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