Blizzard Blast

Looking for ways to entertain the family during snow days and winter break? Read on for frolicking cold-weather fun, inside and out.

Take a snowshoe hike. Buy or borrow snowshoes for the family, and go on a trek through the woods or a field. Take your compass, but also tie brightly colored strips of fabric to tree branches to mark your path. 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. Check out: the Johnson Nature Center in Bloomfield Hills (johnsonnaturecenter.org/trails).

Visit an ice sculpture show. Look for these captivating displays on college campuses, in city parks and indoor arenas. Check out: Plymouth Ice Festival, Feb. 3-5. Plymouthicefestival.com.

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.

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.

Take a winter carriage ride. Look for horse-drawn carriages in tourist or trendy towns and quaint villages. Bundle up, and take warm blankets and hot beverages. Then enjoy a cozy ride through a snowy, festive town. Check out: Greenfield Village at the Henry Ford (thehenryford.org).

Enjoy a winter fest. Visit your chamber of commerce or state travel bureau website for a list of winter festivals and events. Activities to look for include light displays, fireworks, winter sports competitions, recreational activities, exhibits and ice sculpture displays, sleigh rides, snowshoe tours, and more. Check out: Winter Blast Royal Oak, Feb. 3-5. Winterblast.com.

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 or tubing. 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. Keep safety rules in mind for safe wintery fun. Check out: Tubing at Bowers Farm in Bloomfield Hills, through Feb. 26. Be sure to register in advance; it fills up fast. Events.friendsofbowersfarm.org.

Head to a museum. Most cities, even small towns, have a historical museum. Hands-on science, art, or natural history museums are found in most metropolitan areas or at nearby universities.

Tour a manufacturing plant. Tours are often available to the public even if they aren't well-publicized. Just call to find out.

View the winter sky. Visit a planetarium to see constellations and some of the brightest stars of the year. Check out: the Cranbrook Observatory or the Acheson Planetarium, both part of the Cranbrook Institute of Science. Science.cranbrook.edu.

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. If you've had enough of winter, hold a Hawaiian luau instead. Choose summery or vacation-themed movies. Serve cold drinks with little umbrellas and fruit on top. And don't forget the beach towels.

Make up funny skits with friends then put on a show for 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.

Getaway at a weekend resort. Check your travel agency for one of the many winter resorts for outdoor enthusiasts that offer activities and accommodations for the whole family. Try downhill or cross-country skiing, snowshoe excursions and more. Check out: Crystal Mountain, a winter wonderland in Thompsonville, Mich. Crystalmountain.com.

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