20+ Indoor and Outdoor 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 middle 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!)



Jump at Planet 3 Extreme Air Park in Iowa City. Kids 6 and under can come to KidJump every Monday-Saturday from 9-10. You can also jump at one of the TWO indoor trampoline parks in Cedar Rapids: SkyZone and AirFX. SkyZone has Toddler Time from 10-11 on Friday and Sunday and AirFX has Junior Jumpers from 9-11 a.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 10-12 on Sunday.

Arcade + Climbing

Head over to Pizza Ranch FunZone Arcade for games and all-you-can eat pizza. Bonus for parents: there’s a live feed of the game room that airs on the dining area screen!

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, a climbing wall, and a restaurant. Chuck E Cheese has rides, entertainment, and pizza!


Sign up for a youth scuba class at Diventures. Children aged 8-12 can sign up for Scuba Rangers and children aged 12-14 can sign up for Junior Open Water Diver. Students can also participate in the monthly scuba diving events.


Explore the African American Museum of Iowa, Cedar Rapids Museum of Art, and National Czech & Slovak Museum and Library, all in Cedar Rapids!

Check out Mammal Hall, Bird Hall, and Iowa Hall at The University of Iowa Museum of Natural History on the Pentacrest.


Spend a day at The Iowa Children’s Museum shopping at City Grocery, making pizza at Pizzeria Pie, creating a masterpiece at the art studio, and more!


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.

Indoor 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!

Ice Skating

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


Make your own pottery creation at Renee’s Ceramic Cafe, take a class at Big Picture Gallery and Studio, or paint a masterpiece at Brush and Barrel. Check the calendar for Little Monet and family classes.

Bowling + Mini Golf

Spend an afternoon bowling or playing miniature golf at Colonial Lanes.

College Sports

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


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


Tour the Brucemore mansion and get a taste of local history!


Take in a Cedar Rapids Roughriders hockey game.


Have lunch and explore the shops at NewBo City Market.

Go out for a fun hibachi dinner as a family at Konomi Grill.

Build your own pizza at Red Vespa.

Check out our guide to when and where kids eat free or cheap!

Indoor Play Places

Burn off some energy at one of the indoor play places in the area.

Indoor and Outdoor Winter Activities for Families in Iowa CityOUTDOORS

Beat the Bitter

Participate in one of the Beat the Bitter events, taking place around North Liberty from January 25-February 1. Activities include ice skating, ice fishing, and even a Dive-In showing of Moana at Diventures. The Fire & Ice celebration on January 26 includes trolley rides, carnival rides, ice carvings, a bonfire, fire performances, fireworks, and more!

Ski + Snowshoe

Go cross country skiing or snowshoeing at Terry Trueblood Recreation Area.

Coralville Winterfest

Experience the wonders of an Iowa winter at Coralville’s annual WinterFest on Sunday January 12. Enjoy winter-time demonstrations, indoor and outdoor hands-on activities, entertainment, food, and frosty fun for all ages.

Let’s Roam Scavenger Hunt

Snap pics, race against the clock, and put your navigation skills to the test as you roam through Iowa City on the Let’s Roam Scavenger Hunt. The City of Literature has it all! Download the Let’s Roam scavenger hunt app and start exploring today!

Amana Colonies Winterfest

Embrace and enjoy winter at the Amana Colonies Winterfest on Saturday, January 25. Both indoor and outdoor events are featured including a 5k fun run, winter mini-golf, best beard contest, open fire chili, a Snowball dance, a wine and beer walk and more.

Indian Creek Nature Center

Escape into the beauty and wonder of nature at Indian Creek Nature Center, featuring more than five miles of well-groomed trails through prairies, woodlands and wetlands. Go birdwatching at one of their many Project Feederwatch events, or investigate the wonders of winter at their Trail Trekkers events for preschoolers.


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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