or with two people passing the object back and forth. 

11. DIY Indoor Obstacle Course

Creating an obstacle course for your kids indoors is a fun way to facilitate more active play inside during the winter months.  You don't need any special equipment to make one either, just a bit of imagination.  Think jumping into a pillow pit, hopscotch using masking tape and newspaper pages, cardboard box tunnels, and using soup cans for "cones" for racing, kicking balls, etc. 

12. Indoor Camping

Another fun indoor activity that requires no special equipment is indoor camping.  My kids love nothing more than to take as many blankets as they can find and build tent forts and cities with them.  Complete the theme with lanterns and oven smores for added fun.

Oven Smores Recipe

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Outdoor fun

If weather permits, going outside in the winter is not only doable but fun!  If your children are mobile, witnessing their snow play is a real treat.  If you have a baby, bundling and wearing around a Christmas Tree farm or Christmas Market can be fun as well.  Despite previous generations' obsession with kids' body temperatures, it is perfectly safe for children of all ages to spend some time outside even when its cold.

13. Snow Play

Snow days are a fact of life in some areas during the winter.  In others, they are sporadic, and in the South, unlikely.  In the areas where snow isn't as frequent or doesn't happen at all, there are often places with artificial snow where you can enjoy all of the same snow play.  Fun fact: did you know there is indoor skiing in Dubai?  

When I think of my Midwestern childhood, I think of sledding in the snow.  What better way to spend the day home from school than to take to the great outdoors in search of the best hills in the land?

Building a snowman is a timeless leisure.  Children and adults alike enjoy this cooperative and creative activity. 

Making snow angels: it only lasts a few moments, but its a snow play must. 

14. I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream for Ice Cream!


Did you know you can make ice cream out of fresh snow?  It is so simple and fun!  Collect the snow and make it either inside or outside. 

The recipe is as follows:

  • 4 cups of snow (white only, NO YELLOW!)
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 cups heavy cream or whole milk
  • Pinch of salt
Combine ingredients together in a bowl or ice cream maker and enjoy! 

15. Carriage Ride

A ride in a horse-drawn carriage is a unique experience.  Most would prefer to enjoy this activity on a temperate night, however enjoying a ride whilst sipping hot cocoa and looking at holiday lights in your city has a special air of holiday magic. 

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16. Nature Walk

There can be no greater joy than getting outside into nature as a family.  Who says that this activity is only for the warmer months?  The beauty of the great outdoors is an entirely different experience in the winter.  Some wildlife is more visible since the vegetation is dormant, and the world is quiet without the buzz of all of the spring and summer bugs.  Find tracks in the snow and find out where they lead (carefully, of course!)

17. Ice Skating

Another fun activity for the entire family is ice skating.  I would recommend not taking children under 3, as the toddlers can be a wee bit wobbly even off of ice skates.  For the pre-school to the school-aged crowd (or very unsteady adults), there are often special support bars that the kiddos can skate with. 

18. Indoor Swimming Pool

Indoor pools are often heated so while its cold outside, swimming in a warm pool while play on waterslides might be just the kind of afternoon activities you and yours need to get out of the house.  Many hotels in cold climates have indoor swimming pools, and there are community based centers, such as the YMCA, that offer this kind of activity as well. 

19. Bowling


Bowling is another great family activity in the winter because it is a lot of fun for people of all ages, and its played inside.  Many bowling alleys offer food and arcade games as well, which is certain to make everyone in your family happy.

20. Movies

The magic of the movies is a great experience as a family.  When it is cold outside, what better way to stay warm than cozying up as a family with popcorn and entertainment?  If you would rather avoid the hassle and expense of taking the entire family to a movie theater, why not have a family movie night from the comfort of your own home?  You can pop your own popcorn, have your own snacks, and cuddle up on the couch together for some special winter family bonding time.


Winter can be long, especially with kids.  That doesn't mean it has to be miserable.  With the right resources and planning, winter fun can be as abundant as Summer, and many happy memories can be made as a family well beyond the holiday season.