Toronto in winter is a snow-covered wonderland just waiting to be explored! For those of us living in Toronto, we are used to the cooler temperatures and embrace the winter season with open arms.
The result is that there are lots of interesting and fun things to do in Toronto, making any visit during the winter season memorable.
In this guide, you’ll discover the most exciting things to do in the winter in Toronto, curated by a local who knows and loves this city. I go beyond the usual Toronto attractions to share my favourite hidden gems and winter-specific Toronto activities.
So, pull out your warmest clothes and keep reading to see my recommended list of the 33 best things to do in Toronto in the winter!
Best Outdoor Activities in Toronto
Toronto’s winter landscape presents a playground for those who love outdoor activities. Each of the following outdoor activities offers a classic Canadian winter experience and a fantastic way to enjoy the city during the chilliest months of the year.
1. Go Skating at Nathan Phillips Square
Skating in Nathan Phillips Square is a highlight for anyone visiting Toronto and one of my favourite activities. This iconic outdoor skating rink, located in the heart of downtown Toronto, offers a memorable winter experience.
It’s free to use, with skate rentals available if needed. Even if you don’t want to go skating, it is a magical place to visit in winter and a perfect place to grab a hot chocolate and enjoy one of Canada’s favourite pastimes.
2. Skate The Bentway Skate Trail
Another fantastic place for skating in Toronto is the Bentway Skate Trail. Here, you will skate underneath the Gardiner Expressway for a completely unique urban experience.
Now, if you’re looking for other skating locations, Toronto has more than 50 outdoor ice rinks and skating trails to choose from, so you can find one near you.
3. Go Tobogganing at Riverdale Park
Tobogganing is a classic Canadian winter activity, and Toronto has some great hills for it. My personal favourite sledding spot is Riverdale Hill Park in the heart of the city. It offers an incredible view of the Toronto skyline and provides a real sense of adventure for kids and adults alike.
There is lots of room for everyone to enjoy the hills, and it’s easily accessible by TTC. Of course, if you prefer a different location to go sledding in Toronto, there are more than 25 toboganning hills across Toronto to choose from.
4. Go Cross-Country Skiing in Tommy Thompson Park
Close to the Beaches neighborhood, you will also find Tommy Thompson Park (also referred to as the Leslie Street Spit). This unique man-made peninsula extends five kilometres into Lake Ontario, offering a delightful outdoor winter experience.
While the park is known for its bird-watching opportunities, its extensive trails and stunning lake views make it an equally attractive destination for cross-country skiing or a refreshing winter walk.
It is a photographer’s paradise! Remember to dress warmly, as this location is very exposed to wind and cold temperatures.
5. Try Downhill Skiing at Earl Bales Park
For visitors interested in downhill skiing or snowboarding within the city of Toronto, a visit to Earl Bales Park is the perfect solution. This skiing and snowboarding centre run by the City of Toronto is a fairly small facility and is an excellent choice for beginner skiers and families.
Earl Bales Park Ski and Snowboard Centre offers four lifts, a snow-making machine, a ski school, and equipment rentals, making it a perfect spot for those who want to experience downhill skiing during their winter vacation to Toronto.
6. Go Snowshoeing at the City Golf Courses
Snowshoeing has become a very popular outdoor winter activity in Toronto. The City of Toronto provides seven snowshoeing loops at Toronto’s four city golf courses, located throughout the city.
These sites include Dentonia, Don Valley, Humber Valley, and Tam O’Shanter Golf Courses. The loops are all between 1 km and 2.5 km in distance.
7. Play Shinny (Pick-up Hockey) in Kew Gardens
Shinny is an informal game of hockey usually played with less equipment (although you will need a helmet) and no goalie. It’s an excellent way to enjoy the game of hockey without having to join a team or rent ice.
It’s a very popular local activity and one of the many fun things to do in the winter in Toronto. There are several rinks across Toronto that offer drop-in times to play pick-up hockey, including the rink at Kew Gardens in the Beaches.
Toronto Attractions in Winter
There are many excellent things to do in Toronto all year round, including visiting the CN Tower, the Royal Ontario Museum, the Hockey Hall of Fame, and the Art Gallery of Ontario. Some attractions, however, are particularly fun to visit during the winter in Toronto.
8. Watch a Professional Hockey Game
So for those of you who prefer to watch sports, Toronto’s hockey team, the Maple Leafs, is an exciting option. The Maple Leafs have been around since 1927 and play at Scotiabank Arena, located in downtown Toronto.
While watching the Leafs play provides an exciting evening of Canadian entertainment, it can be difficult (and expensive) to get hockey tickets, especially for a home game. So, for those interested in watching a hockey game, an alternative option is to watch the Toronto Marlies.
The Toronto Marlies are part of the American Hockey League and are the primary development program for the Toronto Maple Leafs. So for those wanting to catch an exciting and traditional hockey game without the price tag of the Maple Leafs, I highly recommend attending a Toronto Marlies game, where you might just catch the next Wayne Gretzky!
9. Take a Photo at the Toronto Sign
You can’t come to Toronto without visiting the iconic Toronto Sign, located at Nathan Phillips Square. The Toronto Sign, located in downtown Toronto, is a must-see attraction even in the winter.
It is located across from the Sheraton Toronto Hotel (my top pick of hotel in downtown Toronto) and beside the Eaton Centre. In the winter, instead of water, there is ice in front of the sign, making it a perfect backdrop for a memorable photo.
☞ See Also: Honest Review of Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel
10. Visit the Distillery District Winter Village
For a truly festive experience, I highly recommend a visit to the Distillery District and the Winter Village (formerly known as the Toronto Christmas Market). This holiday market features over 80 vendors and food stalls selling unique items from around the world.
While the holiday market only runs for limited dates during November and December, the Distillery District is still worth visiting during any of the winter months as there are unique shops, restaurants, cafes, and galleries to visit, making it one of the best things to do in the winter in Toronto.
11. Shop at the Eaton Centre
For those who love shopping, the Eaton Centre is a premier shopping destination in Toronto. I personally love shopping at the Eaton Centre, as there are so many stores to visit, and it is the perfect spot to get my holiday shopping done.
Visiting the Hudson Bay windows that are decorated with unique Christmas displays is also an annual tradition for many locals, and is fun to do with kids!
12. Explore the St. Lawrence Market
One of the world’s best food markets, St. Lawrence Market, is a food lover’s paradise. In the winter, the market is bustling with activity and offers a wide variety of seasonal products like maple syrup and festive winter treats.
Personally, my favourite foods include the breakfast sandwiches from Carousel Bakery, the lobster rolls from Busters Sea Cove, and the Italian sandwiches from Uno Mustachio. The market is a wonderful place to visit and escape the winter chill with a hot cup of apple cider or a delicious baked treat!
13. Admire the Casa Loma Holiday Light Display
If you love holiday lights as much as I do, then you must add a visit to Casa Loma to your list of things to do in Toronto during the winter. The iconic castle lights up with over 5 million LED lights, transforming this historic mansion into a twinkling outdoor wonderland.
14. Take a Trip to the Toronto Zoo
The Toronto Zoo is another top family attraction in the city, and it’s even open during the winter! From December through February, visitors can explore the zoo’s holiday light show, which includes over 500,000 LED lights.
I especially recommend visiting the Toronto Zoo during the winter, as the animals are quite active and there are fewer crowds. Plus, parking is free in the winter months! There are lots of indoor pavilions with lots of exotic animals that you can pop into if it gets a little chilly during your visit.
Most people think the Toronto Islands are a summer destination, but they are also an excellent place to visit during the winter. The Ward’s Island ferry continues to run during the winter months, and the islands remain accessible to visitors.
Visitors go to the Toronto Islands in the winter to walk, ski, or snowshoe. Of course, one of the best parts of a visit to the Toronto Islands is getting one of the best unobstructed views of the Toronto skyline from across the lake.
Winter Hiking and Walking in Toronto
Embracing the serene beauty of Toronto’s winter landscape, hiking in local parks offers an invigorating outdoor escape. With trails blanketed in fresh snow and the tranquility of nature surrounding you, it’s a perfect way to enjoy the city’s natural beauty while keeping active in the colder months.
There are so many beautiful parks to explore here in Toronto, but these are a few of my personal favourites.
16. Walk the Woodbine Beach Boardwalk
Yes, even the beach is worth visiting in the winter in Toronto! Located in my neighbourhood, the Beaches, Woodbine Beach, with its lengthy boardwalk, is a great option for a winter walk with Lake Ontario as your backdrop.
You will see many locals walking their dogs (dogs can actually go leash-free along the beach in the winter months) and strolling along the boardwalk with a coffee in hand. And when you need to warm up a little, you can walk up to Queen Street and visit one of the many excellent restaurants and cafes in the area.
17. Explore High Park
As a Torontonian, I can’t emphasize enough the beauty of High Park during the winter. It becomes a serene, snowy landscape that’s perfect for a peaceful winter hike. The park’s trails are well maintained, even in snowy conditions, making it a safe yet adventurous outdoor activity.
One of my personal favourites is the Grenadier Pond Trail, which offers stunning views of the frozen pond. Being in High Park during the winter truly makes you appreciate the season’s unique beauty.
18. Visit the Evergreen Brick Works Park
Another excellent place to visit in Toronto during the winter is the Evergreen Brick Works Park. With an outdoor skating rink, an indoor farmers market, and lots of walking trails, the Brick Works is an ideal location to visit with friends and family.
There’s also lots of interesting wildlife at the park. In fact, the last time I was there, I witnessed a beaver building a dam in the middle of the pond. And, after you have spent some quality time exploring the outdoors, you can stop by the cafe to warm up with a hot drink and a bite to eat.
Located in the heart of Toronto, this park is a hidden gem in the city and a perfect spot to visit during the winter months.
19. Wander Through Glen Stewart Ravine
If you prefer a shorter wintery walk, the Glen Stewart Ravine, located in the heart of the Beaches neighbourhood, is another of my personal favourites. This beautiful nature reserve in the heart of the city is a hidden gem.
During winter, the ravine is carpeted with snow, creating a magical walking experience. If you are in the area, you may also want to bring your skates and toboggan, as you will find both in the nearby Glen Stewart Park.
20. Admire the Scarborough Bluffs
The Scarborough Bluffs are a natural wonder that draws visitors year-round. While summer is the most popular time to explore these impressive cliffs overlooking Lake Ontario, they are just as stunning in the winter.
Visiting the bluffs in the winter months is ideal, as you don’t have to compete with the summer crowds. Not to mention the bluffs and Lake Ontario create a picturesque scene for photography and winter walks.
☞ See Also: Toronto’s Best Beaches: 16 Must-Visit Spots
Best Winter Events in Toronto
Toronto truly comes alive in the winter with an array of events that showcase the city’s vibrant culture. From holiday-themed festivities to cultural exhibitions, winter sports events, and food and drink festivals, the city is abuzz with activities that cater to all tastes.
Whether you’re a local or a visitor, you’ll find something to pique your interest in Toronto’s winter events. These events run for limited times during the winter months. The following sections provide a glimpse into some of the most popular winter events in Toronto.
21. Attend Nuit Blanche
Dates: Late September
This truly unique event, Nuit Blanche, is an annual all-night arts festival. This free public event starts at sunset and ends at sunrise. It celebrates contemporary art, with installations and performances by local, national, and international artists transforming the streets of Toronto into an artistic playground.
During Nuit Blanche, the city’s landscape is dramatically altered with interactive art pieces and immersive experiences that challenge perceptions and spark conversations. It’s a night that truly encapsulates Toronto’s rich and diverse artistic community.
22. Visit the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair
Dates: Early November
The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair takes place every November at the Canadian National Exhibition in the heart of Toronto. The Royal Agricultural Winter Fair is the largest indoor agriculture fair and international equestrian competition in the world. Featuring livestock competitions, unique agricultural shows, a variety of fun family activities, craft displays, entertainment, and much more.
Whether you’re looking for some winter fun or want to learn about agriculture and the importance of preserving rural heritage, the Royal Agricultural Winter Fair is sure to provide a good time.
23. Experience the Cavalcade Of Lights at Nathan Phillips Square
Dates: Late November to Early January
The Cavalcade of Lights marks the official start of the holiday season in the city. The event features the illumination of Toronto’s official Christmas tree, live musical performances, and a spectacular fireworks display.
Nathan Phillips Square also offers outdoor ice skating, making it a perfect destination for a magical winter evening.
24. Visit Canada’s Wonderland WinterFest
Dates: Mid-November to early January
During the summer, Canada’s Wonderland is one of the most popular amusement parks in Canada, but the fun doesn’t stop there. Transforming into a winter wonderland during the holiday season, Canada’s Wonderland WinterFest offers holiday-themed activities, skating, live entertainment, and beautifully illuminated displays. This is a fantastic destination for family-friendly winter fun.
25. Watch the Santa Claus Parade
Date: Last Sunday of November
The Santa Claus Parade has taken place in Toronto for almost 120 years! A beloved holiday tradition, the Santa Claus Parade features a festive procession of elaborately decorated floats, marching bands, and, of course, Santa Claus himself.
If you decide to visit, go early to find a good spot, take blankets to stay warm, and of course, bring your hot chocolate in a flask to enjoy during the parade.
26. Dine at Winterlicious
Dates: Late January to early February
Toronto’s renowned culinary event, Winterlicious, is not to be missed. This city-wide celebration of cuisine offers prix fixe menus at over 200 of the city’s finest restaurants, giving diners a chance to sample a wide variety of delicious dishes. If you are in town during Winterlicious, be sure to make reservations and experience some of the best food in Toronto at fantastic prices.
27. Admire the Winter Art Stations at Woodbine Beach
Dates: Mid-February to April 1
This annual art installation invites artists to reimagine the lifeguard stations along the Beaches boardwalk, bringing new life into the winter landscape. Artists from around the world design these interactive art pieces, offering a unique and thought-provoking outdoor gallery experience.
☞ See Also: Best Things to Do at Woodbine Beach, Toronto
28. Attend a Maple Syrup Festival
As winter comes to a close in Ontario, maple syrup season begins. Usually towards the end of March, the sap from maple trees begins running, making it a perfect time to get out and enjoy a festival such as the Sugarbush Maple Syrup Festival, just one of several Maple Syrup Festivals close to Toronto.
Come out to the sugar shacks to see how the sap becomes a tasty maple treat. Maple Syrup festivals often include pancakes, maple taffy, and lots of other maple treats! It’s a perfect way to get outside and enjoy the outdoors while celebrating the end of the winter season.
Best Winter Road Trips from Toronto
29. Go Snow Tubing at Snow Valley in Barrie
Snow tubing at Snow Valley in Barrie is an exhilarating winter adventure that is so much fun for the whole family! Just an hour’s drive from Toronto, Snow Valley offers a perfect winter getaway and an exciting outdoor winter activity.
With lots of different tubing lanes and options, I highly recommend a visit to Snow Valley for those looking to experience snow tubing. Of course, after a day of tubing fun, warming up in the lodge with a cup of hot cocoa is the perfect ending to a thrilling day.
30. Take a Winter Road Trip to Niagara Falls
Visiting Niagara Falls during the winter months is a unique and breathtaking experience not to be missed. In fact, my favourite time to visit Niagara Falls is in the winter. Not only are there fewer people, but seeing all the ice and the partially frozen waterfalls is like nothing else.
Make sure to bring your camera and wrap up in warm clothes, as the wind chill is very strong near the falls. While you are there, be sure to take in the free Winter Festival of Lights. With millions of lights and displays throughout the area, the festival is a fantastic way to experience some winter cheer.
31. Drive to the Quaint Town of Stratford
Located just two hours west of Toronto, Stratford in the winter is a charming destination. Famous for its summer theatre festival, the town also offers a range of winter activities such as ice skating, cross-country skiing, and cozy cafes to warm up with a hot drink.
In addition, the annual winter Lights on Stratford lights up the heritage downtown core and parks with luminous art and interactive light installations.
32. Head to Blue Mountain for a Winter Adventure
Blue Mountain Resort, about two hours north of Toronto, is Ontario’s prime destination for winter sports. Offering trails for skiing and snowboarding, as well as snowshoeing and tubing adventures, it’s the perfect winter getaway for those seeking a bit of adventure.
There are also many restaurants and local shops within the resort, and the nearby town of Collingwood is a great place to eat and shop after a long day on the slopes.
33. Enjoy a Winter Camping Trip
If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, why not try winter camping? Ontario has fourteen provincial parks that offer overnight stays in the winter, with ready-made sites for those wishing to camp in the cold months.
For those who are prepared, winter camping is an unforgettable experience and a great way to explore the beauty of nature in the wintertime.
Examples of parks that are open to winter camping include Algonquin Provincial Park, Pinery Provincial Park, and Sandbanks Provincial Park.
Final Thoughts: Fun Things to Do in Toronto in Winter
Winter in Toronto is a season brimming with endless possibilities. Whether you want to participate in outdoor sports such as skating, skiing, or sledding or attend one of the many winter attractions, there’s something for everyone.
Even though the weather may be cold, these activities ensure that the season is packed with warmth, adventure, and unforgettable experiences. Embrace the winter season, layer up, and dive into a world of frosty fun!
Read More About Toronto
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