Winter Family Activities Outdoors: Tips and Ideas

5th December 2023

Encouraging kids off screens and into the (very) fresh air to do winter family activities outdoors can be a challenge.

During Autumn and Winter, indoor activities are most people’s automatic things to do, but these can be quite limiting; There’s only so much indoor soft play and online gaming we can take!

Getting outside during colder, wetter weather can still be done, and it can even be fun for all the family!

After eleven years of parenting an energetic (now) tween and two hormonal teenage stepsons, I’ve gathered a few ideas along the way.

Here’s some ideas for winter family activities outdoors and tips for planning for them:

Preparation is Key

Planning for winter family activities outdoors is essential.

Winter contains ever-changing elements of wind, rain, storms and even snow, which we need to take into account when choosing what to do.

Make a list of activities that you can keep adding to, and group them by which weather conditions they work best with.

Always check the weather before planning the activity, and try to have a plan B in case the forecast changes on the day.

Research Locations

Preparing a range of places to visit is important during colder climates.

Some places are ideal for bitterly cold dry weather, but wouldn’t be possible during or after rainfall (think muddy, boggy fields).

Researching location options for the various weather elements helps avoid last minute cancellations leaving nothing else to do.

Finding places with shelter options during rain helps children (and us adults) cope with being outdoors for longer in the cold.

This can include building and playing in tents in the garden, or building dens under nature’s natural shelter of trees in your local forest.

Dress for the Elements

Dressing for unpredictable weather is a must during winter for the entire family.

Thankfully, the days of thin ponchos and macs that can only handle a light splash of rain are gone.

There’s now outdoor clothing that works for both heavy rain and maintaining warmth with insulated materials.


Lands’ End have a great range of activewear and outdoor clothing for women, children and men.

For adults they have women and men’s coats for various types of winter family activities outdoors, including waterproof coats, parkas, quilted jackets, gilets and fleeces.

They have a plus size and petite range for women, and fleece lined ThermoPlume coats for children.


On many winter dog walks I’ve bunged on trainers and regretted it once I’m slipping and sliding on grass or black ice.

Walking boots are brilliant, because they have good grip in mud and on uneven ground in forests, fields and on beaches.

They also offer important support to ankles and feet compared to wellington boots.

Wellies do have their place though, especially on rainy days, and splashing in puddles makes any walk fun for kids.

For snow and ice, there’s clever grips that slip onto the underneath of your shoes to prevent sliding and falls.


Don’t forget to pack any other accessories that might be needed, including:

Insulated, woolen or cotton hats are good for warmth, and can be worn underneath a coat hood.

Waterproof hats if you have a hood-less jacket.


Thick cotton gloves work well, especially touch screen gloves that allow you to still be able to use your phone without taking them off.

For wetter days, leather, fake leather or waterproof gloves avoid your hands becoming soggy and cold!


A white and pink mug resting on a pale blue background. The drink is hot chocolate.

Don’t Forget Snacks

Pack a thermos of tea or hot chocolate for the family, so there’s something warm to enjoy during the activities.

A large thermos can also work for soup, so you can have a hot lunch whilst out too.

If it’s going to be an activity that requires a lot of energy, make sure there’s protein and carby snacks too,

My son loves packets of chicken pieces, flapjacks and fruit when we’re out and about.

Ideas for Winter Family Activities Outdoors

There’s many things families can do outdoors during winter, but some need preparation beforehand.

For those with younger children, check out my post about Fun Outdoor Activities On A Low Budget written when my son was younger.

If you have tweens or teens, here’s some of our favourite things to do currently:


These can involve forming small teams to get to a certain point first using different routes and compasses, or they can be chilled walks and talks whilst admiring the views.

A young boy walking in the forest wearing a matching wool hat and wool jumper. Walking is one of the winter family activities outdoors mentioned.

Survival Challenges

Think Bear Grylls and Survival SAS-themed TV shows and you soon have some teen-approved activities!

These can include:

  • Building a shelter or den.
  • Learning to start a camp fire.
  • Scavenging for food, whilst educating about what NOT to eat out in the wild.
  • Hunting for natural materials and building a boat from these items and testing to see if it can float.
Two older children building a den in a forest using sticks and logs.

Evening Stargazing.

Make sure you wrap up extra warm for this one!

We take blankets, flasks of hot drinks and find a dry place to sit, which can include fences, benches or inside the car if it’s raining.

An alternative inside option could be using a kid’s telescope to explore the sky.

This is a fun way to teach kids about the solar system whilst making happy memories.


Kids of all ages love snow, and at some point we always get some in the UK!

Snowball fights, building funny snowmen/people and of course sledding down hills are all winners usually.

A girl with a coat on playing with ice on the beach.


Football, basketball, tennis and many other sports can be done no matter the weather.

For rainier days, you can use metal studded boots for grip, or find AstroTurf places to use.

Have a bag of a few games to take outdoors can help if anybody starts getting bored or restless.

I carry a football, rounders set and badminton rackets in the car, which always come in handy!

Three boys in a lake playing football using sticks as a goal.

Other Ideas?

If you have any other helpful ideas, please leave them in the comment section below.

These useful comments are so beneficial for parents and caregivers reading this, as well as for me!

Please share this post with anybody currently struggling with ideas to get their kids outdoors too.

And lastly, feel free to contact me through this website if you need any further information about any of the above advice.

This is a collaborative post, which may also features some affiliate links, meaning there is a tiny commission if purchased using them. All opinions are honest and my own.

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