I am currently sitting in a Colorado hotel room in the middle of a very cold February. We’ve been here the entire winter so far, and plan on staying the rest of it. Everyone is talking about how they’re up to the mountains for the day or the weekend and skiing or snowboarding. I love skiing – I’ve been a skiier for almost twenty years and it’s one of my favorite winter activities. I can’t wait to introduce it to the Kid.
But skiing in Colorado gets really expensive, traffic to the closest places is impossible, and I have to sit out this season anyway because I’m pregnant. Instead, to save off cabin fever, I’ve had to get creative. Here’s a list of all the things we are did, doing, or probably will do to get out and about in winter – most of them are cheap, and none of them involve hurtling down a hill.
Hiking is Still Fun
Yes, hiking. In the winter. I know, I’m a crazy person, right? Well, only kind of. We love hiking, so we’ve been taking a lot of day trips to check out local state parks. It usually costs about $10 for us to get in (if they charge by the person it might cost a bit more), but state parks are all but deserted in the winter so you get the whole place to yourselves!
Because we go hiking in a place that gets ice, we’ve invested in microspikes. We use these ones, which are fairly inexpensive don’t damage concrete or flooring. It was a worthwhile investment – snow boots don’t always give the best traction, and I’m very fall averse. Just the little bit of added traction makes all the difference.
Go Ice Skating
What’s more fun than flying around on ice with metal blades attached to your feet? Doing it with small children! Sarcasm aside, I actually enjoy ice skating a lot. It’s usually considered a Christmas thing, but there are outdoors ice skating rinks open all season, or you can find a local pond that’s shallow enough to freeze through. If not, you can always go ice skating indoors.
And don’t worry about the latent dangerous propensities of ice skates – people very rarely get seriously injured, and when they do, it’s usually a professional skater and unrelated to the ice skates themselves. Plus, most places have a kind of walker for small children so they don’t fall. You’ll be surprised at how quickly you pick it up.
So. Much. Fun. It’s like hiking, except you 1) don’t run the risk of falling and 2) don’t sink in the snow! We went snowshoeing for the first time in Rocky Mountain National Park, and it was worth every penny of the $15 we spent on renting the snowshoes from Estes Park Mountain Shop. If you’re uncertain about navigating the trails on your own (we did, and on busy days there’s enough people you can’t get lost if you’re not going far), you can go on a guided tour through them as well.
And don’t be fooled – you absolutely can dress too warm. We rented snowpants, but ended up deciding that long underwear and thick jeans would have been sufficient for the grown ups. We brought snacks and handwarmers though, both of which were very appreciated. If you’ve never tried it, I highly recommend going snowshoeing.
Hot Springs, Anyone?
This is one of those things that’s very location-specific. Colorado (and Idaho…) have a lot of hot springs. Most of the ones here have been developed into resorts, but if you’re willing to shell out the money for a day pass, it’s a nice way to relax. While most of them are child friendly or have child friendly areas, it’s also a great way to pamper yourself and spend a little one-on-one time with you SO for a romantic daytime getaway.
Free Tours? Yes, Please!
Surprisingly enough, a lot of businesses give tours – even in the winter. Many of them give out coupons, samples, and free swag. Our favorite so far was Morning Fresh Dairy, which is also home to Noosa yogurt. They take you on a tour of the farm, show you the cows getting milked on their “Dairy-go-round,” tell you all about the process, AND you get to pet a calf! Our kid thought it was awesome. Dad and I enjoyed testing the weird yogurt and milk flavors (root beer milk is surprisingly delicious).
Ice Fishing is a Thing
This is the most expensive thing on the list, but if you’ve ever wanted to try it or are even just curious, you should. You can hire a guide, or if you know someone who does it, ask to tag along. Here in Colorado, a guide for a full day will run you about $400 for up to 2 people for a 6-hour trip. It’s my logic that ice fishing is a good survival skill and you can’t put a price on knowledge!
Okay, so it’s expensive and it’s not for everyone. It’s not near as cold as you’d think, though – usually they set up a tent and it’s heated. If you’re really looking for an experience that’s different and memorable, you should consider going ice fishing. It’s not the kind of thing you can do on your own or teach yourself.
Feeling Rowdy? Ride a Snowmobile (or ATV)
We actually did this because it was convenient, and only the Kid went. We just happened to have an amazing Airbnb host who exercised his very large dogs via ATV. He offered to take the Kid out on a short ride – he had a lot of fun. Which reminded me that we lived in a place that has snowmobiles! You can rent them or take a tour – most places that get a decent amount of snowfall have snowmobile rental places. It’s not as expensive as ice fishing, but can get pricey if everyone in a family is doing it.
Having Fun Yet?
I know, getting out and doing things in the winter is hard. But it’s good for your mental health and what else are you going to do? Sit inside and watch Netflix? Well, if you’re like me and stuck on a snowy day with a small child, you can check out how I get him to go outside and play here. Despite needing to wear a bunch of layers, there’s actually a lot of fun things to do in winter! What else do you do outside in the winter? Did I miss anything (other than skiing and sledding, obviously)? Let me know in the comments!