There may be no harder task in the winter than bundling up your small child to head outside for some winter playtime (this long process is usually accompanied with a bathroom break request, or two). However, once you have the snowsuit on, mittens and warm hats ready to go, there are lots of ways to enjoy the winter temperatures together, even with smaller children. There’s also the added bonus of tiring them out enough for a long nap or early bedtime!
We’ve been happy to share information in recent articles about where to go for outdoor skating, tobogganing on one of the many hills around Ottawa, plus other ideas for family winter fun in the city, but here are some additional outdoor places and events you may not know about, because when you have small children at home, you need lots of ideas to keep them busy!
Here are some ways to play outside with your kids under the age of 5 this winter:
Head to Forest School
The Ottawa Forest and Nature School has programming to help your children explore the great outdoors, even when the winter chill is trying to keep us indoors. While their school day programs currently only have a waitlist, you may be interested in participating in an upcoming PD Day registration (perfect for your little one who has an older sibling so they can do it together, the PD days are for children aged 4-10) or the family events that are planned throughout the winter. On select days, the school welcomes families to participate in a Friday morning drop-in time (between 9:30-11:30) where you will have the opportunity to connect with nature together through their drop-in activities. No pre-registration is required and upcoming dates can be found on their website.
Visit Proulx Farm
Towards the end of February, Proulx Farm opens again for Maplefest, which means you can bring your toddler, preschooler and the entire family to Ottawa’s East end for pancakes, maple taffy and to see the animals at the petting area. We love the large space where kids can run around (even when bundled up to stay warm) and the horse-drawn hayride through the maple forest (that lasts about 20 minutes) is sure to be a hit. Proulx is primarily open on the weekends for Maplefest but you’ll notice they have some weekday dates throughout the season as well. Also, kids under 3 are free making it affordable family fun!
Explore Rideau Hall and Play Some Games
The Governor’s General residence is a popular destination for families to go skating in the winter, but did you know there are other special events to draw you there during our coldest season? The free annual Winter Celebration takes place on February 9 from 12:30 pm to 4 pm as families from across the city take part in outdoor winter sports like snowshoeing, skiing and of course skating. There will be traditional food to try from Nordic countries, hot chocolate (which we know is popular with kids of all ages) and tours available inside the residence if you want a few moments to warm up and learn about the stately rooms. Your little one will want to keep coming back!
Take ski lessons
Many families in the Ottawa area take advantage of our local ski resorts and trails to encourage their little ones to try skiing. The Ottawa Tourism website has a list of cross country trails you can learn more about, but if it’s downhill skiing that your family is truly passionate about (or at least interesting in learning about) look at the lesson packages offered by Camp Fortune. Kids as young as 4-years-old can take lessons that will start with them learning to balance.