For many of us, the winter months are a time for hot chocolate, movies on TV and snowy sights admired from the warm side of the window. Anything to keep us from having to bundle up and brave the cold. But here’s a healthier alternative: get out there, take the family on a new adventure and embrace the Canadian winter.

But before you get out there, just remember to plan safe outdoor activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Be sure to follow the government’s recommendations for maintaining social distancing during small gatherings. You’ll also want to check with your provincial or territorial government to see if small gatherings are allowed in your area during this time.

With that in mind, here are some budget-friendly tips for winter family fun.

1. Take a ski trip

Flying down snowy hills is exciting for all ages, whether it’s in an oversized doughnut, on skis or on a snowboard.

The whole idea of packing the car and driving out to the ski hills may sound expensive. But with a little research, you’ll find great deals that make winter sports like these surprisingly affordable.

Some ski resorts offer special rates for certain days and times of the week. If those times don’t fit into your schedule, take a look at online coupon sites for discounted ski passes and winter getaway deals. But before you commit to anything, make sure you:

  • carefully read the ski resort’s health and safety rules and
  • know their protocols amid COVID-19.

2. Rent winter sporting goods to save money

Winter sports equipment can get pricey, but don’t let that get in the way of your cold-weather expeditions. Look for online deals for sporting goods to cut down on costs.

An affordable outing might be as easy as renting cross-country skis or snowshoes for the day and heading to your nearest national or provincial park or conservation area (where you may also be able to hike for free).

Keep in mind that some rental shops or resorts may have specific rules for rentals as part of their COVID-19 safety protocol. For instance, some places may expect you to purchase rentals online in advance. Or, they may ask you to select a specific time for a rental fitting appointment. You’ll also want to make sure the rental place sanitizes and sterilizes all equipment prior to pick-up.

3. Find fun things to do near you

Your city or town is a treasure trove of parks and trails just waiting to be explored by you and the kids.

Grab the toboggan and head out for an afternoon of high-speed fun. If you don’t have a toboggan, you can rent one or buy a plastic saucer for as little as $4. (Remember that certain COVID-19 safety rules may apply when purchasing rentals.)

You can even get creative and make your own sled from items around the house.

Some public skating rinks are free, and some even offer skate rentals for a small fee. Be sure to check your city’s parks-and-recreation website for a list of the best, nearest and most frugal skating options. You may have to call up a few rinks or check their business websites to see if they’re still open during COVID-19. Depending on your provincial or territorial government’s recommendations, some businesses may be closed during this time.  

But whether you’re hitting the hills or the rinks, don’t leave the helmets at home. Safety is a must and helmets are often mandatory for children at city-owned facilities.

4. Find fun backyard activities your family will enjoy

Looking for something fun to do a little closer to home? Look no further than your very own yard or neighbourhood park.

Perhaps sporting equipment is beyond your budget. Or maybe you’re reluctant to go to a ski resort during the pandemic. Instead, why not try a snow fort-building challenge with the kids. Or, you can learn how to make an igloo together. These wintertime must-dos for the young at heart don’t have to cost a thing and will create memories that will last a lifetime.

Winter doesn’t have to be something you hide from. These are just a few ideas to get you thinking about healthy, active living when the cold weather (and the pandemic) gets you down.

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