Inside Columbia


Find New Ways to Enjoy the Winter Season with the Whole Family

By Inside Columbia
winter fun with grandkids

If your grandkids are like most, weekends and school snow closings are the highlight of the winter season. Get into the spirit with some of these fun outdoor activities. After you’ve expended your energy outdoors, there’s plenty of fun to be had indoors as well.

Outdoor Winter Frolic

Take A Snowshoe Hike

Buy or borrow snowshoes for the family and go on a trek through one of Columbia’s many trails, including Bear Creek Trail, the MKT Nature and Fitness Trail and Shepard Park Trail. Take your compass. But also tie brightly colored strips of fabric to tree branches to mark your path. Dress warm and keep track of time to prevent overtiring and frostbite. Look for animal tracks and burrows; identify trees by the bark and shape of their trunks; learn how to tell the time or direction by the position of the sun; and other nature and survival activities. For more information on Columbia’s trails, visit

Visit a Zoo

During the winter months, zoos often bring guest animals and offer special exhibits. Arctic and cold climate animals may be more active, and indoor exhibits are easier to view because of smaller crowds. While Columbia doesn’t have its own zoo, residents can visit nearby areas, including the Saint Louis Zoo or the Kansas City Zoo & Aquarium.

Build an Igloo or Snow Fort

Choose a day when the snow is suitable for packing. Use a square or rectangular container for building snow forts, which are often found in toy departments. Be sure to stagger the blocks for support.

Enjoy a Winter Fest

Look for winter events in Columbia, including the Columbia Comic & Toy Winter Show at the Columbia Mall Jan. 27-28 with video games, vendors cosplay, artists, comics and toys. Keep an eye on the Inside Columbia magazine community calendar for more winter events.

Have a Snow-Sculpting Contest

Invite your neighbors to participate. Roll a snowball as large as you can. Then fill buckets with snow and carefully dump them on top. Gently pack the snow and smooth it with your mittens. Sculpt and shape your creation using small shovels and gardening tools. When your sculpture is complete, gently pack and smooth it with your hands again.

Make an Ice Tree

Instead of throwing out your holiday tree, turn it into a winter display. Stand it in your yard, turn the water hose on low, and spray upward and toward the trunk of the tree. As ice forms, continue spraying until you achieve your desired effect.

Go Sledding

If you have small hills in your backyard, use a trash bag for sliding down them. Better yet, head to some real hills with your toboggan or sled at Columbia’s official sled hill, Stephens Lake Park, or other spots around town, including Twin Lakes Recreation Area and Three Creeks Conservation Area. Keep safety rules in mind for safe wintery fun.

Indoor Activities for Blustery Days

Head to a Museum

Columbia has many art galleries and museums to visit during the winter, including Access Arts, Artlandish Gallery & Emporium and the Boone County History & Culture Center. But if you are looking to try something new, head to the Enns Entomology Museum, the Historic Costume Gallery at Stephens College or Art Off the Trail in Rocheport. For more information on local museums and galleries, visit

Create An Indoor Snow Family

Buy black and white clay from an arts and crafts supply. Roll snow people out of the white clay, and shape hats with the black. Make arms with tiny twigs, scarves from narrow fabric strips, eyes and buttons from whole pepper, and noses from broken, orange-colored toothpicks.

View The Winter Sky

Visit a planetarium to see constellations and some of the brightest stars of the year. The Columbia Public Schools Planetarium, which has been supported by the district and community for nearly 50 years, offers public shows throughout January and February for free, but a $5 donation is encouraged.

Hold A Winter Movie Fest

Invite friends over, rent a selection of movies and have everyone bring their pillows or beanbag chairs. Don’t forget the buttery popcorn and hot chocolate.

Make Up Funny Skits

Play with friends then put on a show for grandparents, parents and neighbors. Choose household products and create silly advertisements. Make up goofy songs or poems about each product and dress up for the part. Be sure to videotape the skits for hilarious family memories.

String A Snowflake Streamer

Make snowflakes by folding white paper several times and then trimming different shapes around the edges. Open the snowflakes then string them on a piece of yarn and hang it across the room.

Visit The Library To Snuggle Up For A Relaxing Read

The Columbia Public Library hosts events throughout the year for families. You can also take your family to try indoor gaming options or crafting areas, including Hexagon Alley and Wizards and Witches Arcade for more indoor family fun when the cold weather comes.

Make A Winter-Safety Trivia Game

Buy a pack of small index cards. Then write a question on each card related to winter safety with the answers written below. To play the game, take turns reading the questions while other players shout their answers. The first person with the correct answer scores a point.

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