63 Winter Activities to Banish the Cold Weather Blues

From wreath-making to vacation planning

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Beautiful young woman enjoying in the snow
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That first snow is always a sight to behold. Main Street looks grand dusted with white, but it doesn’t take long before the novelty wears off. The once-flawless flakes have morphed into slush mixed with mud from the street, the picturesque scenery is all gone and you’re left wondering what to do in winter that’s actually fun. Ugh. But fear not, friends. Our roundup of exciting winter activities for kids and adults has enough to keep you and your family occupied for a lifetime, let alone one frigid season. From outdoor activities such as ice skating and sledding to indoor pursuits like crafting with the kiddos and indulging in romantic spa days with your one-and-only, spending quality time together has never been easier. No matter what you’re into, read on for the best things to do in winter.

25 Best Winter Vacations in the U.S.

winter activities ski trip
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1. Take a Ski Trip

If you live within a short driving distance from the mountains, you can opt for a day trip to the slopes rather than a big (and potentially expensive) getaway—either way, when you bust out the ski gear, the reward will be a winter adventure that banishes seasonal sluggishness and delivers lots of thrills, no matter your skill level. Just don’t forget to warm up at the lodge with a cup of hot cocoa whenever you need a break from the elements.

winter activities ice skating
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2. Go Ice Skating

You don’t have to be a pro to have a blast on the ice. If you own a pair of skates and live somewhere wintry, we suggest you check out a local pond for a cost-free activity with scenic views. (Make sure it’s safe, though.) No matter where you live, though, you can always rent a pair of skates at a nearby rink, where you’ll be treated to an afternoon of family-friendly fun, and probably some tempting concessions, too. (Wollman Rink in Central Park is especially glorious during the holiday season.)

winter activities sledding
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3. Go Sledding

Zipping down snowy slopes on a pair of skis is a tad too intense for your taste? No worries—just grab a sled instead, so you can pick up speed while remaining in a safe, seated position. You’ll still be making the most of the snow day with this beloved winter sport, which provides loads of excitement to kids and adults alike.

winter activities holiday market
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4. Visit a Local Market

Don’t miss the opportunity to check out your local market this winter. These seasonal events provide one-stop shopping for decor, delicious treats and unique gifts. (Hand-poured candles! Hand-knitted mittens! You get the idea.)

winter activities movie night
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5. Have a Movie Night

On frosty winter nights, Netflix and chill is a no-brainer. Why fight it? Curl up on the couch with a cozy blanket and a bowl of popcorn for a movie marathon or TV series binge watch. Pro tip: Make yourself a hot toddy before hibernating in your home theater and you’ll feel extra warm and fuzzy.

winter activities build a snowman
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6. Build a Snowman

Take advantage of the fresh fallen snow and make some priceless family memories by building a snowman with your brood. Plus, we promise you’ll feel plenty festive once you’re back inside, admiring your masterpiece from the window with a mug of hot chocolate in hand.

winter activities game night
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7. Have a Game Night

If you’re craving something a little more social than screen time, game night is an excellent choice. With a stack of board games, a deck of cards, a good group of friends (or family) and some satisfying snacks, you’ll be guaranteed hours of indoor fun. Let the good times roll (pun intended).

winter activities watch a game
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8. Watch a Sports Game

With winter comes tons of sports—from football and basketball to tennis, hockey and even the occasional UFC or boxing match. Invite some family and friends over for a night of cheering for your favorite team or player while chowing down on some delicious food.

winter activities indoor workout
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9. Try an Indoor Workout

When the winter weather is at its frostiest, you hardly want to walk around the block, let alone go all the way to the gym. So why not just bring the gym to you? There are tons of virtual and on-demand exercise classes you can use to get some movement in your body. Get a friend or your boo to join in for some added fun (and lowkey competition).

winter activities hockey
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10. Play Hockey

No worries if your skating skills aren’t up to snuff, just skip the ice hockey and opt for a lively game of ball hockey, or broomball, instead. The rules are much the same, but it can be played on the ice (or light snow) without ice skates, making it a safer and fun sport for all ages and skill levels.

winter activities knit
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11. Knit

There’s no better time than winter when it comes to taking up a new hobby, and knitting is a particularly appropriate one. It might take some time to get the hang of it, but once you master the art of knitting, you’ll benefit from a relaxing activity that you can bring with you wherever you go. (Not to mention all the cute, chunky scarves and cozy hats you’ll make.)

winter activities hike
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12. Take a Winter Hike

Grab your S.O. and enjoy some time outdoors by taking a trip to a local park or nearby woods for a peaceful hike. Just be sure to take a break from stomping around in the snow so you can take photos of the winter wonderland and collect bits of nature to bring home for a holiday crafting project.

winter activities make a wreath
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13. Make a Wreath

Why hang a store-bought wreath when you can banish boredom and feed your inner crafter with a special DIY project? The process is simple—you’ll find plenty of inspiration on Pinterest and there are tutorials online—and the finished product will have that extra special touch because it’s made by you and your loved ones.

winter activities make your own ornament
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14. Make Your Own Ornaments

Here, another crafting activity that works for the holidays. Ornaments are easy and fun to make, and the creative project is an excellent way to keep restless kids occupied when the weather outside is frightful. Tackling this craft after Christmas? Give the kids a head start on those Valentine’s Day or Easter crafts while you get some work done.

winter activities bake bread
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15. Bake Bread

The art of baking bread takes time and practice to master, but there are plenty of easy recipes that beginners can accomplish, too. Give it a try if you’re looking for a hobby that serves up a fresh, tasty reward and a guarantee that you’re never in knead (sorry, we had to) of something to do.

winter activities snow ball fight
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16. Have a Snowball Fight

Don your winter gear and invite your friends and family outside for a good old-fashioned snowball fight. This activity has loads of kid appeal, but you’d be hard pressed to find an adult who doesn’t enjoy it, too.

winter activities plan a vacation
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17. Plan a Vacation

Nothing inspires wanderlust quite like being cooped up inside during the frigid winter months. Even if a tropical getaway is not in your future, go ahead and plan one—you’ll have almost as much fun feeding your fantasy with vacation research as you would on the trip itself, we promise. P.S.—domestic travel is so in right now, so even if you can’t go out of the country, you can still enjoy a beach getaway right here in the U.S.A.

winter activities snow tubing
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18. Go Snow Tubing

This adrenaline-fueled activity requires no skills whatsoever and will be enjoyed by kids and adults alike. Although snow tubing is generally considered safe, the experience you get at a mountain resort is not for the faint of heart. As such, you might want to start small and try it out on a hill in your local park unless you’ve got a need for serious speed. All done in an incredibly flashy snow tube, of course.

winter activities volunteer
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19. Volunteer

There are myriad ways you can give back to your community and help those in need over the winter months. (You can volunteer at a toy drive, sign up to serve meals at a soup kitchen, or put some hours in at a food pantry, to name a few.) No matter how you choose to donate your time, it’s sure to be a rewarding experience.

winter activities book club
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20. Join (or Start) a Book Club

The weather is cold, the days are short and the time is just right to get lost in a long book. If you’re not sure what to read (or have a hard time following through) a book club will have your back, all while providing an opportunity for socializing and making new friends.

winter activities take an art class
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21. Take an Art Class

You’d like to engage in creative projects but feel like you lack the skills to produce anything, um, decent. Before you turn your back on your inner Picasso, consider taking an art class where you’ll learn new techniques and maybe even discover a new passion. From pottery to drawing and even improv, the (art) world is your oyster.

winter activities watch a play
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22. Watch a Play

Soak up some culture this winter by returning to the stage. If you can’t get your hands on those pricey tix, you can always try your hand at a lottery for less expensive seats. But if you want some sure fun, small theater companies produce some real gems too, and the experience of discovering one for yourself makes for a very memorable night out.

winter activities ballet
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23. Go to the Ballet

Swap your sweatpants for something sharp and take a trip to the ballet. Haven’t seen anything since your grade school field trip to The Nutcracker? No worries. No matter what you choose (Nutcracker round two included), you’ll be treated to a truly enchanting viewing experience.

winter activities make a gingerbread house
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24. Make a Gingerbread House

Making a gingerbread house is a must if you’ve got kids under your roof. And who says your house must be holiday-related? Couldn’t it be an any-time-of-year treat, particularly when you consider this hands-on activity is a STEM project with a sweet reward? Just don’t be surprised if your budding architect tries to eat the building materials behind your back.

winter activities bake sugar cookies
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25. Bake and Decorate Sugar Cookies

Here, another activity that will satisfy your sweet tooth. We don’t need to tell you that baking cookies in the winter is basically obligatory, but decorating is by far the best phase of the project. Gather your piping bags and sprinkles and prepare to make some edible art.

winter activities make mulled wine
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26. Make a Batch Of Mulled Wine

Spiked with orange, cinnamon and clove, then sweetened with sugar—mulled wine is a swoon-worthy winter beverage that will warm you through and through. Plus, it’s so easy to make from a regular bottle of red that there’s no reason not to sip on it all season long.

winter activities jigsaw puzzle
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27. Do a Jigsaw Puzzle

Jigsaw puzzles are a stimulating and soothing way to keep yourself entertained when boredom creeps in. Best of all, they can be worked on solo or by a group, and the project doesn’t need to be completed in one go, so you can stretch it out to make the entertainment last.

winter activities read a book
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28. Read a Book by the Fire

Good on you for joining a book club, but you’re really only doing winter right if you’re reading in front of a crackling fireplace. (Flannel pajamas and shearling slippers are optional but recommended.)

winter activities sleigh ride
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29. Take a Sleigh Ride

Is there anything more seasonally appropriate than being pulled along in a sleigh built for two while you take in the winter wonderland around you? We think not. Bring warm beverages and a blanket along for the ride and you’ve got the makings of a cozy and oh-so romantic date.

winter activities ice fishing
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30. Go Ice Fishing

If you’ve got a frozen body of water nearby, bundle up and spend a few hours trying to score some fresh catch. This winter pastime is actually a lot of fun, especially if you make it a social event, and obviously it has boatloads of rugged, outdoorsy appeal as well.

winter activities learn ballroom dance
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31. Learn Ballroom Dance

Sign up at a local dance studio or join a virtual dance class to learn some new and seriously cool moves. Ballroom dance—which includes mambo, samba, rumba, pasodoble and more—is an excellent workout. If you choose to learn with your romantic partner, it can be downright steamy, too.

winter activities bowling
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32. Go Bowling

Bowling is a blast all year long, but the comfort of going to a well-heated bowling alley with a group of close friends is a particularly fine form of entertainment in the winter when outdoor activities are slightly less enticing. Many venues have upped the ante on offerings like chef food and fancy cocktails, making it a real night out. (But who doesn’t love a Big Lebowski moment?)

winter activities cook
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33. Cook a 3-course Meal

It’s no secret that winter is the season of decadent eating, which also means it’s an ideal opportunity to take your cooking skills to the next level. Give yourself a challenge and gain some kitchen know-how in the process by whipping up a fancy three-course meal for your family. Make it a regular event, and you’ll achieve Top Chef status before you know it.

winter activities candle making
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34. Try Candle-making

Candle-making is an easy-to-learn, entertaining and just plain nifty craft you probably never considered, and Amazon sells kits you can have delivered within days. Try it out this winter for a hobby that yields sweet-smelling gifts your loved ones will be delighted to receive.

winter activities start home improvement project
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35. Start a Home Improvement Project

You’ve been wanting to give that shabby-but-not-chic dresser an Insta-worthy makeover, repaint your bedroom walls and finally reorganize your closet (among other things). Yep, you’ve got a to-do list longer than the Nile when it comes to sprucing up your living space. Now that winter has you holed up inside, it’s time to bite the bullet and get ‘er done.

winter activities virtual escape room
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36. Try a Virtual Escape Room

If you’re craving some excitement and stimulation while stuck inside, a virtual escape room might be just what the doctor ordered. This relatively new web-based phenomenon allows you to join forces with your friends and work as a team to solve mind-bending puzzles and riddles in order to escape a harrowing situation.

winter activities scrapbooking
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37. Get Scrapbooking

Is it just us or does winter always seem to bring on the nostalgia? If you find yourself daydreaming about summers past, we suggest you put your feelings down on paper in the form of a scrapbooking project. Be sure to score a mini printer for all the photos you’ll want to include. This hands-on activity will make you feel warm and fuzzy, while getting your creative juices flowing.

winter activities hot chocolate recipe
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38. Perfect Your Homemade Hot Chocolate Recipe

Hot chocolate is the beverage of the season, but Swiss Miss is for chumps, friends. Instead, whip up a homemade version with spices and flavoring of your choosing—and don’t stop experimenting until you get the cocoa recipe just right. You can turn the endeavor into a social affair by hosting a hot chocolate competition, or by appointing your friends and family to a panel of judges to taste your concoctions

winter activities make a snow globe
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39. Make a Snow Globe

Children of all ages can get in on this simple craft, which involves filling a mason jar with water, sometimes glue and copious amounts of glitter. The resulting snow globe will look lovely on display.

winter activities holiday karaoke night
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40. Throw a Karaoke Night

Gather the family, put on some tunes and start crooning. Karaoke is always a riot—especially when the participants aren’t exactly gifted vocalists and there are some alcoholic beverages involved.

winter activities host fondue dinner
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41. Host a Fondue Dinner

Whether it’s made with molten chocolate or gooey Swiss cheese, fondue is the ultimate comfort food. Score yourself a fondue set and you’ll be ready for an evening of good company and a decadent dinner-and-dessert menu to be enjoyed among friends.

winter activities visit local brewery
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42. Visit a Local Brewery

From rich porters and stouts to ginger-scented Christmas ales, there are all kinds of seasonal brews to explore. A trip to a local brewery is an excellent place to get started. Bring someone special to the tasting and you’ll both be buzzing about the date.

winter activities check out window displays
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43. Check Out the Window Displays

Pay a visit to a high-end shopping district and check out the lavish window displays of the department stores. Retailers go all out during the frigid months, so you’re guaranteed to get a good show.

winter activities holiday shopping
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44. Do Some Shopping

While you’re browsing the window displays, you might as well take advantage of all the post-holiday clearance sales. Who knows, you might save big on those winter boots you wanted.

winter activities camp out in living room
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45. Camp Out in the Living Room

Sometimes a change of scenery is necessary to survive the seemingly interminable winter months. If a proper vacation isn’t in the cards, try camping out in the living room with your significant other to add a little novelty to your tired bedtime routine. Of course, this activity will be plenty thrilling for the kids in your home, so feel free to make it a family affair. (If you have kids, you’ll probably have to.)

winter activities bubble bath
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46. Make a Bubble Bath

There’s nothing like a nice soak in some lavender or jasmine-scented bubbles to help you take a load off. You can grab a book and glass of wine for a more serene bath, or you can blast some tunes and sing-along like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman.

winter activities spa day
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47. Have a Spa Day

If time permits, don’t stop at the bubble bath. Get some face and hair masks, a nice body scrub, paint your nails, sip some vino and lounge around in a cozy bathrobe all day. You and your partner can also play some romantic music in the background and exchange some steamy massages. (Bow chika wow wow.)

winter activities check out holiday decorations
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48. Check Out Holiday Decorations

Nothing brings instant happiness quite like the sight of twinkling Christmas lights—and chances are you won’t have to travel far to enjoy them. Head out for a walking tour of the holiday decorations in your own neighborhood—or hop in your car and go for a cruise if it’s unbearably cold—and bid your winter blues adieu. After the holiday season, scout for local museums or farms hosting light or lantern festivals—they’re just as enamoring.

winter activities parade
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49. Go to a Parade

Again, the holiday season is full of fun, festive activities. Check out your city’s official site for a list of the holiday events near you and you’ll likely discover that a Santa Claus parade (or some variation on the theme) is coming to town. These family-friendly affairs boast impressive floats, tasty food and a bustling atmosphere you won’t want to miss.

winter activities make soup
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50. Make Some Soup

Get rid of that winter chill with a nice bowl of homemade soup. Sure, chicken noodle is the best, but we strongly suggest you stir things up. Check out this comprehensive list of vegetable soups you and your tiny sous chefs can make in the kitchen.

winter activities garden
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51. Plant a Garden

This may seem counterintuitive, but there are some plants, like hydrangeas, primrose and camelias, that do just fine under the dreariest conditions. Besides, winter blues are real and gardening can boost your mood, improve your memory and help you stay mindful and present, among other benefits. Just be sure to bundle up.

winter activities soap
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52. Make Homemade Soap

Prep for that spa day by making a batch of homemade soap. It’s not as daunting as it sounds—you only need five ingredients to make your own hand soap or bubble bath. Just pick up some liquid castile soap, your preferred essential oils and a carrier oil (jojoba, grapeseed, coconut and olive work well) and you’re on your way.

mulled cider recipe

53. Stir Up a Batch of Apple Cider

What better way to while away a chilly day than with a batch of homemade apple cider? Whether you choose to juice your own apples or jazz up some store-bought cider, here are four ways to make the warming beverage. (It’s as easy as turning on your crock pot or Instant Pot!) Once you’ve made a batch, throw it into a drink or cocktail for some evening fun.

winter activities opera
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54. Spend an Evening at the Opera

Don your (faux) fur minks and evening gowns for a night at the opera house. It’s the best excuse to dress up and experience the grandeur of the season. Plus, fancy doesn’t necessarily mean expensive. Before you knock the idea, check out your local opera house or performing arts theater. Tickets might be more affordable than you think.

winter activities marshmallows
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55. Whip Up Some Homemade Marshmallows

The only thing better than hot chocolate with marshmallows is hot chocolate with homemade marshmallows. Throw any extras into one of these sweet treats for a sugary bonanza.

winter activities needlepoint embroidery
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56. Try Your Hand at Needlepoint

You’ve knit every single project you can possibly dream up—so why not try your hand at needlepoint? Pick up an easy kit and get started on those homemade holiday gifts. 

winter activities sewing
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57. Start (and Maybe Finish) a Sewing Project

Tackling a sewing project is another way to spend a snow day. From sprucing up a few thrift-shop finds to prom dresses and statement trousers, the possibilities are vast. New to sewing? Fear not. We’ve rounded up a host of easy projects to get you started.

winter activities zoom scavenger hung
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58. Send the Kids on a Scavenger Hunt

How do you keep the kids occupied on a snow day? Send them on a scavenger hunt. Make it easy and virtual or invite their friends over for a day spent on the move. Themes abound: pirates, leprechauns and elves can send them on a goose chase for treasure chests, pots of gold and candy canes.   

winter activities maple snow
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59. Make Maple Snow

If you live in a place where it snows, take some inspiration from Little House on the Prairie and try a batch of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s maple snow. All you need is some good maple syrup and fresh powder. (A candy thermometer will come in handy here.)

winter activities tea
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61. Have a Tea Party

For all those who eschew coffee, a hot cup of tea (cream and sugar, please) does just the trick to ward off the chill. Pull out the mismatched china cups and your favorite teapot, call up a friend and bake some scones.

winter activities pajama party
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62. Host a Pajama Party

Who doesn’t want an excuse to stay in pajamas all day? Pull out your favorites (or buy a fresh set), choose a movie (or TV show), pour yourself a mug of that homemade apple cider and you’re in business.

winter activities stargazing
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63. Go Stargazing

There’s something special about running outside on a freezing cold night to look up at the stars. The air is still and stinging cold, the silence a cloak of wonder as you look up to see the glittering cosmos. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you might even fancy a trek to see the Northern Lights.

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