Seattle's Child

Your guide to a kid-friendly city

winter break family fun

100+ Ideas for winter break family fun

Inside and outside fun for kids during winter break

Winter break family fun is around the corner and with school out and kids at home, there’s plenty of time to explore a new activity, play games, try a new recipe, or just hang out. Take a look at our list of things to do.

Have fun and stay safe!

Winter break ideas: In the kitchen

If you haven’t yet tried our hot-cocoa bar idea (or even if you have!), this is sure to be a crowd pleaser. Also, have you baked cookies? Do you have room for more?

A few to try:

I am still drooling at just the thought of Chef Jason Wilson’s Dungeness crab mac and cheese, but I am also pondering dusting off the fondue pot for a New Year’s Eve family feast. I have told the family that if they help clean the pot between courses, we could do a cheese course, entrée, and then chocolate, all with those irresistible color-coded long forks. (My Mom had matching sectioned plates, too, in the oh-so-trendy earth tones of the 1970s.)

Or, if you want a fun family cooking night, try out the oh-so-delicious and oh-so-easy dumplings (if you buy premade wrappers) with Jiaying Grygiel’s Dumplings recipe – or if you’d prefer not to cook but crave dumplings, Jiaying recommends where to get the best take-out dumplings and top family-friendly dumpling restaurants.

Winter break ideas: Around the house

Watch a movie together: Winter break is an ideal time to relax together while watching a good movie. Here’s a list of recommended family movies from our movie reviewer.

Floor skating: If you have hardwood floors and the kids have socks, you’re ready for this one. Put on some music and glide about like figure skaters.

Build stuff! Make stuff! If you have big kids and time to supervise, they might want to try out some tools to build the candle holders from the book “Girls Who Build.” (Those projects are excerpted here.)

Fun project for fidgety hands: Try making a plush lion pillow or a panda bath mitt from Sanae Ishida’s book “Animal Friends to Sew.”

Get out some flour, salt, and water. Shape it, then bake it! This works great for ornaments, or maybe even shape them into coasters, paperweights, or ladybugs that you can paint later. Instructions here.

Fun and games: Oh, we love games! Here are some of our best lists:

Read books: Check here for titles that we have suggested or that others have recommended for us recently. Or explore what your local library can do for you. Many have Reading with Rover programs, story times, and arts and craft workshops for all ages. Also, check out our library and park outings round-upExplore holiday traditions with these children’s books or delve into multicultural books that will open up a whole new world for your kiddos.

Make forts: Pile up the couch cushions and every sofa pillow in the house –and have a blast right in your living room.

Camping trip on location: Get a bare table and a blanket and make a tent for a little kid. Make sure they have a book, a flashlight, and a favorite stuffed animal too. Adults – maybe you’re ready to plan your spring and summer excursions. Take a look at these campsites and plan to book early for your favorite spot.

Winter break ideas: Out and about

Take the kids to see the Raul de Nieves exhibit now showing at the Henry Art Gallery and highly recommended by our mother/daughter reviewers. It’s free (donations accepted). The kids will love exploring the vast UW campus before or after your Gallery visit. You can park in the parking garage off 15th Ave NE and NE 41st and walk right upstairs to the Henry, or better yet, expand the adventure by riding the light rail to the Husky stadium station and taking the long scenic walk through campus to the Henry next to Meany Hall. Don’t overlook the little cafe at the gallery – they offer delicious and reasonably priced breakfast, lunch, and snack items at City Grind at the Henry).

Head to Des Moines or West Seattle for family adventures, places to eat, and things to do.

Light shows through the end of the year: Check out Wild Lanterns at the Woodland Park ZooEvergreen Lights in BothellCandy Cane Lane , and more. Make your holidays bright!

Special exhibits and experiences in Seattle: Head to the Pacific Science Center to watch the incredible show at the IMAX: “The Arctic: The Last Great Wilderness” and don’t miss these experiences for your loved ones.

Train rides and exhibits: Ride the rails or see a train exhibit at the museum.

NW Trek Wildlife Park in Eatonville celebrates Winter Wildland from Dec. 26, 2023 – Jan. 1 2024, with animals, decorations, keeper chats and “winter magic.”

We are big fans of fresh air and exercise. Here are just a few of the ideas we have written about recently. Get out of the house and go have some fun!

Go on an art walk: The Bellevue Botanical Garden offers a nice walk and many sculptures to explore. Or take one of these walks and see art along the way!

Winter break ideas: In the mountains

Doesn’t a snow day sound like fun? Do your homework before heading out to a ski area (some require advance ticket purchase). Check road conditions, too! And read these tips for properly bundling kids up for the cold.

Let’s go sledding! Where to go from Seattle

Best ski areas you can drive to from Seattle

8 places Seattle families can go cross-country skiing

 If all else fails:

Actually, try this even if “all else” doesn’t fail: Have kids help you clean up. Here are ideas for getting started. And don’t neglect safety.

And, what better time to get going on life skills like balancing the checkbook? We’ve divided them here into ideas for the youngest kids, and for older kids and teens.

About the Author

Julie Hanson

Julie Hanson is a longtime journalist, South King County resident and mom to a 15-year-old girl.