My Winter Family Fun Checklist – 12 Weekends Until Spring!

Child's gloves catching snowflakes with a sparkly background. Text says "12 Weekends Until Spring! A Winter Checklist of 12 Fun Family Activities"

Once Christmas is past and we are facing January, it is good to keep in mind that there are only twelve weekends left until spring! It is time to start thinking about my winter family fun checklist. When you pack all your fun into the weekends like I do, seasons go by fast. Even during years that I despise winter, twelve weeks doesn’t seem like much time when I make a checklist of all the fun things I want to make time to do with my family.

Here are a dozen of activities I’d like to try to pack into the next twelve weekends with the hopes that my family will be having so much fun, spring will be here before we know it:

Active Outdoor Winter Checklist

There are plenty of fun activities that can only be done in the winter.  Here are a few to add to your own winter family fun checklist.

1. Sled or Snowboard a Big Hill

Sledding and snowboarding are among my favorite winter activities. I try to pick a warmer sunny day after a big snowfall, so I can enjoy both the snow and the weather. This is a great activity to combine with hot cocoa stirred with candy canes leftover from Christmas. Don’t know where to go? We have compiled this list of Twin Cities Sledding Hills.

2. Ice Skate for FREE

Every year, Anne publishes a list directing us Where To Find Free Outdoor Ice Rinks. Most of the Minneapolis Park rinks also offer free loaner skates – an incredible value when kids feet grow faster than you can get to a rink. Enjoy a free day of ice skating or choose a park with a hockey rink and get in a family hockey game.

3. Try Snowshoeing.

Gianna filled us in on all the Snowshoe Winter Fun to be found in Minnesota and where the best snowshoeing parks can be found. This sport can be more affordable than cross country skiing while still getting the whole family out to explore parks in the snow.

girl with snowshoes
Sure the temperatures could go subzero at any time and sure we can barely move in all our layers, but we’re Minnesotans. We love all kinds of weather!

4. Go Skiing – Downhill or Cross Country

Despite the cost, both downhill skiing and cross country skiing are fun winter activities to do with kids. We’ve rounded up the best places for Family Skiing and Snowboarding in the Twin Cities and greater Minnesota.

Parent and child skiing. Text reads: "Family Skiing & Snowboarding in the Twin Cities" Family Fun Twin Cities.

5. Participate in a Scavenger Hunt

Our big list of Twin Cities Quests, Scavenger & Treasure Hunts for Families doesn’t slow down in the winter. In fact, it picks up. Cities all around the area offer family-friendly hunts for yetis, gnomes, books and more. Plus we have the famous Winter Carnival medallion hunt where a big prize of $10,000 is on the line.

Two boys studying a map in a blanket tent
Treasure hunts help kids practice problem-solving and improve observation skills

6. Attend Winter Carnival and/or Other Winter Festivals

Every year, Anne helps us find the most family-friendly events at the Saint Paul Winter Carnival. She also rounds up all the other fun Twin Cities Winter Family Festivals.

snowy st paul

Winter Art Checklist

Before moving to Minnesota, I had no idea ho much art happens in the cold. You just can’t see these exhibits in the summer. Add these events to your winter family fun checklist if you are willing to get out and brave the elements.

7. Explore Ice Castles

Long Lake Regional Park, 1500 Old Highway 8, New Brighton, MN 55112
Not just for fans of Disney’s Frozen, Ice Castles returns to the Twin Cities again in 2023, and we have an exclusive discount code for Family Fun Twin Cities readers! Get 15% off your tickets.

Explore Magical Ice Castles - Family Fun Twin Cities

8. Visit the Art Shanty Projects

4135 W Lake Harriet Pkwy, Minneapolis, MN 55409
Where else besides Minnesota can you see ice fishing shacks turned into art?  This year, the Art Shanty Event is back on Bdé Umáŋ (Lake Harriet)  be held weekends Jan 21 – Feb 12, 2023. Have double the family fun on Saturday, January 28th when Minneapolis Parks hosts its annual Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival. These kites are their own form of art.

Man dressed as pirate in front of his Art Shanty, Lake Harriet, Minneapolis Minnesota
Art Shanty Pirate Ship

9. Participate in or Watch the Powderhorn Art Sled Rally.

Powderhorn Park, 3400 15th Avenue S., Minneapolis, MN 55407
This year’s Art Sled Rally is on January 28, 2023 at 2:00 p.m.  If you want to be more than a spectator, you can attend free workshops to build your own art sled. Find that information on the Art Sled Rally website.

Winter Checklist for Family Fun at Home

You don’t have to leave home to find ways to have fun this winter. Here are a few ideas to do any night your family is together:

10. Have a Day of Backyard Winter Fun

Let the kids build their own list of fun winter activities for the backyard, but here are a few to get them started:

  1. Build a snowman
  2. Have a snowball fight
  3. Freeze a pair of jeans standing up to make an “invisible snowman”
  4. Blow bubbles and watch them freeze
  5. If it is snowing, you can catch big fluffy snowflakes with your tongue. If it is not snowing, avoid the yellow snow.
  6. Invite the neighborhood to warm up around your backyard fireplace or fire pit and roast marshmallows and drink warm apple cider or hot chocolate.
  7. Light up those Christmas lights that you probably haven’t taken down yet
  8. Haul out last year’s Christmas tree and set it up near the compost pile to decorate for the birds.

11. Plan an Indoor Family Fun Night

Just like with the outdoor fun, let the kids create a plan for a cozy family night indoors. Some fun ideas, could include:

  1. Cuddle up in warm blankets and PJs, make microwave popcorn and watch winter-themed movies in your living room.
  2. Make it a family game night with all the new board games you got for Christmas or your favorite old standbys. We have some ideas toward the end of our 75 Fun Indoor Games for Kids article.
  3. Make a blanket fort, dig out the flashlights and read together while eating chocolate. (This ones my favorite idea – who says you have to save this idea for Christmas Eve?)
  4. Make Christmas cookies and/or a gingerbread house. Christmas actually lasts 12 days, ending on Friday, January 6th (The Epiphany), so there is no reason you can’t make more cookies or finally get around to making cookies. This is Anne’s favorite recipe: Easy To Follow Kid Friendly Holiday Gingerbread Cookies Recipe
  5. Make winter crafts – like paper snowflakes – together. Gianna has created a guide to 25 Easy Arts & Crafts for Kids Throughout the Year. This is also a great time to cut up the holiday cards you received and old photos from Christmas cards past to repurpose into new ornaments for next year’s tree.
  6. Host a bread and soup party. Offer several soup options in crockpots, an array of breads and desserts, and let your guests choose their favorites. Or make it a potluck and have everyone bring their favorite homemade soup to sample.
  7. Order take-out from a new restaurant. We have some ideas: Twin Cities Family Meal Deals: Busy Day Take-Out Alternatives to Pizza.
  8. Peruse cookbooks and make all those wonderfully comforting cold weather foods. I don’t really do the cooking in my house, but I do love to curl up with a cookbook and pick out recipes for my husband and kids to make together. It gets too warm in the summer to cook some of my favorites – roasts, roast chicken, soups, stews and chili. So this is the time of year to get my fill. If that isn’t enough, before spring hits, Lent will start, and we can’t have Friday nights in Lent without fish fries.
Grade school age kids playing a game of chess while mom looks on
Once they reach grade school kids can play independently or with family

12. Volunteer as a Family

This could be as simple as shoveling your neighbor’s driveway or making cards to cheer up someone you know is lonely this winter or you could volunteer at a homeless shelter or Feed My Starving Children. We also offer these ideas:

Girl volunteering at Feed My Starving Children

Your turn to share with the community. What are your winter bucket list ideas? Leave a comment and share your favorite things to do.

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