As the cold months with short daylight hours approach we all need to stock up on creative outdoor winter activities for our teens to bust the boredom and keep them moving. It’s only natural for our teens to want to hunker down inside with screens to pass the time in the dreary months of winter, but their bodies and their minds need the fresh air and freedom and probably a little adventure mixed in. With the added social distancing and increased school/work screen time due to this global pandemic we will need to fight even harder to get them outdoors.
We have compiled a list of 11 outdoor winter activities for teens (and their families) to entice them into the cold, and potentially wet elements. As we always say, the best way to encourage these activities is to BE the example. While a quiet hike through the snow may be more your style, you may need to live on the edge a bit. We’ve even put together a list of simple outdoor gear to make your winter adventures more comfortable and enjoyable.
We know that teenagers can often act like kids given the opportunity, so a few of these ideas are great for youngers or tweens, but we have also included some adventure activities to spur on the thrill seekers. After all, we want to encourage our teenagers to find healthy ways to push the limits and outdoor winter activities can be a great way to build confidence and resilience.
11 Outdoor Winter Activity Ideas
Build A Snow Fort
Kids of all ages love this activity because it invites creativity and competition. Different kids/teens will come up with a variety of ways to build the most quality fort with snow and other natural materials. Of course, what’s the point of having a fort if there isn’t a war? Bring on the snowball competition!
All ages love to sled, but we suspect that teens will take this activity to a whole new level. Get them thinking about ways they can elevate the experience with building ramps and jumps or by using a mixtures of types of sleds to see which runs the fastest. Teens love to prove themselves with a challenge.
Host a Bonfire
Reign in your teen’s skills to build a fire and invite their friends over for time together outdoors with warmth and snacks. This is the perfect recipe for teens-social time and food and you can have them do it all outside so it’s a win win!
Go Ice Climbing
Talk about exciting! We definitely suggest booking a guide/tour for this activity if you have no experience so you can ensure you have the right safety equipment and gear. If you have a teenager who has always been a climber this could be a fun, new activity that challenges him/her in a unique way.
There are only a few resorts in the U.S. that offer this exhilarating activity, but it’s perfect for your teen who loves SPEED. This activity is similar to body boarding in the ocean, but it’s done on snow. You ride a lightweight inflatable sled that has special grooves made for manipulating sharp turns and reaching speeds up to 60 mph!
Cosmic Snow Tubing
Night time snow tubing is offered at several resorts with a laser light show. Black and neon lights are included for special effect. This is a great option for a teen group date activity! Make sure to dress extra warm for night time temps.
Skip the Ice Skating and do Ice Biking
This uses the same ideas as ice skating, but atop a stainless steel frame with blades. This is perfect for those teens who struggle to keep upright on skates, but still gives them the opportunity for movement and exercise while outside during the winter months.
RZR Tour Winter-Style
Get off road in a heated vehicle to see those untouched backcountry spots. These tours provide endless fun and stretch the adventure limits just enough. These tours typically are for ages 12 and above so keep that in mind. Several of these tours also include dinner so it can be a great family activity or another great group date idea.
If your teenager loves mountain biking then this is the winter activity for him/her. A bike frame is mounted on skis to give a smooth, but quick ride down hills and mountains. Many locations offer multi-level trails for your adrenaline rush seeking teenagers OR your cautious newbie. Younger kids and older folks can enjoy this activity, too, on beginner trails.
Winter Zip Lining
Many adventure parks are beginning to offer zip lining in the winter months to give adventure seeking families a different perspective through the seasons. Do some research on daytime and nighttime zip tours to find the best fit for your family.
Another great way to get to the backcountry vistas quickly is by snowmobile. Snowmobiling can give you a thrill and get you to places to see incredible wildlife and other adventures like soaking in hot springs.
Winter Gear for Outdoor Activities
- Insulated boots to keep your feet dry for as long as possible
- Base layers- Smartwool or Cuddl Duds are our favorites
- Yaktrax for good footwear traction
- Hardshell Coat to repel the wet elements with zip in fleece liner
- Polarized sunglasses or Glacier Goggles to lessen the snow and sun glare
- Wool Socks for wicking & warmth – we love Darn Tough brand
- High quality hat and gloves to keep you warmer for longer