With a few snows under our belt, it’s fair to start planning for the winter season. Luckily, there are lots of exciting and fun ways to spend winter days in Pottawattamie County — even in the cold! Here are seven things to try this winter in and around Council Bluffs.

Christmas at the Orchard

For the first time, Ditmars Orchard & Vineyard is staying open through the holiday season with their new events, Christmas at the Orchard. Every weekend from November 30 to December 22 will feature photos with Santa and Mrs. Claus, a drive-by and walkthrough display of lights, and holiday treats like hot apple cider, pies, jams, and more!

Holiday Get-Togethers on the 100 Block

As we near the holidays, you’re likely to have several mandatory friends and family get-togethers for gift exchanges and holiday well wishes. The 100 Block’s many restaurant options mean you can meet there several times with different groups of friends and family members and eat somewhere different each time! Catch dinner and drinks with your friends coming in from out of town at Barley’s, a holiday lunch with the in-laws at Caddy’s Kitchen and Cocktails, gift exchanges with your girlfriends over drinks at Lincoln’s Pub, and more!

Visit the Elk & Bison at Botna BendYou can visit the elk and bison and Botna Bend any time of the year, but there’s something magical about watching the majestic animals prance and frolic in the snow. Though, be sure to come back in the spring — that’s when the calves are born!

Christmas Decorations at the Historic General Dodge House

You know those Christmas decorations covered in scenes of a late 1800s/early 1900s Christmas? A dapper gentleman and elegant woman are escorted through snowy streets in a horse-drawn carriage? A Victorian-era neighborhood is covered in snow while light and warmth twinkle from each home and church’s windows? Experience that era come alive with a visit to the General Dodge House during the Christmas season. Be on the lookout for events like Breakfast With Santa and A Day With the Dodges.

Snowshoe Hike at Hitchcock Nature Center

Who says hiking is just for warmer months? Stay fit this winter with a hike through Hitchcock’s winter wonderland. Hikers can see winter birds not seen in other seasons, animal tracks in the snow, and more. Snowshoes can be rented from Hitchcock’s Loess Hills Lodge Welcome Desk.

Pick a Tree at Dappen Tree Farm
You could pick a Christmas tree up in a store parking lot, or you could make a day of it, walking amongst a practical forest of Christmas trees to choose from at Dappen Tree Farm. The farm is home to Scotch, White Pine, Spruce, and Firs of all sizes. After you find your perfect tree, just flag down the staff and they’ll cut it for you. Plus, there’s free hot chocolate! The farm officially opens the weekend following Thanksgiving. Check out our associate director of content’s experience at the farm last year.

Escape the Cold With These Indoor Activities

Looking for a break from the cold? Check out The Cryptic Room escape room, Pirate Putt, The Hub: Family Entertainment Center & Trampoline Park, the Charles E. Lakin YMCA, or Thunderbowl! Check out our Inside Fun in Council Bluffs blog for more ideas.

This post was originally published on November 5, 2019 on the Unleash Council Bluffs blog.