I’ve gone on about my love for fall in Canada and shared some of my favourite fall activities to check out in the greater Toronto area. But winter is really Ontario’s time to shine.
Or sparkle. Because, y’know, snow.
The days have gotten shorter and the temperatures have gotten lower, meaning it’s officially time to experience the awesome winter activities in Ontario. Here are some of the amazing things this province has to offer during this magical season:
If you happen to be in the area in the six weeks leading up to December 25th, heading to a Christmas market will have you leaving with some truly Instagram-worthy photos!
Naturally, being at the heart of Ontario’s most populous city, the Toronto Christmas Market is the largest and most popular Christmas market in the province. The market takes over Toronto’s historic Distillery District (which is a great place to visit at any time of year) and offers visitors magical lighting and Christmas decor as well as walking tours, beer gardens, and other activities that vary day to day.
Many other smaller towns in Ontario have their own smaller, adorable Christmas markets that are less crowded, less expensive, and just as beautiful and romantic.
Learn to Make Maple Syrup
It doesn’t get more Canadian than maple syrup.
If your visit to Ontario happens to be later in the winter – usually from February onwards, immerse yourself in the Canadian culture by taking a maple syrup tour. Learn about the history and production of maple syrup and try your hand at tapping the trees. At the end of your tour, you’ll get to sample the (theoretical) fruits of your labour: real maple syrup on fresh pancakes.
Depending on the facility you visit, you can also take wagon rides through the sugar bush, join in on a maple syrup festival, or hit up the maple syrup shop to stock up before you leave!
Part of the Niagara Escarpment and towering over 1000 feet above the Georgian Bay, Blue Mountain offers the best skiing in the entire province.
Or so I’m told. I’m not a skiier.
If you’re not either, don’t worry, because Blue Mountain has so much more to offer than just the slopes. You can spend an entire day unwinding at the Scandinave Spa. The spa offers Scandinavian baths, saunas, massages, and more as well as a cozy in-house bistro offering light but delicious meals, making it an easy place to spend an entire day.
Visit a Small Town
I have a bit of a thing for small towns. I have an even bigger thing for small towns covered in snow and draped with twinkling lights.
Yes Toronto is nice, but I feel like the “downtown” area of small towns have a certain je ne sais quoi about them that make them really charismatic and appealing to me. Couple that charm with snow and lights, and you have the perfect little spot to spend an evening walking down the sidewalks with hot chocolate in hand.
If you’ve got an extra week or so to spare during your Ontario trip and want to take a road trip out to Quebec City, Narcity published an awesome list of small towns to hit up along the way.
A smaller town that’s still firmly on tourists’ radars, Niagara Falls holds an annual Festival of Lights from mid-November till the end of January, where the Falls and the entire town will be lit up with beautiful lights.
Just cause it’s cold doesn’t mean you can’t still hike!
Bundle up and head to one of Ontario’s many winter hiking trails for a unique outdoor experience before heading back inside for a cup of Tim Horton’s coffee.
Evergreen Brickworks in the east end of Toronto offers some especially scenic walks that offer contrastingly beautiful views of both nature and the big city.
Bonus: ditch the hiking boots for a pair of snowshoes!
Have you been to Ontario in the winter? What were your favourite Ontario winter activities?