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Winter Activities in Ontario | 15 Fun Things to Do in the Snow

Winter Activities in Ontario | 15 Fun Things to Do in the Snow

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.

winter activities in ontario
Image by hk

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.

Snowboarding & Skiing In Ontario

Downhill skiing is a classic winter activity; you’ll find plenty of places to try this in Ontario. Many ski resorts, like the famous Blue Mountain, offer a variety of downhill ski tracks for different skill levels.

Blue Mountain

Blue Mountain Ski Resort is an alpine ski resort located northwest of Collingwood in Grey County’s town of The Blue Mountains.

It is one of the largest resorts in Ontario and features 42 runs, 16 chairlifts and 3 freestyle terrains. Blue Mountain sells more than 750,000 lift tickets annually, making it the third-busiest ski resort in Canada.

Snow Valley Ski Resort, Horseshoe Valley, Hockey Valley Resort & Mount St. Louis Moonstone

Grey County’s neighbouring Simcoe County, which sits on a snow belt, also has plenty of ski options. Snow Valley Ski Resort and Horseshoe Valley are all located near the city of Barrie. If you’ve attended an Elementry School or High School in the Toronto area, then Horseshoe Valley and Mount St. Louis Moonstone was a regular trek when winter came around.

West of Toronto: Glen Eden & Conservation Halton

Halton Region, home to Burlington, Oakville & Milton, offers fantastic snowboarding, downhill and cross-country skiing options.

Conservation Halton provides great cross-county skiing options around Crawford Lake, Mountsberg, and Hilton Fall. At the same time, Glen Eden operates out of the beautiful Kelso / Glen Eden Conservation Area.

East of Toronto: Dagmar Ski Resort & Lakeridge Ski Resort

Durham Region has some great cities and towns, including Port Perry, which we’ll discuss later in this post regarding ice fishing.

Dagmar focuses on teaching with specialized children’s teachers and certified ski/sports coaches. The terrain has one of the largest parks in the Durham Region, located just north of Pickering and Ajax. 

Lakeridge Ski Resort is about an hour from Toronto, just north of Whitby, making it a great family day trip destination. Lakeridge also has a large tubing park which is always fun.

Cross-country skiing is another great way to enjoy the snow. Many parks and conservation areas have scenic trails to ski through the snow-covered forest. Arrowhead Provincial Park is one of the popular cross-country skiing options in Ontario. You can head further north to Sudbury’s Windy Lake Provincial Park.

things to do in winter ontario
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Ice Skating

Skate the Rideau Canal, The RiverOak Trail and The Bentway

While there are many skating rinks around, one of the best things to do in Ontario in winter is explore an outdoor skating trail or frozen lake.

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From the little man-made ice skating loop located under the Gardner Express Way, beside Fort York, called The Bentway, in downtown Toronto. To the Rideau Canal, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the world’s largest naturally frozen skating trail that runs through Ottawa.

things-to-see-in-ottawa-rideau-canal

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.

Tubing, Snowboarding & Skiing In Ontario

Skiing is a classic winter activity; you’ll find plenty of places to try this in Ontario. Many ski resorts, like the famous 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 to ski through the snow-covered forest. Arrowhead Provincial Park is one of the popular cross-country skiing options in Ontario. 

Blue Mountain

Blue Mountain Ski Resort is an alpine ski resort located northwest of Collingwood in Grey County’s town of The Blue Mountains.

It is one of the largest resorts in Ontario and features 42 runs, 16 chairlifts and three freestyle terrains. Blue Mountain sells more than 750,000 lift tickets annually, making it the third-busiest ski resort in Canada. 

blue mountain resort collingwood

Snow Valley Ski Resort, Horseshoe Valley, Hockey Valley Resort & Mount St. Louis Moonstone

Grey County’s neighbouring Simcoe County, which sits on a snow belt, also has plenty of ski options. Snow Valley Ski Resort and Horseshoe Valley are all located near the city of Barrie. If you’ve attended an Elementry School or High School in the Toronto area, then Horseshoe Valley and Mount St. Louis Moonstone was a regular trek when winter came around.

West of Toronto: Glen Eden & Conservation Halton

Halton Region, home to Burlington, Oakville & Milton, offers fantastic snowboarding, downhill and cross-country skiing options.

Conservation Halton provides great cross-county skiing options around Crawford Lake, Mountsberg, and Hilton Fall. At the same time, Glen Eden operates out of the beautiful Kelso / Glen Eden Conservation Area. 

winter activities in ontario

East of Toronto: Dagmar Ski Resort & Lakeridge Ski Resort

Dagmar focuses on teaching with specialized children’s teachers and certified ski/sports coaches. The terrain has one of the largest parks in the Durham Region, located just north of Pickering and Ajax. Durham Region has some great cities and towns, including Port Perry, which we’ll discuss later in this post regarding ice fishing.

Lakeridge Ski Resort is about an hour from Toronto, just north of Whitby, making it a great family day trip destination. Lakeridge also has a large tubing park which is always fun.

Many parks and conservation areas have scenic trails to ski through the snow-covered forest. Arrowhead Provincial Park is one of the popular cross-country skiing options in Ontario. You can head further north to Sudbury’s Windy Lake Provincial Park.

things to do in winter
Image by Amy Tran

Hiking & Snowshoeing In Ontario

A great way to explore Ontario in winter is with snowshoes. Snowshoeing offers an excellent workout and a fun alternative to walking during the winter months. Sure, you can always wear good hiking boots with traction, but snowshoes are better in deep snow.

Snowshoeing allows you to walk on groomed trails and deep snow in the backcountry. You can even go for longer, hilly hikes with metal grips underfoot.

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. Many local conservation areas have trails that are open during the winter months. In most cases, you need to book a time slot for your visit, which is usually around $10-$20

Wye Marsh Conservation Area

For $65 per person (minimum 3, maximum 6 people), the Snowshoe Eco Tour will allow you to experience areas of the Wye Marsh that are not open to the general public. This 3-hour, the 4-kilometre trek includes snowshoeing lessons and like snack break with hot chocolate and tea along the route.

Visitors will learn the many mysteries that animal tracks & signs present. Plus, hungry chickadees that like to eat right out of your hand.

Ball’s Falls

At Ball’s Falls, you’ll find the original Ball house, an 18th-century working flour mill, a lime kiln, a blacksmith shop, a horse-drawn carriage shed and a church. It’s a great place to enjoy the beautiful scenery at Twenty Mile Creek and Upper Lower Falls.

Ball’s Falls Centre for Conservation was designed to have a limited impact on natural resources while bringing attention to the spectacular scenery and natural beauty of the Niagara. Peninsula.While at the Conservation Centre, take a look at the permanent/temporary exhibitions and interactive displays focused on nature, conservation, culture, and the area’s historical heritage.

Hamilton’s Frozen Falls

A great place to hike during the winter months is Hamilton. Known for its many waterfalls, Hamilton is a great place to chase frozen waterfalls. Be sure to bring a camera but more importantly, be sure to follow any safety info along the escarpment.

Ontario Parks

During the winter, 31 provincial park sites are available for various activities, including day use only, overnight camp­ing, and cross-country skiing. Some sites have groomed trail systems, while others offer up their vast backcountry terrain.

Some parks even offer snowshoe rentals. Ontario resorts or accommodations also offer snowshoe rentals which you can access as a guest!

Muskoka Region

Muskoka Region is not only Ontario’s premier cottage country destination in the summer months but also a hotbed for winter activity, with places like the beautiful Arrowhead Park, already mentioned as a great spot for hiking snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and skating along the RiverOak trail.

ontario winter activities
Image by Ty Curry

Snowmobiling

Bon Echo Provincial Park Tour Loop

Bon Echo Provincial Park Tour Loop is an exciting mix of well-established trails that run through the wooded, picturesque terrain of east Central Ontario’s snow belt. The Bon Echo loop runs south and east of Bancroft to the Mazinaw area of Ontario’s Highlands.

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. Many heated huts are set up for this sport along Ontario’s lakes. A great choice is Scugog Lake in the quaint town of Port Perry.

Lake Scugog Fishing Map

Wrap up warm and head out one night to see a beautiful Northern Lights display. Ontario has special dark-sky preserves where you can 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!

napanee tourism

Dog Sledding & Horseback Riding

If you love animals and the outdoors, dog sledding and horseback riding are some of the best things to do in Ontario in the winter. Take a thrilling ride on a sled pulled by a team of huskies through snowy forests and across frozen lakes. Rides are 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.

North Ridge Ranch

At North Ridge Ranch in Muskokan, you’ll get the chance to experience the thrills of pilot­ing a real sled dog for yourself. It’s a half-day tour that takes you through 20 kilometres of Muskoka wilderness. Halfway through, you’ll get to stop for some hot chocolate and snacks, play with the dogs, snap photos, and get to know your guides.

Borealis Dogsled Tours

In Northwestern Ontario, Burton Penner of Borealis Dogsled Tours will take you into the pristine wilderness on day trips or multi-day adventures, where guests sleep along the trail in heated wall tents and a cozy log cabin.

Burton Penner has been living off the lands for generations. He was “Born into all that the outdoors encompasses. His hands-on experience is obvious when on adventures with him.”

Von Doeler’s Ranch

Between North Bay and Mattawa is Von Doeler’s ranch. This fourth-generation ranch raises its own horses and offers a wide range of riding options and activities for riders of all levels. Plus, the ranch has lakeside cabins, miles of trails and unbeatable scenery.

winter activities ontario
Image by Jaime Dantas

Ice Fishing

Scugog Ice Adventures

As mentioned above, Lake Scugog in Port Perry is just over an hour from Toronto. Whether you’ve never been Ice Fishing or are a Pro Angler, Scugog Ice Adventures will get you sorted no matter your skill level.

Scugog Ice Adventures will set you up in one of their 2, 4 or 6-person heated huts, transportation to and from your hut, drilled holes, bait and fishing lines. All you need to do is enjoy a full 8 hours of fishing. 

Angler’s Haven Ice Fishing Adventure

At Anglers’ Haven, you stay two nights in an executive ice bungalow in Nipissing, Ontario, fishing for world-famous fish.

Anglers’ Haven will provide you with transport to and from the bunga­low, 12 minnies per person, drilled holes for minnies, bait,  tip-ups, hook, line and sinker. Plus, they provide a fireplace, a bbq grill, a propane stove, dishes, and daily waste removal.

day trips from toronto

Ice Climbing

If you’re keen on 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.

One Axe Pursuits

You may have heard of Elora, “Ontario’s Most Beautiful Village.” according to one of the famous Group of Seven painters, A.J. Casson, as a summer destination. But you may not know that the Elora Gorge, a popular swimming destination is also an ice climbing destination. 

One Axe Pursuits’ team of experts will give you a full-day adventure, starting with a lesson on safety and the ins and outs of climbing frozen waterfalls. The excursion is suitable for beginners, and all equipment is included! 

Liv Outside

Meanwhile, back in Muskoka, Liv Outside will allow you to ascend 5 routes on natural frozen falls near Bracebridge, Ontario. Tours run regularly on weekends for about six hours to complete.

Liv Outside offers everything you need (equipment to instructions) to enjoy outdoor activities with the whole family.

Outdoor Skills And Thrills

If you want to experience an unforgettable adrenaline surge, take part in a guided ice climbing expedition with Outdoor Skills And Thrills. It’s one of the most fun things to do in Ontario in the winter. From Thunder Bay and Lake Superior to Nipigon and Lake Winnebago, Outdoor Skills And Thrill offers half and full-day beginners’ ice climbing adventures on routes that reach up to 300 ft.

You’ll learn to use an ice axe and crampon to climb up a vertical wall of ice, then enjoy the views from the top before descending slowly back down again.

things to do in winter ontario

Fat Biking 

Fat Biking is a great way to experience the natural landscapes of Ontario, with several trails offering bike-specific options. However, we have you covered if you are looking for guided on-site excursions!  

 Muskoka Region: Algonquin Outfitters & Liv Outside

Algonquin Outfitter in Huntsville provides guided tours and fat bikes for rent. Call ahead if you want to book one. They can also suggest nearby trails within your group’s skill level.

Liv Outside in Brac­e­bridge has developed its own trail system through its Muskoka woods, which includes a network of groomed, singletrack trails for cyclists.

Here are some suggested trails for your fat bike adventure:

Horseshoe Resort

Fat Bike riding is a great way to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Copeland Forest. A 9 km fat biking trail at Horseshoes Resort is suitable for beginner and advanced riders. Renting bikes includes helmets; the trail passes are separate from the rental fee, and bike guides are available to help you customize your experience.

Kivi Park

With its impressive 55.7 km of trails, Kivi Park in the Sudbury area offers everything from fat bike riding to snowshoeing, skating, classic and skate skiing, cross-country skiing, and even dog walking.

You can rent bikes and other gear through their on-site equipment rental partner Adventure365.

winter activities ontario

Stargazing 

The Sheffield Conservation Area,  Lennox & Addington County

With winter’s long nights, it’s a great time to marvel at the beautiful night sky. A short drive north of Greater Napanee is Erinsville in the Stone Mills township of Lennox & Addington County. Here you can visit the Sheffield Conservation Area, a Dark Sky Viewing Area (DSVA) that will take your breath away.

DSVAs essentially have minimal light pollution, so you can enjoy a magnificent starry night like nothing you’ve seen in the big city.

Snowkiting

Snowkiting is a type of winter sports activity that involves gliding across frozen lakes and open spaces on skis and snowboards using the force of the winds. 

Black Bay

The North Shore of Black Bay, which is in the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area, is over 70 km long and has consistent wind and a huge fetch, making it one of the best spots in Canada for snow kiteboarding.

Rice Lake

Elmhurst Resort in Keen holds this yearly event introducing the sport to those who want to learn. Have fun outside watching the colourful kites fly by, or possibly try it out. 

ontario winter activities

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.

outdoor activities ontario

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.

Ontario Festivals

Winter Festivals

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.

Christmas Activities

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 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.

things to do in ontario in the winter
Image by Elvir K

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