When it comes to winter I am the least Canadian person I know. I hate snow, I despise the cold and the thought of putting on gloves, snow pants and giant boots just to go outside really annoys me. I also don’t know how to skate or ski. That said, I have two very active boys and while I would love to hibernate until May (or move to California), I need to get them outside and keep them entertained.
This means I’m always looking for fun (and cheap) family things to do outdoors throughout the winter that won’t make me curse the cold and snow more than I already do. Here are the five outdoor winter activities I actually enjoy and recommend doing with your family in Ontario.
Visit a waterfall
From Ancaster to Thunder Bay, Ontario is home to many beautiful waterfalls and seeing them frozen over in the winter is quite the spectacle. While my two favourites are Sherman Falls and Webster Falls (both in the Hamilton area), Ontario Travel Blog has a list of seven waterfalls you should visit this winter. If I could check them all out, I would.
I can’t skate or ski, but I can sit in a tube and go downhill real fast! And the kids think it’s the greatest thing in the world when we all get in a tube and go together. I favour Chicopee Tube Park in Kitchener because of its location to me (and they also don’t charge that much). There are a lot of other great spots in the Toronto area and as far north as Thunder Bay. Vacationing with Kids and Ruralist both have great lists with more locations.
Snowshoeing is similar to hiking, but with snowshoes on your feet (obviously). It’s a neat family experience and with so many excellent trails throughout Ontario, it’s a great opportunity to connect with nature and also makes for some wonderful photo ops. Snowshoes are relatively cheap to rent as well. Explore the Bruce has some great info on snowshoeing in Bruce County and Every Trail covers off most of Ontario’s snowshoe spots.
There are many options for camping during the winter months in Ontario, but the best for families is booking a yurt. A yurt is a tent-like structure that has a wooden floor, bunks to sleep in, electricity and heat. Six people can sleep in one comfortably and many provincial parks have these available to book, including Algonquin Park. Of course if you really want to rough it, you can find lots of sites to pitch a tent on. Whatever you decide, make sure you are prepared for the elements and bring lots of extra socks and pants in case they get wet. Roam Ontario has a great roundup of winter camping spots and the Ontario Parks website also has some great info.
Check out a winter festival
It doesn’t matter what season is it, there always seems to be a festival going on somewhere in Ontario and there are lots happening this winter. Ottawa’s Winterlude runs from January 29 to February 15 and of course there’s the 2016 Groundhog Day festival in Wiarton from January 28 to February 2 (and hopefully Wiarton Willie doesn’t see his shadow and we can put an early end to this winter). Check out 400 Eleven’s list of winter festivals in Ontario to find one near you.
What are some outdoor winter activities you enjoying doing in Ontario? Share your thoughts in the comments below or via the bamcatBuzz Facebook page.