Romantic Winter Getaways in Ontario
From cross-country skiing and snowshoeing to cozy cabins and remote lodges, we’ve rounded up some of the best romantic winter getaways for adventurous couples in Ontario.
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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. Check out the tiny cabins at Haliburton Forest and Wild Life Reserve, and after your weekend in the woods is over, warm up with a cold beer at Haliburton Highlands Brewing's nano-brewery, which is part of the Abbey Gardens’ complex.
Location: Haliburton Highlands
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 sleigh ride for two around the foot of Candy Mountain with a cup of hot chocolate in hand. After your ride is over, pay a visit to the farm’s goats, sheep, rabbits and hens. They deserve a little love, too.
Location: 426 McCluskey Drive, Slate River Valley
Get your heart beating and pulse pumping on an active three or four day adventure of dog sledding, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, followed by a rest and relaxation in a cozy eco-lodge deep in the forest. Enjoy the quiet of the Algonquin wilderness as your soak in the outdoor hot tub or unwind in the wood fired sauna at the Algonquin Eco Lodge.
Location: Maynooth / Bancroft
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. The annual event includes clinics, gear swaps and snowshoe outings.
Pinery Provincial Park claims some of the best cross-country skiing trails in Southwestern Ontario. There’s only one way to find out, and that’s by spending time exploring the park’s 38 km of trails, designed for beginners and advanced skiers alike. For a longer stay, Pinery’s year-round yurts may be booked online through the Ontario Parks Reservations website. A two-night minimum booking applies. Stop in at the Refined Fool’s Sports Brewery in nearby Sarnia. In addition to the brews, they have indoor bocce ball, cornhole and other games that will make you believe it’s patio season in the middle of winter.
Location: 9526 Lakeshore Road, Grand Bend
Take the reins with Pathways on Pleasure Valley’s Romantic Rides and tour tranquil trails set on 91 hectares (225 acres) of forested land. After your trail ride, warm up with a hot drink at The Bridge Social, an organic tea and coffee shop in the heart of Uxbridge.
Location: 2499 Brock Road, Uxbridge
Going on a date doesn’t have to break the bank. With ten runs for all skill levels and night skiing on-offer, Mount Pakenham is the perfect adrenaline-pumping, yet affordable, activity. Best of all, it’s only a short drive from Ottawa. Rental equipment is available. Don’t know how to ski? The resort also offers snow tubing for the young and the young at heart.
Location: 577 Ski Hill Road, Pakenham
During the summer, Bruce Peninsula National Park’s Grotto is arguably the area’s most popular attraction, which is exactly why a little snow and ice shouldn’t stop you from seeing it during the winter. On this four-hour tour, you’ll explore the icy caves along Georgian Bay’s shores before arriving at the main attraction. Tours are usually on weekends, although midweek departures can be arranged. Hint: Bring your toboggan, rumour has it that Jackson’s Cove Hill offers one heck of a ride down.
Location: 469 Cyprus Lake Road, Tobermory
Enjoy nature trails, bird and wildlife viewing, wilderness skiing and snowshoeing on 162 hectares (400 acres) of forests, meadows and ancient mountains. Later, enjoy a delectable meal with a European flare and stay in a rustic log cabin, complete with Jacuzzi bathtub. Add in a romantic skate on the outdoor rink at Prince Arthur’s Landing, Thunder Bay.
Location: 56 Rose Valley Road, South Gillies
With over 396 metres (1,300 feet) of waterfront and access to the back lakes of Donald, Potvin and Chuggin, you’ll be reeling in the big one at Sportsman's Lodge. Even if you don’t catch anything, you won’t go hungry, the accommodation fee includes breakfast and dinner. Sportsman’s Lodge has extensive snowshoeing and cross-country skiing loops, including to Donald Lake, where you can find 15 metres (50 feet) high ice falls.
Location: 240 Kukagami Lake Road, Wahnapitae, Kukagami Lake
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 affordable 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 (50 feet) waterfall on the Atikokan River that can be accessed from the end of Little Falls Road.
Location: ON-11, Atikokan
With over 50 km of groomed cross-country ski trails, the breathtaking terrain of nearby Sleeping Giant Provincial Park makes it one of the best places in Ontario for winter fun. After an active day skiing or snowshoeing, cozy up by the fire in your secluded log cabin at Beyond the Giant. Candles, a gift basket, fresh baked bread and local foods make this getaway extra special. Finally, warm up the Finnish way, by making a stop into Thunder Bay’s Kangas Sauna.
Location: 625 Portage Drive, Shuniah
Set on the shores of Bone Lake, just 30 minutes north of Sault Ste. Marie, Norm's Cabin is a true wilderness escape. It can only be accessed by skiing or snowshoeing 10 km into the bush. Since the property is owned and managed by the Algoma Highlands Conservancy, your stay will also support 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 to nearby ice caves.
Location: 194 Pickard Road, Goulais River
A skiing style that combines elements of Alpine and Nordic skiing, the telemark technique is the passion of Bellevue Valley Lodge owners Enn Poldmaa and Robin MacIntyre. Since 1984, they have maintained 809 hectares (2,000 acres) 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 fireplace and accommodation includes trail fees and sauna.
Location: 326 Kirbys Road, Goulais River
With cottage accommodation, breakfast and a hot dinner included, this package is designed for snowmobilers. But here’s a romantic proposal for two, skip the sledding and spend your day snowshoeing then indulge in the sauna, hot tub and ice fishing hut while everyone else is on the trails. Bonus: it’s pet-friendly so your pup will love it. 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
We would be remiss if we didn’t include the much-loved Stokely Creek Lodge in a round-up of the best romantic winter getaways in Ontario. With 100 km of well-groomed trails that cross valleys, creeks and even peaks, this is the ultimate snowshoeing and cross-country skiing destination. Rates include meals and trail passes. Time your visit to coincide with Bon Soo, Sault Ste. Marie’s annual winter festival.
Location: 194 Pickard Road, Goulais River
Get up close and personal with bison, elk and deer while riding in a tractor-drawn wagon in a 40 hectare (100 acre) wildlife park. Rejuvenate in the Nordic Bath, inspired by nature, enjoy delicious meals and stay is a cozy suite or chalet with fireplace and jacuzzi. Looking to see more wildlife? Visit the Canadian Polar Bear Habitat in nearby Cochrane. And for more winter activities, try snowshoeing or cross country skiing with the Porcupine Ski Runners, one of the largest Nordic ski clubs in Canada or feel the thrill of downhill skiing, snowboarding or tubing at Mount Jamieson Resort.
Location: 1000 Norman Street, Timmins
Minaki Yurt Adventures might be named for its unique accommodation, but it’s not the only thing on offer. Located in the boreal forest just outside of Kenora, Minaki also has 20 km of trails, a wood-fired sauna and an ice rink during the winter months.
Location: 1 Trailhead Road, Minaki
Original article by Jessica Wynne Lockhart
Last updated: January 20, 2022