Indoor and Outdoor Winter Activities in the Iowa City Area

Winter Boredom Busters for the Whole Family 

During the spring, summer, and fall, there’s always something going on in the Iowa City area. From festivals and live concerts to fun outdoor activities, it’s easy to load up your schedule with things to do. 

But when cold weather arrives and the days grow shorter, it can be harder to stay motivated to leave the comfort and warmth of your house. The glorious days with abundant sunshine and mild temperatures are sometimes few and far between. Parents of young children suddenly have fewer options to burn off their kids’ seemingly endless supply of energy. 

Fortunately, there are many indoor and outdoor activities you can enjoy during the winter. Iowa City, Coralville, and North Liberty offer a variety of recreational activities and entertainment to make the winter months less dreary. 

We asked our agents to share some of their favorite things to do in the Iowa City area during the winter. Here are their go-to activities and a few more area favorites. 


Things to Do Outdoors 

Hit the Trails: Take a Hike or Bike Ride

“I love to put on my winter gear and hike along the Coralville Reservoir in the sunshine and look at all the bald eagles that come here in the winter. One of the best spots for viewing if you don’t like hiking is below the spillway or at the dam by the Iowa River Power Company.” -Daphne Patton, REALTOR®

There are endless biking and hiking trail options across Johnson County and Linn County. Don’t let the cold stop you from taking advantage of them! 

If you’re ready to lace up your boots or hop on your bike, take a tip from Daphne and layer up. Try to choose breathable fabrics that don’t trap moisture. And don’t forget to cover up your head, neck, and hands! 


Lace Up Your Ice Skates

Waiting for freezing temperatures so you can hit the ice? Join the club! Ice skating is a quintessential winter activity that can be fun for the whole family. 

Take advantage of the Scheels Ice Rink, located in North Liberty at Penn Meadows Park. This seasonal rink is open all day from 9:00 am-9:00 pm December through March. Don’t have ice skates? No problem! The North Liberty Recreation Center offers a variety of skate sizes you can borrow at no cost, so all you have to do is bring yourself. Consider wearing thick pants, like snow pants, to cushion any falls!

If you want to ice skate but don’t want to brave the cold, visit The Rink at the Coral Ridge Mall. This indoor ice skating rink is open year-round. 


Ski Cross-Country

“Embracing the winter winds in Iowa, I find peace in the outdoors, cross-country skiing, the quiet crunch of snow beneath my boots during hikes, and the crisp, cold air that just smells fresh.” -Robin Sueppel, REALTOR®

Did you know Iowa City has a club dedicated to cross-country skiing? Once there’s a fresh coat of powder to play in, the Iowa City Nordic Club is on it! Over the years they have groomed trails at Kent Park, Finkbine Golf Course, Ashton Field, and more. Like Robin, many people love the cool, peaceful air and the sound of their skis carving the snow on a winter day. 

Follow Iowa City Nordic Club on Facebook for trail updates after the next big snow.


Go Sledding 

“I recommend the Lincoln Elementary School back hill.” -Cindy Clark, REALTOR®

“Hickory Hill Park and Brown Deer Golf Course are my favorite sledding hills.” -Becky Halsch, REALTOR® 

Nothing takes you back to your childhood like sledding in the winter. All you need is a hill and something to slide down on. One of the great things about the Iowa City area is that there are plenty of top-notch hills for sledding! Check out this list of the best sledding hills curated by Iowa City Moms.

Don’t have a sled? Test your luck by taking a spin through the snow on some flat-bottomed household items. Think baking trays, short laundry baskets, plastic storage containers (or just the lids), or even break down a cardboard box from the holidays to use.


Things to Do Indoors

Photo Credit: Think Iowa City 

Get Active: Play Pickleball

“I love playing pickleball at Green State Family Fieldhouse.” -Angie Eichhorst, REALTOR®

If you don’t want to go running in the cold, you can still get your cardio indoors by playing pickleball. The fastest-growing sport in America is now gaining popularity in the Iowa City area. Make a day out of playing pickleball at the Green State Family Fieldhouse or at the newly opened Pickle Palace, just a short drive away in Cedar Rapids. Grab your friends for a little tournament—losers can buy lunch!


Photo Credit: Think Iowa City 

Enjoy the Arts

“Inside activities are for me in the winter. Taking in a show at Hancher is always a great way to spend a cold evening.” -Rebecca Phipps, REALTOR®

Whether it’s live literature, music, or a Broadway show, Hancher and The Englert Theatre have plenty of opportunities to experience the arts this holiday season. Hancher welcomes Broadway’s To Kill a Mockingbird in January and Hairspray in February. 

The Stanley Museum of Art is another way to experience the arts at your own pace. Walk through collections of modern and contemporary art, ceramics, photography, drawings, textiles, and plenty more. The best part? If snow or ice is keeping you from leaving your home, you can even explore the collections at home. The Stanley Museum of Art also features a Digital Library you can view no matter where you are!


Photo Credit: Think Iowa City  

See a New Release at FilmScene

“When it’s cold outside, I like catching a new release movie at FilmScene.” -Cathy Pugh, REALTOR®

Watching a film on the big screen is a full sensory experience that just isn’t the same from your couch. FilmScene strikes the perfect balance of screening new releases alongside community-curated classics, so you can decide whether you want to experience something for the first time or watch an old favorite.

Feeling extra festive? FilmScene revisits your favorite holiday classics all season long! Check out their calendar to see what’s playing.


Photo Credit: Think Iowa City  

Attend an Athletic Event 

“My family enjoys going to Iowa basketball games and Iowa Heartlanders games.” -Ben Russell, REALTOR®

Looking to catch the live sports action? The Iowa Heartlanders got their name for a reason—Iowa City is truly the heart of sports in the area, but for plenty more than just hockey. Head to Xtream Arena at Iowa River Landing to watch the Heartlanders like Ben and his family, or catch the Hawkeyes in action during basketball games, wrestling matches, indoor track and field meets, gymnastics, and more. 

Check out the full Hawkeye athletic schedule and grab your tickets!


Photo Credit: Think Iowa City    

Visit the Animals 

“One of our favorite activities is an event the Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center puts on called Holiday with the Hounds. Our little family loves visiting the animals all winter long.” -Whitney Russell, REALTOR®

While this event only comes around once a year, there are plenty of other ways to support the Iowa City Animal Care and Adoption Center. Spend some time socializing and exercising dogs, cats, and other critters while helping them find their forever families.

Volunteer opportunities open back up on January 1, 2024—stay tuned!


Bonus: Winter Events 

Photo Credit: Think Iowa City   

Want to leave the planning to the professionals? Attend one of this season’s upcoming events! 

  • BrrFest: January 27, 2024 – A celebration of craft beers
  • Winterfest in the Amana Colonies: January 27, 2024 – A celebration of the season featuring indoor and outdoor entertainment
  • Beat the Bitter: January and February 2024 – Beat the Bitter is back in North Liberty with a lineup of events to keep you busy throughout the winter. 
  • North Liberty Lights at Liberty Centre Pond: January 26-February 29, 2024
  • The 5k-ish Glow Run: January 26, 2024 
  • Fire & Ice, Fireworks and Ice Sculpture Walk at Penn Meadows Park: January 28, 2024 
  • Snuggie Crawl: February 3, 2024 at Tin Roost, Field Day Brewing, Copper Boar, Micky’s Reds Alehouse and J&A Tap 


Are all these fun winter activities reminding you why you love living in the Iowa City area? We hope so! If you’re ready to put down roots or transplant your roots to the other side of town, our team of REALTORS® are here to help.

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