The 9 Best Winter Boating Activities for Families

By Jeff Bogle

Jan 05, 2024

Recreational boating offers endless possibilities for making memories all year long thanks to these 9 fun winter boating activities for families.

There is no denying that buying a boat is one of life’s most exciting moments, one that is rife with possibilities for memorable moments spent on the water with your favorite people all year long thanks, in large part, to the best winter boat-ing activities with family in tow! The same is true for renting boats, pontoons, and other watercraft for a few hours or a weekend spent camping near a lake during the dark, winter months! While not all activities are suitable for family winter boating fun, there are many winter boating activities for families of all ages, from toddlers to teens. Check out some tips for cold-weather boating and these 8 family winter boating games that will make your time spent on the water in winter even more magical!

1. Fishing

We know that fishing is a 12-month sport and an activity that’s perfect for kids of all ages. So as you search for winter boating destinations for families, remember to pack your fishing gear, check on fishing licenses for the area, and research the types of fish you might find for catch-and-release fishing in winter, and learn the secrets for successfully catching bass in the winter.


2. Tubing

When it comes to the best winter boating tips for families with teenagers, the best advice is to have lots of fun and adventurous things to do for teens! This includes cold weather tubing which only the bravest and boldest will try, making it the perfect activity for daredevil teenagers!

3. Swimming

With wetsuits on to protect from the cold, hopping into the water for a swim with your kids is one of the coolest (literally) winter boating activities for families!

4. Decorate Your Boat

The year-end holidays, from Winter Solstice to New Year’s Eve, are a great time to decorate your boat with lights! If you are friends with other boaters, organize a lighted boat parade on a local neighborhood lake or river to delight lots of families and kids…including yours! This is easily one of the best winter boating activities with family!


5. Boat Camping

Bundle up on deck this winter and pitch a tent at sea! Pack up some winter boating snacks and meals for families and go boat camping! This fun activity is more comfortable than sleeping on the ground at a campsite and provides gorgeous, uninterrupted dark sky views.

6. Enjoy the Foliage

Once the colder weather comes, the leaves start to turn from green to gold, orange, and red. Why not skip the road trip and peep at those leaves from the comfort of a boat instead? This is a photographer's dream too, when you factor in the famed “rule of thirds” and use the water, trees, and sky to create stunning images.

7. Movies on the Deck and Under the Stars

Maybe you don’t want to show Jaws or [other scary water movie] but a fun family-friendly movie or even streaming live sports could make your day of boating amazing, because when there’s nothing but water around, stars above, and the people you love most surrounding you, life doesn’t get much better.

8. Experience Serenity

When the natural world is awash in white, things seem to become more still, quieter, and more serene. Winter boating offers the chance to disconnect from the hustle and bustle of everyday life and experience a kind of calm that simply doesn’t exist in other times of the year. You will likely feel the mental health benefits of boating [link to Health Benefits of Boating blog post here] too when you’re out on the water in wintertime.

9. Go to a Boat Show

One of the greatest winter boating activities for families doesn’t even take place on the water! Wintertime is when a lot of the boat shows are scheduled meaning you can get up close and personal with the newest boats, see awesome winter boating gear for families, and so much more.


Have you ever gone ice fishing? It’s one of the 10 fun winter hobbies you can try this year.

Jeff Bogle
Jeff Bogle
Jeff is a dad of teen daughters, avid traveler, photographer, and freelance writer. He’s penned stories on family travel, outdoor recreation, the environment, parenting, and more for Fodor’s, Reader’s Digest, Parents Magazine, Good Housekeeping, PBS, and Esquire, among other publications. Find him on his blog, and on Instagram @OWTK. Jeff is also the publisher of the quarterly literary zine, Stanchion