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Winter Break Day Trips


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If you aren't leaving town for a winter break vacation, it can be easy to fall into comfortable old habits and just hang around the house. Nothing wrong with that, but this is also a great chance for the family to bond over some new experiences. Here are ideas for day and half-day excursions that will get you all out of the house and spending quality time together.

Plan a ski or snowboard day

Enjoy the beauty of nature while cruising down the slopes. Never skied before? Book lessons for the whole family!

Cross-country skiing and snow shoeing are also a ton of fun as well as fantastic exercise. Many resorts and parks have groomed trails and equipment rentals. On the way home, stop at a bakery or patisserie for something delectable (you've earned it!).

Check out the city lights and window displays

Take a train or bus into the big city. Buy tickets for a live performance (the Rockettes, Scrooge — maybe even the symphony). Browse department store holiday window displays, and keep your eyes open for fun pop-up shops. End with an elegant hotel high tea, dinner at a trendy restaurant — or even just yummy street food.
College family ice skating activity

Sled, tube or skate

Grab the saucers, tubes and toboggans and shoot down some local hills — or go to a snow sports park where you can pay for a rope tow up the hill. Mix it up with some healthy competition and have a relay race. Winners get first hot shower!

Are twirling and figure 8's more your style? Check out the old-fashioned winter scene at the skating rink. Don't forget to wear your most colorful scarves and pom-pom hats, and bring thermoses of hot chocolate.

Dive into the art scene

Large cities have an abundance of art museums, but even smaller cities and big towns will offer plenty of choices. Look for special exhibits at museums (advanced tickets may be required), or gallery hop. No purchase is required and you may discover a new favorite local artist.

Follow a local history trail
Visit a museum in the winter with your family

You know those historical markers on the highway that you never bother to stop at? Pick an interesting destination an hour or two away and sketch out a trail of discovery. Or dig into the past of your own community. The local historical society is a good place to start — they may have maps for self-guided walking tours. You'll learn about interesting people and events (a good way to keep your student's brain limber over break).

Make it a beach day

If a tropical vacation isn't in the works and you're missing the warmth of summer, dig out the swimsuits and candy-striped towels and head to an indoor water park for a few hours of splashing and laughter. For the true boardwalk experience, dry off and head next to an arcade next to play old-school arcade games (and gobble hot dogs and cotton candy).

See a holiday lights show

Seasonal light displays and shows are big at zoos, botanical gardens, planetariums and many other locations. Professional sports teams (basketball, ice hockey) may also have something special on tap for games held over the holidays. You might want to plan an overnight someplace that has New Year's Eve fireworks.

Visit an ice castle...or a natural hot spring

This won't be an option for every locale, but if there is a nearby ice castle, this is sure to be a fun and unforgettable experience. If you can't find ice, look for the steam of a naturally occurring hot spring. There's nothing like basking in hot water while snowflakes fall on your hair.

Go to the mall and a movie

Visit the mall and take a picture with Santa. Compare with toddler photos of your daughter or son on Santa's lap many years ago. Could make for a hilarious last minute holiday card! Search out the last few gifts on your shopping list and then settle in at the cinema for a feel-good holiday movie. Pass the popcorn!

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