Winter can be a harsh, beautiful season, and it can be tempting to focus on indoor activities until spring rolls around. But when you're visiting an area like Pierce County, you actually a slew of options for active and fun outdoor winter activities to help pass the time! The variety of activities means anyone can find something they want to try, regardless of skill level or age. To inspire you, we’ve gathered a list of activities that are fun for the whole family or great for a solo adventure this winter.
Feel nice on ice
Located in Tacoma, Sprinker Recreation Center offers lots of different themed and family ice skating nights every day of the week. During the month of December they also offer Ice Lights where skaters are immersed in holiday magic, with a huge Christmas tree in the middle of the rink and gorgeous holiday lights illuminating the space. The Tacoma Art Museum also transforms Tollefson Plaza into the Polar Plaza, a fun and festive outdoor ice skating rink! With fun dress up theme nights, you won’t want to miss bringing the family and making a holiday memory that will last forever. If ice skating isn’t for you, Sprinker also has ice bumper cars. This is exactly what it sounds like, bumper cars but on ice! Experience the classic arcade favorite with a twist.
Hit the slopes
Pierce County is home to Washington state's biggest ski resort, Crystal Mountain. Hosting gorgeous views of Mount Rainier and the Cascade Mountains, Crystal offers a wide array of ski and snowboard runs of varying difficulty for any skill level. Don’t know how to ski or snowboard? It’s never too late to learn! Crystal also offers lessons for both skiing and snowboarding on the mountain; take a few lessons, and you’ll be a pro by the end of winter. They also offer night skiing all winter so there’s always the option to hit the slopes after work.
Go the distance
Also known as Nordic skiing, cross-country skiing is a great option for those of us who want to spend some time in the snow on the mountains, but don’t want to commit to learning a whole new sport like skiing or snowboarding. What differentiates cross country skiing from normal skiing is that instead of going straight down the mountain at high speeds, cross country skiing involves skiing a flat groomed train around the mountain. It’s almost more like going on a ski walk! Pierce County has several locations for cross country skiing, including the Mount Tahoma trails in Ashford, the White Pass Nordic Center in Mount Rainier National Park, and the Muir Snowfield in Ashford.
Camping during the winter might not be the first thing to come to mind when you’re thinking of ways to get outside during the season, but winter camping actually provides a more unique and memorable experience than your typical summer trip. This can be a great way to experience places that are usually packed during the warmer months, and gives you the opportunity to experience nature at its most serene and untouched state. If you’re feeling bold enough to try winter camping, we recommend Penrose Point State Park (partially open campsites) and Camp Lakeview in Graham. If you intend to camp inside Mount Rainier National Park, you'll need a permit (available at the Longmire Museum), but Reflection Lakes is a famously beautiful spot.
Friday through Sunday, come explore the 723-acre free-roaming area at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park in Eatonville. It’s open year-round and there are walking trails, tram rides, kids play areas, and “wild drives” where you can drive your own car through a free-roaming animals area! It’s a great opportunity to see and interact with Pacific Northwest animal life and learn more about land and habitat conservation.
Play in the snow
Snowshoeing is a great option for all ages! There are miles of designated snowshoeing trails in the Cascade Mountains and in Mount Rainier National Park. Most trails in these parks are accessible by car (via the Nisqually Entrance to Mount Rainier, which is the only entrance open year round) so it’s a great option for a daytime outing. If you aren’t comfortable heading out into the mountains alone, Metro Parks Tacoma offers snowshoeing trips every weekend while there’s snow! Different trips are for different groups (over 50, families, adults). They also offer family sledding expeditions every weekend for classic winter fun. For these trips you just need to register ahead of time here, transportation and equipment is provided but it’s recommended to bring snacks or a lunch.
We hope you’ve been inspired to venture into the cold, dark, Pacific Northwest winter. Tag us in your favorite activities @traveltacoma on Instagram and Facebook!