A roundup of COVID-safe winter activities

Ideas for things you can do this season while keeping safe.
Published November 6, 2020

This winter is going to be different, we know. The pandemic has upturned 2020, handing out fear, inconvenience, anxiety, and stress. We may not be able to have the holiday celebrations we would normally have, or see all the people we love, but there are still things we can do this year to enjoy the winter season – we just have to plan ahead a little more and take precautions: avoid crowds, keep our distance from people not in our bubble, wear our masks, wash our hands.

So here’s a roundup of some ideas for COVID-safe winter activities.

Bettina Staerkle, founder of the travel blog The Next Trip, is currently travelling through Canada in her van. She shares her top three ideas for COVID-safe winter activities:

1) Snowshoeing

“Snowshoeing is a great winter activity and can be done almost anywhere once there is enough snow on the ground. All you need is a pair of snowshoes and warm winter clothes and you are good to go!” she says.

2) Cross-country skiing

“Cross-country skiing is a great socially distanced winter activity and a perfect way to get some exercise in the snow alone or as a couple. It helps to have some knowledge of your local trails and how busy they are so that you can avoid crowds,” Staerkle says, adding that “the peace and quiet of a few hours on the skis are a great way to relax during the hectic holiday season.”

3) Ice skating at an outdoor rink

“There is no better way to get into the holiday spirit than a romantic outdoor skate with your partner or the entire family,” Staerkle says.

Get outside in B.C.

If you’re in British Columbia, Sascha Bendt, marketing co-ordinator, North America for Destination British Columbia, has a few suggestions for activities you can try safely during the pandemic.

Skiing at places like Whistler Blackcomb or skating along the Lake Windermere Whiteway, the longest skating trail in the world, are classic winter choices, but there are also options for those who don’t want to strap on a pair of skis or lace up skates.

Bendt suggests trying out the Sno-Limo - a gravity-powered chair on skis, with your own chauffeur, or taking a snowshoe tour of some of Canada’s largest (frozen) waterfalls. You can also go storm watching or wildlife viewing, soak in one of B.C.’s many natural hot springs, or sip winter wines in Kamloops.

Visit the Rideau Canal

If you’re in the Ottawa area, Toronto-based blogger Dave Bowden suggests heading to the Rideau Canal for skating and beaver tails.

“My wife went to school in Ottawa and has fond memories of skating on the canal with friends and stopping for beaver tails along the way, all of which is outdoors and still safe to do during the pandemic. We’re looking forward to taking in the sites along the canal while recreating a memory that almost feels normal.”

And if you’re looking for games you can play while keeping your distance from people, check out this roundup from founder of The Games Guy, Chris Repetowski. If you’re stuck inside, or simply don’t want to venture out into frigid temperatures this winter, he says Ping-Pong, pool, and darts can be good physically distanced options.

Other ways to have fun this winter without playing in the snow include:

  • Take a drive to see the Christmas lights: It might sound simple, but maybe you’ve been too busy to notice all the lights and decorations in your neighbourhood in previous years. Go for a drive and enjoy the peace.
  • Zoom holiday parties: Pick a date and time, send all your co-workers or friends the link, and have a virtual holiday party. Make it fun by having everyone dress up in ugly Christmas sweaters and voting for your favourites, singing carols or playing online group games like Jackbox.
  • Try a virtual activity: You can take a virtual tour of a number of museums and galleries across the country, and even a virtual tour of the Rockies.