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Family sledding

Top 5 winter activities in Waterloo you can’t miss

Elena Nowlin

Whether you and your loved ones are residents of Iowa or visitors, you might be asking yourself, “What can I do in Waterloo?” Especially in the winter, it can be hard to figure out what to event will entertain you. Luckily, we’ve got five fun things for you to try out this winter!

Cafes and Coffee

In the middle of winter when everything feels extra bleak and gray, sometimes the best solution is to find a local coffee shop and explore their menu. Three great local coffee shops in the Waterloo region are Sidecar Coffee and Cabin Coffee. Each shop offers a warm community atmosphere and a variety of drinks to satisfy your coffee craving and your kids’ sweet tooth.

While Sidecar Coffee offers a limited selection of kid-friendly drinks, they make up for it with their friendly atmosphere. Along with classic coffee drinks and hot teas, Sidecar also serves chai tea lattes, juice, and soda. If you are looking for something more substantial, you can try one of their cinnamon rolls, cookies, quiche, or specialty breakfast sandwiches.

Cabin Coffee has an extensive menu and plenty of kid-friendly options that will keep your kids waffling: hot chocolate, Texas turtles (a dark hot chocolate with caramel and whipped cream), steamers, apple cider, caramel apple cider, lemonade, and a variety of mocha, frappe, and smoothie options. You might want to look up their menu ahead of time to save time in line. They have numerous baked goods as well as lunch and breakfast options.

Outdoor Adventures

While Iowa winters can seem to stretch on forever, you can introduce some fun by trying out great winter activities such as ice skating on a lovely pond or outdoor rink, cross country skiing, or making a snow sculpture of any sort!

Waterloo has many beautiful outdoor spots, but sometimes it’s fun to try out something new. Iowa has many state parks. While some might require your family to take a road trip, others -such as the George Wyth State Park – are in Waterloo’s backyard. An annual pass to all the Iowa state parks costs $40, and a second vehicle pass costs $15. For more information, visit the Iowa Department of Natural Resources’ website.

But maybe driving out to a park seems like too much of an ordeal, and you’d rather have an adventure in your own backyard … literally. You can simply spend time outside with your kids, build a snow fort, start a snowball fight, or become your own human rollercoaster as you pull your kids around the yard on a sled. And sometimes, the simplest actions can make the sweetest memories.

Everything is better with chocolate, so make sure you have hot chocolate warming on your stovetop and a heap of warm blankets warming up in the dryer. Thoughts of wet socks or tired legs will float away.

Indoor Adventures

Cedar Falls’ Escapology offers a unique challenge for the whole family with its mind-bending escape rooms. Currently, Escapology hosts four different games with varying difficulties. Themes like murder mysteries, computer hackers, and haunted mansions promise to keep the family guessing.

Since escape rooms are $20 to $30 per person, this activity might be best saved for a birthday gift or a way to use up extra Christmas money from Grandma and Grandpa.

The Waterloo John Deer Tractor and Engine Museum offers free admission and numerous adventures. This museum is a great choice for your engineering-minded kids who love learning about engines and, of course, tractors!

Family Movie Night

Winter means that outdoor movie nights aren’t a possibility, but there are still fun ways to make a family movie night a little extra special.

First, you can visit one of Waterloo’s local movie theaters. Crossroads Cinema and Waterloo Cinema feature family friendly movies, including Encanto, Sing 2, Space Jam, and Smallfoot. They also have a few of the newest Marvel movies and many dramas. Waterloo Community Playhouse features local talent on their stage and offers opportunities for children to grow in their acting with classes held with Black Hawk Children’s Theatre.

You can also create your own theater experience at home. Start out with a creative menu. Make dinner together by choosing something that allows everyone to add their own flare. Walking tacos, homemade personalized pizzas, nachos, popcorn, or stovetop burgers become a lot more exciting when you can choose your own toppings.

Make the whole experience even more of an adventure by turning it into an episode of Chopped. Choose five ingredients that each person must incorporate-and maybe a specialty item hidden from the rest of the contestants. While the concoctions sometimes taste a little fishy, everyone ends up fiercely loyal to his or her creation and will probably eat it anyway.

Another fun way to engage the whole family is to create a blanket fort and homemade tickets for a theater experience at home. Sometimes one of the biggest challenges of a family movie night is choosing what to watch. One of the best ways to solve this dilemma is to have everyone write down their favorite movie on a sheet of paper and rotate through each option by drawing one from a hat.

Another option is to cycle through each family member every movie night. While your 15-year-old son might have a different cinematography style than your three-year-old daughter, the Avengers movies and Cinderella both have their merits.

Station Activities

Life 101.9 hosts a variety of events throughout the year. This spring, you’ll have the opportunity to go to some great concerts, including MercyMe’s tour. Stay up to date on all of the station news by following us on Facebook and Instagram or listening on-air or online. Keep an eye on our events page and concerts page for more opportunities.