Here are some outdoors options for the winter solstice this year.
We know that Christmas is quickly approaching and most of your minds are probably on that. But the winter solstice is also quickly approaching.
On December 21, the first day of winter, the Northern hemisphere will be tilted the farthest away from the sun.
The result is shortest day of the year and it gives way to the longest night of year. If you don't already have a winter solstice celebration planned, now is the time to plan it.
We have suggestions for a variety of family-friendly outdoor winter activities that will soon become as popular as your favorite Christmas traditions.
A solstice camping trip
Sure, some people prefer to plan a summer solstice trip for warmer conditions, but the beginning of winter is a great time to plan a camping trip. We know it's tough to do during the holiday season, but if planned properly, the whole family will have a great time. Make sure to read some of our winter camping guides ahead of time for tips on how to stay warm.
If you enjoy sleeping, the longest night of the year is a great time to enjoy it. In our opinion, some of the best sleep we've ever gotten is in a toasty sleeping bag in cold weather conditions. You could also stargaze or prepare a fire-cooked solstice feast.
Sitting around a nice bonfire is the perfect opportunity to connect with friends and family. You may find you have a new winter solstice tradition on your hands!
An all-night ice fishing trip
We always enjoy ice fishing, but most experts will agree. The bite can be even better at night. This year's winter solstice falls on a Saturday. You shouldn't have to worry about work in the morning, so why not stay up all night during the darkest day of the year? Head out just after sunset with your buddies and some cold ones and kick back and wait for the return of the light. Alternatively, you could take your kids out for their first ice fishing trip ever.
This really is the last good chance to get some fishing in before Christmas and the New Year holidays eat up the rest of the week, so you'd best take advantage of it. If you're lucky, you should be able to catch a whole mess of bluegill, crappie and perch.
Those fish will make for some great meals in the lead up to your Christmas feast!
Go for a winter hike
If you're like me and you've already tagged out on deer this year, you may be looking for a light, fun activity to do with the whole family. Hiking is a great option because most hunting seasons have wound down and there's less chance of you disturbing someone's hunt. Pick up a pair of snowshoes if you've already got snow on the ground. It makes for some great exercise!
This is a great time to check out your local State Park or National Park which you have never visited. These places are often near devoid of visitors during the holiday season and that means you can really soak in the majesty of nature with your whole family. Even if it's just a short hike through some pines while fresh snowflakes fall on your head.
Plan a late season all-day hunt
Have a hard time sitting still in the tree stand for long hours? I know I do. So, it makes total sense to plan an all day sit around a day that has the least hours of daylight each year. Here in Michigan, it's still muzzleloader season, but in some states and provinces you might be looking at late firearms or antlerless season. But it's a good time of year for some late season bowhunting too.
Because the rut is mostly finished at this point, now is the time to start focusing heavily on food plots and other feeding areas. If your freezer is still bare of venison at this point, you might as well take advantage of the winter solstice for one last major hunt before the new year.
The winter solstice could also be a good time to take a kid out for their first hunt ever. Sit with them on a food plot and they're almost certain to see deer, which could help them make a harvest, or the very least keep their interest enough that they'll want to try in the future. Just make sure they're dressed warmly for the conditions!
If you're looking for winter activities for kids to do in the lead up to Christmas, geocaching is an excellent choice. Never heard of it? Be sure to read my complete guide on everything you need to know about this hobby where you use GPS or smartphones to locate hidden containers at your local park or other public area.
As we get closer and closer to Christmas, kids are likely to be getting riled up with excitement in anticipation of the big day. Geocaching should help temper some of that excitement by taking them on a "treasure hunt." Plus, they'll get some good exercise that will help wear them out for at least a day, giving the parents a quiet evening at home. Adults will also appreciate the great views and cool, quirky places geocaching takes you.