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While many of us think of Canada‘s long, cold winters as the perfect time to hibernate or escape to places like Florida (c’mon, we know you do!), Ontario does its level best to challenge this notion. Truth be known, Ontario comes alive during the coldest periods of the year and offers up an array of fun things to do in winter for those willing to venture out and make the most of the season.
From the world-famous cascades of Niagara Falls, the province’s top tourist attraction, to the tranquil snow-laden trails of Ontario’s best provincial parks, the province boasts endless possibilities for winter fun.
Whether you’re a local seeking a romantic weekend escape or an international traveller wanting to experience a Canadian winter firsthand, there’s an Ontario destination waiting to be explored. Find out more with our list of the best winter getaways in Ontario, Canada.
The Best Winter Getaways In Ontario
Capital Fun During Winter in Ottawa
Where better to start our exploration of the best places to visit in Ontario in winter than in the nation’s capital? Ottawa has perfected the art of winter, wholeheartedly embracing the spirit of the season and, best of all, is keen to share it with the rest of us.
At the heart of Ottawa’s winter attractions lies the iconic Rideau Canal Skateway. Stretching over 7.8 kilometres, it holds the title of the world’s largest naturally frozen ice-skating rink and provides no end of fun for couples, families, and of course solo skaters. Along the way, you’ll enjoy unique views of Ottawa’s top attractions, from Parliament Hill to Lansdowne Park, as well as numerous kiosks tempting you with hot chocolate and those tasty Beavertails, a sweet treat of fried dough topped with cinnamon and sugar.
Winterlude, Ottawa’s premier winter festival, further elevates the city’s festive atmosphere. For three weeks in February, the city celebrates the season with snow sculptures, ice-carving competitions, outdoor concerts, and gigantic snow slides in Jacques-Cartier Park.
Ottawa’s cultural scene doesn’t disappoint at this time of year, either. Museums like the National Gallery of Canada and the Canadian Museum of History offer warm respites from the cold, showcasing the nation’s rich artistic and historical tapestry. A walk through ByWard Market is another winter must-do and reveals a bustling hub of activity, with local artisans and eateries offering a taste of Ottawa’s diverse culinary scene.
To help you get the most out of your winter adventures in the nation’s capital, consider booking an overnight stay at one of the many great places to stay in Ottawa that offer a dash of luxury. For ideas and inspiration, read through these curated lists of our favourite luxury accommodations in Ottawa:
Go Skiing at Blue Mountain Resort
Set on the Niagara Escarpment overlooking Georgian Bay, The Blue Mountains near Collingwood offers a first-rate ski escape for those looking to hit the slopes. The largest mountain resort in Ontario, Blue Mountain Resort offers a variety of skiing opportunities with slopes that cater to all skill levels.
From challenging terrains to beginner slopes, skiers as well as snowboarders are well-served here, with night skiing allowing for a full day of fun. For those who prefer a more laid-back winter activity, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are also available, with an extensive network of trails waiting to be explored. You may also want to check out the top private Blue Mountains ski clubs, too, all of which offer memberships.
Après-ski fun is also available in Blue Mountain Village. Located at the bottom of the resort’s slopes, this fun area features quaint pedestrian-only laneways lined with boutique shops, restaurants, and cafés, and exudes a distinctly European flavour.
For a touch of relaxation, I thoroughly recommend the nearby Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain. You simply can’t beat that unique feeling of soaking in a hot tub, hitting the sauna, and taking a refreshing dip in their outdoor pools while everything about you is covered in snow.
For a truly memorable ski getaway, why not plan an overnight stay at Blue? We’ve already done the homework with these articles on our LuxuryCollingwood site:
Get Romantic in Kingston
Known as Ontario’s “Limestone City” for its grand historic buildings built from this local stone, Kingston is undeniably one of the most romantic cities in Ontario, if not Canada. Its location on the shores of Lake Ontario where this vast body of water meets the St Lawrence River certainly helps; so, too, does its proximity to the beautiful Thousand Islands, a region it shares with New York State to the south.
Kingston’s magic is even more tangible in winter, especially in the lead-up to Christmas when it’s lit up with festive displays of lights and decorations. Downtown Kingston is especially magical at this time of year when its charming streets and sidewalks become a hub of festive activity. Christmas markets and festive events are plentiful, with local shops, cafés, restaurants, and bars all joining in the fun with sales events and special menus to enjoy.
For those interested in winter sports, Kingston’s recreational areas provide opportunities for ice skating, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. Additionally, the city hosts a range of winter events and festivals, from holiday parades to winter markets, ensuring that there’s always something happening.
For more ideas about romantic getaways in Kingston, Ontario, check out our great content on the many cozy boutique hotels in Limestone City for ideas and inspiration.
Winter Markets and Skating in Toronto
While Toronto might not be the first place you think of for an Ontario winter getaway, it certainly does offer plenty of fun things to do over the colder months of the year. One of the city’s most celebrated winter attractions is the Christmas market held in Toronto’s historic Distillery District. Known as the Distillery Winter Village, this November-through-to-December event sees the cobblestone streets of this Victorian-era distillery come alive with twinkling lights, craft stalls, and the sweet aroma of mulled wine and tasty treats.
Over in Nathan Phillips Square, located in front of Toronto’s City Hall, you’ll want to lace up and hit the large ice rink here. Here you’ll find locals and tourists alike gliding across the ice with the famous “TORONTO” sign illuminated in the background. On select evenings, the square hosts DJ nights, making the skating experience even more fun.
For those looking to escape the city’s hustle and bustle, the Toronto Islands, just a short winter ferry ride away is well worth a visit. Here you’ll find the island’s snow-covered pathways perfect for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, with Toronto’s epic skyline looking even more interesting under a snow-heavy sky.
For ideas about how to make the most of an overnight stay in Toronto, check out our content on the city’s luxury hotels: