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Family cross country skiing in snowy forest

7 Family-Friendly Outdoor Winter Activities

Bundle up and head outside for a good time this January

Winter in Columbus tends to be warmer than in other areas of the Midwest, but once January rolls around, it’s downright cold. While it can be tough to convince your family to head outdoors for fresh air, there are a wide variety of activities that may help you get them off the couch. Grab your winter coat, hat and mittens, and try one of these activities to celebrate the winter wonderland of Central Ohio.

1. First Night Columbus (NYE)

Ring in the new year at an action-packed celebration downtown featuring COSI’s exhibits, a packed lineup of live music, movies on COSI’s 3-D screen, face painters, story time for little ones, and so much more. Events start at 5 p.m. and wrap up with fireworks at midnight.

2. Sled at Metro Parks

Head to one of Columbus’ many Metro Parks for some of the best sledding in the state. Families say the best spots are Highbanks Metro Park, Sharon Woods Metro Park and Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.

3. Ski at Snow Trails Winter Resort


With 17 trails, this ski resort is ideal for beginners and kids to enjoy snowboarding, skiing and tubing. First time skiing? Let the little ones learn at the snow school, then grab a bite at The Last Run between runs.

4. Cross-Country Skiing

Get your heart rate up and enjoy the area’s Metro Parks once the snow has fallen. Open year-round, here’s a guide to which state parks have the best conditions for the ultimate experience.

5. Mad River Mountain


For tubing and slope fun for the whole family, find one of the largest resorts in the state just one hour from Columbus. The resort plants to opening in late December. Get there early, as it tends to sell out capacity during the busiest weekends in January.

6. Outdoor Ice Skating


Whether you’re a pro or need a little encouragement on the ice, the whole family is sure to love it (and maybe laugh at the occasional fall). The city of Dublin has an outdoor rink, but if you go ice skating in a park, make sure you look for postings to check if the current rink conditions are safe that day.

7. Fun at home

The fun is endless with a winter wonderland outside: start a snowball fight, build a snowman or snow fort, or paint the snow with water and food dye to name a few ideas. If you’re missing summer, build a campfire and roast some marshmallows to make s’mores.

When you’re out having fun, don’t forget to hydrate. Learn why you need more water in the winter!