We enjoy the winter in the midwest. We look forward to the cold and snowy weather. It provides us with a lot of fun and entertainment. You and your family can sample some of our favorite activities at local festivals (cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and ice skating) and enjoy a weekend trip to an area ski and snowboard resort and put your skills to the test at the terrain park.
If you are looking for temporary respite from the cold, there are plenty of great indoor activities to enjoy during the winter. They will help keep your children’s minds and imaginations alive and thriving: including STEM challenges, scholastic chess tournaments, free chess instruction, and art and music studio explorations before heading back out to the slopes, trails, and ice skating rinks to stretch out your legs in style.
You and your family will soon discover one or more of your favorite winter activities in & around Cedar Rapids when you find your perfect home and call the midwest home. And if you’re lucky, someone in your family might warm up to the prospect of ice fishing and bring home their catch. Fresh catfish will be on the table. Sunday dinner always tastes better during ice fishing season!
Winterfest at Jones Park: An outdoor celebration of the winter snow is often held at the beginning of January at Jones Park. The event is free to the public and includes cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, sledding, ice skating, and scavenger hunts. Equipment and beginner lessons for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and ice skating have been provided in past events (but you will need to bring your own sled). Check the Cedar Rapids Parks & Recreation event calendar for upcoming 2022-2023 events.
Amana Colonies Winterfest: Enjoy indoor and outdoor activities with the family on January 21st, 2023 in neighboring Amana, IA. Amana Colonies Winterfest events include the Amana Freezer 5K Run/Walk at 10:00am, games at the Market Barn from 11:00am-2:00pm, a Wine & Beer Walk from 11:00am-4:00pm for $5, and a Wine and Dine five course food and wine pairing meal at the Ox Yoke Inn (check their site for meal pricing and details). Advance registration for the 5K Run/Walk is $30 and includes your choice of a t-shirt or meat bag.
Fishing Licenses: Yearly Iowa fishing licenses for residents 16 and older are $22 in 2022. Residents and nonresidents under age 16 can fish without a license. There is an additional fee for trout fishing. The Iowa Department of Natural Resources has a comprehensive list of “Ice Fishing-Tips and Tricks” on their site to help get you and your family started in the right direction this winter.
Prairie Park Fishery: Once you’ve secured your license, picked up the necessary gear, and learned the tricks of the trade you can head over to the Prairie Park Fishery for a day of fun (when the ice is safe). The Prairie Park Fishery is open year-round from 6:00am-10:00pm. Channel catfish, walleyes, bluegills, black crappies, large and smallmouth bass, white and yellow bass are all present. If you’re lucky, you might bring home catfish for dinner tonight. That’s good Eating!
Kids Ice Fishing Clinic: A kids ice fishing clinic will be held on January 13th, 2023 from 9:30am-11:00am at Pinicon Ridge Park near the watercraft concession. The program is organized by the Wickiup Hill Learning Center and co-sponsored by the North Linn Fish and Game Club. The program is free, but registration is recommended (to ensure plenty of free giveaways are available for all of the kids attending).
Skiing, Snowboarding, and Cross-Country Skiing
Sundown Mountain Resort (Dubuque, IA): You and your family can enjoy a weekend of downhill skiing and snowboarding with a short 70 mile drive to Sundown Mountain Resort in Dubuque. The resort has 21 runs, 2 terrain parks, 4 lifts, and 2 conveyor carpets. They are celebrating their 50th year of operations: 1973-2023.
Chestnut Mountain Resort (Galena, IL): This resort, located in the neighboring state of Illinois, is 100 miles away from the Cedar Rapids area. There are 19 ski trails, a 7-acre terrain park with over 25 rails and structures, 6 lifts, 2 conveyor lifts, and 1 surface lift at Chestnut Mountain Resort.
Cross-Country Ski Trails: The Cedar Rapids Parks and Recreation Department maintains and grooms trails for your cross-country skiing adventures. The trails will be a short kick, glide, and stride away from your Cedar Rapids home. Trails range from 1.5 miles to 7 miles in length and will be groomed and marked when snow and conditions allow. There are six trails including the Sac & Fox Trail (7 miles) and Jones Park (1.5 miles) maintained by the department.
STEM, Music, Art & Chess for Students K-12
STEM Family Free Night: The Iowa Children’s Museum in neighboring Coralville offers a STEM Challenge on the last Friday of every month from 5:00pm-8:00pm for younger family members. Admission for this event is free for families and sponsored by Rockwell Collins.
Scholastic Chess Tournaments: The Cedar Rapids Chess Club meets Wednesday evenings 5:30pm-8:00pm at the Downtown Public Library. It is an all-ages club for both adults and school-age chess players. There are no fees for the club.
Students in grades K-12 are eligible to play in scholastic tournaments. If your children haven’t played chess, free chess lessons are offered Wednesday evenings. 30 minutes of instruction are provided by one of the club's top players to help younger players get started. Once they understand the rules and develop a winning strategy (and they practice, practice, practice) they will be ready to enjoy a little friendly and fun competition among their peers at a scholastic tournament.
The majority of the scholastic tournaments require a US Chess membership for participation. This is in addition to the tournament fee. Annual US Chess memberships range from $17-$27 (dependent on age). Fees for tournaments are $10 or $15.
Music and Visual Art: Eastern Iowa Arts Academy in Cedar Rapids offers a yearly membership to K-12 students for $160. Membership allows students to explore various art mediums and musical instruments in the Music & Arts Studios with guidance from professional artists and musicians. Your children can participate in Member Rock Bands, and enroll in any Member Class with membership. “All art supplies are included as well as access to instruments available for loan during the duration of a class”.
Coldwell Banker Hedges Realty has been helping Midwesterners with all of their real estate needs since 1887. We enjoy living in our winter wonderland. We think you will too. We look forward to helping you find your perfect midwestern home in the Cedar Rapids area. Contact us today!