Combat the Cold: Outdoor Winter Activities You Can Do In The Midwest

We’ve all heard about SAD, seasonal affective disorder. While the acronym makes it sounds a little silly, it is a serious thing. With shorter days, colder weather, and more darkness, it is easy to fall into a winter slump or even a depression. SAD is a biological reaction to a decreased exposure to sunlight as well as low levels of vitamin D. We know there are benefits to getting your daily vitamin D and getting those endorphins running, but what is there to do in the Midwest when it is cold, snowy, and your daylight hours are minimal?

Cross Country Skiing:

Cross-country skiing has always been on our list of new things to try. Although we’ve had a pretty mild winter here in Iowa, there’s still hope to try it yet this Season. You can easily google cross-country skiing in your State and a bunch of local places will come up. Some places offer ski rentals, some are free with a deposit, and some offer lessons.


Look for a new community, join a local hiking group and meet some new people in your area. There are so many facebook groups for local hiking communities that it is super easy to find a meetup. Bring a friend and get ready to make some new ones!

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Meeting new people isn’t the only benefit to going on a winter hike. With the colder weather, we tend to spend a lot more time behind a screen. Going for a Winter hike gives you an opportunity to keep the phone in your backpack and spend some time unplugged!

Bundle up with friends for some winter stargazing:

Sometimes it’s nice just to relax. Bundle up with some friends, grab a thermos of hot chocolate or coffee, and spend some time under the stars. This is especially nice when we have a mild winter like we have been in Iowa this year.

Pack up all your snacks, drinks, and extra blankets in this large tote from A Well Worn Story.

Go on a road trip to that cute picturesque town you’ve seen on Instagram:

Spend the day walking roaming quaint Midwest downtowns like Galena IL, Cedar Falls IA, and Iowa City.  Sounds ideal, especially for the less outdoorsy readers out there!

Pack up all the essentials in this weekender bag from A Well Worn Story.

Try a Winter run:

This is the perfect excuse to run an easy mile or two and then head to a coffee shop for a well deserved warm beverage.

Go ice skating at an outdoor rink:

Google “outdoor ice rink near me” and find one nearest you!

If the weather gets cold enough around the QC, we have a local lagoon in Davenport at Van Der Veer Park to ice skate on and a man-made pop up rink at a pool in Bettendorf IA.

If you are looking for a weekend away, (or are from the Chicago area,) there is a rink every winter in Millenium Park. It’s picturesque and the perfect way to spend a winter trip to Chicago.

Relive your childhood and go sledding or have a snowball fight:

Get all of your friends together and spend the day outside. When the darkness creeps in, take it inside (after you’ve soaked up all that vitamin D). Pick your friend with the hot tub to host! Bring swimsuits and climb in to warm up those chilly limbs. Pizza delivery please!

Bring your host a bottle of wine in this cute wine tote from A Well Worn Story.

Let’s follow your adventure on Instagram with #campclimbwinter!

Josie Mumm is the owner and creative force behind The Roaming Freelancer, where she provides location-independent writing and photography services for businesses. She is passionate about being outdoors, teaching herself code, and paying in exact change.

Author: campclimb