Family fun in winter: Show your love for nature this Valentine's Day and Family Day
Imagine never having to hibernate again. Instead of watching endless movies, you could be out enjoying nature. Instead of spending countless hours on the computer or playing video games all weekend, you could be out getting fresh air and having family fun in winter.
Sadly, many people dread the winter months and shut themselves indoors until the ground warms and the first flowers emerge in spring. Maybe they think winter sports, like skiing and snowboarding, are expensive and intimidating, so what else are they going to do outdoors in winter? But I’m here to tell you there are a variety of winter activities for you and your family that are fun, free or affordable that get you outdoors to enjoy the beauty of nature in the winter.
One of the easiest activities, that happens to be enjoyable and free, is simply taking a casual stroll along the lakeshore — like here in Barrie, Ontario — or through a park or nature reserve. Walking is a great activity for all fitness levels and ages. You can take your camera and spot beautiful winter birds, or make snow angels or even enjoy the slides and swings at a playground.
Outdoor skating is another great activity. Many neighbourhoods and cities offer free outdoor ice rinks for families to enjoy. Some even offer skate rentals, which is great if you’re introducing your children to skating to see if they like it before you make invest in skates.
Many nature reserves and conservation areas are great to visit in the winter. One such place is the Wye Marsh in Midland, Ontario. It’s a fantastic place to explore all year long, as they always have activities and events going on. This is a great time to experience its winter-white beauty, the smattering of wildlife you’ll encounter and a variety of winter birds.
The Wye Marsh offers affordable cross-country ski and snowshoe rentals. I must admit I tried snowshoeing there for the first time this winter and fell in love with it. I saw countless kids enjoying it too; clowning around in oversized "shoes" and walking on snow — they seemed to bask in the fun of it.
Another fun aspect of winter at the Wye Marsh is the chickadees. First you’ll hear their song, “chick-a-dee-dee-dee,” in the surrounding trees. If you’re still and patient and hold out your palm with a handful of seeds, these bold, curious birds will fly over to land on your hand for a nibble at the seeds and give you a sweet sideways cock of their head, as if to say, "why, thank you.” Children and adults alike will really appreciate this opportunity at a wild close encounter.
If you’re looking to try something different this winter, then give geocaching a try. It's great for children and will interest the explorer in all of us. Geocaching is a treasure hunt in the real world using GPS and a little sleuthing to try and find geocaches hidden in different locations. A geocache is often a small or large container with different types of treasures inside. When you find it, you can sometimes trade a treasure inside for a new one you are putting in. You can geocache all year long, but it is an entertaining way to explore nature and the great outdoors in winter. Children will love this opportunity to indulge in real live hide and seek.
So no matter you fitness level or interests, there are numerous ways for you and your family to get outside this winter and explore nature, get some exercise and have some fun! Check out these Nature Destinations, some of which are open in winter, across Canada.
What are you doing this Family Day?