Fun Winter Activities In Ontario

Winter Activities In Ontario Canada.jpg

So Many Fun Winter Activities In Ontario

We found so many fun winter activities in Ontario, Canada. Our winter season was long and we did not hibernate like bears for many months. There were many outdoor activities all through the winter season. When we embraced the cold, we enjoyed our times on the slopes skiing or snowboarding.

On the bleak, grey days of winter we were always cheered when we found colourful shows in Niagara Falls. And there was always a tasty way to warm up.

Winter In Ontario

When we visited the Nordic Counties, we escaped a Toronto heat wave. Someone commented that the heat wave surprised them since they thought Canada was cold all the time!

Canada experiences all four seasons. Some years it felt like winter spilled too far into fall and spring. Many parts of British Columbia on the west coast had much milder winters. In Ontario where we lived, the winter season cold and duration depended on where you were located.

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Ontario is a vast province that covered over 1 million square kilometres ( ~ 266 million acres). The most southerly point is Point Pelee at about 37° North and the most northerly point is Fort Severn at about 56° North. Thus the timing and ferocity of winter varied greatly across Ontario.

We lived in the city of Toronto and our winters changed from year to year. There were years when we hardly ever wore boots and hearty people still rode their bikes to work. But we have had winters so bad the military were called in.

Bikes in Snow.jpeg

Snow Shovelling.jpg

Snow Shovelling.jpg

Winter can begin in November and may still test us in April. So we really needed to find some fun winter activities in Ontario.

Are We Winter People?

One of the first things I learned about David was that he once embraced the cold weather. His work took him to the far north. Just after we met he headed off to search for the Sir John Franklin wrecks buried under the ice in The NorthWest Passage. And downhill skiing was his winter sport.

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North Pole Tim Hortons.jpg

We had a lot of fun when we engaged in winter activities in Ontario. But our vacations rarely took us to cold weather spots … in the winter season!

Our visit to Patagonia in South America was in March. And even though we saw glaciers, it was not winter weather. We saw penguins in the Falkland Islands. But they ran around on grass.

South America Chile Amalia Glacier.jpg

South America Falklands King Penguins.jpg

We went north of the arctic circle along the Norway Fjords in the summer. When we visited Iceland, it was chilly but we found no snow. And a short visit to Greenland showed us some icebergs but in the summer it was bearable. We saw more snow when we went high above the desert in Palm Springs!

Tasiilaq Greenland Iceberg.jpg

Palm Springs Tram Top View.jpg

Many years we escaped the winter to warmer spots as often as we could. But when we were home in Toronto, we enjoyed many of the fun winter activities in Ontario.

Head Outside In The Winter

We were often tempted to hibernate for the winter. But in Ontario there were many things that drew us outside. Winter festivals brought colour, music and food.

Toronto Winter Fair City Hall.jpg

Toronto Winter Fair City Hall - Winter Activities In Ontario Canada.jpg

We lived right on Lake Ontario. The waterfront paths we walked and cycled in the summer were cleared in the winter. This offered a great option to get out for some fresh air.

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Walk Lake Ontario in Toronto - Winter Activities In Ontario Canada.jpg

Walk Lake Ontario in Toronto - Winter Activities In Ontario Canada.jpg

Walk Lake Ontario in Toronto.jpg

There were times when we wanted to enjoy a romantic horse and carriage ride. Niagara-on-the-Lake was a short drive from Toronto. And this quaint small town was always decorated for the winter season

Niagara on the Lake Prince of Wales Carriage Ride - Winter Activities In Ontario Canada.jpg

Niagara on the Lake Prince of Wales Carriage Ride.jpg

When we travelled we often looked for street art. In the winter, our street art was found in ice sculptures.

Toronto Ice Carving - Winter Activities In Ontario Canada.jpg

Toronto Ice Carving.jpg

Toronto Ice Carving - Winter Activities In Ontario Canada.jpg

We found many rewards when we headed out for winter activities in Ontario. When we wanted to travel back in time, we visited Black Creek Pioneer Village. This was a magical spot in the holiday season.

Embrace The Winter

There were several ski areas north of Toronto. But people from “real” ski regions, laughed at the ski hills in Ontario. The ski hills at Blue Mountain lie on the Niagara escarpment along Georgian Bay. This was an area we often visited in the summer. And as private pilots, we flew over the hills in winter many times. The ski runs were clearly visible.

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There were ski runs from the absolute beginner level to many double black diamond runs (the most difficult). Ski lessons were offered for both beginners and those wanting a refresher session. A ski day offered lots of winter fun.

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Several great resorts in this part of Ontario offered opportunities to stay and play. The large Blue Mountain Village provided many entertainment options. We stayed for days and skied without the winter drive north and back on a ski day.

Ski Blue Mountain - Winter Activities In Ontario Canada.jpg

When we wanted to try something else, we spent a day snow boarding. It was far harder than it looked. We had far more fun when we went snow tubing.

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Skating was always a fun winter activity. There were many indoor and outdoor ice rinks around Toronto. Nathan Philips Square by City Hall in Toronto was a fun spot to ice skate. When we travelled to Ottawa in the winter, we skated on the Rideau Canal. And when we timed it right, we enjoyed the Ottawa Winterlude festival activities.

Skating Toronto Nathan Philips Square City Hal - Winter Activities In Ontario Canada.jpg

Skating Toronto Nathan Philips Square City Hall - Winter Activities In Ontario Canada.jpg

Fun winter activities were embraced in Ontario in so many other ways too. Snowmobiles offered the winter equivalent of off-road riding. And cross country skiing was a way we got out in a calmer, more environment-friendly way.

Niagara Falls Celebrated The Winter

When we looked for some colour in the winter, we headed to Niagara Falls. Niagara Falls offered so many things to see and do. But we were surprised at how much we enjoyed it when we visited in the winter. The waterfalls had started to freeze. And the night light show on Niagara Falls was far more colourful when reflected off the white ice.

Niagara Falls Night Light Show.jpg

Niagara Falls Night Light Show - Winter Activities In Ontario Canada.jpg

The Niagara Festival of Lights provided a fun and colourful drive-through experience. All along the route, fun displays were shown. There was a small donation required when we drove through the loop. But there were also light displays on the Niagara Parkway.

Niagara Festival of Lights - Winter Activities In Ontario Canada.jpg

Niagara Festival of Lights - Winter Activities In Ontario Canada.jpg

Niagara Festival of Lights.jpg

Niagara Festival of Lights - Winter Activities In Ontario Canada.jpg

When winter looked dull and bleak, a trip to Niagara Falls was one of the fun winter activities in Ontario that cheered us up.

Tasty Ways To Enjoy The Winter

When we wanted to escape the cold for a few hours, we often checked out one of the great Afternoon Tea offerings in the local area. One year we enjoyed Afternoon Tea at Casa Loma. This was the only castle in Toronto and our tea ticket included access to wander in this interesting site.

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Toronto Casa Loma Afternoon Tea.jpg

Toronto Casa Loma Afternoon Tea - Winter Activities In Ontario Canada.jpg

When we found a fire pit outside, we settled in and enjoyed the fire. On our visit to Kingston, the fire pit even came with an adult hot chocolate and a s’mores plate.

Kingston Delta Fire Pit S'Mores - Winter Activities In Ontario Canada.jpg

Kingston Delta Fire Pit S'Mores - Winter Activities In Ontario Canada.jpg

While the cold temperatures did not always agree with us, the cold provided the perfect conditions for producing ice wine. This sweet wine was David’s favourite. So a visit to Niagara-on-the-Lake for ice wine tasting was always a sweet way to celebrate the winter.

Niagara on the Lake Ice Wine Tasting - Winter Activities In Ontario Canada.jpg

Niagara on the Lake Ice Wine Tasting - Winter Activities In Ontario Canada.jpg

There were many tasty ways to enjoy the winter in Ontario.

Take A Pampering Break

In the middle of winter, we escaped for a weekend away in Montreal at the Ritz-Carlton. We took the train so we did not have to deal with winter driving. It was -20°C (-4°F) and for much of our 3 day stay we never left the hotel. Amazing food and lots of places to snuggle by a fire ensured a great pampering stay. And when we ventured outside, Montreal was as delightful as ever.

Ritz Carlton Montreal Afternoon Tea - Winter Activities In Ontario Canada.jpg

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Ritz Carlton Montreal Fireside.jpg

When we wanted to escape Toronto, we often headed north to Muskoka.  We visited the JW Marriott Muskoka Resort in Lake Rosseau many times through the year.  But it was a fun treat in the winter too.  There were lots of winter activities provided by the resort to play in the winter – snowshoes, cross country skies and fat bikes too.  And the indoor-outdoor pool was always fun.

JW Marriott Muskoka Rosseau Winter Activities.jpg

JW Marriott Muskoka Rosseau Winter Activities.jpg

JW Marriott Muskoka Rosseau Winter Activities.jpg

JW Marriott Muskoka Rosseau Winter Activities.jpg

In the winter of Covid-19, the JW Marriott Rosseau Resort put in special outdoor igloos for socially distanced dining and drinks.  There were four different igloos with views out over Lake Rosseau.  We will see if this becomes an annual thing.

JW Marriott Muskoka Rosseau Winter Ice Caves.jpg

JW Marriott Muskoka Rosseau Winter Ice Caves.jpg

JW Marriott Muskoka Rosseau Winter Ice Caves.jpg

There were many pampering ways to enjoy the winter in Ontario.

The Ultimate Escape From Winter

We enjoyed the fun winter activities in Ontario. But many years we escaped as often as we could.

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One year we were in Nassau, Bahamas for the coldest February on record in Toronto. Many times we cruised in the Caribbean. Each trip south thawed us out for a little while.

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We usually headed to the Caribbean for a warm break from winter. But for a change, we spent Christmas in Cape Town and continued on to New Years in Dubai. It was so very unlike the holiday season at home. On that trip we found many other hot places that weren’t the Caribbean.

Cape Town Table Mountain Christmas.jpg

Dubai Camels on the Beach.jpg

When we needed a break from the winter weather, we escaped to the Caribbean or other places in the Southern Hemisphere.

Enjoy A Range Of Winter Activities In Ontario

We found a wide range of winter activities in Ontario that helped us weather the long Canadian winters. We embraced winter with outdoor activities and sports. When we needed a break, we found tasty treats and celebrated the winter. And when we needed a real break, we travelled and escaped the winter.

What are your favourite winter activities in Ontario? What new activity should we try?

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  1. Your beautiful winter pictures make me want to fly to Ontario right now, Linda! I don’t think I’d enjoy living there because of the harsh winters, but I’d love to visit. The Niagara Festival of Lights looks like a great attraction in winter time. I’ve only visited the Falls in summer, but they look so much more dramatic in winter. Also, Lake Ontario seems like a nice place to explore on a sunny day. There is indeed a wide range of winter activities in Ontario that can help you ride the long winters.

    • Anda, I know what you mean by wanting to only visit. This is the first winter we have been home for the whole thing in a long time. Lots to do to enjoy the winter. But lots I could live without too! Linda

  2. I had the privilege to travel to Patagonia right before the pandemic started and it was a complete dream! Would recommend it to anyone! And Norway´s fjiords will have to wait for a while but, Man! They are totally on the list!

    • Trisha, We have tried to visit many places when they are not in the midst of deep winter. But both Patagonia and Norway must be delightful at any time of year. Linda

  3. The festival of lights really looks beautiful. In India, the snow falls only in the upper mountain regions. But Ontario seems like a fun place. I have added ice wine tasting and snowboarding to my bucket list.

  4. Wow loved this virtual journey. We don’t get to see any snow in this part of India where we stay and therefore loved this journey even more. This winter we are planning to visit Canada and therefore it would be exciting being there. Hope we are safe and are able to travel by then. The Niagara Festival of Lights must have been a great experience.

    • Roy, I am happy you enjoyed our winter preview. There are many parts of the winter experience I can live without. But also so many fun ways to get out and embrace it. Hope your visit happens. Linda

  5. Wow, what great ideas for winter activities. I found the street art in the form of ice sculptures funny and telling to the type of weather you were experiencing! I’m a born and raised Florida girl that is getting ready to move to Chicago (FREEZING temperatures there right now while I’m sitting on the beach) so I’m about to find out quickly if I’m a cold weather person or not! Thanks for sharing!

    • Chloe, With each passing year I am less of a winter person. This year we are trying to adjust to being home in Toronto all winter. But there are lots of way to have fun and stay warm when you get to Chicago. Linda

  6. I have been to Toronto only once and I was there only for a few days but that was not during winters. I would love to visit Ontario during winters and experience that ice sculptures, that looks like so much fun. My best friend is planning to relocate to Toronto soon so I will have more opportunities to explore this amazing place and maybe I could visit during Christmas this year (if the pandemic is over).

    • Raksha, Ontario has much to offer all year round. We usually recommend a spring or fall visit. But in the winter you will get a different experience. Hope you do get to visit your friend this year. Linda

  7. The article was quite insightful. Canada is always on my travel bucket list but never really knew what to do on a holiday. Ontario looks very charming and promising. I would love to watch the Niagara Festival of Lights and Winterlude festivals someday. They sound really exciting. Your personal experience has really given a glimpse into how Ontario looks in winters and it looks absolutely gorgeous.

    • Suhani, I am glad this post gave you a good glimpse into winter in Ontario. There are some not so great parts. But also lots of fun ways to embrace the winter and the special activities. Hope you get to visit one day. Linda

  8. Your photos of winter in Ontario look so amazing! I’ve always wanted to go and even considered before taking my Master’s there instead of Europe. The Niagara Festival of Lights in particular looks so amazing. I am a fan of any and every Light show — especially when it’s paired with such an iconic spot like the Niagara Falls. Love it!

  9. I’m starting to sound like a broken record!! I can’t wait to be able to
    Travel to Canada again! I love the ice sculptures and the lights on the falls! Winter where I live is just gray and wet! Bleh. Ontario in the winter looks like a wonderland!! Saving for future reference.

    • Laureen, I am glad that my posts on Canada are continuing to make you want to visit. Many people don’t visit in the winter. But if you are hardy, there are lots of things to do and many fun and tasty ways to keep warm. Linda

  10. I have been to Niagara on the Lake and it was a very charming, little town; I fell in love with it instantly! However, it was during the summer and I can totally imagine how awesome it would be in the winter too. I actually love winters, and snow. Probably because I live in very warm climate myself. I’d love to see the Niagara Lights Festival someday or take ski lessons on the Blue Mountain!

  11. The Niagara Festival of Lights caught my attention. But, even the other destinations and activities intrigued me much. I am not a winter person, so I might not spend more than a month there. But as I find Ontario so inviting in winter, I will surely visit it once during winter.

    • Shreya, I can certainly understand only wanting to visit for a short time! We are struggling this year with being home for the entire winter as we normally escape many times for warmer places. But there are some fun things for a winter visit. Linda

  12. I live in New England and we have decently cold winters. I feel like the older I get the less I can deal with it. I was supposed to go biking with my kids today in the 32 degree F weather, but just couldn’t deal with it today. I do love winter in Quebec City though- I have never been to Ontario.

  13. Wow you do know how to embrace the winter. I’ve never gotten it but maybe it’s cause we don’t get these winters. Except the tasty bit. Eating is what I do best at this time of year.

    • John, I must admit that each year we like the cold less. But there are lots of ways to enjoy the winter and snow and stay warm. And eating is sure one of them. Linda

  14. I think I would be tempted to hibernate during winter if I lived in Ontario but it looks like such a fun place to visit when you come from a warm climate. All that snow!

    • Kerry, We are tempted to hibernate most winters. This year it has been a bit milder so we get out for walks when the sun shines. We would love to only visit when we want the cold weather! Linda

  15. This reminded me of all the years I lived in the Yukon – snow on the ground for 7 months of the year. But there’s *always* ways to enjoy the cold weather. I did a lot of x-country skiing. But I must say I’m glad I now live in Van with its milder winters

    • Alison, We sure wish we lived in Vancouver with milder winters. It has been hard this year to be home for the entire winter. One day we may end up our west. And then we can visit the snow when we want it! Linda

  16. I’ve lived in a cold weather climate my whole life. As an adult, I have a hard time embracing it. I’m glad to hear you (especially David) have had many great adventures. The artic must be fascinating! Thanks for all the ideas and cold weather inspiration. If it ever stops being windy here, I’ll try to get outside a bit more in the winter!

  17. You’re not Canadian unless you have a love/hate relationship with our winters. Agree, the only way to get through the season is to embrace it. I love going to Winterlude in Ottawa, and now over the decades every community seems to host their own winter festivals. Great for families and the community.

    • Renee, I do love all the great ways that communities try to celebrate the winter. Although it has been tough this year. Good thing the winter has been milder so we can get out so much. Linda

  18. I am not one for the cold, but you have definitely made it seem like there is lots of fun to be had! I have always wanted to see the Niagara Festival of Lights, but haven’t made it there yet. Skiing and snowboarding at the Blue Mountain Village looks like a lot of fun to. Ontario looks like a beautiful part of the country.

  19. I’m not in Canada, but we can still have some cold and snowy days for a long winter. Sometimes you just have to embrace the cold! The festivals look like fun, and the light show on Niagara Falls is awesome! That castle is adorable and I would love a good tea!

  20. Even in winter Ontario has so much to offer. The ice sculptures will be fun to watch, as well as the light shows in Niagara. But I’m not sure if I can stand the horse carriage ride though. It will be too cold for me.

    • Umiko, The cold certainly does take some getting used to. Every year we like it less and less. But we are happy there are at least things to get us outside or I would hibernate for the entire season when I can’t escape to warmer climates! Linda

  21. Ontario comes across as a winter wonderland. There is so much to experience there in winter. It was interesting to read about the difference shades of winter, from mild to severe. For people like us who live in a place where it never snows, snow and everything related to snow is the main draw. However there is so much more to the Canadian winter. Hope to experience the winter vibes of Ontario, some day.

    • Sandy, I think that if I lived in a warm climate it would be fun to visit Canada for the snow. Some days I sure wish I was someplace warmer. But good thing there are some fun things to do in the winter. Linda

  22. Here in the UK our winters are usually pretty mild so to see your photos & read about all the amazing things there are to do in the cold made me a bit jealous! It looks amazing but also your afternoon tea, ice-wine tasting etc looked really cosy too. Like you, I have a tendency to gravitate more towards the hotter parts of the world when things do start to get cold. But maybe you have persuaded me to seek out some colder destinations too.

    • Sue, I would love to just visit cold places! But winter is a reality we have to deal with if we stay in Canada. Good thing there are fun ways to enjoy it inside and out. Linda

  23. Wow the snow just looks magical. I love it, i’m from the north of England by the coast and we just never get snow. I’m in the process of immigrating to Canada and hoping to do a winter trip in Ontario and one in Quebec, need to save this article for later. Also love the architecture at Kingston, so beautiful and would love to sit outside enjoying the fire pits

    • Nicole, You will certainly find lots of snow in Ontario and Quebec. It has been quite a mild winter in the city. But lots of snow if you head north. So much to discover when you arrive. Linda

  24. You two are an amazing and an amazingly adventurous couple, Linda, but this: “headed off to search for the Sir John Franklin wrecks buried under the ice in The NorthWest Passage”…. need to know more about this!

    Life in winter in Ontario sounds fun. When I was a kid, my dad worked in Toronto for a few months so us kids were always excited to receive postcards from all the main sights and updates on weekend trips my father had been on.

    And you guys tried snowboarding?! Don’t get me started on that topic haha… I tried it exactly once. On a narrow stretch skiers were passing by me left and right and I was no longer able to do my little swings and turns to keep the speed under control… Just got faster and faster until I ended up in a tree top 10 metres below the edge of the track.

    Envy you for the ice sculptures. Here in London the temperature hardly ever drops below freezing point, so no chance of that kinda streetart.

    • Stefan, David has visited many interesting spots. They did not find the Franklin wreck when he visited. But he was happy it was discovered soon after his trips. We have found lots to see and do during the winters in Ontario. Although I must admit I would prefer to avoid the cold most of the time. Linda

  25. So I definitely do not like the cold but I love all the fun things there are to do in Ontario during the winter. Of course any wine or cocktail tasting especially in Niagara by the falls and lake are amazing to me. Plus I love how each town decorates and welcomes the holidays with such spirit and vigor!

  26. I love snow and therefore winter activities are my favorite too. Good to see Ontario has so many things to do. I loved that shot of cycle with snow. Niagara Falls in winter with light show looks amazing.

    • Yukti, We are glad there are lots of fun things to do in winter in Ontario. It helps us forget some of the less pleasant things about living in a cold climate. Linda

  27. The blog gives a clear picture of activities and tourist sightseeing which could be done in Toronto. For first time travelers this blog helps a lot in drafting the itinerary to Ontario

  28. I never considered visiting Ontario in winter because of the cold, but perhaps I should reconsider. Gosh there is a lot to do!

    • We too don’t often visit cold spots in the winter. Maybe because there is lots of winter things to do at home. But dressed properly there is definitely a lot of fun to be had in winter in Ontario.

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