51 Winter Activities to Banish the Cold Weather Blues
That first snow is always a sight to behold, especially in the New York and New Jersey areas. The skyline looks extra grand dusted with snow, but it doesn’t take long before the novelty wears off and you’re climbing up the walls. The once-flawless flakes have morphed into slush mixed in with mud from the street and the picturesque scenery is all gone. Ugh. But fear not, friends: Our roundup of exciting winter activities has enough to keep you 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 trekking off with your partner to indulge in romantic spa days or sexy ballroom dance classes, spending quality time together has never been easier. May your itinerary planning be merry.
1. Take a Skiing 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 to boot, 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.
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. 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. (The Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers and Wollman Rink in Central Park are especially glorious during the holiday season.)
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 whilst 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.
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!)
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.
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.
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).
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.
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 utilize to get some movement in your body. Get a friend or your boo to join in for some added fun (and lowkey competition).
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 safe and fun sport for all ages and skill levels.
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.)
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.
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.
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. And just because the Christmas holidays are behind doesn’t mean you can’t utilize this two-in-one activity to keep the little tots occupied. Give them a head start on those Valentine’s Day or Easter crafts while you get some work done.
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.
16. Have a Snowball Fight
Don your winter gear and invite your friends and family outside for a good ol’ fashioned snowball fight. Needless to say, this activity has loads of kid appeal, but you’d be hard pressed to find an adult who doesn’t enjoy it, too. And when you live in a town as unpredictable as New York City, you may just find yourself in one, right in downtown Manhattan.
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.
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.
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. Not sure where to start? The New York chapter of Volunteers of America can help you narrow it down.
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, while providing an opportunity for socializing and making new friends to boot.
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.
22. Watch a Play
Broadway is back baby! So, soak up some culture this winter with a trip to watch a classic. If you can’t get your hands on those pricey tix, small theater companies produce some real gems too, and the experience of discovering one for yourself makes for a very memorable night out.
23. Go to the Ballet
Swap for your sweatpants for something sharp and take a trip to the ballet. Haven’t seen anything since your grade school field trip to see The Nutcracker? No worries. No matter what you choose (Nutcracker round two included), you’ll be treated to a truly enchanting viewing experience.
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 has to 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.
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.
26. Make a Batch of Mulled Wine
Spiked with orange, cinnamon and clove, and 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, there’s no reason not to sip on it all season long.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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 and if you choose to learn with your romantic partner, it can be downright steamy, too.
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. Venues such as Frames even offer food and cocktails, so you can even throw party there.
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.
34. Try Candle-Making
Candle-making: The easy-to-learn, entertaining and just plain nifty craft you probably never considered. Try it out this winter for a hobby that yields sweet smelling gifts your loved ones will be delighted to receive. Amazon sells kits you can have delivered within days, and if you want a scent that’s better than your perfume, check out Siblings’ sets.
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.
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.
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. This hands-on activity will make you feel warm and fuzzy, while getting your creative juices flowing.
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 whose job it is to taste your daily concoctions.
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 looks lovely on display and can even be used as a sensory tool for calming a distressed kid.
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.
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 all set for an evening of good company, and a decadent dinner-and-dessert menu to be enjoyed among friends.
42. Visit a Local Brewery
From rich porters and stouts to ginger-scented Christmas ales, there are all kinds of seasonal brews to explore, and 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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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.)
48. Check out Holiday Decorations
When they’re in season, of course. 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.
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.
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 try out some roasted tomato soup, lentil soup or pasta e fagioli soup. You can check out this comprehensive list of all sorts of vegetable soups you and your tiny sous chefs can make in your kitchen.
51. Plant a Garden
This may seem counterintuitive, but there are some plants—hydrangeas, primrose, camelias—that do A-OK even 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.