18 Indoor and Outdoor Family Activities for the Cold Winter Months

It’s that time of year. No, not the most wonderful time of the year. For me it’s the opposite. This is the un-festive part of winter, when all the cheerful December activities have been over for weeks, and it’s just the cold, bleak part of the season–without the fun.

By the end of January, it’s been dark and cold for so long. It’s hard to drag myself out of the house unless I have to for work or because the grocery situation gets really desperate. But I’ve found that if I get my family out of the house and force us to try and have some fun, we’re always glad we did. There’s not as much to do during this bleak and cold part of the year, but the area still has a variety of indoor as well as outdoor activities (if you are brave!)


1. Trampoline Park

Jump at one of the TWO indoor trampoline parks in Cedar Rapids: SkyZone and AirFX, or try the new place in Iowa City, Planet 3

2. Children’s Museum

Spend a day at The Iowa Children’s Museum. So much fun for everyone!

3. Movie

Catch a movie at FilmScene, New Strand Theatre, Coral Ridge Cinema, or Sycamore Cinema. FilmScene offers The Picture Show, a family and children’s movie series. Coral Ridge and Sycamore offer $5 Tuesdays.  

4. Waterpark

Pretend it’s a summer day at Wasserbahn Waterpark. The waterpark includes two water slides, a vortex pool, a kiddie pool, a hot tub, a game room, and more!

5. Ice Skating

Go indoor ice skating at the Coral Ridge Ice Arena or Cedar Rapids Ice Arena.  

6. Pottery

Make your own pottery creation at Renee’s Ceramic Cafe

7. Play places

Play inside at one of our favorite indoor play places!

8. Arcades and mazes

Have an arcade game challenge at The Play Station or Chuck E Cheese. The Play Station also includes a three-level play zone, a lazer maze, and a restaurant. Chuck E Cheese has rides, entertainment, and pizza!

9. Bowling

Spend an afternoon bowling at Colonial Lanes or Westdale Bowling Center. Plus: Westdale also has lazer tag!  

10. Basketball Game

Cheer on an Iowa men’s or women’s basketball game.

11. Story Time

Catch a story at one of the many library story times around the area. You can also listen in at one of the Barnes and Noble story times.

12. Natural History Museum

Check out Mammal Hall at The University of Iowa Museum of Natural History

13. Paint

Paint a masterpiece at Brush and Barrel. Check the calendar for Little Monet events. 

14. Hockey Game

Take in a Cedar Rapids Roughriders hockey game.

15. Hibachi

Go out for a fun hibachi dinner as a family at Three Samurai.


16. Snow Sports

Go cross country skiing or snowshoeing at Terry Trueblood Recreation Area or any of the other city parks in Iowa City. 

17. Ice Skating

Go outdoor ice skating at the new Penn Meadows Park Ice Rink! Terry Trueblood Recreation Area and City Park will also have ice skating. Availability updates are on the Rainout Line

18. Beat the Bitter

Participate in one of the Beat the Bitter events, taking place around North Liberty from January 27-February 2. Activities include horse-drawn carriage rides, fireworks, ice skating, ice carving, food trucks, curling, broomball, and more!

Get busy, and have fun! Spring will be here before you know it!


Brigette lives in North Liberty with her husband Brian, energetic daughter Kate (October 2014) and their two cats, Penny and Olive. Originally from the Chicago suburbs, Brigette came to Iowa City to attend the journalism school at the University of Iowa, fell in love with the area, and decided she couldn’t leave. After meeting Brian while working at the same Iowa City restaurant in college, they got married in August 2015 in the heart of downtown. She works full time in project management and as an employee of the Core Fitness Kids Club while finishing her MBA at Upper Iowa University. In her free time, she drags Kate out garage sale-ing, tries to keep up with her reading list and runs, lives for Hawkeye football season, enjoys a good meal on a patio, runs her Bachelor/Bachelorette bracket with her family and friends, and of course, chases her daughter around the pool and the park.


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