Winters in Canada are LONG! Even living in Southern Ontario where the weather is certainly warmer than most places in Canada, the weather is still chilly, snowy and definitely winter for 4 to 5 months, depending on where you are in the province. While the days are short and cold, it’s hard to get outside sometimes. But there are so many great things to do in Ontario in the winter that it’s worth getting bundled up!
Even though it can be pretty chilly, Ontario is still a gorgeous place to explore in the winter. Instead of hiding out inside and feeling like the winter lasts FOREVER, you may as well get outside and enjoy what Ontario has to offer! (Just bundle up well!)
So we’ve rounded up some of the best things to do in Ontario in the winter, guaranteed to make you enjoy the season a little more! Bundle up and read on to find out the best things to do in Ontario in the winter!
Skate on an Outdoor Trail
If you haven’t tried one of the many outdoor skating trails that Ontario has to offer, you’re missing out!
While some people find going around in circles on a skating rink a bit boring, an outdoor trail is anything but!
Experience the Niagara Winter Festival of Lights
The Winter Festival of Lights in Niagara Falls is Canada’s largest outdoor light festival, with over 3 million lights along the Niagara Parkway, Dufferin Islands and across Niagara Falls. And it’s free!
The light displays are located outdoors, along a 8km route stretching from the Falls to Dufferin Islands.
The wide pathways make walking along the light displays perfect for social distancing or you can view the lights from the warmth of your car as you drive the 8km route.
Ski at Blue Mountain
The town of Blue Mountain is just over 2 hours from Toronto and is a popular spot to ski or snowboard.
The town itself is charming, so when you’ve had your fill of skiing, stroll around the town, visit the small shops and warm up at one of the many great restaurants.
Visit bluemountain.ca for more information.
Skate on the Rideau Canal
Each winter the Rideau Canal turns into the largest skating rink in the world!
Grab your skates and head along the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Ontario.
The Rideau Canal Skateway is open daily from January to the end of February or early March, weather dependent.
Along the 7.8km route, there are access ramps, heated change rooms and washrooms, plus kiosks offering food and drinks.
You can also walk the pathway above the canal if you prefer!
Skating is free and open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Check for updated ice conditions here.
One of the biggest and most popular winter events in Canada, Winterlude takes place in the Ottawa region during the first three weekends of February each year.
Perfect for the whole family, Winterlude features many free activities, including ice skating, concerts, ice sculptures, snow activities for children and more.
Visit their website for up-to-date-information.
Experience the Icewine Festival in Niagara
The Niagara Icewine Festival is the largest wine festival in Canada and one of the most unique winter festivals that you’ll find!
Held over three weekends in January, there are different events and experiences each weekend from street festivals, galas, wine tasting and culinary pairings.
I’m not a fan of icewine, but maybe you will be? Either way, it’s an interesting experience!
Enjoy Feb Fest
Throughout the month of February, the city of Kingston makes the most of the snow, ice and cold and throws a month long festival.
Featuring outdoor skating, hockey games, free horse-drawn wagon rides, outdoor fire pits, snowshoeing and even frozen slides for kids to enjoy, the Feb Fest has something for the whole family!
Have Fun at the Bracebridge Fire and Ice Festival
Each January, Downtown Bracebridge hosts a unique Fire and Ice Festival.
There are activities for the whole family, including ice displays, a skating trail, outdoor mini golf and curling, and a giant downtown tube run.
Fire pits are placed throughout the Downtown area and there are fireworks to end the festival!
Explore a Frozen Waterfall
Did you know that Ontario is home to over 400 waterfalls?
Niagara Falls is by far the most well-known, but there are plenty more in Ontario just waiting to be explored.
While visiting a waterfall is usually considered a summer activity, the winter is just as spectacular, just a bit colder!
Although you can find waterfalls all over Ontario, Hamilton is known as the Waterfall Capital of the World.
There are over 150 waterfalls to choose from, and while some may not be running, others will be frozen and magnificent to see! Here’s 10 of the best waterfalls in Hamilton to explore!
Check Out an Ice Cave
Although you can find ice caves in many parts of the Northern Hemisphere, we’ve got plenty right here in Ontario!
The ice caves are formed when the waves crash against shores and meet with the freezing temperatures. The strong waves also push ice in towards the shore, creating ridges and caves.
The more spectacular ice caves are found in Northern Ontario along the shores of Lake Superior and around Sault Ste.Marie, but some years there are also some ice caves found along the shores of Lake Erie in Southern Ontario.
Try Winter Camping
Be adventurous and head out for some winter camping!
Although it’s cold, you can try a heated yurt or cabin at some of the Ontario Provincial Parks.
They are popular though, so you may have to book a few months ahead. Killarney, MacGregor, Sleeping Giant, Bon Echo, Algonquin and Arrowhead are just a few of the provincial parks that offer winter accommodation.
Check for the full list and more information here.
I know we mentioned skating already, but if skating on an outdoor trail isn’t your cup of tea, there are also plenty of outdoor rinks throughout the province to enjoy!
Many cities and towns have local outdoor rinks for everyone to enjoy, and it’s a great way to get out and get some exercise, while still having some fun in the winter!
Head Out for a Hike
While I much prefer to hike in the fall, winter comes a close second.
The trails aren’t as busy, and it’s just beautiful!
Chances are you will see some wildlife as well, so be sure to take a camera or phone with you!
Here are some of our favourite trails in Hamilton, all great for kids.
Tobogganing is a classic winter activity for kids, but kids of any age will enjoy heading outside and tobogganing down a hill.
It’s a perfect activity for all of the family to enjoy, and chances are there’s a local hill near you!
But if you’re looking for something a bit bigger, some ski hills also offer tubing hills, or you can visit Chicopee Tubing Park near Kitchener.
Snowshoeing is another classic winter activity that you can do almost anywhere in Ontario.
Many provincial parks and conservation areas have trails that are perfect for snowshoeing.
Some other outdoor things to do in Ontario in the winter
- ice climbing
- ice fishing
- cross country skiing
- or just head out for a wintery walk!
What are your favourite things to do in Ontario in the winter? Let us know in the comments below!
For more ideas on things to do in Ontario, be sure to check out these posts: