Ranking the best snow activities to brighten a bleak Midwest winter


Photo by Grace Fuechtmann.

Grace Fuechtmann, Staff Reporter

Winter is my least favorite season. Gray skies, cold weather that makes going outside a very miserable experience, and full darkness by 6 P.M. make for a quite dreary few months. We Midwesterners know this better than anyone, and luckily, we have endless tricks up our coat sleeves to sprinkle as much fun as we can into this gloomy season. Here are my personal favorite winter activities, ranked from “could skip it this year” to “my life would be incomplete without this”.

  1. Snowball fights: Honestly, the best thing about snowball fights is that one scene from “Elf” where Buddy takes out those bullies with his elf skills. Snowball fights are fun in theory, but I have never found them very enjoyable. I like snow, but I want to be in control of its proximity to my skin. All too often in snowball fights, I end up with snow inside my gloves and all over any exposed skin that I neglected to fully protect. My competitive nature compels me to participate whenever one arises in my presence, but you will never catch me starting a snowball fight myself. There are better activities.
  1. Skiing: Ski trips are the pinnacle of many people’s winters. This exhilarating activity draws people from across the country to gorgeous ski resorts for a weekend of snowy adventure. However, the sport is not very accessible to those of us in the Prairie State, especially those who do not have the funds for a trip out West. It’s a blast for those who can make it out to the mountains but is hardly a necessity for those who can’t. There’s plenty else to do around here that’s just as fun.
  1. Ice skating: Ice skating is an art that I have yet to master, but for me, the challenge is part of the fun. My winter is incomplete without a trip to the ice rink with my friends. Ice skating can sometimes get a bad rap for being an activity that revolves around going in circles repeatedly until your feet go numb and are covered in blisters, but I honestly think that adds to the charm of the experience. I only skate recreationally, and quite badly, if I might add, but this basic activity is the foundation of hockey and figure skating, two riveting winter sports.
  1. Sledding: There is no age limit on this classic winter activity. Sledding is a perfect activity for ages 2 to 92, as it never loses its luster. Its simplicity makes it easily accessible to young kids, who, upon growing up, can return to it for its nostalgic value and can rediscover how fun it is. Sledding is an integral part of the winter experience for anyone looking to have any fun during these dreary months.
  1. Building a snow fort: Building a snow fort is objectively the most fun winter activity. Are you preparing for trench warfare? Building a little house in which to sit and ponder the complexities of the universe? Who knows? All I know is that every snow fort is a different code to crack, a different adventure waiting to unfold. From the first snow forts I ever built during recess at Central Elementary School in Riverside to the giant ones I build with my family nowadays that take up our whole backyard, I have grown to love and appreciate the art of the snow fort. This blast from the past belongs at the top of every winter bucket list.