19 top activities to take care of in the snow without skiing!

Travel Ideas

Go skiing without skiing? What activities without skiing without skiing are possible in the snow? My article was intended to answer the following problem, but after the announcements of this fall 2020, yesterday and today this article is even more relevant! In the Covid 19 version, we exclude community activities (swimming pool, skating rink I’m not sure!) Indeed, they are beautiful and good the ski lifts that will be closed and not the ski resorts, which offer many other activities if they have anticipated the changes in the consumption of skiing!

Here is my reflection from the time: Next week some friends come to spend the week with us to enjoy the snow! But they are also just 18 months old and with mini Voyageur, we will not be able to take advantage of joys of family skiing.

So to keep Mini Voyageuse and her 2 girlfriends aged 8 and 9 busy, I’ve made a list of everything we can do this week without climbing on skis. Of course, some activities are tested every year, but others are yet to be discovered! Some of them are possible with a baby, others are for older children from 6-7 years old.

So what to do at snow without skiing:

  1. Luge:
  2. Walk on a groomed trail
  3. Snowman contest
  4. Throwing “dwarves” in the snow
  5. Playing broomstick
  6. Igloo building
  7. Practice or admire snowkites
  8. Snowshoe
  9. Rink
  10. Dog sled ride
  11. Snowmobile
  12. Inflatable buoy descent
  13. Ski Joering
  14. Swimming pool
  15. Take a snow groomer
  16. Driving on ice
  17. Paragliding
  18. Visit local artisans
  19. Cultural tour of snow-covered monuments
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1 – Sledging – Free activity in the snow without skiing

Of course the essential activity in the snow with children! You can start putting the little ones from 12 months on a very gentle slope. Take advantage of the toboggan runs in all the Family Plus labeled resorts: you can let the children play in peace. Follow the instructions for using the ascent route and do not stay in the middle of the trail at the bottom to avoid getting mowed down!

Snow with baby

Okay, I admit, we are not on a marked trail but just behind our house and all alone to enjoy the good weather!

For older children, find out in your resort, there is surely a restaurant accessible only on foot in the evening! Go up there with your sledges and descend with a sledge at the front! Guaranteed atmosphere even if it does not slip! From here, it is possible at the Col de Izoard! It is also possible during the day on a road that has never been cleared of snow during the season!

Attention well spent on the pedestrian tracks and not on the cross-country ski tracks which are maintained!

2 – Walk on a groomed path – free ski activity without skiing

Go to the discovery of the snow, the forest and its occupants walking peacefully on the paths provided for this purpose. Children will discover animal tracks in the snow! It’s up to you to know yourself well ;-).

For once on groomed trails, I recommend the three wheel stroller, you can even walk there with your baby. People will look at you a little surprised but it is done very well! Ask at your station, there are often marked groomed paths.

With older children, plan to use a sled to pull them, it’s tiring to walk with snow shoes!

3 – Snowman competition – free no-ski activity

Another must for children, make snowmen! Check with your station, there is also competitions so that Daddy feels more involved with often as a bonus, chocolate or mulled wine at the end!

4 – Throw and bury the dwarves in the snow.

When you don’t ski and have young children, you need to find little games that will amuse everyone! Here it was the favorite game of toddlers! When it had just snowed at least 60 cm, and as we know the surroundings of the house well, the dad throws the children into the fresh snow … The children then sink into the snow, to their delight!

Be careful, only do this if you know that there is nothing dangerous (scrap metal, stones, etc.) under the snow!

5 – play broomball

In some stations, often next to the toboggan runs, there are natural ice rinks on which you can play broomball. A broom, a ball and a good balance and that’s a good time for fun. The rules to adapt with children here.

It’s basically a sport played on an ice rink in Canada, but the children of our village had adapted the game on a huge frozen puddle!

6 – Build an igloo

A pretty video to make a real igloo ! I think dads can have a lot of fun, but if you really want the kids to stay connected: dig a hole in the snow and then attempt to put up walls with fairly compacted snow. This allows you to make an igloo for one or two children.

Snow igloo making for families, ski-free activity
Igloo activity without skiing - resorts without ski lift

7 – Practice or admire snowkiting flying in the wind

Here in Serre Chevalier, we are fortunate to have several snowkite schools at Col du Lautaret. A short stop to watch them do and it impresses everyone! Depending on the age of the children, they can even make it!

8 – Snowshoeing in nature – free or paid non-skier activity

A great activity that we tested in Oz en Oisans and at the Col d’Ornon! A nice hike to get off the trails. I advise you to go with a guide who can explain to you the tracks of animals that I hope you meet

Oz en Oisans family ski resort
Oz en Oisans
Snowshoeing activity outside ski in family with child

9 – Dog sledding and mushing – Snow activity without paying ski

Already twice this year we have tried to train sled dogs, and twice one of the children fell ill. That’s one of the goals for this winter! To be continued! Because here in the Hautes Alpes, we have the choice of mushers. There are almost in every ski resort: Serre Chevalier, Névache, Vars, Orcières … So I hope we will finally get there!

Well, after calling all the mushers in the area, I realize that you have to book a month and a half before! So no luck for the girls ;-). Experience finally tried here

Edit of 8/02/2015: we also tested the sled dog for 3-7 year olds in Pelvoux.

What to do in the mountains without skiing dog sledding mushing

10 – Snowmobile

Going on a snowmobile ride is really fun. It’s not too hard to drive and on marked routes you can feel safe. Find out about the conditions but children can often snowmobile from 6 years old as a passenger.

Of course, Mini Voyageur cannot come with us but now Mini Voyageuse is becoming a passenger and having a blast!

11 – descend by buoy

A great activity for those who do not ski in the resort, the towed buoy which then rolls down a secure track. We tested this non-skiing activity in Orcières

12 – Ski joering – activity without paying ski lift and nature

Activity for teens and parents mainly. We are pulled by a horse that walks at the start and can even go gallop! Sensations guaranteed for the bravest.

Equipment: ski, hats, gloves, wetsuit and glasses

Ski joering
Photo credit: www.lesarcs.com

13 – Hot baths or heated outdoor pool

Most resorts now have large aquatic centers for families.

On Serre Chevalier, come and discover the Grands Bains du Monétier, but beware, there are not really any fun games for children who are only accepted from 4 years old.

14 – Get on a snow groomer

This is possible for the whole family! At Serre Chevalier, as in other resorts, it is possible to set off with a groomer on the slopes, either early in the morning in a dedicated machine as in Serre Chevalier or in the evening as in Orcières Merlette

>>See our experience at Orcières Merlette

Family-free activity: Groomer tour
Photo credit: Serre Chevalier tourist office
Photo credit: Serre Chevalier tourist office

15 – To go to the ice rink

From an early age, you can put them on the ice with or without skates. For the little ones, around here, he accepts them without skates and gives them little chairs to push to maintain their balance or to be pushed by Mum and Dad. For the more adventurous, double blade skates exist for better stability!

16 – Sledding without snow – off-ski and snow-free activity

And if there is no snow, here is an activity that will keep your kids entertained! With the steep slopes of the mountains, the resorts can offer us this great attraction that appeals to adults and children alike!

For our part, we tested tobogganing on rails, in Chamonix, Montgenèvre and this summer in the Jura! I’ve never seen it anywhere other than in the mountains!

Snow-free activity rail toboggan

17 – Driving on ice: car or kart – Non-skiing activity for teenagers for a fee

In Serre Chevalier it was one of my first jobs: Welcoming families who came to drive on the Ice circuit in kart or car. In the car, it allows you to know the reactions of your car on a snowy road, in a kart it is fun to discover sliding in its purest form! Sure Villeneuve for cars, sure Chantemerle for the kart

18 – Fly in a paraglider

Ah a dream for each member of our little family, even for me and my vertigo! I dare not imagine the feeling of flying over these immaculate white mountains! Maybe that will be the occasion this year, if we save the prices of the piste ski passes!

19 – Discover the local artisans

After a fall of 2020, when there was rooftop shouting for supporting local artisans, now is the time to put it into practice. At home, we love it!

In Orcières Merlette, we visited the goat farm (see our article here); on Serre Chevalier, last year we discovered a sheepfold that sells its wool and continued our discovery of wool making by visiting a spinning mill. You will also find many cheese factories which will open their doors to you!


20 – Visit local monuments

Not all resorts are lucky enough to have a cultural heritage such as Serre-Chevalier Briançon! With some Vauban fortresses listed as World Heritage by Unesco, a guided tour, a treasure hunt or a workshop for children will allow you to learn more about this period in history.

>> See our articles on Briançon

what to do in the snow when you are not skiing: visit the monuments

In this list, I have intentionally omitted the ski touring and cross-country skiing, since these are activities with skiing, but if COVID does not allow the opening of ski lifts, perhaps these activities will still be practicable! Wait and see!

So what are you going to do in the snow if we don’t ski?

For further
  • All our articles on family skiing
  • Our favorite family ski resorts
  • Holidays and adventures in France with the family
  • All our accommodations tested in France in winter