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9 Tips for Enjoying a Winter with No Snow

Winter With No Snow

If your idea of a nostalgic childhood winter consumes you with thoughts of sledding, skiing, snow ball throwing, and building snow forts then enjoying a winter without the magic of snow can be challenging. 

Even though my childhood was spent in a wintry, snowy climate, the last 10 years I’ve lived in the south and midwest where snows are infrequent and cold, rainy winters are my normal. 

The first few years I found this type of winter challenging and often wondered, “what do people do for fun in this gloomy, grey weather?”.  

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Over time I’ve learned to adapt to my surroundings and have discovered ways to still enjoy winter…even without snow. 

Here are 9 tips for making fun winter memories and shifting perspective on what makes winter fun when snow is not in your forecast. 

Alaska kids wearing Reima gear when there's no snow

Tip #1: Commit to getting out all winter long. 

girl bundled up for winter hike

It can be so hard to get out when the weather is gloomy. Seasonal affective disorder can set in when the clocks change and the shorter days can really put a damper on one’s mood.  

If you’ve already made up your mind that you’re going to get out then it makes it so much easier to actually go. 

Laying out layers the night before is one of the best tricks (especially with young kids) to getting out the door the next day.

A lost mitten can quickly deter us from stepping outside and time spent looking for things is bound to put me in a grouchy mood wondering if the effort I’m putting into our outdoor excursion is worth it.

Getting out is truly half the battle. Once I’m outside it’s much easier to relax and let the kids explore.

Having an organized mudroom is another help to make the impossible prospect of getting out the door possible.

Additionally, I’ve found I’m most successful getting out when I get out in the mornings.

Sometimes I’m tempted to wait until the middle of the day when it’s a few degrees warmer. Although the few degrees might make a noticeable difference we end up being much more likely to follow through with our plan to get out and ultimately spend more time outside if we plan for getting out in the morning. 

If getting out is a major pain point for you then check out these posts below that provide additional suggestions on overcoming this hurdle.

Tip #2: Find a buddy to enjoy winter with. 

sisters playing at playground in winter gear

Find a buddy to share in the fun. Making plans in advance with a friend or group is a great way to follow through with the commitment you’ve already made to get outside.  

Last winter I joined a running group that kept me outdoors and exercising all winter when I would have otherwise stayed in bed. This support system was just what I needed. 

Although the forecast was often discouraging (a ‘feels like’ temp of 15 degrees), an enthusiastic text from a member of my running group saying, “see you in the morning”, would result in me laying out my clothes, setting my alarm and waking up at 5:15am to run.

Finding a walking group, running group, hiking group, playgroup or even a like minded mom that will go outside “rain or shine” can be a great motivator and distractor when your winter weather has you in a slump.

Tip #3: Keep the activities the same and add layers.

A change of weather does not necessitate a change in all the activities you’ve been enjoying. This is especially true if you’re in an area where you’re not anticipating snow.

If hiking or biking was your family thing in the fall then keep up the momentum in the winter and add some layers.

baby bundled up in layers

It’s easy to fall into the mindset that your favorite outdoor activities won’t be fun because it’s “too cold” and to avoid these activities because it’s not your typical weather.

Change that mindset and let winter be a time you still enjoy what you’ve always enjoyed.

It’s one of the biggest perks of no snow. Gains that you or your children have made and endurance that they’ve built up for outdoor activities like biking or hiking can continue to be made all winter long.

The best way to do this is to add layers.

Base layers are the tried and true secret to keeping kiddos warm so start with a warm base layer (think merino wool or a warm synthetic layer).

Next focus on the head, hands and feet. Make sure you have warm hats, gloves, socks and boots that work for the activity you’ll be doing.

girl in coat

If your kid is trying to bike with mittens or trying to hike in boots from last season that are now too small then chances are your kids will complain lots (and it won’t be because they’re cold).

A thin ear warmer can do wonders for keeping ears warm under a bike helmet and a thin neck gaiter (use code MTNMAMA20 to save 20%!) can be helpful on a windy day.

I always try to assess in October of each year who needs new boots, gloves, wool socks etc. so I have plenty of time to order before the cold weather comes.

Finally have the proper gear for the weather of that day. If there’s a chance of rain then be sure to pack waterproof layers. If it’s cold and windy make sure you have a good wind blocking jacket.

Being cold and wet is miserable so make sure you have rain gear that will hold up well to go over your other layers.

Finally, make a plan for where you’ll place layers that your kids remove. It can be annoying to try and walk with a big puffy jacket tied around your waist.

If the temperature starts out cold but is going to warm up by 10 degrees then bring an extra backpack or a pack with extra room so you have a place to stash layers when the weather warms up.

As TMM team members like to say, “there’s no such thing as bad weather”, just be prepared for the weather you have.

Tip #4: Enjoy the solitude, even if the weather isn’t ideal.

Not long ago I had a rare afternoon where my husband was home and I was able to sneak off on a solo mountain  bike ride.

girl biking in winter

It was an overcast and gloomy day but the conditions on the trail were great. I came home from my ride so elated because it was the perfect reset for my day. 

It occurred to me that part of what made the experience so nice was the solitude I felt on the trail. No one else was out that day.

Since the trail is close to town it’s generally busy with hikers and bikers in the spring, summer and fall. Typically, I avoid the trail entirely because there is so much foot traffic.

Yet, this kind of experience is one of the best parts of getting out in the winter. Trails that are heavily trafficked at other times of year can be great to enjoy during the winter.

Trails are typically popular for a reason (close proximity to the city, well maintained trail, exciting destination etc.). Winter can be the perfect time to find more solitude on a high usage trail.

kids playing at a playground in winter

This is also true of playgrounds. Oftentimes they’re abandoned in the winter but they don’t need to be.

Don’t be afraid to be the only person at the playground and show others that all seasons are fun.

Tip #5: Make friends with the darkness.

Learning to enjoy outdoor activities in the dark is key to making the most of winter. 

If you have kids in school it may be that you only have an hour of daylight after school for them to enjoy during the winter months.

Girl wet in dark

If you’re wanting to enjoy some outdoor time during the winter then chances are you’ll be enjoying some of that time after the sun goes down.

Activities after dark might include:

  • a special winter solstice celebration
  • a cat eye hike
  • a scavenger hunt with head lamps
  • zoo lights or a neighborhood light display
  • dance party with glow sticks
  • star gazing
  • campfire
  • flashlight tag
  • LED lights bike ride
  • nighttime play at a playground

Check out our post about Family Winter Play After Dark here!

girls watching lights in snowsuits

Tip #6:  Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. 

There is a dead look to winter and it’s easy to be disenchanted by the lack of colors and life. For me, this has been the hardest thing about living in areas with no snow.

Snow has a special kind of magic and beauty and when there’s no snow the wintertime can feel quite bleak.

girls taking pictures outside on icy hike

However, winters without snow can still provide some unique beauty.

Mud frosts and window frosts can be fun to examine as well as sparkling trees covered in ice.

Throwing out bird seed in the winter can be endlessly fun and give ample opportunities for observing winter birds.

ice covered branch

Going on a picture scavenger hunt to see who can take the coolest picture of winter beauty is a fun activity to intentionally observe the beauty that is present.

Tip #7: Venture somewhere new 

You may be thinking these tips all sound great but won’t necessarily work in your area. Some trails are too muddy to go on during the winter season or are closed during wet conditions.

climbing in the winter

If this is the case for you then use winter as a time to explore somewhere new.

It’s easy and natural to get in a routine of enjoying the same places. Oftentimes your kids like the predictability of certain places too.

If winter trail conditions make this tricky then use winter as a time to explore somewhere new.

Wintertime can be the perfect excuse to drive a little further to the paved pump track or to go on an asphalt trail instead of a gravel trail.

Have you explored all the side streets where you live? Maybe winter is the perfect time to break up normal routines and try somewhere new.

Tip #8: Plan a trip to visit snow. 

Most people plan to visit warm destinations when the weather is cold but if the state of your winter has you missing snow then plan a trip where you get to visit snow.

I’ve been surprised to learn about ski and tubing hills in areas I would have least expected. Oftentimes man made snow makes this possible.

Even if the snow is not fabulous it can still be a fun way to make “winter” memories. Kids don’t seem to mind if there’s not a foot of fresh powder and it can be easier to teach kids to ski on more gentle slopes.

If snow is less than a days drive away then renting a cabin in a snowy location or venturing to a small ski hill can be a fun way to create some snow-filled memories.

Tip #9: When all else fails, enjoy some hygge at home. 

child in snow gear in the winter

Some days you may not want to get out and that’s OK too. 

The Danish word hygge (pronounced hoo-ga) is the quality of coziness that engenders a feeling of contentment.

I find I enjoy my time indoors more when I try to create feelings of warmth and coziness in my home and recognize that I can be intentional with my indoor time too.

When the wind is howling or the rain is pouring down then it’s ok to hunker down and watch the outside world from the comforts of home.

An outdoor lover can still create a feeling of hygge inside.

Make some warm soup or tea, throw on comfy sweats and slippers, and light some candles or a fire in the fireplace. Build a reading fort and decorate it with twinkling lights or make a hot chocolate bar and watch a fun, family movie. 

You can even bring some of the outside world inside. You can bring an icicle from outside and watch it melt or make a craft with fallen twigs and branches.

Final Thoughts

As someone who believes that snow is winter’s saving grace, living in a climate without snow is hard. Winter can seem especially long and dreary at times.

girls playing on tree in the winter

Fortunately, time spent in places with little snow has given me some tricks of the trade to appreciate winter in new ways.

Are you in a climate without snow? How do you make the most of your winter? Please share in the comments. We’d love to hear from you!

Winter with no snow tips

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