Soccer, baseball and football take a backseat during the winter months. But that doesn’t mean kids’ physical activity has to sit the winter season out. Here are some great winter sports kids — and their parents — can look to for fun and physical activity.


Whether your crew is full of avid skiers or contented snowman-makers, Lake Tahoe and the surrounding area offers a variety of fun ways to spend a day, a weekend or an extended winter family vacation.


Tubing — Along with sledding and tobogganing, tubing is an excellent way to have fun with family. There are many places in the Tahoe area, as well as the ski/snow park areas south of Tahoe, that are designated for sledding in the winter time. Kids love the thrill of racing down the hill as fast as they can then running back to the top of the hill. Tubes are lighter than a traditional sled, making them easier for little ones to manage. 


Ice skating — Many kids who enjoy roller skating in the summer may like to ice skate in the winter. Several Tahoe area resorts and recreation areas have great ice skating rinks: Northstar Village, Squaw Valley, Truckee Ice Rink, Heavenly Village to name a few. This a sport you can even do closer to home, at the ice rink in Walnut Creek or Vacaville. Whether they’re skating indoors or out, all children should wear a helmet approved for skating.


Cross country skiing — The benefits of introducing kids to cross-country skiing early are clear. They learn balance and coordination, and they gain strength and endurance for other activities such as alpine skiing, hockey, ice-skating, and running. Plus, they learn a whole new way to experience nature.


Skiing and snowboarding — So, should your child should snowboard or ski? If your child can walk and is interested, there is no reason they can’t be on a board. It may take them a few sessions to begin improving, but there’s gear and lessons out there to accommodate young children. While you can learn to ski at any age, kids have the advantage of being flexible, nimble and relatively fearless. Most ski schools will teach children as young as age 3. With good instruction, many kids can ski independently on a beginner slope in just a few days.


Snowshoeing — For families who like to hike in the summertime, snowshoeing is a great winter alternative. Snowshoeing can take place on groomed trails or on fresh undisturbed snow. It is a great core workout and, if your child can walk, he can pretty much snowshoe. With just a little bit of special equipment (snowshoes, poles for balance and appropriate winter clothing), kids can experience a whole new perspective of the natural world while “hiking” on snow. 


No matter which winter sport your child wants to try, it’s important he dresses for the elements to stay warm and safe. Make sure he goes outside wearing appropriate clothing like water-proof and insulated footwear, helmets, gloves and, of course, outerwear rated for temperatures your child will be subjected to.