Are you searching for the best winter activities in Ontario? The season can be a beautiful and exciting time in our province. The landscape is covered in snow, and this white wonderland just begs to be explored.
Whether you’re staying at home, visiting the attractions in your own backyard or enjoying one of the many winter getaways in Ontario, there are countless fun things for you to do. We’ll look at the best Ontario winter activities for those seeking adventure, relaxation, or some festive spirit.
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Proper Winter Clothing = Winter Fun + Snow Activities
It goes without saying that when it comes to enjoying winter fun thoroughly, you must dress for it! That’s probably why people dislike winter. Packing the proper clothing to make the most of cold winter weather can be a hassle.
Layering is essential, so be sure to include items made of materials other than cotton – Merino wool and thermal material. If you plan on doing any outdoor activities, pack a high-performance winter coat and snow pants to keep you warm.
Since your extremities are first to get cold, winter gloves, a toque, balaclava, scarf, and thick wool/thermal socks are mandatory. Regarding footwear, in addition to thick socks, winter boots that reach up to your calf will be best for navigating snowy terrain.
Things To Do In Winter In Ontario
When the winter cold sets in, there is no reason to stay huddled inside at home. Instead, consider checking out any one of the many exciting activities our province offers this season. Below are some of the best winter activities Ontario has to offer.
Tubing, Snowboarding & Skiing In Ontario
Downhill skiing is a classic winter activity; you’ll find plenty of places to try this in the province. If you are new to skiing, don’t let that discourage you. Many ski resorts, like the famous Blue Mountain, offer a variety of downhill ski tracks for different skill levels.
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.
They also offer tubing as another fun option to get out and enjoy the winter weather.
Snow Valley Ski Resort, Horseshoe Resort, Hockley Valley Resort & Mount St. Louis Moonstone
Grey County’s neighbouring Simcoe County sits on a snow belt and has plenty of ski options. Here, you will find Snow Valley Ski Resort, Horseshoe Resort, and Mount St. Louis Moonstone. They are all located near the city of Barrie. In nearby Dufferin County, you also have the option of skiing at Hockley Valley Resort.
If you’ve attended an Elementary School or High School in the Toronto area, then Horseshoe Resort and Mount St. Louis Moonstone were regular destinations when winter came around.
Like Blue Mountain, both Horseshoe Resort and Snow Valley Ski Resort offer snow tubing.
West of Toronto: Glen Eden & Conservation Halton
There are great opportunities for cross-country skiing at Conservation Halton’s many locations, including 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 Ski Resort is a great family option, focusing 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 another great family day trip destination. Lakeridge also has a large tubing park.
Ontario Parks & Conservation Areas
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. Some other provincial parks that offer cross-country skiing include the following:
- Algonquin Provincial Park
- MacGregor Point Provincial Park
- Silent Lake Provincial Park
- Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
- Wasaga Beach Provincial Park
- Windy Lake Provincial Park
Include Your Dog with a Skijoring Adventure
Are you looking for fun winter things to do in Ontario with your furry best friend? Skijoring is a winter sport that combines cross-country skiing with dog sledding. You are on skis hooked to your dog using a specialized harness while they run ahead, pulling you on the trail. This can be a great bonding opportunity and the perfect opportunity to keep a high-energy dog moving after the snow falls.
Skate the Rideau Canal, The RiverOak Trail and The Bentway
While there are many nicely groomed indoor skating rinks and arenas around, one of the best things to do in Ontario in winter is explore an outdoor skating trail or frozen lake.
Some great places to lace up your skates include the little man-made ice-skating loop located under the Gardner Express Way beside Fort York, called The Bentway, in downtown Toronto and the Rideau Canal, which runs through Ottawa. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the world’s largest naturally frozen skating trail.
Ontario is filled with frozen lakes and ponds, perfect for skating fun when the ice is thick enough. RiverOak Trail and Arrowhead Provincial Park are popular places to follow a skating trail through a beautiful, forested area. During Arrowhead Provincial Park’s Fire and Ice Nights, the skating trail is lined with hundreds of lit tiki torches, creating a magical atmosphere.
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. They allow you to walk on groomed trails and deep snow in the backcountry, or you can even go for longer, hilly hikes with metal grips underfoot.
Windy Lake Provincial Park, MacGregor Point Provincial Park, and Killarney Provincial Park 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, 4-kilometre trek includes snowshoeing lessons and a light snack break with hot chocolate and tea along the route.
Visitors will learn the many mysteries that animal tracks and signs present. Plus, you will likely encounter hungry chickadees that like to eat right out of your hand.
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.
During the winter, 31 provincial park sites are available for various activities, including hiking, overnight camping, roofed accommodations, ice skating, and cross-country skiing. Some parks have groomed trail systems, while others offer use of their vast backcountry terrain. Some parks even offer snowshoe rentals.
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 Provincial Park, already mentioned as a great spot for hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and skating.
While most people associate cottages with the summer season, there is something truly magical about curling up in front of the fireplace and a crackling fire while you watch the snow fall outside.
Of course, we can’t discuss winter activities in Ontario without mentioning how much fun it can be hitting the trails on a snowmobile. There are countless trails weaving through Ontario’s many forests and alongside frozen lakes, offering another fun way to explore the province during this season. But be careful when crossing a body of water – they can be extremely dangerous if the ice isn’t thick enough!
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.
Haliburton Forest & Wildlife Reserve
Often referred to as “Ontario’s snowmobiling wonderland,” Haliburton Forest & Wildlife Reserve offers an extensive network of trails that weave through their 100,000-acre property. You will need a daily trip pass to access the trails at a cost of $50.47 per day, plus an additional $10/day if you are carrying an adult passenger.
If you’re planning a weekend getaway in Haliburton, you can stay in one of their lakeside cabins or even try winter camping at one of their beautiful campsites.
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.
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!
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 Muskoka, 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. The ranch has lakeside cabins, miles of trails, and unbeatable scenery.
As you read this list, you may wonder, are there winter attractions in Ontario where you can stay warm and cozy? While an ice hut may not offer the same level of heating as at home, it is a good compromise while embracing the winter weather.
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.
They will set you up in one of their 2, 4 or 6-person heated huts, with 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 nightsfishing for world-famous fish in an executive ice bungalow in Nipissing, Ontario.
They 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.
If you’re keen on exciting winter adventures, Ontario has many frozen waterfalls ideal for climbing. For first-time climbers, 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 Hamilton is the best area to try ice climbing. 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. 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!
Meanwhile, back in Muskoka, Liv Outside will allow you to ascend five routes on natural frozen falls near Bracebridge, Ontario. Tours run regularly on weekends and take about six hours to complete.
They offer everything you need (equipment to instructions) to enjoy this outdoor activity 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 beginner-friendly 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.
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, single-track trails for cyclists.
Here are some suggested trails for your fat bike adventure:
- Echo Valley Nature & Bike Trails in Dwight
- Limberlost Forest and Wildlife Reserve in Lake of Bays
- Torrance Barrens near Gravenhurst
Fat Bike riding is a great way to enjoy the beautiful scenery of the Copeland Forest. The 9 km fat biking trail at Horseshoe Resort is suitable for beginner and advanced riders. Renting bikes includes helmets, but the trail passes are separate from the rental fee. Bike guides are available to help you customize your experience.
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.
While often overlooked when discussing fun winter activities in Ontario, many areas in the province provide beautiful open skies far enough away from light pollution to enjoy an incredible stargazing experience. Just make sure you bundle up to stay warm.
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 have minimal light pollution, so you can enjoy a magnificent starry night like nothing you’ve seen in the big city.
Some other Dark Sky Preserves in Ontario that you may wish to explore include:
- Bruce Peninsula National Park
- Fathom Five National Marine Park
- Killarney Provincial Park
- Lake Superior Provincial Park
- Manitoulin Eco Park
- Quetico Provincial Park
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. While this is less common than hiking or snowshoeing, there are still several opportunities to try it yourself.
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.
Elmhurst Resort in Keen holds a yearly event introducing the sport to those who want to learn. Have fun outside watching the colourful kites fly by, or try it yourself. You may fall in love, making it one of your go-to winter activities for years to come.
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 Provincial Park and Windy Lake Provincial Park, offer winter camping experiences in serene surroundings.
Attending one of Ontario’s fantastic festivals should be on your winter bucket list. January and February are packed full of events celebrating all things winter.
The Winter Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls 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 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
Whether you’re looking for fun winter activities in Toronto or planning a vacation further north, there are countless opportunities to get out and enjoy the winter season. With so many places to visit in Ontario during winter, there’s no reason to suffer from boredom during the cold months.
Take the time to head out and explore the forests, lakes, and towns through any of the above-listed winter activities in Ontario and share your favourite experiences in the comments!
If you’re looking for more seasonal activities, check out this guide on places to visit in the fall in Ontario.