Afraid of the long cold weather? Check out eight fun ideas including tubing, tobogganing, geocaching, and snow ice.
This winter will be unlike any other as families in central Ohio look for ways to keep the kids busy while keeping them healthy. With fewer people traveling, it is definitely a year to get creative. That’s why we’ve put together a list of suggestions to fill your weekends with. From quick trips around town to day trips to activities at home, there is something for every interest.
Whether you want to go outside in your comfort zone for socially distant activities or prefer to stay at home, there are plenty of creative options. If you are ready to go, call ahead or go online to confirm COVID-19 logs and make reservations, which are required for most locations.
Here are nine ideas your family can use and adapt to create your own winter fun.
Explore the local sledding hill
It doesn’t take a lot of snow to make the tobogganing hills around town an ideal place for activities. There are dozen of slopes to choose from (see our full list at columbusparent.com/sleddinghills). For safety reasons, choose parks with designated toboggan areas that are free of trees and other obstacles.
Here are some central Ohio slopes that you should try:
Big Run Park, 4201 Clime Road, Columbus Blacklick Woods Subway Park, 6975 E. Livingston Ave., Clinton-Como-Park Reynoldsburg, 301 W. Pacemont Road, Rosenpark Columbus Columbus, 3923 N. High St., Subway Columbus Highbanks Rail Park, 9466 US Route 23 N., Scioto Park in Lewis Center, 7377 Riverside Drive, Sharon Woods Metro Park, Dublin, 6911 Cleveland Ave., Westerville Fryer Park, 3899 Orders Road, Grove City
Take a tubing day trip
One of the most exciting winter activities is tubing in the Ohio ski resorts. While Alpine Valley, Boston Mills / Brandywine, Mad River Mountain, and Snow Trails offer skiing by reservation, the last three also offer family-friendly tubing. Be sure to check the resort’s websites or call ahead to confirm operating hours, prices, and COVID-19 safety protocols. Note that some resorts only offer tubing on weekends.
(3100 Possum Run Road, Mansfield; 800-644-6754; snowtrails.com)
Book a two-hour session on the state’s longest tube runs (1,100 feet) on the Snow Trails, an hour’s drive from Columbus. The Vertical Descent Tubing Park has smaller tubes for younger children. The popular night glow hose must be booked in advance.
Mad River Mountain
(1000 Snow Valley Road, Zanesfield; 800-231-7669; skimadriver.com)
Mad River Mountain is 45 minutes from Columbus and is the largest ski area in the state. Avalanche Tubing Park has 10 lanes 1,000 feet or more in length. You can book tickets for three-hour sessions.
Brandywine Ski Resort
(1146 W. Highland Road, Sagamore; 800-875-4241; bmbw.com)
Brandywine Ski Resort, between Cleveland and Akron, features multi-lane family tubing in the Polar Blast Tubing Park. You can reserve tickets for three-hour sessions. Kids who want the ultimate experience can try the bigger, faster Super Lanes for added thrill.
Sample snow ice
Making snow ice after a snowfall can become one of your child’s most precious memories. It’s an easy and fun way for kids to partake in cold weather activities with delicious results.
A 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
¾ cup of sugar
1½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 gallon of clean snow
Mix the sweetened condensed milk, sugar and vanilla in a bowl until smooth. Slowly stir snow into the mixture and freeze until ready to enjoy.
Play Nature Bingo
One way to involve the kids in a DIY project and take them outside is to play a nature bingo game. Use pieces of cardboard to make bingo cards for the number of people participating. Fill in the squares with pictures or words of natural elements that you can find in Ohio. Ideas include woodpeckers or other birds, deer, squirrels, and tree species. Go to a local park and walk one of the trails to play the game.
go sliding on snow
16200 Valley Parkway, Strongsville; 440-572-9990
Families looking to improve their sledding ability can take a 2-hour trip to Strongsville, near Cleveland, for a day on toboggan ice slides. The chalet on Mill Stream Run Reservation has two 700-foot slides that propel sleds (which can hold up to four people) down to 50 mph. Advance reservations and face covering are required. Drivers must be at least 42 inches tall.
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Create DIY slime
Few things keep children entertained better than slime. If you’re in the stay-home mood, let the kids do a lot of magic and keep them entertained for hours. One of the simplest recipes has just three ingredients, so prep time is minimal.
An 8 ounce bottle of Elmer’s glue
1 tablespoon of baking powder
1½ to 2 tablespoons of contact lens solution
Food coloring (optional)
Mix the glue and food coloring in a bowl and stir. Add baking soda. Mix in the contact solution and add more or less depending on the desired thickness. Knead the slime until it sticks together. Use a placemat to protect the table while you play, and store slime in a lid container or zippered bag.
Start a family book club
Fill up winter afternoons or weekends by setting up your own family book club. Choose from paper volumes or access e-book rentals from the Ohio Digital Library at ohdbks.overdrive.com. Pick the title or topic category, download a book for free, then take a day to prepare snacks and discuss a book club with your kids. Note that you need a library card to use the service. Some cardholders (including those with the Columbus Metropolitan Library) need to access books through the dedicated Libby app or website. Central Ohio libraries also offer e-books for users.
This modern day scavenger hunt is a great year-round, free activity that your family can use to get out and about the outdoors. Snow makes it even more difficult. You can stay as close to home or hike as far as you want: there are more than 1,500 geocaching locations in Columbus and thousands across the state. Download the free app at geocaching.com/play to register and search for geocaching locations.
This story is from the Winter 2020 issue of Columbus Parent.
Editor’s Note: The printed version of this story included another activity, Family Field Trip Days at the Ohio History Center. However, shortly after the edition went to press, the venue announced that it had been temporarily closed to the public due to the pandemic.