Winter can be a beautiful and exciting time in Ontario. The landscape is covered in snow, and this white wonderland just begs to be explored.
Whether you’re staying at home this season or enjoying one of the many winter getaways in Ontario, there are countless fun things for you to do. We’ll take a look at the best winter activities in Ontario for those seeking adventure, relaxation, or some festive spirit.
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Things to Do in Winter in Ontario
When the winter cold sets in, there is no reason to stay huddled inside at home. There are a variety of exciting activities for you to try during this season. Below are some of the best winter activities Ontario has to offer.
Skiing is a classic winter activity, and you’ll find plenty of places to try this in Ontario. Many ski resorts, like the popular Blue Mountain, offer a variety of downhill ski tracks for different skill levels.
Cross country skiing is another great way to enjoy the snow. Many parks and conservation areas have scenic trails where you can ski through the snow-covered forest. Arrowhead Provincial Park is one of the popular cross-country skiing options in Ontario.
While there are many skating rinks around, one of the best things to do in Ontario in winter is exploring an outdoor skating trail or frozen lake. The Rideau Canal, which runs through Ottawa, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the world’s largest naturally frozen skating trail.
Ontario is filled with frozen lakes and ponds that are perfect for skating fun when the ice is thick enough. The RiverOak trail and Arrowhead Provincial Park are popular places to follow a skating trail through a beautiful forested area. Downtown Toronto has a little man-made ice skating loop located under the Gardner Express Way, beside Fort York, called The Bentway
Sledding & Tubing
If you’re looking for some family winter fun in Ontario, a sled or snow tube ride is a great group activity that everyone can enjoy. And if you have your own toboggan or sturdy sled, head to a nearby hill and enjoy a day of outdoor fun.
If you’re looking for a bigger hill and more excitement, head to Snow Valley in Barrie. It features extensive snow tubing lanes – perfect for a family or group of friends to slide downhill together.
A great way to explore Ontario in winter is with snowshoes. The Windy Lake and Killarney Provincial Parks have some of the best snowshoe trails for hiking through forests blanketed in snow. For an ethereal experience, strap on your lightweight snowshoes and explore an ice cave. In Northern Ontario, along the shores of Lake Superior, you can find some breathtaking caverns covered in sparkling blue ice.
If you’re keen on some exciting winter adventures, Ontario has many frozen waterfalls that are ideal for climbing. You can join a guided ice climbing tour where you’ll learn to climb with ice axes and crampons.
There are spectacular waterfalls across Ontario, but the best area to try ice climbing is in Hamilton. Choose from over 100 waterfalls, scale the vertical sheet of ice, and enjoy gorgeous views from the top.
Dog Sledding & Horseback Riding
If you love animals and the outdoors, some of the best things to do in Ontario in the winter are dog sledding and horseback riding. Take a thrilling ride on a sled pulled by a team of huskies through snowy forests and across frozen lakes. There are rides available for anything from one hour up to a few days.
To explore the wintery wonderland of Ontario at a more leisurely pace, set out on a trail ride on horseback. Adventure Stables in Whitney is one of the stables in Ontario offering this winter activity.
Other Unique Outdoor Activities
There are a variety of less common outdoor activities in Ontario for you to try during the winter. If you’re looking for an adrenaline rush, try ziplining over the frozen Elora Gorge. Or go fat biking along a snowy trail in Northern Ontario to explore the forests in a terrific new way.
If you prefer a slower-paced activity, try your hand at ice fishing. There are many heated huts set up for this sport along Ontario’s lakes. A great choice is Scugog Lake in the quaint town of Port Perry.
Wrap up warm and head out one night to see a beautiful display of the Northern Lights. Ontario has special dark-sky preserves where you can go to see the dancing lights at their best. A great place to go is the town of Erinsville in the Stone Mills Township of Lennox & Addington County. The Sheffield Conservation Area, a Dark Sky Viewing Area (DSVA) will take your breath away!
Relaxing Indoor Activities
If you prefer being indoors during the cold season, there are many great things to do in winter in Ontario to have a good time while staying inside. The popular Scandinave Spa in Blue Mountain offers rejuvenating massages and relaxing warm baths to ward off the winter chill.
If you’d like a winter getaway while still keeping warm, try camping in a heated yurt dwelling or cabin. Many of Ontario’s parks, like Killarney and Windy Lake, offer winter camping experiences in serene surroundings.
Attending one of Ontario’s fantastic festivals should be on your winter bucket list. The months of January and February are packed full of events celebrating all things winter.
The Winter Festival of Lights is Canada’s largest outdoor light show and dates back to the 1900s. The Bracebridge Fire and Ice Festival and the Niagara Icewine Festival are just a few other spectacular events that should not be missed.
The holiday season brings lots of fun things to do in Ontario in December. Christmas markets pop up in cities across Ontario, bringing light displays and delicious foods. The traditional Christkindl Market in Kitchener and the long-running Toronto Christmas Market in the Distillery District are some of the most popular places to visit.
There are also many Christmas tree farms in Ontario where you can pick your very own live tree. There’s nothing better than decorating a Christmas tree in your home with the crisp smell of pine needles in the air.
Final Thoughts on Ontario Winter Activities
Now that you know which places to visit in Ontario during winter, there’s no reason to suffer from boredom during the cold months. You can head out and explore the forests, lakes, and towns of this beautiful province through various exciting activities.
If you’re looking for more seasonal activities, check out this guide on places to visit in the fall in Ontario.