Days might be the shortest in the winter, but they can feel like the longest for parents or caregivers trying to keep kids active and engaged while cooped up inside the house. Fortunately, the Madison, WI, area has a wide range of family-friendly adventures for kids and parents alike to keep their spirits up when the temperatures drop.

Looking for plenty of things to do with the kids this winter? Read on!

Try These Active Adventures with the Kids 

These adventures are a great way to get moving for families who want to get out of the house.

Madison Children's Museum

Open Thursdays through Sundays, Madison Children’s Museum is the place for kids to play and get creative.

There are three floors to explore, including an art studio, a special space for kids five and under, and the outdoor Wonderground: a 10,000 square foot thoughtful space for kids to climb, jump, and move their bodies. If your child has any sensory needs, be sure to stop by the front desk for information on cool-down spaces and the variety of sensory tools available to borrow.

Boulders Climbing Gym

What do you do when kids are climbing the walls?

Let them climb the walls under the guidance of expert instruction at Boulders Climbing Gym. Perfect for beginners who are learning the ropes (wink, wink) and teens who are looking for a challenge. Walk-in passes and small class instruction are available at their two locations.

Vitense: Indoor Mini Golf Experience

No need to pack the golf clubs away for the winter. Top-rated Vitense Golfland offers an 18-hole indoor course that is open year-round.

Packages are available for children under four all the way up to seniors. Add on remote control boats, FootGolf, and arcade games for a full day of fun.

Cave of the Mounds

Maybe animals that borough underground in the winter are really onto something. Inside Cave of the Mounds, it’s always a balmy 50 degrees.

Themed experiences, like blacklight tours and Caroling in the Cave, will turn your trip into a treasure hunt. Children can collect minerals in a cloth bag while they explore the cave’s natural wonders.

Henry Vilas Zoo

You know the polar bears that call Henry Vilas Zoo home love the winter. But what about the other animals? Find out for yourself! Visit the zoo in person from 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m., open seven days a week. Oh, and don’t forget to pick out an animal enrichment toy at the Henry Vilas Zoo at Bad Dog Frida.

Escape This

Put your family’s puzzle-solving skills to the test at Escape This in downtown Madison. Search for clues in a Sherlock-themed puzzle room or try your best to break free from the topsy-turvy Alice in Wonderland room before the clock runs out.

Older kids and teens will enjoy testing their brain power against each rooms’ challenges, and if your group gets stuck, no worries — just shout out for a hint from your gamemaster!

Aldo Leopold Nature Center

Fill your lungs with fresh air on a hike along the free outdoor trails at Aldo Leopold Nature Center. Open year-round from dawn until dusk, this Monona preserve invites families to engage with the natural wonder in their own backyard through self-guided walking tours as well as a Digital Docent program, where guests can learn more about the land by scanning QR codes located around the grounds.

Kids Activities You Can Take Home

Stop at these places to find souvenirs and more to keep your family entertained!

Orange Tree Imports

What’s better than kids using their time at home to learn a new skill? Ending the day with delicious new dishes to try! Orange Tree Imports has everything you need to make it a reality. Package their "Cooking Class" kid's cookbook illustrated by local artist Emily Balsley with a new apron and fresh ingredients from Willy Street Co-op to put your little chef to work.

A Room of One's Own

Turn the page on boring winter days with a six-month board book subscription from a Room of One’s Own bookstore. You’ll also find great bilingual options for readers of all ages. And even indestructible books — chew and rip-proof, non-toxic and washable books for your youngest reader.

Revel Craft Kits

Know a young artist? Revel Craft Kits (available online and via local pickup) are the perfect activity for a cozy night in. From wall art to coasters and bracelets, the kits are customizable to match any style.

Find more ways to have fun with Madison-area Kid-Friendly Itineraries.