You can do 1 of 2 things during winter, you can either stay inside close to the heater and complain to everyone how bloody cold it is or you can layer up, get outside and enjoy the many fun possibilities there are during winter. Coming from Australia, I’d never even seen snow or experienced below 0 degrees before, so each winter experience in Canada was a new experience for me. I managed to find some things that are super fun and something to keep me distracted while my friends back home are sitting on the beach in Australia. As many of you know, the best activities cost cash! If you want to go skiing or snowboarding it’s no cheap activity, fortunately I’ve thrown in a few cheap/free activities!
Fun in Toronto on a budget
If you don’t know what tobogganing is, check out the photo above, it’s basically getting a bit of rubber or plastic and going down a hill of snow, the best thing is all you need for this is a toboggan, sled, tube and a hill. Fortunately there’s plenty in Toronto! Go to Dollarama and grab a magic carpet (pic above) for $3 or go by a store like Canadian Tire or Walmart and pick a cheap sled for $20 and go find a hill with a few friends!
The best hill downtown Toronto is Riverdale Park East, honourable mentions go to Trinity Bellwoods and Christie Pitts park who both have great hills to slide down but the one at Riverdale is massive and you go flying! Definitely worth a visit when theres lots of snow.
There are several places around Toronto to go Ice Skating and pretty much all of them are free! You just need to rent the skates if you don’t have any. The 2 most common and touristy places to go to are Nathan Phillips Square & Habourside (where they have a DJ Saturday nights) but there are plenty of smaller quieter places around the city. Prices are around $10 for 2 hours of rentals, so cheap enough to fit anyone’s budget!
If you find it boring just skating round and round in a little ice rink, you should check out the the Bentway Skate Trail underneath the Gardiner, it is a skating trail that goes for 220m that has only recently opened.
It would be great to go see the Maple Leafs play but paying over $100 for a ticket? What’s with that! A great alternative is to go see the Marlies play, which is an under 23 league that directly feeds into the Maple Leafs….you can find tickets as low as $15. Look out for some cheap tix here:
Day Trips/ weekend getaways
Skiing / Snowboarding
Canada is one of the best places in the world to go skiing and snowboarding and although Ontario isn’t as famous for this, it is still full of a bunch of ski resorts within a day trip. If you really want you can see some of Canada’s & USA’s best slopes, you can visit within a weekend getaway. There is even a ski resort 45 minutes away that have night skiing available and accessible by transit, so why not go after work! I tried snowboarding for the first time this season and fell in love, it’s not a cheap investment to go skiing or snowboarding but it’s worth every dollar.
If you’ve never skied or boarded before there are some great packages within a day trip of Toronto. Blue Mountain offer a beginner package for $98 which includes access to beginner slopes, lessons and rentals if you don’t want to go that far Snow Valley, which is an hour from Toronto, have packages from $64 to learn. Below are some useful links to get you started.
- Brimacombe // Orono // $50
- Glen Eden // Milton // $59
- Hidden Valley // Huntsville // $59
- Snow Valley // Barrie // $64
- Dagmar // Uxbridge // $78
- Horseshoe // Barrie // $85
- Blue Mountain // Collingwood // $98/$78 (night)
top 5 ski resorts close to Toronto
- Blue Mountain // Collingwood
- Dagmar // Uxbridge
- Mount St Louis // Coldwater
- Horseshoe Resort // Barrie
- Lakeridge // Uxbridge
Top 5 Ski Resorts for a weekend getaway
- Mont Tremblant // Quebec
- Okemo // Vermont
- Killington // Vermont
- Le Massif // Quebec
- Calabogie Resort // Ontario
It may be cold but get some warm clothes on and go explore Ontario, there are many great places to see acres of snowy lands, frozen lakes and beautiful national parks within a short drive from Toronto. The best place to go close to Toronto is Muskoka, it is a winter wonderland in the cold months!
Here is a list of great hikes/views near Toronto
- Dundas Peak
- Lions Head
- Algonquin Provincial Park
- Waterfalls in Hamilton – click here to view a list of the best waterfalls
Ice Skating Path
Once you have practised at one of the many great spots in Toronto to ice skate, hit the road and head to Arrowhead Provisional Park. They have an ice skating path that feels like you’re skating in a forest, it’s super cool. Arrowhead is about a 2 and a half hour drive from Toronto, it costs $17 per vehicle to enter the park ($20 on weekends) and skates cost $10 to rent, so it’s a cheap, fun way to spend the day! The park also has beautiful winter scenery, including a frozen lake.
If you’re after a short burst of adrenaline, tubing is for you! Unlike skiing or snowboarding where you need to learn a skill to be able to enjoy it, tubing you just jump into the tube, hold on and try not to scream! The first time I went tubing I didn’t realise how bloody fast you go, I had a ripper time. Better yet, a lot of places are open at night as well, although don’t get the wrong idea…I wouldn’t mix alcohol and tubing.
Check out the below link for the best places to go near Toronto, I recommend Snow Valley in Barrie, the vertical drop there is close to 10 stories high!