Winter can be a magical time, especially when the ground is covered in fluffy snow. For someone who grew up in Ontario, Canada, I learned early on how to embrace the colder days. As long as you have the proper winter attire, outdoor adventure doesn’t have to end as soon as the temperature drops. It’s true that it takes double or even triple the time to get yourself, and especially your kids, geared up for outdoor play. But, the 10 outdoor winter activities to do with kids that I share in this post will make the prep time all worth it.
This blog post is sponsored by SAIL, which has been my go-to outdoor adventure store since I bought my first backpack in 2007. I always head there before a big trip and especially for all my outdoor adventure needs.
Blue Mountain Resort, Ontario
Village Vacances Valcartier, Quebec
For the little adventurers who enjoy a good thrill, snow tubing will be a win! It’s a great outdoor winter activities to do with kids because the larger tubes typically hold a handful of people. You’ll twist, turn, bump and even fly as you zoom down the hills.
I’ve been to a few resorts in Ontario and Quebec that offer snow tubing. Many resorts are now offering Glow Tubing at night. Think glow in the dark bowling, except you’re the ball rolling down the lane. I will warn you, your kids may never want to leave, so make sure they’re bundled up to last hours on the hills.
Children’s clothing recommendations: Warm base layers made of Marino wool to wear underneath a jacket will keep your child dry and warm throughout the entire experience.
Horse Sleigh Rides Tremblant, Quebec
One of the many great things about having kids is doing an activity you may have not done if it weren’t for them. Even better, those activities make YOU feel like a kid again. A sleigh ride is one of those activities that you and your children can equally enjoy.
Mont Tremblant is the perfect setting for a sleigh ride through fields and forest. The guided sleigh ride can seat up to 16 people and is pulled by a couple of beautiful horses. There may also be a fun sing-along included too.
Children’s clothing recommendations: Since the horses will be the only ones active during this activity, a warm pair of gloves and scarf are highly recommended for you and the kiddos.
Blue Mountain Resort, Ontario
Rideau Canal Skateway, Ontario
There’s something so peaceful and enchanting about ice skating with the family, especially outdoors during a snowfall. If you don’t own a pair of skates, you can often rent them on site. There’s usually a stand where you can buy hot chocolate and other warm drinks – a necessity for ice skating. Delegated areas for beginner skaters that include skating aids will help children learn how to skate. Some outdoor ice rinks even have holiday music playing which really sets the tone.
Children’s clothing recommendations: A good winter jacket with extra breathable insulation specifically designed for an active lifestyle. That way, your child doesn’t get cold when he or she sweats.
Building a Snow Fort
Anywhere there’s a good snowfall
Not all Canadians live in igloos and ride polar bears to school, but we do enjoy building a good snow fort every winter. Again, this is one of my fondest childhood memories – building the biggest snow fort with my friends that incorporated tunnels and even tables and chairs made completely out of snow. It’s a great activity to do right after a big snowfall.
Children’s clothing recommendations: A full piece snowsuit is the perfect getup for snow fort building. It will keep your kiddo warm and prevent snow from getting in all the places they won’t enjoy it.
Valley of the Ghosts, Quebec
Algonquin Park, Ontario
Snowshoeing is an under-rated outdoor winter activity that the whole family can enjoy. It brings winter hiking to a whole other level of awesomeness. No matter how deep the snow is, you can pummel through with snowshoes on. This gives you and the family an opportunity to explore and create your own trails or re-experience your favorite trails and see them in a totally new light.
Snowshoeing is easy to learn and is a great way for the whole family to get moving during the winter months. It’s also one of the best ways to get away from it all, immerse yourself in nature and really feel connected to your surroundings. You’ll see winter in a whole other light.
Children and Adult Gear Recommendations: You can purchase a pair of snowshoes and walking poles for the whole family from SAIL.
Trinity Bellwoods, Ontario
Mount Royal, Quebec
Tobogganing pretty much sums up my entire childhood. Every winter, my friends and I would be at the hill with our GTs and sleds, zooming down the hill, flying over ramps and running ourselves up to the top of the hill to start all over again.
When I think of winter activities for kids, this is at the top of my list. Tobogganing can we done pretty much anywhere there’s a hill with snow on it, and you can purchase a sled for as little as $20 at any large retail store. There’s also a place in Quebec called The Toboggan Slide Au 1884 which is actually a historic monument in the city that’s been around for over 100 years. It’s a toboggan experience that gives you an amazing view of the city. The slide is a short ride, but it gets up 70 kilometres per hour in speed! There are three icy runs, and you can fit up to four people on each slide, so if you have children, they don’t have to ride alone.
Children’s clothing recommendations: A good pair of snow pants is a must when tobogganing. Otherwise, snow will get in all the places you don’t want it to.
Make Maple Taffy
Hôtel de Glace, Quebec
Fulton’s Sugar Bush, Ontario
This is the most tasty of the outdoor winter activities to do with kids on the list. In true Canadian spirit, maple taffy is made by boiling maple sap past the point where it would form maple syrup, but not so long that it becomes maple butter or maple sugar. It’s then poured onto snow, rolled onto a popsicle stick and eaten. It is part of traditional culture in Quebec and Eastern Ontario that honours and connects our natural landscape to Mother Nature’s offerings. I’ve never met a kid who didn’t like this activity…or parent. If you’re in Lanark County in Ontario, you’re in the Maple Syrup Capital of Ontario, which means you can find Maple Taffy just about anywhere.
Children’s clothing recommendations: A good pair of winter boots since your child may be standing in the snow for a while indulging in this tasty treat.
Visiting an Ice Hotel
Hôtel de Glace, Quebec
If you’re looking for a very unique winter experience, spend the day, and even the night, in an ice hotel. The Hotel de Glace in Quebec City is the only ice hotel in North America. It’s made entirely of snow and ice and includes a chapel, ice slide, drum set, rooms and suites, and even an ice bar with a delicious cocktail (alcoholic and virgin) served in a glass made of ice. We even spent the night which may sound cold, but the staff prepares you, and it ended up being one of the best sleeps I’ve ever had!
Children’s clothing recommendations: A pair of wool socks is essential for those wanting to spend the night in Hôtel de Glace. They will keep your child’s feet warm and dry.
Winterdance Dogsled Tours, Ontario
Expédition Mi-Loup, Quebec
I’ve gone dog sledding several times, and it’s always a blast for both me and more so, the dogs! I’ve never seen so many excited dogs in one place! Running through the snow while pulling a sled is what they live for. If you ask nicely, your child may even get to help steer the sled. Forget your car! This is clearly the best way to get around on a snowy day.
Children’s clothing recommendations: A good hat! When the dogs pick up speed, you’ll definitely feel the wind in your hair…and your ears if you’re not dressed properly.
Forks of the Credit Provincial Park, Ontario
Jacques-Cartier National Park, Quebec
Getting outdoors for a simple winter hike is extremely rejuvenating. It boosts your mood and reduces stress. It’s a great outdoor winter activities to do with kids. I’ve found that if my daughter has extra energy she needs to get out, a winter hike helps that and also gives her the best naps after words. Hiking in winter gifts you the silence that snow-covered grounds and trees provide. It allows kids to experience the seasonal changes and be connected with the subtleties and cycles in nature. Another perk of winter hiking is fewer crowds on trails.
Children and Adult Gear Recommendations: I can’t recommend a baby carrier enough for those with toddlers and younger children. Letting your kids walk on their own is great, but when they are tired or need a break, having a proper carrier will allow you to keep trekking.
There you have it for my recommendations! I wish you many fond memories with your kids playing out in the snow this winter. For gearing up, I like to head to SAIL, where I like to grab my kids’ outdoor clothing and equipment. And especially this year, shopping online is an excellent option that’s also offered at sail.ca. I’m excited about taking the kids out this year, and hope I’ve given you some ideas to get you into the winter spirit as well!
Disclaimer: A special thanks to SAIL for sponsoring this blog post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.