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How You Can Keep Park Visitors Engaged During the Winter Months

Family playing in snowy woods

During the summer, your park is likely teeming with visitors utilizing the outdoor spaces and park equipment such as benches, shelters, or playgrounds. By the start of fall, the kids are back in school, and you probably are starting to see fewer people heading out to take advantage of your outdoor spaces or participating in park activities. When winter arrives, visitors seem to disappear entirely and hibernate until warmer weather finally comes back.

Getting people involved in outdoor winter recreation is a common problem in the Mid-Atlantic region, but here at River Valley Recreation, we’ve put together some opportunities that just might spark your community into coming back out to their local park.

Host a Stargazing Event

Have you ever looked up during winter months and wondered why the sky seems more crisp and clear? The cold winter air is unable to hold as much moisture, which creates the perfect opportunity to gaze up at the stars with clear visibility. If you live in an area without much light pollution, winter is the ideal chance to go stargazing.

There are several things you can do to promote this winter recreation activity in your community. Start by offering a central location, such as a park shelter, to meet up and discuss what you might see in the winter sky. Having a hot chocolate station and offering hand warmers would be a bonus to your community members as well.

Host a Winter or Craft Festival

Most people associate festivals with summer, but what if you had the right park amenities or shelters in place that you could host one during the colder months? Winter recreation can include more than just outdoor park activities like hiking.

A winter craft festival is perfect for giving local businesses and artisans a chance to showcase themselves in their community. A juried contest—like a gingerbread house competition—could spark interest from all age groups. Including winter games for children in your festival would also allow families to come and participate in age-appropriate park activities.

Create a Holiday Light Show

There’s a reason many holiday movies show families taking the time to check out neighborhood light displays. Light shows are often an inexpensive, but fun way to spend quality time together as a family. If you are planning to have your community walk through your display, make sure you have adequate benches for people to rest, and trash cans so trash does not end up all over your park.

Hosting a holiday light show may be a bit of an initial investment for your park, but it comes with the opportunity to make that money back by charging a fee for visitors. If you are worried about funding an idea like this, check out a few resources that we have put together that might help get your project off the ground.

Try a Family Scavenger Hunt or Promote Geocaching and AR Games

Everyone loves a good scavenger hunt. It’s the reason that apps like Geocaching and Pokémon Go have become so popular. The thrill of searching and finding can be had by any age group and makes for a great family or solo activity. If your park has PokéStops or a number of easily accessible Geocaches, promote them on your social media pages or host an event for Pokémon Go during one of their Community Days.

If you have space for an actual scavenger hunt, work with local businesses to gather prizes and entice your community members to come out and participate. Make your winter park activities engaging, and give people a reason to come out of their winter hibernation.

Have a Movie Night

If you live in the Mid-Atlantic region, you know that snow is inevitable each winter. Having a movie night may not work during the coldest parts of winter, but try hosting a movie night towards the beginning and end of the season when things are a bit warmer. Work with the winter theme that you’ve got and include holiday favorites or box office hits like Frozen. Make sure you have an appropriate area to host a movie night that is easily accessible, close to bathrooms, and meets the electrical needs of your equipment.

Does Your Park Need Shelters or Amenities for Winter Recreation Activities?

Our experienced team is here to help get you on the right path toward creating a great community park that people will want to visit all year long. If you are looking to add new or additional shelters, pick up some extra amenities, or introduce a fun playground, we can help! Contact us and let River Valley Recreation help bring your vision to life.