Here are my top 10 winter outdoor activities that can be done by the whole family, from toddlers to teenagers, even in the chilly weather. The first thing to remember is to dress appropriately – thermals on the bottom, thin layers that can easily be adjusted or removed and waterproofs on the outside. As I found out from reading the book There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather, being comfortable and warm outside in any weather is all a matter of sensible dressing! Once you’re all snug in your winter togs, get outside!
Once dressed, if you’re like me, you’re wondering what do you do with toddlers in the winter? What can I do with my two year old outside? What can the whole family enjoy together, even when it’s cold? These fun winter activities will answer all those questions!
If you need more advice and help on preparing for the winter, I’ve written a comprehensive guide to winter preparation, including clothes, accessories, footwear, getting your home ready, indoor and outdoor play!
If you’re staring out the window and realizing it’s bucketing down with rain, I’ve also got you covered. Check out these amazing places to go on a rainy day!
10 Winter Outdoor Activities for Toddlers and the Whole Family
Nature Reserve & Duck Feeding in Winter
You may be wondering why there are still so many ducks around in winter. Don’t they fly south every year? Well, ducks can actually withstand freezing temperatures well, but have to leave when their ponds ice over, food supplies fall short, or too much snow covers the ground. In the UK, especially during the most recent mild winters, and in ponds or reserves where the ducks are fed additional food, many have stopped flying south. So you should have a good chance of finding some ducks to feed, even in the middle of winter.
Nature reserves can be very different in the winter, with different wildlife and bird life. If you pick one that has a cafe, you can grab a cup of hot chocolate after a long brisk walk! I’ve talked about nature reserves before, and if you sign up to my newsletter on the right, you’ll be emailed a free bird-spotting printable that’ll help engage the kids and encourage them to find more wildlife.
If you’re one of my local readers in South Wales, I highly recommend Cosmeston Lakes Nature Reserve.
Mud is fun! Once in a while just let them go nuts and splash about in the mud. Take a towel in the car and make sure they’re appropriately dressed, and that you’ll be heading home afterward. A good pair of wellies is essential for anyone in the British winter. I love these brightly coloured, comfortable and affordable Regatta Wellies.
With early nights you can easily get out and about after dark now. This makes it an ideal time to start learning about the stars. If you head out of the city on a clear night, you don’t even need a telescope and should be able to see the brightest stars quite clearly. If you have no clue what you’re looking at, there are some awesome GPS-based star maps that can give you an idea of exactly what you’re looking at and you can learn together.
Trains run all year round! If you have a child who enjoys the excitement of a train, find a fun spot, a bridge or a station where you can sit and watch. You can make note of the type of train if they’re interested. Take a flask with hot drinks in it to stay warm and you might find this winter outdoor activity gets addictive!
Winter Events – Craft Markets, Ice Skating, Christmas Fairs
Winter has tons of local events. There are craft markets, Christmas fairs, rides and usually ice skating rinks in all the major cities. Take the time to check out where your local ones are because there is definitely a lot of winter entertainment available, especially in the run up to Christmas.
Watch the Sun Setting
It might be something you can do all year round, but this outdoor activity will be very impressive in the winter, when the skies are clear and the colours more vibrant. Take a waterproof blanket and sit down in an open field or on a hill and just watch the sunset. It’s only in winter this is likely to be early enough for you to do this with little ones, so take advantage of it! Winter can also offer some of the prettiest coloured sunsets in the UK.
Set up a Weather Station
This is a fun and educational winter activity that you can do indoors and then move outdoors when you’re ready. Your own home-made weather station in the garden can tell you humidity, rainfall, temperature, wind direction, wind speed and air pressure. And you can do it all with easily obtainable household goods! Making it will add hours of fun for you, but then it’s encouragement to get out into the garden every day and check it.
There is a free PDF available on the NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) website that details step-by-step how to create and use a home-made weather station. Although it’s created by an American Institute, it’ll work anywhere.
Have a Winter Cook-Out
BBQs might be for summer, but with a portable camping stove, you can have a winter cookout! You can make a fry up, with eggs, beans, and sausages, and then heat up a kettle for a tea or hot chocolate on a DIY campfire.
Feed the birds in the Garden
You can make home-made fat balls as well as home-made bird feeders for some winter crafts and then have fun hanging it out every day and seeing what’s attracted to the garden. A pair of binoculars and a bird spotting guide can keep the kids busy for hours! Just remember if you start feeding birds in the winter, you should try to continue every day, as the birds will make adjustments to their habits based on the food supply and can suffer if that food supply suddenly disappears.
And last but not least for my winter outdoor activities for toddlers and the whole family – snow! Snow could have 10 winter activities all by itself, but in the UK we rarely get enough snow to take advantage of it. If you do find we have a snow day, you definitely need to get out there! Sledging, snowball fights, snowman making and snow painting (food colouring in spray bottles!) are all super fun. That being said, just walking around and playing in the snow will be a fun activity. No matter how tempting it is to burrow under the duvet with a hot chocolate when it’s snowy out there, don’t do it – get out and play!
I hope that this list of 10 winter outdoor activities for toddlers and the whole family has been useful. If it has, please leave a comment or share. If you have any other ideas, I’d love to hear them! What do your family get up to outdoors in the winter?