Keeping Kids Excited for Boating During Winter Off-Season

winter boating kids

Boat up on blocks? Keep kids excited [and patient] about boating season while you wait for your boat to get back in the water

For most boaters that don’t live in year-round warm climates, boating season eventually comes to an end. A bit of a hiatus. Yes, your boat is probably up on blocks, in a shed, shrink wrapped or covered up for the winter.

At first boating off-season starts off as a welcomed break. Get back to life on land. Catch up with our land friends. But shortly after the New Year we start to think about the boat and think about spring when we drop the boat back in the water.

For our boat kids who love boating, the countdown to boating season begins as early as January (making it feel like an extra long wait ’til spring).

The other day my kids were asking about the boat – where is it? What do they do to it all winter? So I explained that our boat is up on blocks and all wrapped up in our the marina parking lot.

Naturally, they had to find a toy boat and recreate the scene. Quite well actually!

It got me thinking – how do YOU keep kids excited about boating season during the off-season? And of course manage that excitement with the reality of a spring launch schedule?

Here are some of my ideas for keeping kids excited during that time between up on blocks and first splash – but please feel free to share your ideas in the comments below!

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kid's boat toysBoat Toy Time

My youngest seems to be playing with whatever boat toys she can find lately. I’ve seen her using toy fishing gear to go fishing in the living room, and toy bath boats are all the rage.

My older daughter is the one that assembled the boat on blocks (and then later put it in “water” using blue blocks).

There are all kinds of kid’s toys that are boating related and can certainly keep their minds occupied with boating fun ’til we are back in the water.

We’ve got some cool “boat toy” ideas for boys and girls in our Gift Guide for Kids.

Vacation Boat Charter

Some of us are not as lucky, but a boating friend of mine is going on a family vacation in March and they are planning to charter a boat to get their “boating fix”. Wow – how my kids would love that!

If you do have an opportunity to go somewhere warm during the off-season, there are lots of opportunities to go on some kind of boat ride – from water taxis to fishing charters a little cruise might hold them over.

boat show kids activitiesWinter Boat Shows

Boat show season officially kicks off in January in the U.S. and there are winter boat shows happening in almost every major city. Of course most winter boat shows will be inside in a convention center if you live anywhere but Florida or the Caribbean, so you’ll be able to see boats no matter how cold or snowy it may be in your area.

A boat show is a great opportunity to get out of the house, climb on some boats and get excited about the season ahead.

Whether you are dreaming about a bigger boat “someday” or you are actually in the market for a boat, a boat show is always time well spent for a boater. It’s also a good way to check out new trends in boats for potential upgrades (and of course find cool boating accessories).

boat show kids funAnd if your kids are anything like my kids, climbing on board someone else’s boat is always SO much fun. It’s particularly fun if the boat is a different style than they are used to – even if its a smaller boat than our own. (and admit it, you love it too!!)

Most boat shows are very family-friendly these days with all kinds of activities to entertain kids. Displays for fishing or running boat races are very popular at shows. Many also have a pool set-up for “on-water” activities like learning how to use a SUP (great activities for older kids or even adults to try!)

(boat show photos courtesy of Baltimore Boat Show)

Boating DVDs and Books

Wintertime is a lot of indoor time for our boat family. So sitting down to read a good boat themed book or watch a movie on a boating topic is a nice way to sprinkle in some boat time off-season.

Here’s a round-up of some great kid’s boating books (LOTS of Dr. Seuss!) and a selection of DVDs and movies on boating topics on that are worth a look if you are interested in expanding your library.

Boat Trip Planning

As you get ready to kick-off a new boating season for kids, planning out your season ahead is a great way to keep the boating enthusiasm going. Talk about where you want to go this year. What boat trips are they kids most excited about? It will also help you prioritize the season, schedule transient slips for busy holiday weekends and really maximize your season ahead.

Early planning is especially important if you have a short boating season… because boating season will be coming to an end AGAIN before you know it… and then your boat will once again be up on blocks.

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boating season winter


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Diane Seltzer

View posts by Diane Seltzer
Diane is the founder of as well as the boating lifestyle site Active in the boating industry, Diane has also led the marketing for multiple recreational boating businesses and startups and is the author of the children's book The Amazing Adventures of Boat Girl.
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