I’ll be the first to admit it, I hate the winter time up here in Northern Illinois! Spending months at a time bundled up in heavy jackets, hats, gloves, and boots whenever I go outside is not my idea of fun!
If I had it my way, after my graduation in May, I would love to move far, far away from here to some crevice of the Southern US; spending my days in 70-100 degree weather! BUT that does not seem to be a possibility; my oh-so-dear boyfriend absolutely hates hot weather! Now, looking back I should have put this into my criteria in finding a mate, but that’s too late now; since we have already begun ring shopping! Guess I’m stuck here in the Midwest, until I can convince him to move elsewhere that is (*insert evil laugh here*.)
At least we have nice weather for a solid four months, so I can make do. I can try to have fun during the bitter cold months of the year! Which is why I have this list of fun activities to help anyone tackle these bitter cold months, and many activities are either cheap or even free!
Cheap Outdoor Winter Activities
Where I live, we have not seen a substantial amount of snow yet this winter. We saw a bit of snow over the Christmas Holiday, but it quickly melted away leaving us with ugly dead grass as far as the eye can see. There seems to be a snow drought happening in most areas of the US. But if you have had more than a few sporadic snow falls this winter that have accumulated to anything, you might be able to spend the afternoon sledding, building a snow fort, or have a snowball fight! These may seem like childish activities, but why not reach into your soul and pull out that inner child for a great day of fun in the snow! Grab your children, nieces and nephews and see if you can keep up with them! If the snow was piling up around me, I would definitely like to take my snowmobile out for a spin! So if you have snow, go outside and make some use of it: it may not be long before it’s gone! You could also try your hand at snowshoeing; learn about the health benefits of snowshoeing, it is suppose to be a great work out!
If you live near a skiing resort in an area with snow or if the resort makes it’s own, you could spend a fantastic day skiing! Bring the family out, your resort may even have great deals for children under 12! Learn how to find The Best Ski Deals This Season.
If you’re area is lacking in the snow department, don’t worry! There are tons of other activities to keep you busy in the winter months! Personally, my favorite winter activity is Ice Skating! I am just about the least coordinated person, and even though I may fall every once in awhile, I just get right back up and try again! You don’t have to be talented for ice skating, just grab a date or a friend and hold on tight! Many cities have ice skating venues that are usually relatively cheap or even sometimes free! Unless you have your own skates, there will be a rental cost of course, but if you have your own skates you’ll save! For example, in Chicago, the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink has free skating and $10 skate rental!
As long as you have warm enough clothes and boots, these are some activities that might spark your interest. You could try your hand at hiking or swing on over to a local park to take a stroll with a loved one. Many parks are open in the winter until sunset, visit trails.com to locate trails and parks near you! Possibly pick up a new hobby, such as photography, bird-watching, or ice fishing. Consider taking your dog for a walk to get out of the house for a bit. Or if you’d like to stay out for longer; grab some warm blankets, soup, sandwiches and hot cocoa and head out for a picnic! On a nice night, you could have a winter bonfire giving you the perfect chance to roast s’mores with the family! Stay outside for stargazing, and if you’re lucky you might catch a meteor shower!
Now for what I consider to be the craziest outdoor winter activity of them all, the infamous Polar Plunge! Chicago is hosting their Polar Plunge on Sunday, March 3, 2013 at 9:30 am, check the internet to search for one near you! If you’re anything like me, you may not want to participate in a polar plunge yourself, but it might be a fun to head out to the beach and witness everyone else who is willing to freeze their buns off!
Events and Activities In and Around Town
During the Holiday season, it is pretty easy to stumble upon Lights Festivals in local cities, parks, and zoos, as well as department store window displays. Many zoos and botanical gardens are still open during the winter, search the internet for deals around your city! Home Decor and Lifestyle Blog being tazim writes, “during December/early January, there are special winter activities, shows and events. There are often coupons or discounts during winter, so if you can brave the cold for a bit, going to the zoo might be a good option for family fun.”
You could visit Museums and Galleries; many offer free days during the winter months. Watch for local plays, ballets, live music and winter festivals near you, check local newspapers and town websites for these events and more close to home. If you live near a university, check out what activities are going on there. Most Universities have news publications and websites that that list this information. If sports are your thing, swing by a local sporting event, many high schools and universities charge a small fee for attending and it is definitely take up a few hours!
Form clubs and groups in your area, or join an already existing one, MeetUp.com can help you find local clubs by zip code. Use websites such as Groupon or LivingSocial to snag great deals for cheap winter fun!
Head to your local library where you can expand your mind, choose from books or magazines, even rent movies! Visit a local pet store to play with the cute puppies! Or for an even more rewarding experience, spend your time volunteering; there are many different possibilities, volunteer at a food bank or a homeless shelter to name a few!
Start working out, use those parks we talked about earlier to go for a run. One of my favorite past times is a trip to the the thrift store or a swap meet! You never know what you are going to find, you might see a piece that suits your style for super cheap! Get a few friends together for a photo scavenger hunt; Stephanie’s Mommy Brain suggests to “Make your own scavenger hunt list. Divide into teams and visit a local mall armed with a camera for each team. Take photos of a team member with each item on the list.”
Cheap Indoor Winter Activities
Of course this post wouldn’t be complete without indoor winter activities! What better way to get away from the cold then staying inside! I’m sure you aren’t a stranger to most of these ideas, but a nice refresher might give you a key to relieving your boredom! Let’s start with cooking! Don’t be afraid to try new recipes this winter, what could it hurt? Stroll through pinterest to find appealing meals, or try My Fridge Food which lets you search for recipes based on what is in your refrigerator! Try new cookies or homemade pizzas with crazy toppings. Since the best things in life are free, don’t forget to save time for family and friends, spend the afternoon with loved ones; in fact I love stopping by my grandma’s for a nice long visit!
Try completing a puzzle, playing a board game or video game (I recently been playing old SEGA games online), or even try your hand at coloring; it can be quite relaxing! Get crafty; try painting, scrap-booking, or writing a story or blog. Maybe even try to learn a new subject or skill such as knitting. Scientific experiments can be a blast with children, make forts or maybe even an indoor maze with cardboard boxes. Have a movie marathon, in fact Netflix is my best friend on cruddy days. Rearrange the furniture in your house, try cleaning out the items you want to get rid of; list them on Craigslist or eBay if you think they are of value, wouldn’t it be great to make some cash this winter!
Speaking of the internet, how about plan or research for a future vacation, find the best travel deals for the places you want to visit in the Spring or Summer time. Why not spend some time strolling the internet, find some of the many online giveaways and contests out there, and possibly try some online shopping, sites like Fatwallet give you cash back on purchases from your favorite sites!
I hope this helps you get through these winter months! Although, if you find yourself struggling getting through this Winter season more than usual, you may be interested in reading about the signs of cabin fever, there are ways to manage Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and bring you back to your normal self.