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When it comes to winter destinations in Canada, Ontario is one of the most beautiful places you could pick for your travels! From soaking in outdoor spas after a day on the slopes to skating on the iconic Rideau Canal in Ottawa, these are the best places to visit in Ontario in winter for a getaway filled with adventure and relaxation.
There’s no shortage of places in Ontario offering incredible adventures during the winter. Whether you’re looking for light hiking trails to admire the gorgeous winter landscapes or something more adrenaline-full to get your heart racing, you’ll love these winter destinations in Ontario.
Best Places to Visit in Ontario During Winter
Let’s look at some of the best places to visit in Ontario this winter.
Niagara Falls’ unrivaled beauty can be enjoyed year-round, but it’s further accentuated over the winter months when the weather turns cold and snow and ice paint it into a stunning palette of soft whites and pale blues.
Late January is the best bet for a chance of seeing the falls themselves completely frozen. The best part about coming during this time is that you’ll also have way fewer crowds than compared to the summer months.
What’s more, the region is home to some of Canada’s best winter festivals like the Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights, an 8km light display along the Niagara Parkway. It runs from November until February in 2022. Alternatively, the Niagara Ice Wine Festival is a great choice, as are the New Year’s Eve celebrations.
As for things to do, visitors over the winter months can enjoy the stunning “Behind the Falls” tour, where you get a chance to experience how powerful the waterfall is, or even take a helicopter ride over the falls.
You can also combine it with a trip to Niagara-on-the-lake, just half an hour away from the falls. During the winter, the victorian-home lined streets get lit up with magical lights that sparkle under the snow. It looks like a fairytale!
Where to Stay in Niagara Falls
Niagara falls should absolutely be top of your list of places to go in Ontario this winter. Make the most of your time there by choosing a top-rated hotel like Marriott On The Falls.
This stunning 4-star hotel is a perfect choice for your visit to Niagara Falls over winter, as it’s situated right next to the falls, and the spectacular views from your room will make your stay unforgettable! I stayed here in February, and watching the sunrise over the waterfall in the morning was such a beautiful memory.
The hotel also offers numerous other attractions and perks, such as an onsite restaurant and bar. The unique aesthetic of the hotel perfectly ties into its stunning location.
Winter Destinations in Ontario: Thunder Bay
If you want to truly embrace Canada’s northern climate, then make a trip to Thunder Bay in northern Ontario. It’s one of the most scenic locations in the province, known for the massive expanse of ice that coats the bay over the winter months in Ontario.
Activities over winter at Thunder Bay are numerous, but one of the most popular is ice fishing on the frozen lake. One of the most popular ice fishing hotspots at Thunder Bay is Lac des Mille Lacs near Upsala, and passionate fishers can even rent their own ice shack for the duration of their trip.
Other activities that are unique to the Thunder Bay region include fat biking, skating, and skiing opportunities, groomed trails by snowmobile, and sleigh rides through this truly picturesque region. You may even get lucky and spot the northern lights here!
Where to Stay In Thunder Bay?
If Thunder Bay sounds like a place you want to visit for your winter trip to Ontario, then you’ll want to make the most of the experience with a truly stunning hotel like the Delta Hotels by Marriott Thunder Bay. This 4-star hotel is in the heart of Thunder Bay and offers several amenities, including a bar and restaurant. Plus, pets are allowed here!
The Blue Mountains
With a huge selection of winter hiking trails and the opportunity for many winter sports, the Blue Mountains could be the perfect destination if you’ve been looking for a more adventure-filled trip. It’s one of the best places to visit near Toronto in winter since it’s just two hours away – making it a perfect weekend road trip!
With over 42 tracks and 16 chairlifts, the blue mountains are among the top places for downhill skiing and snowboarding in Ontario and other winter sports like dog sledding, sleigh rides, and snow tubing.
Of course, there are plenty of relaxing activities as well. One of the best things to do in this area is spend the day at the Scandinave Spa in Collingwood. It’s magical sitting in the outdoor hot tubs while the snow falls over you. Alternatively, you could take a stroll to Sunset View Park to take in the waterfront views.
Be sure to take some time to explore Blue Mountain village. This pedestrian-only area is decorated with beautiful lights and is a great place to grab a bite at one of the many restaurants, food vendors, or pubs. Plus, Blue Mountain Village has events going on almost every week if you’re looking for a party.
The Blue Mountains are the ideal destination for anyone looking to make the most of Ontario during the winter months, and the massive selection of activities and stunning sights ensures that you’ll never have time to sit around wondering what to do next.
Where to Stay Near The Blue Mountains?
The Westin Trillium House hotel, located at the base of the Blue Mountain Ski Resort in the heart of the village, is an ideal place to stay.
Its central location makes it convenient for getting around, and the property allows pets as a bonus. The onsite café and grill are a popular choice among guests, and the hotel’s bar also attracts plenty of visitors to mingle with.
While summer is my favorite time to be in Toronto, there’s no shortage of fun things to do in the winter too. Starting in November after the fall season, the city becomes alive with lights, events, and markets.
I love the Toronto Christmas Market in the distillery district, which has been ranked one of the best in the world. You can ride a Ferris wheel, drink mulled wine, and hear local performers sing Christmas tunes. It’s magical.
In winter, another must-visit place in Toronto is Nathan Phillips Square by city hall. It’s the site for many of the city’s annual events and concerts. During the winter season, the large display fountain gets turned into a beautiful public skating rink, and often there is a live DJ!
Casa Loma is an iconic Toronto landmark, and during the winter, you can experience its magic on a spectacular holiday light tour. This year’s event runs from December 22nd – to January 31st, 2021.
Where to stay: The Westin Harbour Castle is located right on Lake Ontario, with select rooms boasting views of the lake and Toronto’s stunning city skyline. This 4-star hotel offers well-appointed, luxurious accommodation and facilities, including an indoor pool, roof-top tennis courts, and a fitness center.
With over one hundred stunning waterfalls in the area, the opportunities for scenic winter hikes make Hamilton one of the best winter destinations in Ontario.
The most popular waterfalls to visit in Hamilton during the cold months include Tew Falls, Webster Falls, and Albion Falls; these can freeze completely solid when the weather falls cold enough. Tourism Hamilton even has a waterfall guide to help you find them!
The downtown area of Hamilton is also a great place to be during Christmas time, as it becomes fully decorated with Christmas trees and light displays, as well as hosting holiday-themed events.
Where to Stay in Hamilton?
Check out the 4-star Homewood Suites by Hilton Hamilton, which offers residents access to a 24-hour onsite fitness center and swimming pool and stunning décor and luxurious furnishings. Plus, it’s located in a prime location in Hamilton to make the most of everything this region offers.
Places to Visit In Ontario in Winter: Ottawa
Ottawa is one of Canada’s prettiest destinations year-round, especially in the wintertime when the city becomes blanketed in snow. One of the best reasons to visit Ottawa in winter is skating on the world-famous Rideau Canal.
Stretching 200 km from Kingston to Ottawa, this impressive engineering feat has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the world’s largest skating rink.
The rink is free to use and is usually open from January to early March, depending on the weather.
Ottawa is also home to Winterlude, a two-week-long festival of winter activities like ice carving competitions, ice skating, and dance parties. The 2022 event is scheduled for Feb 4th-21nd.
Where to stay in Ottawa: It doesn’t get dreamier than the Fairmont Chateaux Laurier. This historic hotel is located in central Ottawa, adjacent to the Parliament Buildings and Rideau Canal. Every room is classically furnished with a work desk and window overlooking the city. There’s also an indoor pool, health club, fitness center, and two restaurants that feature views of Parliament.
Next up on the list of the best places to visit in Ontario this winter is Kingston, a stunning city located directly on Lake Ontario that’s most well known for its spectacular sights and wintery scenes. It’s also the gateway to the thousand islands, a beautiful national park with more than 1,800 islands along the St. Lawrence River.
Some of the best things to do in Kingston include ice skating at Springer Market Square or visiting the plethora of Christmas markets hosted around the region every year, like the Kingston Holiday Market or the All Things Christmas Sales. They also host an annual month-long festival in February called Feb Fest.
You can enjoy the wide variety of restaurants, cafes, shops, and cafes at any time of year in Kingston’s charming old town.
Where to Stay Near Kingston?
One of the top picks for accommodation in Kingston is the All-Suites Whitney Manor. This gorgeous property boasts several suites with spacious seating areas, a flat-screen TV, fireplace, and a full kitchen.
The marble bathroom offers a glass shower stall, and some units open out onto a private balcony or a patio for soaking in the winter views! It’s one of the most unique places to stay in Ontario.
What to Pack For Ontario in Winter
If you’re planning a trip to Ontario this winter, make sure you pack warm clothes because the Ontario weather is no joke – it can be freezing! Temperatures in Ontario can potentially fall as low as -30 degrees Celsius, and that’s before adding in the bite of wind chill. Check out this Canada winter gear guide for more information about what to bring.
Fortunately, the temperatures in Ontario over winter are still bearable, owing to the region’s relatively low humidity. I recommend packing the below items if you want to make the most of the beautiful ice and snow displays.
- thermal base layers over a shirt (I love merino wool)
- A Fleece Sweater
- Regular pants with snow pants over them
- Parka or equivalent snow jacket
- wool socks. I love smart wool because it’s light to pack but keeps you warm!
- Good waterproof winter boots. I love Sorels!
- Warm gloves, a hat, and a scarf. I highly recommend a buff which you can pull up to cover your face. It’s one of my favorite winter accessories!
Ontario is one of these magical destinations that is unlike any other once the snow begins to fall, transforming the region into a winter wonderland that’s sure to capture the hearts of anyone who visits. Hopefully, this list of the best places to visit in Ontario this winter has given you some ideas and inspiration about where to go!
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