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There are so many beautiful places to visit in Ontario in winter.
There’s no shortage of places in Ontario offering incredible adventures during the winter. Whether you’re looking for snowshoeing trails to admire the gorgeous winter landscapes or something more adrenaline-filled to get your heart racing, you can find it in Ontario.
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 during winter for a getaway filled with adventure and relaxation.
Best Places to Visit In Ontario During Winter
#1. Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls’ unrivaled beauty can be enjoyed yearround, 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 compared to the summer months.
Witness the dazzling lights at the Niagara Falls Winter Festival of Lights, a majestic display of over 3 million lights illuminating the night sky across Niagara Falls! The 2023 event runs from November 12th to February 20th.
Alternatively, the Niagara Ice Wine Festival is another great festival to time your trip with, as are the New Year’s Eve celebrations.
As for things to do anytime, 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. These two destinations combined are among the best places to visit in winter in Canada.
Where to Stay in Niagara Falls
Niagara falls should absolutely be top of your list of winter places to visit in Ontario. 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.
#2. 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.
For something special, come during the annual Snowday on the Wanderfront. Featuring ice sculptures, live music, and a variety of winter activities – this is a great way to embrace winter.
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!
Spend some time enjoying long runs at Thunder Bay’s stunning collection of cross-country skiing parks.
The Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, with over 68 km of trails of varying difficulty, the more family-friendly Nordic Ski Club, and the picturesque Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park are a few parks that should be on your list!
Thunder Bay is not just a winter destination, but a city with a vibrant culture and history. The city is home to many museums and galleries, offering visitors the chance to explore the area’s rich heritage. There are also plenty of restaurants and shops to explore.
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!
#3. 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’re looking for an adventure-filled trip.
It’s one of the best places to visit in Ontario for the weekend if you’re living in Toronto, 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 spending the day at the Scandinave Spa in Collingwood.
From eucalyptus steam rooms, thermal waterfalls, and massages, to a forest bathing trail, you can choose from a variety of spa services specializing in Scandinavian-styled saunas and baths that are sure to put you in a zen state.
It’s magical sitting in the outdoor hot tubs while the snow falls over you.
They also have a bistro nearby where you can indulge in delicious, healthy snacks while enjoying your spa break before winding down for the day.
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 Toronto in winter. Starting in November after the fall season, the city becomes alive with lights, events, and markets.
One of my favorite places to visit in Toronto in winter is 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 the 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 accommodations 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.
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 to skate 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.
In winter, the Canal transforms into a 7.8 km long ice skating rink that offers stunning views of historic landmarks such as the Parliament Buildings, Dow’s Lake, and Carleton University. You’ll feel as if you’re skating through an enchanted city lined with the beautiful French-gothic architecture of Chateau Laurier.
The best part? Using the Rideau Canal Skateway is completely free! If you don’t have a pair of skates, you can find plenty of rentals along the skateway. You can then warm up with a cup of coffee and the world-famous BeaverTails drizzled with maple syrup to get the true Canadian experience!
The rink 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 in February that showcases the country’s cultural and culinary talents.
Food and drinks, dance parties, performances by Canadian artists, ice carving competitions, and a large snow playground are some of the activities you’ll find at Winterlude.
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.
#8. Algonquin Provincial Park
Algonquin Provincial Park is one of the best places to visit in Ontario during the winter months, offering stunning natural beauty, stunning wildlife, and peaceful seclusion.
Located three hours north of Toronto, the park spans over 7,500 square kilometers of dense forests, beautiful rivers, and numerous lakes. It’s also home to a wide variety of Canadian wildlife, including moose, deer, beavers, otters, and a variety of birds.
Be careful while driving on the road to the park, however, as animals will sometimes be on the road. I’ve seen bears on the side!
During the Ontario winter months, you can enjoy activities like cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. If you want to stay longer than a day, there’s a number of cozy lodges to choose from, and winter camping is available in the backcountry if you’re feeling adventurous!
Located two hours north of Toronto, Muskoka is one of the most popular places to go in the summer for a classic Canadian cabin weekend. However, during winter, the area is transformed into a winter wonderland, with snow-covered lakes, rolling hills and forests, and many activities and attractions.
During winter, visitors can enjoy activities such as snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and ice fishing. If you’re looking for something a little more adventurous, there are plenty of snowmobiling trails and dog sledding tours available.
For those looking to relax, Muskoka is home to numerous spas and resorts, offering a variety of treatments and activities. There are also plenty of restaurants, pubs, and cafés to enjoy, as well as many art galleries and craft studios to explore.
#10. Bruce Peninsula National Park
Located on the tip of the Bruce Peninsula, the park offers spectacular views of Georgian Bay and its rugged shoreline. The park is home to an incredible diversity of wildlife, including wolves, black bears, lynxes, and bald eagles.
Bruce Peninsula National Park is a popular summer destination given its proximity to the historic Georgian Bay. But Anybody who’s been to the grotto in the winter is familiar with the mesmerizing beauty you witness after reaching the grotto in Tobermory.
The park offers a variety of activities to enjoy during the winter months, such as snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. There are also many hiking trails to explore, offering stunning views of Georgian Bay.
The campgrounds in Bruce Peninsula National Park are still open during the winter months, offering visitors the chance to experience the park in a more intimate way.
The park also offers interpretive centers and guided hikes where visitors can learn more about the park’s history and wildlife.
#11. Arrowhead Provincial Park
Arrowhead Provincial Park is a great destination to visit in Ontario in winter. Located in the heart of Muskoka, this picturesque park offers something for everyone, from outdoor adventurers to families looking for a peaceful getaway.
During the winter months, visitors can enjoy a variety of activities, such as skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.
One of the most popular attractions at Arrowhead Provincial Park is the skating trail. This winding trail takes visitors through the thick Muskoka forest, offering breathtaking views of frozen lakes and snow-covered forests. In addition to the skating trail, the park also offers a variety of other activities such as tobogganing, snowshoeing, skiing, and snowmobiling.
The park is also home to a variety of wildlife, including white-tailed deer, snowshoe hares, and coyotes. For those looking to explore the park’s wildlife, interpretive centers and guided hikes are also available. Visitors can also explore the park’s historical sites, such as the Arrowhead Museum and the remains of an old logging camp.
In the winter months, Elora is transformed into a winter wonderland, with snow-covered streets and picturesque views of the frozen river.
Visitors can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, such as skating on the Elora Quarry, ice climbing, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. The Elora Gorge Conservation Area is also a great spot for winter hikes, offering stunning views of the frozen landscape. After a day outside, treat yourself to a spa treatment at the Elora Mill and Spa.
In addition to winter activities, Elora also boasts a variety of cultural attractions, including several art galleries, museums, and historic sites. The Wellington County Museum and Archives offers visitors a unique look into the region’s history and culture in the nearby village of Fergus. There’s also the Fergus Grand Theatre, which showcases live performances throughout the year.
Discover more things to in winter 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 that 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 in winter has given you some ideas and inspiration about where to go!