Things to Do on Winter Break—25 Family Staycation Ideas

Updated on February 8, 2017
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Kathy Sima 


Kathy is a freelance writer from Canada who is always on the lookout for fun things to do with her family.

There are lots of things to do on a winter break staycation.
There are lots of things to do on a winter break staycation. | Source

Soon the kids will be off school for their winter break. You may have an exciting ski trip or a fun vacation to Disney World planned. If this is the case, then this article is not written for you! However, if a trip away is not in the cards for your family, then please read on.

If you don’t have any plans for the winter break, you may be feeling a little paniced about what to do to keep your kids busy while they’re off school. Have no fear! Staycations can be fun for everyone—especially with a little advance planning.

Here are 25 ideas for fun, inexpensive things to do over the school break that will help keep the whole family busy.

1. Go to the Zoo

A winter trip to the zoo can be a completely different experience than a summer zoo excursion. For one thing, zoos are much less crowded during the colder months, so you won’t have to fight the crowds to get a good view of the animals.

Many zoos have indoor pavilions to explore. These buildings can be stifling hot during the summer, but are a welcome reprieve on a cold day. Although some of the outdoor exhibits may be closed in the winter, there are many animals that actually prefer cooler temperatures. You are likely to catch them being much more active than they are on hot summer days.

2. Have a Movie Marathon

While you probably don’t want your kids glued to the TV for the whole school break, a planned afternoon or evening of movie watching can be fun. Choose a theme or a genre for your movie marathon, or just have everyone pick their favourite movie. Make some popcorn, grab a few other favourite movie treats and some cozy pillows and blankets, relax and enjoy!

3. Go Tobogganing

Sledding down a hill with family or friends is fun for kids and adults alike. Grab a toboggan, snow tube, fancy snow racer or a crazy carpet, and head for the nearest hill for some snowy fun.

It’s a good idea to dress in layers, since walking back up those hills can make you warm up pretty quickly!

Snow tubing fun.
Snow tubing fun. | Source

4. Visit a Museum

A trip to a museum is both educational and fun. Depending on the interests of your family, you could visit an art museum, museum of natural history, science centre or any number of museums in your area.

You can search this list of museums in the United States to find a museum near you.

5. Go Bowling

5-pin bowling is a fun family activity. For young children or beginner bowlers, many bowling alleys offer bumper bowling, where the gutters are covered so that the ball stays in the lane. This allows the kids to focus on having fun instead of getting frustrated by having their bowling ball continuously roll into the gutter.

Some bowling alleys also offer glow-in-the-dark bowling, which kicks up the excitement level a notch.

6. Have a Spa Day at Home

If you have daughters, they would probaby enjoy a little spa treatment at home. Pamper them with a foot soak in a relaxing foot spa or the tub, and then give them a pedicure and a manicure. If you’re feeling brave, let them do your nails too!

Serve a healthy spa-style lunch with fresh fruit and sandwiches.

7. Go to the Library

If the weather outside is frightful, but you still want to get out of the house, the library can be a great destination. Kids can read books, look for movies to borrow or use the computers at the library, and you can find some new reading material as well. Many libraries offer special kids programs during school breaks, so be sure to check your local library’s website for any programs your children may enjoy.

8. Make a Family Scrapbook

If you have a digital camera or a smart phone, chances are you have hundreds, if not thousands, of photos on your computer that you have never printed off. It’s a nice idea to get some of them printed and spend some time organizing them into photo albums or scrapbooks.

You can work on this project with your children, or give them each a stack of photos of them with family and friends and have them make a memory scrapbook or album of their own.

9. Go Swimming

Many community centres offer extra public swimming times over the holidays. A trip to the local pool can be an easy and inexpensive way to get everyone out of the house to burn off some energy and have fun.

10. Go for a Hike

Winter hikes can be a lot of fun, as long as everyone is dressed appropriately for the weather. Dress in layers, wear warm footwear and pack a few snacks and drinks before you set out for some family fun.

Walks in a forest after a fresh snowfall are particularly spectacular – be sure to bring a camera for those!

Hiking in the forest after a fresh snowfall.
Hiking in the forest after a fresh snowfall. | Source

11. Have a Craft Day

If your children like to do crafts, this can easily keep them busy for hours. From painting or drawing to making jewelry or collages, the possibilities are almost endless. Provide them with an assortment of supplies, and see what their creative minds come up with.

12. Redecorate the Kids’ Bedrooms

If it’s been awhile since your kids’ bedrooms have been updated, they might appreciate the opportunity to give their room a bit of a makeover. Whether you repaint, rearrange the furniture, or purchase new bedding or a few new accessories, this can be a perfect project to undertake during the school break.

13. Go Indoor Rock Climbing

Indoor rock climbing is another fun activity to do with kids. There are climbing walls designed just for kids, as well as larger climbing walls that the whole family can enjoy together.

14. Go Ice Skating

Many arenas have extra public skating hours available over the holidays. Skating on an outdoor rink or pond is a lot of fun too, if the weather cooperates. Plan to warm up with a hot chocolate afterwards!

15. Play Indoor Mini-golf

Indoor mini-putt is fun for kids of all ages. For the younger ones, keeping score is usually not necessary – nor often a good idea!

You can also find glow-in-the-dark mini putt facilities, which is always a big hit with the kids.

16. Make a Snow Fort

Building an igloo or snow fort is a fun project that can keep your kids busy for hours on a winter day. If they need a little help getting their creative building juices flowing, the book “How to Build Igloos and other Snow Shelters” is sure to inspire them.

Although not necessary, a snow brick mold can make building a snow fort much easier.

17. Bake Cookies

There’s nothing like the smell of cookies baking in the oven to put a smile on everyone’s face, so gather the crew and get baking. If you’re feeling ambitious, now’s a great time to bake some extra cookies or muffins to stock your freezer up for school lunch treats and snacks.

18. Have a Snowball Fight

If the kids are getting restless or rambunctious, send them outside for a snowball fight. Better still, join them! Just make sure to set some ground rules first – such as no snowballs to the head – to help prevent injuries.

If you don't want your kids throwing snowballs at each other, they can have a competition to see who can throw a snowball the furthest.
If you don’t want your kids throwing snowballs at each other, they can have a competition to see who can throw a snowball the furthest. | Source

19. Go to a Movie

Going out to a movie together as a family can be expensive, but it’s usually cheaper to go to a matinee. If there’s a big blockbuster that you all really want to see, it may be worthwhile paying the extra money to see it on the big screen.

20. Set Up Camp Indoors

If the weather’s not the best and you don’t feel like going anywhere, your kids might enjoy setting up camp in the house. If you have a tent, you could set that up in the basement or living room, or give the kids some sheets and blankets and let them build their own fort. Once the “camp” is setup the kids will likely find it a great place to hang out and play games or read.

21. Go Snowshoeing

If there’s snow where you live, I highly recommend giving snowshoeing a try. It’s a great winter activity that the whole family can enjoy.

Snowshoeing is a fun way to get fresh air and exercise in the winter.
Snowshoeing is a fun way to get fresh air and exercise in the winter. | Source

22. Have a Family Games Tournament

A family games night – or day – can be anything you want it to be, from a marathon session of Monopoly or Risk, to a tournament of card games or board games, to head-to-head challenges of your favourite family friendly video games. Having some yummy snacks on hand will make it seem more like a party.

23. Go Roller Skating

When was the last time you went roller skating? If it’s been awhile, why not give it a try? Find a local roller rink and try to recapture some of your youth!

24. Have a Dance Party

Have the kids invite a few friends over and host a dance party. Either play some tunes on the stereo, or they can play one of those dance video games if you have one. Dancing is a great way to get some exercise and have fun at the same time. Don’t be afraid to join in the fun – you may want to warn your kids first though.

25. Do Some Volunteer Work

Just because the kids are out of school doesn’t mean their learning should come to a halt. Teach them about compassion and helping others by volunteering together over the holiday. Volunteering at a food bank is a popular choice for families looking for volunteer work they can do together, but there are likely lots of organizations in your neighbourhood that could use a helping hand. This article on volunteer ideas for kidswill give you more ideas.

As you can see, you don’t have to travel far to keep busy during your kids’ winter break. With a bit of creativity and planning, you can all have lots of fun and the kids will be back at school before you know it!