5 Ways to Enjoy Outdoor Holiday Magic

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season is upon us, but that doesn’t mean you should spend all of your time inside shopping, cooking, wrapping, or decorating! 

Take time to get outside and enjoy nature with the whole family this season. The cold air is refreshing, and the sights and smells of winter add to the holiday magic. Fortunately, there are plenty of outdoor events at local parks, nature centers, and outdoor venues centered around the season.

Holiday Lights

Sparkling lights during the holidays help us feel cozy and connected during the darkest part of the year. Seeing twinkling displays in nature can add to the magic of the season. Many parks, nature centers, and botanic gardens put up light displays this time of year. The trip outside into the cold night is worth it! In some locations, you can see millions of lights! Your local area may have various events, including a stroll along magically-lit paths through the woods, Christmas tree display competitions, and elaborate lighted shapes. Plan to bundle up and pose for lots of glowing pictures!

Nature Crafts

The holidays are a time for giving, and some of the best gifts showcase the beauty of the world around us. Head outside to your local park and join a crafting workshop designed around holiday items. You can make ornaments, keepsakes, or even items for the garden, like winter bird feeders. Nature is abundant even in the cold, and kids will love including different materials like sticks, leaves, berries, and seeds. Many workshops will have other natural materials, like twine or wood, to supplement what you find outside. You can enjoy the craft twice—once while you’re making it and once when you display it in your home!

Santa Visits

Santa loves to spend time in nature, so it’s not surprising that many parks and nature centers offer events like Snacks with Santa or holiday photo opportunities. You can usually find various experiences, depending on your plans. Some visits might be inside at a specific time. In contrast, others might involve chance encounters along a festive trail through the park. Register early for Santa visits, as these events are usually immensely popular!

Winter Walks

Plenty of plants and animals like to make an appearance in cold weather. Enjoy a nature walk and try to find as much winter life as possible! Many parks offer guided walks that help you identify plant species, bird calls, and more. It’s enjoyable for kids to spot plants and animals that appear in their favorite winter and holiday tales. Before you visit, list the species you want to spot so that kids can keep their eyes peeled on the trail.

You may also find that local parks set up decorations and attractions along hiking paths. Take advantage of the seasonal scenery by hiking your usual route and trying to spot as many new surprises as possible. Or, head out on a new trail and let the lights guide you toward the best spots along the way.

Bonfires, Cocoa, and More!

Heading outside during the holidays can get cold, but many parks and nature centers offer incentives for venturing out! Choose events that include snacks like hot cocoa or s’mores, and look out for nighttime bonfires. Some locations will have indoor spots to warm up between walking through the woods or enjoying the evening lights. During the day, take advantage of being outside and soak up the sun as you get in the holiday spirit.

Whether you’re looking for a magical holiday evening amongst the trees or a fun way to incorporate nature into your gift-giving, local parks and outdoor spaces have a lot to offer this time of year!


This content is brought to you by Metroparks. One of America’s premier metropolitan park systems, the Huron-Clinton Metroparks have served the people of Southeast Michigan since 1940. Managed by the Huron-Clinton Metropolitan Authority, the Metroparks are made up of 13 properties in Livingston, Macomb, Oakland, Washtenaw, and Wayne counties. The Metroparks are open 365 days a year and encompass 25,000 acres of nature and recreational facilities. Each year more than 1.5 million people engage with the Metroparks to enjoy amenities such as picnicking, fishing, swimming, boating, hiking, nature study, biking, golf, disc golf, cross country skiing, sledding, snowshoeing, and a diversity of outdoor programs and special events. The Metroparks also provide educational resources on science, nature, history, and the environment. Learn more at Metroparks.com.

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