Winter time with its gray skies and bone-chilling temperatures can get a person down. One solution is to stay active. Here are some free things to do in Evanston when it’s cold and dreary.

Learn: Check out a book from the library – a history book, a cook book, a craft book; a photography book.

Teach: Take kids to storytimes at the Main Library or one of the branches.

Plan: Look at seed catalogues and garden magazines.

Code (and more): at the McGaw Y’s MetaMedia Center (for middle-schoolers) or the Library’s Teen Loft (grades 6-12).

Listen: to a free Fran Randall concert at the Levy Center.

Talk: to friends on the phone, in a gathering at your home, or at Fleetwood-Jourdain, Robert Crown, or the Levy Center.

Enjoy the outside: sledding, or ice skating (weather permitting), walking in the parks or the arboretum or along the lakefront.

Heighten your perspective: Ride the elevator to the top floor of the Sherman Avenue garage or the Northwestern visitor center and enjoy the view.

Learn about public safety: a fire station or police station (call first)

Enjoy art: inside at the Noyes Cultural Arts Center,  Northwestern University’s Dittmar Gallery, the  Ice House Gallery, the Civic Center, the Evanston Art Center, the Main Library. Outside, check out the public art on display throughout the community. Find, for example, “Penelope,” “Silver Wings.” “The Encounter,” or “The Blue Line.”

Become engaged: Attend a City Council, City Committee, or School Board meeting;

Write: to your elected officials – local, state, or national – about one or more of the immediate and serious issues, or  to your local newspaper (heed our word count).

Be neighborly: call or visit an older, frail, or solo friend or neighbor; offer to help with chores or grocery shopping.

Volunteer:  Wash dishes at a soup kitchen; help sort clothes at ESCCA; paint, repair, file, or organize for a few hours.