5 Ways to Get Outside This Winter

Just another day in Minnesota.

Just another day in Minnesota.

Like it or not, winter weather is fast approaching for many of us. Autumn is my favorite season, which is unfortunate because here in the great north fall passes in the blink of an eye*. My usual response to the approach of winter is to complain loudly and passionately. After all, that is the Minnesota way.

Winter doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom though. In fact, it's a lot easier to escape the indoors than you think. Let’s explore some options to beat the winter blues before they even get a chance to arrive!

SKI / SNOWBOARD

One of the most popular winter activities, for good reason. Nothing quite matches the thrill of speeding down a powdery mountain. If you’ve never gone skiing or snowboarding before, the best time to start is now!

Hitting the slopes for a day could be a big commitment depending on if much travel is involved for you. If you’re really itching to try it out, be creative and look for affordable options. You may have a great time at Aspen, but the time and money commitment is too high if you’ll be spending most of your time learning the ropes. Go to a less well-known resort until you have enough experience to utilize what all the big name mountains have to offer.

If a day trip isn’t feasible, take an extended weekend trip and include a ski day as part of it. This doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive, either. A quick glance at Google flights for New Orleans to Denver shows that results as low as $97.

Tip: don’t even think about buying your own gear until you are a semi-pro skier. Between the skiis/board, boots, bindings, poles, and more, you’d likely be out around $1000! If you’re going just a few times per season renting is the much better option.

CROSS COUNTRY SKI / SNOWSHOEING

Both are very popular ways to get exercise and stave off cabin fever in the winter, especially up here where the season stretches to six months.  Go for cross country skiing if you want a good workout on established trails, opt for snowshoeing if you’re looking for wintery exploration through snow-covered forests.

You will likely need to buy the equipment, but fortunately they’re all much cheaper than their downhill counterparts. A great place to get started in these activities is at state parks. Many will have dedicated skiing and snowshoeing areas, and may even have rentals if you’re lucky.

ip: Bike trails that haven’t been plowed can also be a great option for cross country skiing if there aren’t dedicated ski trails in your area. A (completely) frozen lake could also be a fun idea.

GO BIKING

Going biking in the winter is a lot easier than you think! You can get by with whatever clothing you’d be warm with while walking outside, with an extra layer of thickness on your hands and feet. You’ll keep much warmer than you expect since you are exercising, so don’t worry about bundling up your core too much unless you’re dipping into single digits or below.

Expect to go a bit slower if there has been any snow or freezing rain, and watch for slick spots. A fatbike is not required if you aren’t biking through lots of snow and ice, a commuter or even a road bike will do the job!

Tip: One special item of clothing you will likely need is a balaclava. I find it necessary once temps get below 45 otherwise my face is uncomfortable, but your tolerance may be different.

BE A KID

Can you remember the last time you voluntarily touched snow beyond walking to your car? Grab your snowpants and actually have fun in the stuff!

  • Snowball fight: great exercise. Play by dodgeball rules or capture the flag rules**

  • Build a snowman: fun date idea ;)

  • Make a snow fort: +100 adventure points if you spend the night in it!

  • Make snow angels (or devils if you’ve been bad): bring back some childhood whimsy

  • Shovel your driveway***: the most done winter activity of my youth, not by choice

Tip: You can make snow devils if you were bad all year.

GO SLEDDING

Sledding is arguably better as an adult. Why? You weigh more, and therefore go much faster than you did as a kid. Additionally, your parents aren’t around to tell you not to go down that really big hill! Snow pants and a ski coat are nice if you plan on falling into the snow a lot, but you can get by in any warm clothes for a while, before you get too wet.

Tip: go to a thrift store for a sled if you don’t feel like paying for a nice “adult” sled.


There are many ways to avoid being cooped up during the winter, but these 5 should get you started! How do you all get outside in the winter? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the comments below!

Until next time, stay warm.



*It snowed here on October 13. How messed up is that?

** Capture the Flag: Snowball fight edition is an amazing game to play with a group of friends. As you may guess the rules are the same as capture the flag with one exception: you need to hit someone with a snowball to “tag” them. It’s a challenge, both to run fast in the snow and tag people with a snowball, but a lot of fun.

***Good workout? Yes. Fun? Probably not.