We can be confident of snow here in Ontario and although not blessed with mountains for skiing and snowboarding of the Rockies variety, there’s lots of alternatives to get you wrapped up and out in the white stuff. Here’s ten great ideas to get those cheeks rosy and exhilaration soaring!
1. Snow tubing
I put this at number one as, in the words of a friend, ‘this is the most fun I’ve ever had
with my clothes on’. Yes, this is a real blast. Sit in a big inner tube, get dragged to the top of a hill, choose your degree of gradient, then off you go. The most fun is with a group of friends or family and you have four or six tubes spinning down the slope. Try it – you won’t be disappointed! Horseshoe Resort in Barrie is the place to go.
2. Cross country skiing
For pure tranquility and the best of our winter wonderland, there is little to beat a few hours on the trails. This is an easy sport to learn – take a lesson or two; rent skis, boots and poles, and you are on your way. Many ski areas have rest huts where you can get hot chocolate to warm up at the end of the day. Bliss! Arrowhead Provincial Park has trails for all levels of expertise and offers ski rentals.
3. Dog sledding
Take part in or watch this great activity and you’ll be hooked. Ontario boasts some of the biggest dog sled events in Canada, and some of the best places to experience sledding first hand. Try a moonlit outing with Winter Dance in Haliburton.
4. Snow shoeing
This is such great exercise, and the best way of getting into deep snow country in winter. This is the way the early settlers got about – no 4WD or snowmobiles for them – so you can really experience what it must have been like. This is also the best opportunity to see winter wildlife.
There are thousands of kilometers of snowmobile trails in Ontario so whether you have your own, or rent one for the day, you won’t be short of a trail to blaze. Try a snowmobile safari where everything is provided for you, even a guide, or rent a machine and go it alone.
6. Ice skating
Outdoor skating is exhilarating at the best of times, and even more so when it is on the longest skating rink in the world. A 7.8 kilometre roadway of ice in the heart of Canada’s capital, Ottawa’s Rideau Canal offers fun for all the family. And it’s free!
7. Winter festivals
Anywhere that has snow cover for five months of the year will celebrate it at some point. There are winter festivals to enjoy all over Ontario, from small village events to the biggest of them all – Winterlude in Ottawa. A great experience for all the family.
8. Ice fishing
If you ever saw Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau in ‘Grumpy Old Men’ you’ll remember the ice hut scenes. Ontario’s ice covered lakes brings this to you! Most of the larger lakes have ice hut rentals, so you can fishing in comfort!
9. Downhill Skiing
Even though we are a little short on mountains, there’s plenty of places to have a great day, or half-day on the slopes. Every area of cottage country has it’s own ski hill from Sir Sam’s in Haliburton to Mount St Louis Moonstone near Orillia or Lakeridge in the southern Kawarthas. For beginners, or those wanting to just have a fun few hours, these are good spots to get your snow on.
Stopping in by the fire – sometimes winter is best experienced from indoors. When the snow is coming down in bucket loads and the world is mostly white, the best thing may be to curl up in front of a log fire with a good book. Rent a cosy cottage in the country, preferably one with a hot tub, and prepare for a few days of complete relaxation.
Check out some of our winter cottages here . Then go to our section on Winter Activities for more details on specific activities in different areas