7 Outdoor Winter Activities for Cold Weather Newcomers

7 Outdoor Winter Activities for Cold Weather Newcomers

You're new here. So, let me fill you in on a little local secret: winter can sometimes feel as though it may never end.... never. You will at some point find yourself lost in a frigid cloud of icy fog praying for a ray of sunshine and a warm breeze unless you have a lineup of go-to outdoor winter activities to get you through. Follow this newcomers' guide so you'll know what to do and what to wear to avoid being blinded by winter's icy glare.

1. Maple Syrup Tapping:

Once you've got your barn coat, boiling down the sap is simple. Just kidding. Grab a heavy-duty pair of gloves and prepare to carry a lot of buckets. It takes about 40 gallons of sap to make one gallon of syrup. But, at least you’ll have lots of trees to pick from, considering the main producer of syrup is our state tree, the sugar maple.

You'll also want a down vest, long underwear, thick blue jeans, insulated boots, boot socks, a scarf, and a stocking hat, to stay warm while you’re out there getting that sap. It’s a lot of work in the cold, but boy that syrup is sure delicious when the work is done.

2. Holiday Lights Zoo Touring:

The goal is to stay warm, while not looking like you've escaped from the orangutan enclosure while viewing the holiday lights at the zoo. For that, you'll need lots of layers and a few heavy hitters in your wardrobe.

Start with an untucked flannel shirt, but if it’s really cold, feel free to throw a silk or thermal long sleeve shirt underneath. Layer a cable sweater over it. Fold the cuffs up. Then throw on a pair of skinny jeans that slide easily into some knee-high waterproof insulated boots. Top it off with a mid-thigh length down coat with a warmer rating. Grab your hat and gloves and you’re there. Zoo? Don't mind if I do!

3. Ice Cave Spelunking:

Get ready to see some true winter beauty. Spelunking is fun, but you need to be dressed for a little bit of everything when you do it. The ice is very slippery, so it’s important to have a good pair of insulated waterproof winter boots with really good tread. Put on a thick pair of wool socks to make sure your feet stay warm and dry.

A pair of snow pants will protect you from the wet interior of the cave. Put a pair of long underwear on before you layer on the flannel shirt and leggings. It’s a lot of physical effort to go spelunking in an ice cave, so having a wicking layer of silk underwear to keep your clothes from getting damp is always a plus. Also, layering up is always a smart winter tactic, take the layers off if you get too warm from all the hiking and layer back up when the chill gets to be too much.

4. Ice Fishing:

Ice fishing is a great Wisconsin pastime. We take advantage of our heritage as the land of lakes (and the frigid temperatures that freeze our lakes solid). The real secret to ice fishing is to dress in as many waterproof layers as is humanly possible. It’s going to be cold out there and you’re going to be sitting for a long while.

5. Ice Skating:

Have you ever tried ice skating? In the cold weather, you can skate both indoors and outdoors. They’re both very engaging, but there’s nothing quite like skating in an outdoor setting. Of course, you have to be a bit more cautious, when skating outdoors, in case ice suddenly cracks. It can still be very fun and something you can enjoy almost all winter.

6. Skiing or Snowboarding:

Did you know that Wisconsin has several great ski resorts? In fact, they rank third in the country for the amount or resorts that they have. If you’ve never tried skiing, you can learn at any age. You just have to be willing to take a few falls as you learn. Contact your local ski resort to see if they offer lessons, and sign up for a few. You can also rent gear, if you’re just wanting to give skiing or snowboarding a try. Most ski shops offer rental packages if you need things, for the whole season.  As far as winter and cold weather hobbies go, skiing and snowboarding can be one of the most fun! You can continue to do it with your family, no matter how much they grow up. And as long as you have the right, good-quality gear, you’ll stay very warm and dry.

7. Building a Snow Fort:

Hear me out–snow forts are so much fun to build, and you can do it right in your own yard! There are many methods and ways to do this, but one of the easiest is buying a snow brick maker. You can pack it with snow over and over as you build up your fort. You can also use a shovel or make a snow cave/fort by hand. Then you can enjoy playing inside the fort. This is a great activity to be enjoyed with friends, kids, and grandkids. You can even throw in a lantern and some hot chocolate to warm up!

You'll need insulated waterproof gloves, a warm, waterproof winter coat with large pockets, a layered turtleneck and fleece to keep your core warm, flannel-lined jeans or long underwear with blue jeans over top, boot socks, waterproof boots, and a good hat to keep your head covered. Then you just sit back and listen for the bell without worrying about freezing while you wait.

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