Hygge inspirations in Ontario
Introduced to the world as “hygge” (pronounced “hoo-gah”), this simple pursuit of happiness is a Nordic way of life, especially in Denmark, one of the happiest places in the world. It encourages a cozy atmosphere that promotes happiness and well-being.
Hygge can be experienced every season, but it makes the cold and short winter days more relaxed and comfortable with the introduction of soft lighting from candles and the warm ambiance of a glowing fireplace.
Unplug and spend uninterrupted time learning something new, discovering a good book, indulging in a hearty meal, treating yourself to pastries, desserts and other baked goods, or sharing cherished moments with friends and family that make lasting memories.
Here are a few cozy Ontario winter destinations and activities inspired by hygge.
Prince Edward County
A well-loved region to visit during the summer, Prince Edward County also offers enjoyable winter activities. Picton is the largest town in the county and Bloomfield is known for its idyllic settings.
Things to do
Indie bookstore Books & Company has a balance of obscure and popular book titles to keep bibliophiles perusing its shelves. Lily’s Café shares space with the bookstore and offers desserts and specialty coffees.
Keep an eye out for the events available at The Weekend Social. It’s a venue that fosters community and hosts informative workshops where you can socialize while you sip on cocktails and brews. Previous workshops have included wine and cheese pairings and ways to be mindful.
Crepe Escape is a spacious sit-down restaurant where you can enjoy a variety of sweet or savory crepes. There are also vegan and build-your-own crepes. The open-fire cooking method at Flame + Smith adds to its rustic charm and makes an exciting conversation piece.
The simple decor of The Marans presents the perfect backdrop with cozy seating to enjoy a few treats with friends and family. Open seven days a week, County Canteen has a dessert menu with sticky toffee pudding and chocolate peanut butter cheesecake.
Angeline’s Inn provides accommodation that exudes retro charm. Stay at one of the unique cottages or motels, or try the beautifully restored House of Falconer, which can accommodate up to four people with its spacious and cozy layout and exposed wood decor.
Enjoy country hospitality at the Waring House, which has 49 cozy guestrooms. There are also cooking lessons available at the Cookery School.
The Eddie Hotel and Farm is another rustic gem with direct access to the Millennium Trail, the gateway to numerous natural landscapes. Book winter accommodation in the carriage house with a bathroom and kitchenette, or the rustic Bunkie that includes homemade breakfast between 8:30 and 9:30 a.m.
Runaway Rooster B&B & Guest Cottage has four unique spaces for overnight stays. The Runaway Rooster Cottage is one of the spaces with a retro Boho-chic vibe brimming with warmth and coziness to create the perfect comfortable place to lounge.
Tip: Be sure to book accommodation early to avoid disappointment.
Ontario’s oldest city is brimming with the historical charm that will warm you with delight and offers lots of fun activities to keep you entertained during winter.
Things to do
Cataraqui Conservation offers forest therapy walks to connect with nature. Minotaur is a game and gift shop where you can buy activities and puzzles for family game night. Antique lovers will want to check out the Kingston Winter Antiques Show and the retro and unique gift ideas at Antique Alley. Improbable Escapes makes game night exciting, with board games available to purchase or rent.
Complete with comfortable furniture and an inviting fireplace, Toast and Jam is the perfect place for tasty brunch and delicious comfort food options. Enjoy a hot beverage with French crepes from Geneva Crepe Cafe Bistro, such as a Nutella crepe with whipped cream, icing sugar and fruit.
Located near downtown Kingston, The Secret Garden Inn boasts spacious rooms with Victorian era decor. Make a reservation for The Secret Garden Inn High Tea to enjoy the cakes, scones and other delicious desserts and delicacies.
Frontenac Club is a renovated heritage building that offers comfortable accommodation. Experience Frontenac Club’s winter pop-up sauna, which features outdoor sauna pods, from December 1, 2022, to March 31, 2023.
Home of the world’s largest naturally frozen skating rink, Ottawa is a great place to visit in the winter.
Things to do
In addition to guided tours, Ottawa Art Gallery offers activities and workshops that tap into artistry and creativity for adults and kids. Learn about sketching techniques with fellow art lovers during Sketchy Thursdays or have deep discussions about art during Happy Hour while enjoying a drink.
Register for cooking classes at C’est Bon to learn about cooking fundamentals or more specialized ways to cook. Shop for candles made from soy and beeswax at Maker House Company.
There are also one-of-a-kind games and puzzles at Level One Game Pub, where over 900 games are available to play in the relaxed lounge with friends and family. The staff can provide suggestions if you are overwhelmed by the extensive selections. For shopping recommendations, Boogie+birdie has the perfect pair of snug socks for lounging or reading socks when enjoying a good book.
At the Byward Market, you can find tasty desserts, pastries and bread at Moulin de Province or buy wholesome homemade desserts at Planet Coffee and enjoy freshly brewed coffee.
Vegan and gluten-free meal options are available at Art House, which has a creative vibe courtesy of the artistic decor supplied by many local artists. Mamma Grazzi is another local favourite and a cozy Italian restaurant with hearty food that’s also a great spot to spend time with a special person. Gezellig offers sustainable dining options in Ottawa’s Westboro neighbourhood.
Travellers Haven Motel in Nepean has cozy cabins equipped with fireplaces. Free muffins and hot chocolate are available with the accommodation. LIV Apartments Ottawa are furnished apartments located in Ottawa’s Centretown West.
From winter-perfect sights to explore and photograph to cozy retreats that will keep you snug and warm, it’s always a treat to visit Stratford.
Things to do
Stratford Perth Museum offers many educational programs for adults and kids. You can also rent snowshoes to explore the trails near the museum.
Get comfortable in the warm atmosphere at the Braai House, a South African-inspired restaurant with open-fire cooking. Vegan and vegetarian menu options are available.
Take a self-guided tour to visit Stratford’s top confectioners and bakers on the Chocolate Trail. Sip the finest coffee and tea from Buzz Stop Fine Coffees And Teas and savour the freshly brewed hot beverages infused with the finest flavours on a cold day. Pick up homemade organic bread made with wholesome ingredients at Vann’s Bakery.
Check in at the quaint Stamp House. This restored historical B&B offers weekend cooking classes that can be customized to your needs. It’s an excellent opportunity to brush up on cooking techniques or learn a new culinary skill while enjoying Stratford.
South Georgian Bay
Winter months in South Georgian Bay offer brisk walks in serene and picturesque woodland trails and cozy places to stay.
Things to do
Located in Princeville, Red Hen Artisanale offers baking workshops for various culinary skill levels. Learn to make breads, bagels and master making puff pastries and flaky pies. In Collingwood, Serendipity Candles offers candle making workshops and sells candle making kits with simple instructions to take home.
Dags & Willow Fine Cheese and Gourmet Shop has both locally made and international artisan cheeses. Collingwood Olive Oil Company has high quality fresh harvest olive oil and balsamic vinegars.
Wake up and admire the blanket of snow that creates a magical winter landscape from the comforts of Craigleith Manor Boutique Bed & Breakfast. Located near the Georgian Trail, accommodation packages include snowshoeing and wine-tasting packs or an adventurous Nordic cross-county ski tour with a homemade hot meal.
For a cozy and remote winter experience, book a comfortable cabin in Haliburton.
Cabinscape cabins are also located in Muskoka, the Kawarthas, Calabogie and Lanark County. The cabins are outfitted with kitchenettes, so you can apply your culinary skills while admiring nature from your cozy cabin.
To add some adventure to the accommodation, consider winter adventures offered from Yours Outdoors and enjoy activities to learn how to ski, experience snowga (a combination of snowshoeing and yoga), practice Tai Chi outdoors and so many other winter experiences.
Located in Castleton, Northumberland’s hilltop winter retreat is just ten minutes north of Colborne.
Fells Meadows includes private accommodation surrounded by nature and is easily accessible by taxi if you don’t travel by car. It’s also close to Cobourg’s VIA Rail train station, making it an easy getaway for city dwellers. Choose from different accommodations that range from the large farmhouse for big groups to the cozy yurt that’s more intimate.
Relax in front of the fireplace at the farmhouse with family and friends, enjoy homemade meals and participate in engaging workshops. There’s also plenty of time to do outdoor activities. Admire the hilltop views and take in the mesmerizing panoramic view from the nearby Ranney Gorge Suspension Bridge in Campbellford.
Located in Ontario’s Huron County, the idyllic beach town of Goderich boasts fun winter events and activities.
Things to do
Goderich’s Winterfest is an annual event that takes place February 3–5, 2023. It’s a time to connect with local artisans and makers and enjoy many activities, including the tasty Chili Cook-off.
The Candlelit Winter Walks in Maitland Woods is a much-anticipated part of the festival. Sponsored by the Maitland Trail Association, people of all ages place lanterns and candles along a kilometre-long trail in Maitland Woods, creating a magical winter experience. The path concludes with hot chocolate and treats.
Cait's Café is an inviting and perfect spot to enjoy a hot cup of coffee, baked goods and comfort food. Nearby, Steve and Mary's On the Square is a family sit-down restaurant with menu items cooked with love.
Vegetarian options can be found at Yoga Garden, including cookies, muffins and other delicious sweets. River Run Restaurant has a pleasant atmosphere and large windows. West Street Willy's Eatery is another family restaurant where you can enjoy breakfast or brunch.
Formerly a mill, Benmiller Inn & Spa is a cozy retreat with 55 guest rooms. Located near the Goderich-to-Guelph (G2G) Rail Trail, there are lots of opportunities in the area to enjoy hiking and skiing.
More hygge-inspired winter activities in Ontario include:
- Best places for stargazing
- Guided snowshoeing tours and rentals
- See the northern lights
- Outdoor wellness
Last updated: January 9, 2023