25 Winter Activities to Banish the Winter Blues

winter activities walking in the trees

Maybe you’re one of those people who live on a tropical island, and winter blues aren’t a thing where you live, and if that’s the case, I am happy for you. For the rest of us, the winter brings rain, snow, and cold temperatures. In the Pacific Northwest, winter is called “The Big Dark.” Many of us turn into bear-like creatures that want to hibernate until spring. So in that spirit, I thought I’d come up with a list of winter activities to help make winter a more memorable season and maybe a more productive one too!

Don’t let winter stop life’s adventure; instead, let’s turn winter into a season we look forward to. If we change our mindset about winter and make it something to look forward to rather than just get through, we’ll create a year full of memories that won’t let the weather dictate our days.

25 Winter Activities To Banish the Winter Blues

1) Game Night

Every winter, we dust off the board games and once again remind ourselves how fun it is to play something that doesn’t need a charger or a cable. Now that isn’t to say that game night in your household couldn’t be an intense round of Mario Kart or a Minecraft building extravaganza. Still, there’s something about gathering around a table and playing a board game.

There are so many to choose from, no matter the age group. We gather as a family on New Year’s, and even my 90+-year-old Grandma plays Pictionary and Apples to Apples. Those are memories I will always cherish, and it is something I look forward to each winter. There is a lot of laughter and certainly some competitiveness, but in the end, it’s all in good fun. Other family favorites are CraniumTicket to Ride, and Catan.

2) Scrapbook Your Adventures

Scrapbooking can be a solo project or a group project. Gather together ticket stubs, photos, postcards, airplane tickets, and other mementos from a trip you’ve recently taken and create a scrapbook to preserve the memories in. This is a fun way to travel down memory lane and relive some happy moments while thinking forward to new adventures to come. It’s also a fun way to share those memories with others.

You can purchase a journal, notebook binder, or scrapbook at your local craft store to get started. You can also create your scrapbook pages at Canva.com or print a photo book from Google Photos. Check out Pinterest for scrapbooking inspiration. There are so many great ideas there.

3) Make a Shadow Box

Another fun way to display trip mementos and memories is to create a shadow box. You can fill it with international currency, photos, shells, rocks, ticket stubs, and so on. You could create a series of them based on various trips you take. I purchased a small one to hold some shells and beach memories. I love the ocean, so I bought a shadow box to keep a favorite beach photo and some shells and rocks I collected during my beach walks.

It’s art and a memory all in one, and those are often the most meaningful things to hang in your home. Create a home filled with the memories you love, your interests, and your passions, and you design a home that inspires all year long. This article from shelterness.com gives wonderful examples of ways to use shadowboxes to display your adventures.

4) Create a Patch Jacket

I buy patches when I’m traveling, and I have had this project in the works for a while. I told myself that this winter is the winter I will finally finish my patch jacket! So, I started laying out my patches to decide where I want to attach them to my jacket.

In addition to a patch jacket, you can also add patches to your favorite travel bags or make yourself a patch quilt! I discovered this idea while writing this post, and I love it! By utilizing old clothing, like worn-out jeans that you’d typically toss, you can create a quilt that displays your favorite travel patches.  

I love the idea of creating a blanket because blankets don’t go in and out of style like a jacket might. You can use a blanket pretty much indefinitely. The other nice thing about patches is if you sew them on, rather than iron them on, you can remove and fix them to something else if you decide you want to.

Travel patches are a fun way to memorialize your travels and create unique clothing and bags. Make sure to look in the visitor centers at all the U.S. National Parks as they typically sell these and offer the current designs for a limited time. Tourist gift shops often sell them too, and you can also hunt for vintage patches online at eBay and Etsy.

DIY travel patch jacket
Travel patches are a great way to display your travels and personality.

5) Curl Up with a Good Book

Many of us spend a lot more time indoors during the winter, so why not catch up on a bit of reading. Get your favorite tea or coffee and curl up with a good book. Here are a few inspiring travel books that will also spark your creative side. You’ll be transported to another place and perhaps find yourself picking up a paintbrush too!

6) Watch Travel Movies & Shows

Unless you can travel during winter, you may feel a little stuck and have a case of wanderlust. I suggest watching one of these great travel movies or travel tv shows to inspire your future travels and remind you of places you visited. Our imagination can open up a whole new world of winter activities, whether it’s traveling from the comfort of your recliner or creating indoor adventures with your family.

7) Indoor Camping

Who says you can’t camp in winter? Of all the winter activities, I think this one will appeal to kids and the child at heart. My guess is they will want to do this every winter. Set up a tent indoors, gather your blankets and pillows, and create a fun night of make-believe stories, games, and maybe even some microwave smores. See this article for more ideas. You can also make these delicious smores brownies!

8) Organize Your Photos

If you’re anything like me, your photos are probably filling up space on your computer or cloud storage and perhaps becoming somewhat disorganized. I have amassed quite a collection of photographs over the years and am continually trying to find better ways to organize them. It is helpful to find photos of loved ones for a birthday montage, travel photos from a specific country, landscape photos for printing, and so on. 

It is also useful when creating photo albums of your travels and adventures. This makes for a perfect winter activity! You can stay snuggly and warm inside your home while traveling down memory lane. Make some photo gifts while you’re at it. I find photo calendars are always appreciated and are lovely Christmas or New Year’s gifts.

You might also do what I did and ask your parents or grandparents if you could borrow some of the family albums and then scan them and travel back in time and enjoy a few laughs as you do.

9) Plan Your Next Adventure

Another great winter activity is planning your next adventure later in the new year. Typically, you have a little more downtime in winter (once the holidays have passed), and you can begin planning for the future. Gather some travel books filled with photos or go online and start researching your next destination. 

You could have every member of your family place their top choice for a family vacation in a hat and then randomly draw a destination and begin planning your adventure there. This helps you focus on the fun to come and banish any winter blues with thoughts of faraway places.

10) Start a Gratitude Journal

A gratitude journal is a good idea all year long, but it makes a great winter activity as it helps with the seasonal blues. In the Seattle area, many people suffer from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) due to the long dark days we experience in winter. Studies show that gratitude positively impacts our moods and outlook. Some studies even found it created actual changes in the brain. In short, gratitude is powerful and can help you feel better about your life. We often focus on what we don’t have or things we can’t do, but a gratitude journal allows us to see all that we already have and give us a thankful mindset all year.

11) Take a Snow Day

You know what they say “if you can’t beat them, join them.” Well, winter is sort of like that. Sometimes you have to embrace the cold and make it fun! A great way to do this is to have a snow day. Remember what it was like as a kid when you first got snow and how excited you were to play in it? Well, bring that back, go outside and build a snowman (or woman), create snow angels, or have a fun snowball fight. Snow is beautiful, and you can always warm up inside with a cup of hot cocoa after playing in the snow. Just think of the memories you’ll make! Here are a few snow and ice sculpture ideas to help.

12) Try a Winter Hike

Your outdoor adventures don’t need to stop just because there’s snow outside. Why not try a new hobby like snowshoeing this winter. For many, skiing is outside their budget, but snowshoes are a much more affordable winter hobby. You can even rent them from your local REI if you prefer not to buy them. REI also hosts guided snowshoe excursions. These are a great way to try something new with no commitment if you decide it’s not your thing. 

The mountains are so beautiful when decorated with snow, so why not explore them and see them in a different light from your usual summer experience.

winter activities skiing snowshoeing
Some of the best views are found during winter.

13) Take Up a New Hobby

Have you ever wanted to play a musical instrument, make candles, or try knitting? These are great winter activities to take up, and you’ll get to cross something off your bucket list or last year’s resolutions. With so many apps and online tutorials, there isn’t much you can’t learn at home. The hardest part is starting, so set a day and go for it!

14) Cook Something New

Cooking is a great winter activity as it warms the house and transports us to another place and time. Food really can be something that brings us all together in a way nothing else can. So, try out your culinary skills. Pick a cuisine from another country or try baking homemade bread or a recipe from your Grandma. Worst case scenario, there’s always Doordash.

15) Have an Indoor Picnic

While we’re on the subject of food, why not have an indoor picnic this winter. Get out a blanket and a picnic basket. Create a charcuterie board or make little sandwiches. You could even pop up a background scene on the television, like a park in Paris, or turn on a little background music and pretend you’re at a concert in the park. Whatever your picnic lunch has, you will make it fun and create winter memories you’ll never forget! 

16) Visit a Museum

A good museum can make you forget everything about the weather outside. Pass away a couple of hours at a great art museum or natural history museum and immerse yourself in a different world. If you live in the Seattle area, make sure to read my post on how to get free tickets to Seattle’s top museums.

airplane at museum of flight
There is a museum to fit every interest.

17) Complete a Puzzle

A puzzle is a perfect winter activity. Gather around the table with friends and family, or play some music and allow yourself to pass an hour or two enjoying a simple pleasure. Puzzles can be an excellent stress-relievers. Pick out a puzzle that interests you, perhaps a travel puzzle or some artwork you might like to hang once you’ve completed it. You can always glue the puzzle together and hang it on the wall. Consider this puzzle made up of vintage travel posters or this Washington State Big Foot Puzzle made to look like Van Gogh’s Starry Night. You can even have a puzzle made from one of your photographs!

18) Color

No, not your hair, although you can certainly do that too but buy some coloring books and color! There is something about coloring that brings us back to childhood. It’s a simple, relaxing, and joyful activity. Plus, if you have kids, they will get the biggest kick out of an adult coloring with them! Here’s an around the world in 50 pages coloring book that adds a little travel fun or an affirmations coloring book for kids. Frame your colored pictures and hang them up for art or mail them to a friend and spread the love.

19) Take a Cozy Cabin Getaway

Look at cabins or lodge rentals on Airbnb or through your local state park, or if you live near a National Park, these also offer some cozy winter getaways. Here in Washington State, we are fortunate enough to have three National Parks, two of which offer year-round lodging. It is one of my favorite winter activities to book a cabin or stay at one of the lodges in the Olympic National Park.

My husband and I have been doing this almost every winter for over a decade. Typically we’ll stay at Kalaloch Lodge cabins, and in the past couple of years, we’ve also stayed at the Lake Quinault Lodge. It’s a historic lodge that feels like you stepped into the past. Plus, the Olympic coast is beautiful no matter what time of year you go, so whether it’s rain or shine, we always enjoy our visit. I’ll tell you a secret though, we’ve always had mostly shine on every winter visit we’ve taken there.

Pick a place with a fireplace and a good view or activities you’ll enjoy nearby. Let it be your winter retreat and perhaps, become an annual tradition.

View of Lake Quinault Lodge
Lake Quinault Lodge on a sunny day in February.

20) Winter Organizing

Everyone talks about spring cleaning, but why not get a jump start and begin sorting through paperwork and closets during the winter. There are so many areas in the house that often need a bit of organizing, such as the pantry, closets, office paperwork, desk drawers, junk drawers (don’t we all have at least one), and the foreboding garage.

Why not get some organizing done during the winter and then in the spring, when everyone else is inside spring cleaning, you can be outside enjoying the finally arriving sunshine! 

21) Build a Blanket Fort

Often, the simple joys from childhood are the best way to chase away any doldrums or blues, no matter what time of the year it is! I have lovely memories of building blanket forts when I was a kid. You can tip over your sofa and hang blankets over it to make a fun “cave,” or use the kitchen table and create a secret fort underneath of it. Kids will love this idea, and if you’re a couple, it might spark a little fun romance too.

22) Be British For a Day

I relate to England’s winters, they are much like winter here in the Pacific Northwest–gray and rainy! I think that’s why sitting down with a pot of tea, some tea cookies, and a good book sounds so inviting in the wintertime. 

However, I suggest taking it one step further for a fun winter activity.  Why not host an afternoon tea and serve little sandwiches, along with scones with clotted cream. You can often find beautiful teacups and teapots at your local thrift store for a bargain price!

I absolutely love scones and clotted cream! After my first visit to England, I came home and had a tea party and attempted to bake everyone English scones with clotted cream and jam. Plus, I brought tea from Fortnum & Mason because if it’s good enough for the Queen, it’s good enough for me! If you really want to splurge you can purchase their tea online and have it shipped, I think it cost around 25£ for shipping, but it’s still cheaper than a flight to London.

British Tea and Scones
British tea and scones with clotted cream and jam.

23) Travel Somplace Warm

A warm getaway is an ideal thing to do in winter if you can. I keep telling my hubby that I’ll skip winter altogether one of these days. That hasn’t happened yet, but we take a couple of weeks somewhere warm when it works out. Last winter, I visited Death Valley National Park and Joshua Tree National Park. Let me say I don’t think there is a time when Death Valley is ever cold. I was hiding from the sun in March! Valley of Fire State Park near Las Vegas is also a great place to visit in the winter.

Since I live on the West Coast, some of the best warm winter getaways are not too far away. Arizona, California, Nevada, Hawaii, and even Mexico are all within a 6-hour flight or less. Maui is a favorite getaway for my husband and me, and winter is the best time to see whales!

For those on the East Coast, Florida always has sunshine, and they are also close to Mexico and the Bahamas. If you keep your eyes open for sales ahead of time, you can find some pretty great deals during the winter too!

24) Host a Hawaiian-Themed Party

Perhaps you can’t afford a warm getaway this winter. Why not host a Hawaiian-themed party instead? You can set up some indoor lights, turn up the heat a bit, maybe set up some heat lamps for extra effect. Mix up some fruity drinks, turn on some luau music, make some crockpot pulled pork, or purchase a shave ice machine. You could fill a little kiddy pool up with some sand and set up a beach chair for people to stick their toes in the sand while playing ocean sounds in the background. Make it fun! 

25) Learn a New Language

Winter is an excellent time to learn that foreign language you always planned on. Maybe you’re planning an international trip in the coming year. Why not get a jumpstart on learning the local language? There are so many great tools available to help you. Download the Memrise app or Duolingo and get started today! Begin watching movies in the language you want to learn or sign up for a class at your local Community College.

Maui Sunset
There's nothing quite as satisfying as escaping someplace warm for the winter.

Final Thoughts for Fun Winter Activities

This post lists out only some of the many winter activities you can find to do. Come up with some of your own. I hope it sparks inspiration and creates moments of laughter and memories to carry you through the winter season. Winter can often feel like a time of isolation. I hear from so many who dislike the season, but I say let’s take this season back and instead make it a time of renewal and a time for reconnecting with those we love.  

Here’s to winter!

Note: Travelffeine is reader-supported. This post contains affiliate links. When you make a purchase using one of these affiliate links, we get paid a small commission at no extra cost to you. And as always, all opinions are our own. Thank you!

25 Winter Activities to Banish the Winter Blues
25 Winter Activities to Banish the Blues
25 Winter Activities to Banish the Winter Blues

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