As the weather gets colder, people tend to stay inside more. In this challenging year, getting some fresh air and being active outdoors is more important than ever for our physical and emotional health. Don’t allow you and your family to get isolated indoors due.
Check out these activities to get up and get out during the cold weather, despite COVID.
The entire family may find they can get really into spotting different species, differentiating bird song, and discovering birds’ traits and features. You’ll need a birding book or an app. Merlin Bird ID from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology can identify more than 7,500 species, and Song Sleuth can identify a bird by its song. Both are free.
Want to trace the journey of local astronaut Chris Hadfield? Get a cheap (or expensive) telescope, bust out the hot cocoa, and put your eye to the sky and check out the planets and milky way. No telescope? No worries. Take a short drive out of the city and you may even be able to spot the Aurora Borealis with the naked eye!
There may be no better way to warm up outdoors than around a toasty campfire. Wood-burning and propane fire pits are available at all the local hardware and super stores and many local parks have fire pits (permits may be required). Roast a marshmallow or hot dog over the flames and snuggle up in a blanket.
You won’t encounter crowds of people walking through the alleyways, and you get to explore behind the scenes of your neighbourhood. Play a spotting game with the kids (e.g. how many green garage doors can you spot? Who has a trampoline in their backyard?)
If you bundle up, you can enjoy outdoor sports all year round. Go ice-skating, throw a Frisbee, play some touch football with your bubble or no-touch, distanced football (with plenty of hand sanitizer nearby). Get in the last few bike rides or take your baby on a stroller jog.
Of course, once the white stuff comes, there are a number of things we can add to our outdoor roster, like cross-country skiing, sledding, snowshoeing, building snow people, having snowball fights.
Create a fall- or winter-themed scavenger hunt for your kids at home or in a park. Have them search for pinecones, red leaves, chestnuts, robins, acorns, animal tracks, squirrels, a frozen branch, bird nests. These free, printable scavenger hunts for each season from Canadian blogger Josée of Backwoods Mama are great because they’ve got images for non-readers.
Dress for the weather and get creative with your tag game! For socially distanced games, use snowballs, hockey sticks, or even employ those summer pool noodles. Other COVID-safe outdoor games: Simon Says, freeze dance, hide-and-seek, What Time Is It Mr. Wolf? Or (without sharing equipment): bocce, croquet, badminton, and—if the weather’s right—snowball fights!
Now that outdoor dining is allowed in most places, be brave, bundle up, and visit an outdoor café. They do it in Sweden! Plus, this year many cafés have installed features to make outdoor dining cozier, like heat lamps and wind barriers. Or, if you can’t get to a cafe, grab a few blankets, steep the tea, and turn your front porch into your own, private cafe.
Drive-In and Drive-Through Events
Events have been getting creative following COVID restrictions. Check out drive-through or walk-through light displays during the holiday season and beyond , drive-through museum tours (some even include Santa Claus visits), and drive-in movies and concerts. Check the calendar for upcoming Toronto & GTA events.