A man and woman having fun building a snow fort together.

Haliburton Highlands | Russell McLeod, Yours Outdoors

 

Winter getaways for adventurous couples in Ontario

A man and woman having fun building a snow fort together.

Haliburton Highlands | Russell McLeod, Yours Outdoors

 

From cross-country skiing and snowshoeing to cozy cabins and remote lodges, here are some of the best outdoor activities and romantic getaways for adventurous couples in Ontario.

Haliburton Highlands

Guided adventures with Yours Outdoors

Yours Outdoors offers a selection of customizable, niche cultural and outdoor adventures that celebrate Haliburton’s artistic community and breathtaking nature.

Choose from the introduction to snowshoeing or the unique "snowga" package that combines snowshoeing and yoga. By the end of your first experience, you’ll be clambering to book your next holiday here.

Check out the tiny cabins at Haliburton Forest & Wild Life Reserve. After your weekend in the woods is over, warm up with a cold beer at Haliburton Highlands Brewing, a nano-brewery that’s part of the Abbey Gardens complex.

Location: Haliburton Highlands

Dog sledding with Call of the Wild

The spotless, snow-covered landscapes of Algonquin Park are a sight to behold. Get your heart beating and pulse pumping on an active three- to four-day adventure of dog sledding, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and snowshoeing across beautiful terrain.

Follow each day with some rest and relaxation in a cozy eco-lodge deep in the forest. Enjoy the quiet of the Algonquin wilderness as you soak in the outdoor hot tub or unwind in the wood-fired sauna at the Algonquin Eco-Lodge.

Locations: Maynooth/Bancroft

Northeastern Ontario

Ice fishing at Sportsman’s Lodge Wilderness Resort

With almost 400 metres of waterfront and access to the back lakes of Donald, Potvin and Chuggin, you could reel in “the big one” while ice fishing at Sportsman's Lodge.

Even if you don’t catch anything, you won’t go hungry as the accommodation fee includes breakfast and dinner. Sportsman’s Lodge has extensive snowshoeing and cross-country skiing loops, including Donald Lake, where you can find 15-metre-high frozen falls.

Location: 240 Kukagami Lake Road, Wahnapitae, Kukagami Lake

All-inclusive cottage at Elk Lake Wilderness Resort

With cottage accommodation, breakfast and a hot dinner included, this package is designed for snowmobilers looking for the ultimate winter getaway. But here’s a romantic proposal for two: take a break from sledding to enjoy snowshoeing or ice fishing. Then indulge in the sauna and hot tub while everyone else is on the trails. As a bonus, it’s also pet-friendly.

Visit nearby Cobalt to see relics of the area’s mining past, including streetcar tracks hidden in the forest and the Cobalt Mining Museum.

Location: 590 Highway 65, Elk Lake

Go on a wildlife tour at Cedar Meadows Resort

Get up close and personal with bison, elk and deer while riding in a tractor-drawn wagon in a 40-hectare wildlife park at Cedar Meadows Resort & Spa. Rejuvenate in the Nordic Bath, surrounded by nature, enjoy delicious on-site meals and warm up in a cozy suite or chalet with a fireplace and jacuzzi.

Looking to see more wildlife? Visit the Canadian Polar Bear Habitat in Cochrane. And for more winter activities, try cross-country skiing or snowshoeing with the Porcupine Ski Runners, one of the largest Nordic ski clubs in Canada. Alternatively, feel the thrill of downhill skiing, snowboarding or tubing at Mount Jamieson Resort.

Location: 1000 Norman Street, Timmins

Sault Ste. Marie and Algoma

Remote wilderness at Norm’s Cabin

Set on the shores of Bone Lake, just 30 minutes north of Sault Ste. Marie, Norm's Cabin is a true wilderness escape that is only accessible by skiing or snowshoeing for 10 kilometres. Since the property is owned and managed by the Algoma Highlands Conservancy, your stay will also support the conservation of the region’s ecological integrity.

The second floor is reserved for paying guests, while day skiers are welcome to use the ground floor to warm up. On the weekends, you can also expect to share the rental with a ski host. Want to extend your adventure? Book a fat biking tour with local outfitter Red Pine Tours.

Location: 194 Pickard Road, Goulais River

Learn to telemark ski at Bellevue Valley Lodge

A skiing style that combines elements of Alpine and Nordic skiing, the telemark cross-country skiing technique is the passion of Bellevue Valley Lodge owners Enn Poldmaa and Robin MacIntyre. Since 1984, they have maintained 809 hectares of backcountry glades just northwest of Sault Ste. Marie.

Trail tours begin in January when Lake Superior begins its usual winter “snowmageddon”. Peak snowfall can be expected in late February, which is when Bellevue Valley Lodge hosts its annual Snowflea Telefest, the only backcountry snowshoe and telemark event in Ontario. The alpine-style chalet has two apartments with full facilities and a fireplace and accommodation includes trail fees, sauna and use of the barbecue. A minimum two-night stay is required to book.

Location: 326 Kirbys Road, Goulais River

Ultimate skiing and snowshoeing at Stokely Creek Lodge

It would be remiss not to include the much-loved Stokely Creek Lodge in a round-up of the best winter getaways in Ontario. With 100 kilometres of well-groomed trails that cross valleys, creeks and even peaks, this is the ultimate snowshoeing and cross-country skiing destination.

Their all-inclusive resort, which includes meals and trail passes, means you won’t have to worry about anything during your stress-free vacation. Time your visit to coincide with Bon Soo, Sault Ste. Marie’s annual winter festival, for an extra fun time.

Location: 194 Pickard Road, Goulais River

Northwestern Ontario

A sleigh ride for two at Gammondale Farm

This just might be the sweetest way to spend a winter afternoon. On Sue and Gerry Gammond’s farm just south of Thunder Bay, you can take a romantic, old-fashioned cutter Christmas sleigh ride for two around the foot of Candy Mountain with a cup of hot chocolate in hand. After your ride, pay a visit to the farm’s goats, sheep, rabbits and hens.

Enjoy a romantic dinner for two at Neebing Roadhouse and wrap up your picture-perfect holiday getaway at the Best Western Plus NorWester Hotel.

Location: 426 McCluskey Drive, Slate River Valley

Learn to ice climb with Outdoor Skills & Thrills

You don’t have to head to the Rockies to learn to ice climb. Since the 1980s, the sport has been thriving in Northwestern Ontario, attracting climbers from around the world. During this workshop at Kama Bay or Orient Bay, you’ll learn to confidently climb a frozen sheet of ice using crampons and ice axes.

Outdoor Skills & Thrills offers half-day and full-day courses for all skill levels. Reservations are required. Time your visit to coincide with the Nipigon Ice Fest, an annual event that includes clinics, gear swaps and snowshoe outings.

Celebrate your successes with dinner and drinks at Lot 66 Restaurant and Wine Bar and enjoy an overnight stay at the boutique Courthouse Hotel.

Locations: Thunder Bay, Orient Bay, Kama Bay

Cozy log cabin escape at Rose Valley Lodge & Restaurant

Enjoy skiing and snowshoeing on over 160 hectares of nature trails through awe-inspiring forests, meadows and ancient mountains. This hidden gem is located just southwest of Thunder Bay.

Later, enjoy a delicious European-style meal by Swiss hotelier Markus Hoffmann, then stay in a rustic log cabin complete with a Jacuzzi bathtub. Add to your getaway a romantic skate on the outdoor rink at Prince Arthur’s Landing in downtown Thunder Bay.

Location: 56 Rose Valley Road, South Gillies

Cross-country ski or snowshoe in Quetico Provincial Park

During the summer, Quetico Provincial Park, a two-hour drive west of Thunder Bay, is an internationally recognized wilderness paddling destination. But in the winter, it transforms into a snowy wonderland with ski and snowshoe trails right on the doorstep of its three winterized cabins: the Log Cabin, the Ojibway Cabin and the Winter Retreat (the latter of which is only available from October until April).

Make a stop at Little Falls, a 15-metre waterfall on the Atikokan River that can be accessed from the end of Little Falls Road. Then finish your day with a cozy dinner date at The Grill.

Location: ON-11, Atikokan

Secluded cabin getaway at Beyond the Giant

With over 50 kilometres of groomed cross-country ski trails, the breathtaking terrain of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park makes it one of the best places in Ontario for winter fun. After an active day of skiing or snowshoeing, cozy up by the fire in your secluded log cabin at Beyond the Giant Nature Retreat.

Candles, a gift basket, freshly baked bread and local foods help make this an extra special romantic getaway for couples. Finally, warm up the Finnish way by making a stop at Thunder Bay’s Kangas Sauna.

Location: 625 Portage Drive, Shuniah

Stay in a cozy yurt at Minaki Yurt Adventures

As its name suggests, Minaki Yurt Adventures is a great spot for yurt camping in Ontario, but it’s not the only thing they offer. Located in the boreal forest just outside Kenora, you’ll also enjoy 20 kilometres of cross-country skiing and hiking trails, a wood-fired sauna and an ice rink.

After exploring the vast wilderness, enjoy making your own homemade pizza in a wood-fired oven. In addition, a wood-burning stove is provided to ensure you both stay warm on even the coldest winter nights.

Location: 1 Trailhead Road, Minaki

Southeastern Ontario

Ski and snowboard at Mount Pakenham Ski Resort

Hit the slopes at Mount Pakenham Ski Resort, located about 45 minutes west of Ottawa. With 10 runs for all skill levels and night skiing on offer, plus equipment available for rent, Mount Pakenham is the perfect adrenaline-fueled date destination. The resort also offers snow tubing for both the young and the young at heart.

Later, enjoy a relaxing après ski at Centennial Restaurant with warm drinks and comfort food favourites. Round out your getaway with an overnight stay at the upscale Brookstreet Hotel, about a half-hour drive east in Kanata.

Location: 577 Ski Hill Road, Pakenham

Glide along the Rideau Canal Skateway

Visiting the historic Rideau Canal for a pleasure skate in the winter is a classic Canadian tradition. From January to March (weather-permitting), this UNESCO World Heritage Site is transformed every year into the world’s largest outdoor skating rink.

Enjoy a romantic glide down the frozen canal as you and your partner join half a million other skaters in the heart of Canada’s capital city. Ice skate rentals are available at one of three locations.

Warm up after your skate with a special “Ritz” hot chocolate (made with peppermint schnapps and crème de cacao) at Canal Ritz, or a cup of delicious cappuccino and a scoop of gelato at Stella Luna Café. Nothing says romance in the capital quite like a night at the historic Fairmont Château Laurier.

Location: Rideau Canal, Ottawa

Southwestern Ontario

Cross-country ski in Pinery Provincial Park

Pinery Provincial Park boasts some of the best cross-country skiing trails in Southwestern Ontario. There’s only one way to find out if the claim is true. Explore the park’s 38 kilometres of Nordic trails, designed for beginners and advanced skiers alike.

For an overnight stay, Pinery’s year-round yurts can be booked online through Ontario Parks Reservations. A two-night minimum booking applies. Stop in at the Refined Fool Sports Brewery in nearby Sarnia. In addition to the brews, they have indoor bocce ball, cornhole and other games that will lead you to believe it’s patio season in the middle of winter.

Location: 9526 Lakeshore Road, Grand Bend

Explore Tiffany Falls in Hamilton

During the winter season, the stunning Tiffany Falls freezes over and creates a magical winter wonderland scene. Located west of Hamilton, along the Bruce Trail near the historic town of Ancaster, it’s close to a parking lot, making this picture-perfect destination easily reachable by car.

If you and your partner are feeling especially adventurous, take an ice climbing class with One Axe Pursuits, then try scaling the frozen waterfalls for a majestic view at the top.

Savour a romantic meal at the Ancaster Mill followed by a cozy stay at The Barracks Inn.

Location: Tiffany Falls, Hamilton

Grey, Bruce and Simcoe

Snowshoe the Grotto with EcoAdventures

During the summer, the Grotto in Bruce Peninsula National Park is arguably one of the area’s most popular attractions, which is exactly why a little snow and ice shouldn’t stop you from visiting during its less busy off-season.

On this four-hour tour, you’ll explore the icy caves along Georgian Bay’s shores before arriving at the main attraction: the Grotto, a stunning sea cave naturally carved from ancient limestone and filled with pristine turquoise seawater from the bay.

Tours are usually on weekends, although midweek departures can be arranged. Hint: Bring your toboggan. Rumour has it that Jackson’s Cove Hill offers an exciting ride down.

Spend the night surrounded by nature in a private suite at the adults-only Forest House Bed & Breakfast.

Location: 469 Cyprus Lake Road, Tobermory

York, Durham and Headwaters

Winter horseback ride at Pathways on Pleasure Valley

Take the reins with a private guided trail ride for two at Pathways on Pleasure Valley and tour tranquil horse trails through forested landscapes. 

After your horseback trail ride, warm up with a hot drink at The Bridge Social, an organic tea and coffee shop in the heart of Uxbridge. Spend the night at the Chalet Claremont Bed & Breakfast located in the scenic Oak Ridges Moraine and explore the 16-hectare property by snowshoe.

Location: 2499 Brock Road, Uxbridge
 

Find more Ontario winter getaway ideas:

Countryside skating trails in Ontario
Where to go winter camping in Ontario
Ontario’s bucket list snowmobile adventures

Last updated: January 3, 2023

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