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While winter roads in Ontario can turn from soggy to treacherous in seconds, that doesn’t mean they should be boycotted until the spring thaw. Why? Well, first because we’re Canadian and snow doesn’t scare us, and second, because there are some seriously awesome places to explore across much of the province at this time of year.
Download some podcasts or family friendly tunes, load up your fav humans and hit the road. These seven winter destinations are worth the trip this season. Promise.
Skate on the Rideau Canal in Ottawa
Ottawa has a lot going for it, but nothing beats a skate down the 7.8-kilometre-long Rideau Canal. Whether you rent skates or bring your own, this activity is fun for the whole family, and can be budget-friendly, too. When your toes start to go numb, take a break and warm up with steaming cups of hot chocolate and sugar-covered beaver tails along the canal. Doesn’t get much more Canadian than that!
Hit the slopes at the Caledon Ski Club in Caledon
Whether you crave a night ski after work or want to get some longer runs in on the weekend, Caledon Ski Club is the ideal spot to hit the slopes outside of the GTA. Snow conditions have been stellar so far this season, making it the the perfect terrain for beginners and experts alike.
Try your hand at dog sledding in Haliburton
While Halliburton is generally thought of as a haven for summertime cottage fun, this northern community is a hotspot in sub-zero temps, too. Swap your wheels for a pack of energetic animals and give dog sledding a try for an afternoon.
Get your heart rate up snowshoeing in Collingwood
While the thought of Blue Mountain might stress you out–their often busy chairlift lines and packed slopes aren’t always relaxing or fun–know that there are alternative activities to enjoy. Swap skis or a snowboard for snowshoes and hit the trails for a guided program, or tackle the terrain yourself. Prices start at just $15 for a half day per person and full day for $25 per person
Take a wine tour in Niagara-on-the-Lake
The best time to sample ice wine in Niagara is definitely January, but don’t let that stop you from organizing a weekend getaway to the picturesque region this late in the season. Book a bed and breakfast, park the car and hop on an organized tour that provides transportation to various wineries in the area.
Skate along a forest trail in Arrowhead Provincial Park
Since opening in 2012, the skating trail that winds through Muskoka’s Arrowhead Provincial Park has become a favourite spot to spend a weekend for locals and GTA-dwellers alike. It’s easy to see why. The 1.3-kilometre loop weaves skaters through a dense forest hiking-trail-turned-ice-rink that is magical, especially after a recent snowfall. Know before you go: the skating trail is weather dependant, so call or check with the park’s official website here for any closures.
Attempt ice climbing in the Elora gorge
Not for for the faint of heart, ice climbing is a test in endurance, strength and patience. But the feeling of conquering a slick cliffside will leave you feeling like you deserve an Olympic gold medal for your work. Though, depending on where you’re coming from, the drive into Elora and surrounding region is a prize in itself. One Axe Pursuit offers weekend climbs for a variety of skill levels.