10 ways to enjoy winter in Ontario before it's over

Head north, my friends

By Kae Lani Kennedy,

By February, most people are eagerly awaiting the end of winter, rushing into spring by heading to warmer temperatures. Instead, be one of the brave few who trek north into even colder territories. 

So, why go to a place where the hurts your face? Well, colder destinations know how to celebrate winter. Rather than complain about frigid temperatures, they whip out the heating lamps, mull some wine and light up those long nights with winter festivals. Locals from colder climates are skilled at the art of bundling up and they embrace the chill, taking pride in their ability to endure.

To get your final fix of winter, head north to Ontario and learn how to better appreciate the cold.

Enjoy the Toronto Light Festival

Let your light shine at the Toronto Light Festival — Photo courtesy of Kae Lani

From January through March, art installations light up the night in Toronto’s Distillery Historic District. Over 30 designs illuminate the streets of this neighborhood, transforming the brick walkways into an open-air gallery.

The streets of the Distillery District are also lined with restaurants and bars, so when the air gets a bit too brisk, there are plenty of places where you can seek refuge.

Ice skate on the Bentway

Under the Gardiner Expressway, near the Fort York neighborhood, is an exciting urban development project. Utilizing unused space under the highway, Toronto architects dreamed up The Bentway Skate Trail.

Currently, the ice skating path is a 220-meter "lazy figure 8," but the city of Toronto hopes to extend this into a 1.7-kilometer trail, giving Torontonians a new way to navigate the city.

Take a bite out of Ontario's cities

What’s the best way to discover a neighborhood? Through its food! So, warm up with a feast of a tour that’s as filling as it is educational.

These Culinary Adventure Co. tours will lead you through the lesser known neighborhoods that tourists don’t usually explore and introduce you to the cuisines that locals are passionate about. After all, "food tastes better when you know where its coming from, " says Kevin Durkee, the company's owner.

Tours are available throughout Canada, and within the province of Ontario, tours are available in Toronto, Ottawa and Kingston.

Go cross country skiing in High Park

No need to head to the country to get your powder fix. High Park is 399 acres of public parkland that has plenty of open green spaces and hiking trails to explore. So you can enjoy the invigorating sport of cross country skiing, a wintertime favorite, without even leaving the city of Toronto.

High Park offers parking for visitors coming by car, but it's also accessible by public transit.

Experience the sport of curling

If the Winter Olympics has taught us anything, it's that the world loves curling, one of the most Canadian pastimes ever. Toronto is home to a number of curling clubs, many of which will allow you to borrow their equipment if you didn’t travel with your own broomstick.

Throw axes in the city where the sport started

In recent years, axe throwing has taken the world by storm. And it just so happens that the sport began in Toronto in 2006. Axe throwing is exactly what it sounds like; players hurl axes toward a target and try to rack up more points than their opponents.

It’s a relaxing and fun sport that encourages releasing your inner lumberjack. It’s also one of the few sports where you’re allowed to drink beer while playing.

Go snowshoeing in the backcountry

Outdoor lovers can find the trail that they're looking for, like this one in Killarney Provincial Park, at Ontario Trails — Photo courtesy of Ontario Trails

13.6 million people live in Ontario, with most of them concentrated in the cities of Toronto and the Canadian capital of Ottawa. The rest of the territory is pristine nature and wilderness, and one of the best ways to explore Ontario’s backcountry trails in winter is by snowshoeing.

This endeavor takes minimal equipment, it’s a great workout, and if you can walk, then you can snowshoe!

Take cooking classes at The Good Earth Food and Wine Co.

Good wine deserves to be paired with a good meal. In addition to making award-winning table wines, Good Earth Food and Wine Co. offers cooking classes with some of the Niagara region's best chefs.

Get up close and personal with Niagara Falls

To see Niagara Falls from the Ontario side is stunning, but to see the falls in winter, when it’s partially frozen, is a completely unique experience. The closest you can get to this mighty waterfall is with Journey Behind the Falls, which takes guests through a series of tunnels and outlooks behind the veil.

Though the experience is open year-round, seeing Niagara Falls rushing through sheets of ice proves just how powerful nature can be.

Toast with ice wine

Indulge in ice wine — Photo courtesy of Kae Lani

Exploring a wineries in winter may sound strange, but in a microclimate region that specializes in making ice wine, it's exciting. Tour one (or more) of the wineries and you’ll learn about the intricate art of making ice wine, as well as what makes the Niagara version unique to any other wine in the world.

Ice wine can be enjoyed during any time of year, but during the winter months is when it's particularly celebrated.