Easy winter getaways for Ontario families
Instead of escaping to a southern locale this winter, we’ve rounded up fun adventures closer to home.
Best winter weekend family getaways
Snowtubing at Chicopee Tube Park, Waterloo
Why you’ll love it: Named by FlightNetwork as one of the Top 50 Canadian Winter Experiences, Chicopee Tube Park is one of the area’s most popular wintertime attractions for good reason. With six different tubing chutes, reaching heights of up to 76 metres (250 ft) and lengths of 274 metres (900 ft), everyone is guaranteed to have a good sleep at the end of the day.
How to make it happen: It’s not unusual for this park to hit capacity on weekends. Buy tickets online in advance to guarantee your spot.
While you’re there: All tube park participants must be at least 4 years old and over 100 cm (42 in) in height. Got a little one that doesn’t fit that description? While the rest of the family races down the hill, head across the street to Play-A-Latte, a café with a play structure and activities for kids 7 and under.
Treetop Eco-Adventure Park, Oshawa
Why you’ll love it: Set in the Oak Ridges Moraine north of Oshawa, this park is best known for its zipline and aerial obstacle course suspended high in the treetops. But that’s not the end of the adventurous activities for ages 3 and up; there’s also children’s courses, axe throwing and combat archery. And yes, it’s open year-round!
How to make it happen: Pricing ranges between $17.70 and $53.10 per person, dependent on age and activity. Reservations are required and can be made online.
While you’re there: Extend your trip by planning a day at Dagmar Ski Resort. It has plenty of learner-friendly features, including magic carpets to get up the hill and specialized children’s instructors.
Skate the Cranberry Ice Trail, Muskoka Lakes Farm & Winery
Why you’ll love it: There’s waterfalls, a hockey rink, fires and an on-site winery with hot mulled wine on the menu. As for the main attraction, it’s a 1.2 km loop around 12 acres of cranberries, with the aptly named Cranboni smoothing the trail. As if that wasn’t enough, on Saturday nights the trail is lit by 400 tiki torches. Yes, please.
How to make it happen: The trail is open from 11am to 4pm daily, with torchlight skating on Saturdays from 6pm-9pm. Passes cost $12 for adults and $8 for kids 12 and under, with skates available for rental.
While you’re there: Nearby, the Sherwood Inn offers a Cranberry Ice Trail package, which includes trail passes, a bog-to-bottle tour, accommodation and daily breakfast. Want to turn the family outing into a date just for two? Enlist the Sherwood’s babysitting services.
All-inclusive weekend at Bayview Wildwood Resort, Gravenhurst
Why you’ll love it: If you’re trying to get your kids off their devices, this just might be the place to do it. Located beside Lake Sparrow, Bayview Wildwood Resort has an exhaustive list of outdoor activities, including cross-country ski trails, snowshoes, horse-drawn wagon rides, ice-fishing, an indoor pool and hot tub, ice skating rinks and even tobogganing hills.
How to make it happen: Packages include activities, accommodation, breakfast and dinner. Email email@example.com or call 1-800-461-0243 or 705-689-2338 for rates and reservations.
While you’re there: Stop in nearby Gravenhurst to sample the taps at the Sawdust City Brewing Co.
Learn to luge with Ontario Luge Association, Calabogie
Why you’ll love it: Perfect for kids 10 and over with a need for speed, one-hour luging lessons are hosted by the Ontario Luge Association, with instruction from former Olympic athletes and coaches.
How to make it happen: Lessons are hosted Saturday afternoons from January to March and cost $25. Individual lessons can also be booked on Sundays by phoning 1-800-669-4861 ext. 1705.
While you’re there: Make a weekend of it by booking a stay at Calabogie Peaks Resort, where wintertime activities include downhill skiing, snowboarding, pond skating, ice-fishing and more.
Stargaze at David Thompson Astronomical Observatory, Thunder Bay
Why you’ll love it: You’re far enough north that seeing the aurora borealis isn’t outside of the realm of possibility. At the state-of-the-art David Thompson Astronomical Observatory, you’ll have access to one of the largest telescopes in Central Canada, capable of spotting galaxies, planets and nebulae.
How to make it happen: Every Friday at 3pm, the observatory hosts a solar walk program ($5 for ages 13 and up). For nighttime programs, call 807-473-2344 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
While you’re there: The observatory is located at Fort William Historical Park, the world’s largest fur trading post. Check its website for special wintertime events, such as the annual Voyageur Winter Carnival.
Go skating at Kivi Park and Ramsey Lake Skate Path, Sudbury
Why you’ll love it: One of the newest recreation areas in Sudbury, Kivi Park is an all-season playground set on over 450 acres of Cambrian Shield. You can hike, ski, snowshoe or fat bike through its extensive network of trails, but its latest addition is a 1.3 km skate path, complete with lights and a sound system.
How to make it happen: Local outdoors store Adventure365 offers rental service with a location directly in Kivi Park. Everything you might need or want—from fat bikes to skis—is available to hire.
While you’re there: The kids will love spending the day exploring the all ages exhibits at Science North, or get more skate time on the 1.5 km Ramsey Lake Skate Path.
Skating in MacGregor Point Provincial Park, Port Elgin
Why you’ll love it: Located on the shores of Lake Huron near Port Elgin, MacGregor Point has an ice-skating loop hidden in the middle of the forest. It’s lit up at night, which you can have a chance to fully enjoy if you spend a night camping in one of the 16 year-round yurts.
How to make it happen: Yurt bookings may be made online through the Ontario Parks Reservations system for $86 per night.
Yurt camping in Killarney Provincial Park, Killarney
Why you’ll love it: If you’ve always dreamed of winter camping but been held back by the lack of gear and know-how, yurting might be the answer. Located at George Lake Campground, Killarney’s six yurts are heated and available year-round. They also give you easy access to 33 km of trails.
How to make it happen: Book your yurt online through the Ontario Parks Reservations system. The cost of $86 per night, with a two-night minimum.
While you’re there: Don’t have your own snowshoes? Swing by the park office, where they can be rented for $12.50 for adults and $7.50 for kids per day. Cross-country skis are also available for $15 per day.
Build a snow shelter adventure, Thunder Bay
Why you’ll love it: Got kids who keep trying to build an igloo in the backyard? This workshop is for them. Suitable for all ages and tailored to beginners, including those with limited experience in the outdoors, this private excursion will see your family building a quinzee or shelter in the snow.
How to make it happen: Available for groups of up to six, the Snow Shelter Adventure starts at $89 per person for a half-day, or $129 per person for a full day. Book online with Outdoor Skills & Thrills.
While you’re there: Every Sunday from late December until March, Thunder Bay hosts the family-friendly Winter FunDays at Prince Arthur’s Landing Marina Park, with free activities including snow sculpting.
Skate along the waterfront, Sault Ste. Marie
Why you’ll love it: One of the newest ice rinks to open in Sault Ste. Marie, Clergue Park’s kilometre-long circuit takes skaters past the Art Gallery of Algoma and the Elsie Savoie Sculpture Park. Plan your visit for a Friday or Saturday, when you can warm up with a trailside hot chocolate and s’more beside the fire.
How to make it happen: Located at 10 East Street, the trail is open from 10am to 10pm on weekends, and from noon to 10pm from Monday to Friday. For special events and vendor updates, follow the City of Sault Ste. Marie on Facebook.
While you’re there: Time your visit to coincide with the Bon Soo, the city’s annual winter carnival.
Dogsledding with Ravens Adventures, Cochrane
Why you’ll love it: Specializing in customizable private experiences, Ravens Adventures are one-of-a-kind tours designed specifically for your family. During your outing, you’ll meet Ravens’ pack of Siberian huskies, Alaskan huskies and border collie sled dogs, and even have a chance to drive the team. For those eager to howl at the moon, nighttime tours are also an option.
How to make it happen: Tours start at $100/hour per person ($200 per person for moonlight tours). Email email@example.com or call 705-272-1210 to book your excursion.
While you’re there: Visit the Canadian Polar Bear Habitat to learn about the conservation of the species, and meet four bears that wouldn’t survive in the wild on their own.
Ice climb with Superior Exploration, Batchawana Bay
Why you’ll love it: Since 1981, instructor Shaun Parent has taught over 4,000 students how to climb sheets of ice using crampons and ice picks. Considered the pioneer of ice climbing in the Lake Superior region, he takes newcomers to some of the highest and most accessible ice in the region, with pitches suitable for all skill levels.
How to make it happen: Intro courses start at $175 per person. To register your interest, visit Superior Exploration’s website.
While you’re there: A gift shop stop for 40 years Agawa Crafts and the Canadian Carver is and now under the ownership of the Serpent River First Nation Economic Development Corporation. It carries locally made Indigenous handicrafts and leather goods.
Skiing and snowboarding at Searchmont Ski Resort, Searchmont
Why you’ll love it: With two brand new triple lifts, 21 runs of varying difficulty, a terrain park for catching air, bush trails for the adventurous, and even Nordic trails, there’s something for every member of your family at this popular Algoma ski hill.
How to make it happen: Day lift tickets start at $54, with discounted rates for night skiing and beginner belt tickets. Gear rental and lessons are also available.
While you’re there: Soak up the après-ski vibes and live music at the Kiln, Searchmont’s new restaurant and bar.
Fat biking at Crimson Ridge, Sault Ste. Marie
Why you’ll love it: During the winter months, this golf course transforms into a wintertime destination, with skiing, skating and snowshoeing on-offer. What locals head here for, though, is the fat biking. There are over 15 kilometres of groomed scenic and technical trails to ride, which are open to the public seven days a week.
How to make it happen: Vélorution Bike & Ski, located at 162 Old Garden River Rd., rents fat bikes starting at $50 per day. It also will give you tips on all the other fat biking trails available in the area.
While you’re there: At Entomica Insectarium, kids can meet, feed and even make a bug.
Getaway to Green Bay Lodge, Manitoulin Island
Why you’ll love it: In terms of family getaways in Ontario winter, the largest freshwater island in the world deserves a little bit more time to sink into it. We recommend basing your explorations from the recently renovated Green Bay Lodge. There are ample opportunities for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and ice-fishing. Since there’s no WiFi, family time—not screen time—will become the focus.
How to make it happen: Bookings may be made online, with rates starting at $189 per night.
While you’re there: To learn more about the region’s Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi history and culture, book an educational tour.
Why you’ll love it: Situated on 485 acres overlooking the Laurentian Mountains just outside North Bay, this ecolodge boasts extensive trails for cross-country skiing, tobogganing, snowshoeing and skating. However, it’s also one of the few places you can try kicksledding, a Scandinavian sport that’s likened to using a scooter on snow.
How to make it happen: Accommodation, which ranges from winterized glamping tents, a Mongolian yurt to log cabins with fireplaces, starts at $100 per night. If you choose to stay elsewhere, day passes ($50 for a family of four) are also available to access the resort’s trails and groomed sliding hill, with tubes and sleds included in the rate. (Kicksled rentals cost extra.)
While you’re there: Add downhill skiing to the agenda with a trip to Antoine Mountain.
Last updated: October 19, 2023