As the official start of winter inches devastatingly closer, you may be wondering: what can I do outside if I can only hang out with my household and can’t go inside anywhere unless it’s essential? That is a very good question and one we’ve been thinking about a lot since the days started getting colder and new COVID-19 restrictions were put in place.
If you’re not an outdoors person, or you live in an urban area, the thought of spending a lot more time outside might be intimidating. After all, it’s so much easier to stay inside and binge-watch “The Crown” season 4 for the third time. But we know that being outdoors is good for our physical and mental health, something we want to keep in mind during a winter that will see many of us feeling isolated.
So, we came up with a few ideas to get you outside, even if it’s just for a half-hour. Before you venture out, fill up a travel mug with hot chocolate and dress in winter gear that will keep you warm, dry and comfortable. After all, as the Scandinavians say, there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes.
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Check out our list of fun things adults can do outside in the winter:
Take a walk in an unfamiliar neighbourhood
You’re probably tired of circling the same streets these past nine months, so a new neighbourhood, while not exactly Paris or London, will seem exciting because it’s different from your usual route.
Simply pick an area you’ve never visited before and pop on over! Take note (from a safe distance) of local shops you may want to visit when it’s safe to do so, order takeout from a restaurant or cafe and take lots of pics for the ’Gram.
Go ice skating
Grab your skates, fill up a thermos of hot cider, and hit the rink! But before you do so, check your city’s website to see which rinks are open and the rules they have in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19. New regulations may include a cap on the number of people who can use the rink, and change room and locker closures. You should also check whether skate rentals are ongoing or not; if not, consider buying a pair.
Birdwatching is having a moment, thanks to increased media attention on the subject, and there’s no better time than during a pandemic to get started.
There are plenty of books on the subject (check out your local bookseller for recommendations), and many articles online about how to get started. You can even make a game out of it: look up birds that are native to your area, create a list of the ones you want to find, and then check them off your list after you’ve spotted them.
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How well you can see stars and planets in the night sky will vary, depending on where you live. But if you find a night when the sky is clear, bundle up, go outside, and gaze up at the cosmos. If you want to make a game out of it, look up common constellations beforehand and see if you can spot them.
There are many constellation ID apps you can download on your phone, including SkyView, Star Walk and Solar Walk. And if you get hooked on star gazing, think about buying a telescope to level up your skills.
This activity would also be fun with kids!
Take a hike
Lace up your hiking boots and explore the great white north! Do an online search of nearby scenic trails (this activity may require driving if you live in an urban area) and go on an adventure. Don’t forget to dress for the weather (or else you may be running home faster than you think) and pack some snacks and a hot drink to keep you comfortable and warm.
When picking a trail — or park, or any hiking area — visit its website to find out whether it’s being maintained and lit during the winter. If not, keep in mind the trail could be risky to traverse during the winter, when snow and ice converge to make for dangerous walking conditions.
Ride a bike
If the weather allows it, grab your bike and head out for a leisurely ride. A few things to keep in mind before you go off gallivanting: use fat tires if you have them and make sure they’re filled with air (being stuck out in the cold with a flat tire is no fun); pile on layers to keep you warm and dry, including proper gloves and socks; and make sure your bike lights work.
When you’re on the road, give yourself plenty of space if there’s snow up against sidewalks, that way you’ll have lots of room for maneuvering around cars and the snow. Check out MEC’s guide for winter riding here.
Check out your neighbours’ Christmas lights displays
There’s something so festive about Christmas lights. Whether it’s the nostalgia of wandering up and down your street ogling the best displays when you were a kid, or just the soothing holiday colours, looking at Christmas lights at night will warm you up — and give you something to do that requires little effort.
Hand-deliver holiday cards
Instead of mailing your holiday cards, consider hand-delivering them if the recipients are in your city. Not only will you save on postage (and the stress of having to line up at the post office), you will ensure the cards actually get to the recipient on time.
Plus, you may even get to see a friendly face (from a safe distance), and get a good walk/bike ride in your city. You can even order stamps and envelopes from Canada Post so you can avoid the post office all together.
WATCH: Safe and fun winter activities: