Things to do & Places to stay in Ontario

DECEMBER 13, 2018

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Take advantage of the holidays to discover Ontario

With the approach of the holidays, and for some, the school break, there is time to explore Ontario in all of its winter/cold wonder. Depending on the weather over the next couple of weeks, you might be looking for active or less active, indoor or outdoor activities. We’ve highlighted a few in each of those categories below, but don’t forget to visit and our event calendar for loads more ideas.

Outdoor Fun

article1_dec13_2018.jpgThere are almost always places in Ontario that have snow over the holiday season, but sometimes, mother nature needs a little help. One place that takes matters into its own hands is the ski hill, which often supplements with man-made snow. There are a variety of places around Ontario that offer Ski/snowboard lessons, as well as cross country skiing and tubing:  - Horseshoe Resort has 28 ski and snowboard runs, plus Ontario’s longest snow tubing hill, and 32kms of cross country, snowshoeing, & fat biking trails. Earl Bales Ski and Snowboard Centre opens January 1, 2019, weather permitting and has lessons and runs for beginners to advanced skiers/snowboarders. Boler Mountain has a discover ski/snowboard program for newbies and Tubing too. And Blue Mountain not only has skiing and snowboarding (lessons too), but also tubing, mountaintop skating and an all-new Snowshoe trail. And Aurora Winter Festival (Nov 29-Dec 30) at Ontario Place has light displays, characters, market huts, food, amusement rides, live entertainment and just announced a 20-foot tall and 180-foot long tubing park!

Indoor Fun

article2_dec13_2018.jpgWhen you’ve had enough of the cold or the weather isn’t cooperating, it is time to look for some indoor activities. Bingmans’s FunworX Indoor Playland (Kitchener) has arcade and redemption games as well as an interactive three-level indoor play structure. You can also try 1of 3 thrilling escape rooms at EscapeworX on the same property. Toronto’s Fantasy Fair - Ontario’s Largest Indoor Amusement Park- has 12 full size rides including a rollercoaster, train, drop & more. Midway Family Fun Park is Ottawa’s largest indoor amusement park. And The Factory (London) is Canada’s biggest indoor adventure park with Ziplines, high ropes, trampoline park, warrior course, escape room, virtual reality, arcade & kids’ indoor playground. Don’t forget about Museums too!

Free Things

article3_dec13_2018.jpgThe holiday season can be expensive with all of the parties and gifts, so it is great to find free stuff to do during Ontario winters. Sometimes it is hard to remember what a truly dark night feels like and the best place to experience it is at the Torrance Barrens Dark-Sky Preserve in Muskoka. Check out the Northern Lights which are visible periodically (plan ahead) or come to see The Milky Way and The Andromeda Galaxy with the naked eye. Others? Go skating in Nathan Philips Square or enjoy DJ Skate Night at Harbourfront’s Natrel Rink (both Toronto). Visit the High Park Zoo and see bison, deer, llamas, peacocks, highland cattle and more, year round. Go hiking at one of Ontario’s many Conservation Areas. Did you know that 135 of them have free admission and each is different?

Niagara Falls

article4_dec13_2018.jpgThe great thing about Niagara Falls is that it is possible to day trip it from quite a few places in the province. And you don’t have to spend a lot while you’re there, unless you choose to do so.  To begin with, the view of the Falls is free. If you’re lucky, you might even be there on a day when it freezes, which is a very cool sight. Once you’re there, visit some of the awesome paid attractions such as the Clifton Hills attractions or Niagara Parks attractions, and you can also visit the  Niagara Falls History Museum which offers free admission from 5-9 pm Thursday nights. Or watch the fireworks over the Falls (free too). Or visit Dufferin Islands (Free) to hike or view the Winter Festival of Lights in which animated lighting displays are placed around the perimeter of the islands.


Featured Events

Casa Loma Winter Wonderland Lights

Dec 18, 2018 – Jan 7, 2019 5-9pm (excludes Dec. 24, 25, 31 & Jan 6, 2019)

featured_events_1dec132018.jpgExplore Casa Loma at night and see beautiful light displays in the gardens, watch a holiday themed magic show, and visit with Santa. You can also sing with the carollers, indulge in delicious treats and savour some hot chocolate.

Frozen in Time Ice Festival

Dec 28-30, 2018-10-04
Collingwood (Central Ont)

featured_events_2dec132018.jpgBring the family to Canada's only historic ice sculpture event featuring more than 30 sculptures around downtown Collingwood. See beautifully lit-up storytelling ice sculptures, watch world renowned ice carvers have a Battle of the Chainsaws, and enjoy live entertainment at the Winter Wonderland Village (Simcoe St. and Tremont Lane). There will also be a giant double ice slide, street hockey games and craft activities plus traditional horse & wagon rides around downtown.

Santa Train Ride – Waterloo Central Railway

Saturdays & Sundays, 10am, 12pm & 2pm until Dec 23rd.
Trains depart from Waterloo Central Railway Museum in St. Jacob’s, Ont.

featured_events_3dec132018.jpgEveryone loves a train ride with Santa! This fun, one-hour round trip ride aboard a historic train includes lively Christmas songs, delicious hot chocolate, cookies, colouring books, crayons, a reading of a Christmas story and SANTA! Seats are limited. Reserve ahead.

Featured activity: Flight of White at Cambridge Butterfly Conservatory

featured_dec132018.jpgTake the whole family to this unique and memorable holiday exhibit. 1000s of white Rice Paper butterflies fly through the Conservatory creating a magical holiday oasis. The beautiful butterflies will awe kids and adults alike. The exhibit also features 1000s of sparkling lights and beautiful flowers. Best of all …”The Rice Paper butterfly is a favourite for our guests because they land on visitors the most” says Adrienne Brewster, executive director at the Conservatory. Kids’ activities and white butterflies make this the perfect holiday activity!



onlyinont_dec132018.jpgDid you know that Ottawa is the seventh coldest capital city in the world? That’s probably why it is able to be the home of the World's largest and second longest skating rink on the Rideau Canal.  Its opening date depends on the weather – it has opened as early as Dec 28 and as late as Feb 2! Over the winter holidays, it is a great place to strap on skates and burn off some steam. Open 24 hours a day, it has shelters, chalets, and access ramps and also has kiosks selling snacks and drinks including the world famous Beaver Tails. Rideau Canal Skateway - Opening Weekend.

Print Edition

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