Suffering from a bad case of Seasonal Affective Disorder? The best cure is to get out and go explore some of the best winter destinations in Ontario. From snow-laden backcountry with fresh trails for snowmobiling and cross-country skiing to charming towns filled with holiday magic, Ontario turns into a whole different world once the first snows of the season arrive. 

Whether you just need a change of scenery or are planning family winter getaways, here some ideas for the best winter weekend getaways in Ontario. 

Best Winter Destinations in Ontario: Niagara Falls

For the best family winter getaways in Ontario, Niagara Falls is just as fun and breathtaking in the colder months as it is in the summer. Not only are the falls illuminated each night with colourful light displays, but the OPG Winter Festival of Lights brightens up the whole town with brilliant installations and live entertainments. This year, the festival has been extended from November 13th, 2021 to February 212022

Speaking of live entertainment, from December 27th, 2021, to January 1, 2022 Niagara Falls Music Live will showcase local talent across the city during the holiday season. The lineup includes Canadian performers such as The Trews, Tyler Shaw, and Chantal Kreviazuk. 

Best Winter Destinations in Ontario: Muskoka

Muskoka is one of the best winter weekend getaways in Ontario for outdoor adventurers who don’t mind a little snow. The rugged reaches of cottage country feature plentiful trails for snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. For a more adventurous winter activity, you can explore the backcountry in style with a dog sled tour offered by North Ridge Ranch, a dog sled kennel in Huntsville home to 60 highly trained Alaskan huskies and their trainers. 

RELATED: Muskoka – The Winter Wonderland

Muskoka also has a number of beautiful outdoor skating rinks, one of the most famous being the 1.3km Ice Skate Trail at Arrowhead Provincial Park, offering a picturesque path surrounded by tall, snow-laden pines. The Cranberry Ice Trail offers another memorable outdoor skating experience along the cranberry orchards of Muskoka Lakes Farm and Winery where you can enjoy a taste of their famous mulled wine and hot apple cider after your skate. 

Winter Destinations in Ontario: Torrance Barrens

Located in Muskoka, Torrance Barrens Conservation Reserve is a very special nature reserve spanning the area between Gravenhurst and Torrance. Long renowned for its crisp, clear night skies that made it perfect for astronomy, Torrance Barrens was declared a dark sky preserve in the late 90s, making it the first of its kind in the country. 

Free from light pollution and with many hills and elevated areas, Torrance Barrens is one of the best spots for stargazing in Canada, offering a chance to see astronomical marvels that normally require use of a high-powered telescope. While these nighttime starscapes are incredible to see no matter the time of year, Torrance Barrens is one of the best winter destinations in Ontario owing to the fact that it’s one of the most southern points in the province where you can see the Aurora Borealis. 

While there’s no guarantee the Northern Lights will appear on a given day, the best times to go see them are in January and February around midnight. Just be sure to bring a flashlight to help find your way as there are no artificial lights present in the preserve. 

Best Winter Destinations in Ontario: Collingwood

One of the best winter destinations in Ontario for skiing and snowboarding, Collingwood is home to Blue Mountain, one of the most popular spots for downhill skiing in the province. You can also enjoy shopping, fun Christmas decorations and hot cocoa in Blue Mountain Village. 

There’s a lot more to explore off the mountain though, from taking in the town’s annual Christmas market to venturing out on scenic snowshoeing trails to simply going on a pub crawl through some of the area’s notable craft breweries. 

RELATED: Go On a Collingwood Weekend Getaway this Christmas

Best Winter Destinations in Ontario: Kitchener-Waterloo

One of the best winter getaways in Ontario just an hour from Toronto, Kitchener-Waterloo is a welcoming small town with a great mix of indoor and outdoor activities to enjoy. The area features a wealth of outdoor lighting festivals, such as the Wonders of Winter illuminating Waterloo Park with over 100,000 light bulbs, Sparkles in the Park at Guelph’s Riverside Park, the Gift of Lights featuring a drive through two brilliantly lit tunnels and light shows at the historic Old Post Office. 

The area is also home to a number of outdoor skating rinks, such as the Preston Towne Centre. Shade’s Mill Park features 10km trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing as well as huts for ice fishing. Cross-country skiers and snowshoers can also hit the Walter Bean Grand River Trail to enjoy stunning views of the Grand River. 

Winter Destinations in Ontario: Ottawa 

The nation’s capital is a great spot to explore no matter the time of year, but there’s nothing like Ottawa in the winter. Each year, the Rideau Canal freezes over and becomes the world’s largest ice rink. Thousands strap on their skates and glide along the Rideau Canal in the winter, some even using it as an alternative to commuting! 

In addition to taking in the sights of Parliament Hill and the city’s downtown core, there are many warming stations and stands along the Rideau Canal where you can enjoy hot chocolate and a delicious BeaverTail. This uniquely Canadian treat is a delectable flat pastry piled high with Nutella, whipped cream, syrup, and a cornucopia of sweet and delicious toppings. Truly, no winter weekend in Ottawa is complete without sampling a Beavertail for yourself! 

Visitors travelling in February can also attend Winterlude, one of the most famous winter festivals in Canada featuring an ice carving competition with some of the best ice sculptors in the world as well as food stalls, live music and an icy playground known as the Snowflake Kingdom.

Always follow Canada and local health authority COVID-19 guidelines for travelling or visiting attractions. Learn more about current restrictions and travelling within Canada.

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