Fun Family Ideas for Winter Weekends
Dreading the long stretch of cold weather ahead? Check out nine ideas for family fun, including tubing, tobogganing, geocaching and snow ice cream.
This winter will be unlike any other as Central Ohio families look for ways to keep the kids busy while also keeping them healthy. With fewer people traveling, it is definitely a year to get creative, so we assembled a list of suggestions you can use to help fill your weekends. From quick in-town outings to day trips to stay-at-home activities, there’s something for every interest.
Whether your comfort zone includes getting outside for socially distanced activities or you prefer to stay home, there are plenty of creative options. If you do plan to venture out, be sure to call ahead or go online to confirm COVID-19 protocols and make reservations, which are required for most places.
Here are nine ideas your family can use and adapt to create your own winter fun.
Explore Local Sledding Hills
It doesn’t take much snow to make the sledding hills around town prime spots for activity. There are dozens of slopes to pick from (see our full list at columbusparent.com/sleddinghills). For safety’s sake, choose parks that have designated sledding areas that are free of trees and other obstacles.
Here are some Central Ohio slopes to try:
- Big Run Park, 4201 Clime Road, Columbus
- Blacklick Woods Metro Park, 6975 E. Livingston Ave., Reynoldsburg
- Clinton-Como Park, 301 W. Pacemont Road, Columbus
- Columbus Park of Roses, 3923 N. High St., Columbus
- Highbanks Metro Park, 9466 U.S. Route 23 N., Lewis Center
- Scioto Park, 7377 Riverside Drive, Dublin
- Sharon Woods Metro Park, 6911 Cleveland Ave., Westerville
- Fryer Park, 3899 Orders Road, Grove City
Take a Tubing Day Trip
One of the most exciting winter activities is tubing at Ohio’s ski resorts. While Alpine Valley, Boston Mills/Brandywine, Mad River Mountain and Snow Trails all offer skiing with reservations, the latter three also offer family-friendly tubing. Be sure to check resort websites or call ahead to confirm operating hours, prices and COVID-19 safety protocols. Note that some resorts offer tubing only on weekends.
(3100 Possum Run Road, Mansfield; 800-644-6754; snowtrails.com)
Book a two-hour session on the longest tubing lanes in the state (1,100 feet) at Snow Trails, a one-hour drive from Columbus. Vertical Descent Tubing Park offers smaller tubes to accommodate younger children. The popular nighttime Glow Tubing must be booked in advance.
Mad River Mountain
(1000 Snow Valley Road, Zanesfield; 800-231-7669; skimadriver.com)
Mad River Mountain, located 45 minutes from Columbus, is the state’s largest ski resort. Avalanche Tubing Park has 10 lanes that run 1,000 feet or more. Guests can book tickets for three-hour sessions.
Brandywine Ski Resort
(1146 W. Highland Road, Sagamore; 800-875-4241; bmbw.com)
Brandywine Ski Resort, situated between Cleveland and Akron, offers family tubing with multiple lanes in the Polar Blast Tubing Park. You can reserve tickets for three-hour sessions; kids who want the ultimate experience can try the taller, faster Super Lanes for an enhanced thrill.
Sample Snow Ice Cream
Making snow ice cream after a snowfall can become one of your child’s most cherished memories. It is an easy and fun way for kids to participate in a cold weather activity, with delicious results.
One 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
¾ cup sugar
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 gallon of clean snow
Mix together sweetened condensed milk, sugar and vanilla in a bowl until smooth. Slowly stir snow into the mixture and freeze until you are ready to enjoy.
Play Nature Bingo
One way to get the kids involved in a DIY project and get them moving outside is with a nature bingo game. Use pieces of cardboard to make bingo cards for the number of people participating. Fill in the squares with pictures or words of natural elements that you can find in Ohio. Ideas include woodpeckers or other birds, deer, squirrels and types of trees. Head to a local park and walk on one of the trails to play the game.
16200 Valley Parkway, Strongsville; 440-572-9990
Families who want to up the ante for sledding can take a two-hour trip to Strongsville, near Cleveland, for a day on toboggan ice chutes. The Chalet in Mill Stream Run Reservation has two 700-foot chutes that propel toboggans (which hold up to four people) up to 50 mph to the bottom. Advance reservations and face coverings are required. Riders must be at least 42 inches tall.
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Create DIY Slime
Few things entertain kids better than slime. If you are in the mood to stay home, let the kids whip up a batch and keep them entertained for hours. One of the easiest recipes has just three ingredients, so the prep time is minimal.
One 8-ounce bottle of Elmer’s glue
1 tablespoon baking soda
1½ to 2 tablespoons contact lens solution
Food coloring (optional)
Combine glue and food coloring in a bowl and stir. Add baking soda. Mix in the contact solution, adding more or less depending on the desired thickness. Knead the slime until it holds together. Use a placemat to protect the table when playing, and store slime in a lidded container or a zip-top bag.
Start a Family Book Club
Fill winter afternoons or weekends by convening your own family book club. Opt for paper volumes, or access e-book rentals from the Ohio Digital Library, at ohdbks.overdrive.com. Select the featured title or choose a subject category, download a book for free, then set aside a day to make snacks and have a book club discussion with your children. Note that you need a library card to use the service; some cardholders (including those with the Columbus Metropolitan Library) need to access books via the related Libby app or website. Central Ohio libraries also offer e-books for patrons.
This modern-day scavenger hunt is a great year-round, free activity your family can use to explore and get outdoors. Snow makes it even more of a challenge. You can stay as close to home or wander as far as you want: There are more than 1,500 geocaching sites around Columbus and thousands around the state. Download the free app at geocaching.com/play to register and search for geocaching locations.
This story is from the Winter 2020 issue of Columbus Parent.
Editor’s note: The print version of this story included another activity, Family Field Trip Days at the Ohio History Center, but the venue announced shortly after the issue went to press that it was temporarily closing to the public due to the pandemic.