Lifestyle & Seasonal

Cold weather worth-its: Fun activities to get the family outdoors.

The cold weather is no reason to stay indoors. This season holds lots of fun adventures for all ages.

Dress for success

As the people of Norway say, there is no bad weather, only bad clothes. Having the right gear is the secret to enjoying the outdoors in winter. Outdoor experts REI tell us the old “Layers, layers, layers” adage is the right one to stick with, but simply layering without taking the activity into consideration is not the way to do it. You must also consider the person’s metabolism – Those that heat up quickly should layer differently than those of us who take longer to warm up.

REI names three clothing layers for outdoor fun: A base layer that wicks sweat away from the skin; an insulating layer to retain heat and protect you from the cold; and an outer shell layer that fights the effects of wind and rain. The right clothing goes a long way in enjoyment of outdoor activities. Take a little time to research the appropriate gear for each person. Don’t forget appropriate footwear. Consider buying heated socks or hand warmers for extended outdoor activities.

Backyard fun

Fire and feast. A fire pit with s’mores can be a relatively quick activity that gets the family some fresh air. Provide adequate seating and cozy blankets to help lure them outside.

Snowshoeing. Snowshoe around the backyard is good practice for longer hikes. Today’s snowshoes are high-tech gear that look nothing like the old tennis-racket twins. Snowshoeing is fun and great exercise. Practice at home before getting out on those trails.

Build igloos. Many stores offer igloo brick molds. With a few tricks taken from the experts, an igloo is a fun project for the do-it-yourselfers in the group.

Coffee break. Sit with some specialty hot chocolate or a mocha latte. There’s nothing more invigorating than having a hot drink out in the cold air.

Adventuring out into the wild

Shoe the trails. Once your snowshoeing skills are up to snuff, you can venture out on some trails. Try to stay off the cross-country skiing tracks, as snowshoes have a tendency to flatten the ruts the skiers work hard to establish. Keep the first hike shorter than you would think, to save some energy for the hike back.

Ice fishing. We’re not all ice fishing aficionados, but that doesn’t mean we can dip our toes in the activity. Search for local ice fishing tours and try your hand at this age-old tradition. Tours only last a few hours and can definitely have you back at the lodge warming up next to a fire in no time.

Snowmobile rides. Some resorts with golf courses offer snowmobile tours during the winter months. No real experience is needed to drive one of these machines over the rolling hills. A few minutes of training and perhaps a driver’s license is required. Usually the machines can hold at least two riders each, sometimes 3. Although new snowmobiles can travel at speeds up to and sometimes exceeding 150 mph, tour machines typically have a cap speed for safety. Even at slower speeds, the open air rushing past will make it feel like 150 mph.

Sledding. Slipping and sliding for snow-day fun has seen some revolutionary advances in the last several years. New snow sleds for kids and adults are worth checking out. Steerable mini toboggans, shin guard skis that allow the wearer to run and slide, ski-scooters and ski-bikes,  high-tech inner tubes, and high-speed snowracer sleds all take sledding to a whole new level. Check out some of the latest inventions, or break out the old standards. Feeling the wind in your face while whipping down a snow-covered hill is one of winter’s most exhilarating gifts.


Just do it

Getting outside in the winter can seem like a chore, but the more you do it, the more the layering and the cold air on your face will seem normal. Exercise is essential for a good mood and good health. Don’t let a little extra effort deter you from living a vigorous and joyous outdoor lifestyle.

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