Despite the reputation of hibernating for the winter, the colder months are actually a great time to go and explore the outdoors in Ontario.
There’s little chance of rain, skiing can be a great workout, and everything looks so peaceful and charming with a dusting of snow. Ontario is a big province and there is plenty to see within driving distance of Toronto.
So where should you head out on your next road trip?
If your car has been optimised for winter and you are keen to get out of the big city for a weekend, there are many beautiful and exciting activities just waiting for you to explore. Let’s take a look at the top 11 winter road trips in Ontario!
Blue Mountain, Collingwood
Probably the most famous entry on our list is Blue Mountain in Collingwood.
Located roughly 2.5 hours north of Toronto, the Blue Mountains are a picturesque location to enjoy all the wonders that winter has to offer. Well known as Ontario’s premier skiing resort, this is the place to go for any skiing enthusiasts who don’t want to make the trek over to Quebec or down to the States. Ski passes are reasonably priced, especially if you bring your own boots and skis!
Of course, skiing isn’t the only activity on offer here. No winter experience would be complete without a horse drawn carriage ride while sipping hot apple cider under a warm blanket, which is a guaranteed win for date night! If you enjoy hiking, there are plenty of stunning trails to explore during winter that allow you to take in the dramatic landscape. Refuel back in the town with some delicious local fare and you have yourself a perfect weekend getaway.
One of Ontario’s leading national parks is the stunning Algonquin Park.
An ideal place for camping in the summer, Algonquin turns into a winter wonderland once the snow fall starts. There are hundreds of different hikes, trails, and winter camping spots to choose from to suit every fitness level and appetite for adventure.
If you are looking for an absolutely unforgettable winter experience, you can’t go past a genuine dog sledding experience in the beautiful park. Offered in a range of different packages, you can do just a day trip over a 25 kilometer trail, or you can utilise the whole weekend and sled from camp to camp over a few days.
You can also do a snowshoeing adventure that has you hiking through unforgettable vistas before relaxing by the fireplace with a gourmet meal and cosy surroundings. There’s even a floating sauna for those looking to experience something different. Not too bad for just a 3.5 hour drive from Toronto!
One of the most famous areas of Ontario would have to be Niagara, and in particular its winery region.
One of the easiest winter road trips to make with just a 1.5 hour trip from downtown Toronto, heading to the Niagara wineries is a wine lover’s dream. While typically favoured as a spring or summer activity, exploring the unctuous wines on offer in the colder months can actually be a beautiful experience, as a good rich red goes perfectly by a roaring fire and some delicious charcuterie.
Heading to the wineries in the colder months can also be a smart financial decision, as you can snap up wine tour packages for much cheaper than the spring/summer high seasons. If you’ve had your fill of the delicious wines of Southern Ontario, you have to make a quick stop to the famous Niagara Falls on your way home. While they are magnificent in any season, they are particularly magical is they have begun to freeze!
Another relatively accessible location for a day trip out of Toronto is the majestic Lake Simcoe.
One of the larger lakes in Ontario (excluding the Great Lakes of course), Lake Simcoe is located 1.5 hours north of Toronto and borders Barrie. After New Years every year, Lake Simcoe usually freezes over with enough safe ice to allow for a range of activities on its frosty surface.
One of the most popular would have to be that age old tradition of ice fishing. The lake is home to any number of freshwater species including trout, pike, and perch. During a good year, there can be as many as 4,000 ice huts on the lake! Many of these will be available for rent so you don’t have to bother with setting up your own.
Beautiful in the summer, beautiful in the winter, it’s hard to beat the famous Muskoka for a winter wonderland experience.
Once the snow has settled on the ground, the most exclusive cottage country region transforms from a boating and swimming hotspot to beautiful place for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and ice skating.
For a bit more adrenaline, there are plenty of snowmobiles available for hire as well so you can speed around the backtrails to your heart’s content. There’s even romantic skating trails through enchanted forests lit by tiki torches that is a truly unforgettable experience.
Prince Edward County
Continuing its reputation as a gastronomic destination in Ontario is Prince Edward County.
PEC is well known for its wineries and charming beaches during the summer, but during the winter, this little island really comes into its own as the cosy capital of Ontario. Summer cottages transform effortlessly into cosy spaces with fireplaces, mulled wine, and juicy winter roasts.
Just a 2.5 hour ride in your car will have you on the doorstep of a lovely homestead where you can indulge in a range of culinary delights, take a cooking class, go ice skating, or just relax in your cabin. It’s up to you!
If you are a nature lover that’s interested in seeing some native animals, you need to check out Wye Marsh.
Located 2.5 hours north of Toronto on the shores of Georgian Bay, Wye Marsh is home to some of the most beautiful winter hiking trails in the area. There are over 25 kilometers of snowshoeing tracks, cross-country skiing, and hiking trails, all set against the beautiful backdrop of Georgian Bay.
Something else that Wye Marsh is famous for is the Wildlife Centre. This community centre is home to a large collection of reptiles, amphibians, birds of prey, and display bee hives! The area is also famous for its migratory birds, including the gorgeous black-billed Trumpeter Swan.
For a little trip back in time, you can’t beat winter horseback riding in Priceville.
This quaint little village about 2 hours northwest of Toronto features over 160 kilometers of pristine horse riding trails, including options for horseback, carriage, and sleigh rides. If being on your own two feet is more your style, there are plenty of snowshoeing and hiking options available as well.
Great for a day trip, Priceville really excels as a weekend getaway due to its lovely B&B. Featuring all the country charm you could ask for, it even includes a hot tub and heated swimming pool for a luxurious stay. Want to get a little more country? There are family camping packages available as well to help you connect with your inner cowboy and girl.
A day trip you don’t even have to leave the Golden Horseshoe for, a day trip to Tiffany Falls is any adventure seekers dream.
Located just an hour away in Hamilton, Tiffany Falls is a beautiful site during spring and summer when the falls are running. However, during winter, they turn into a challenging but gorgeous ice climb unlike any other.
Presenting unique challenges compared to regular climbing or abseiling, ice climbing is an athletic sport that involves pitting yourself against a wall of ice and seeing who can come out on top. A must do for anyone looking something a little different this winter!
The Rideau Canal, Ottawa
If you are a passionate skater or even just enjoy throwing on a pair of skates every now and then, a trip to Canada’s capital is a great winter getaway.
Home to possibly the most famous skating trail in the country, Ottawa is a beautiful city with a burgeoning restaurant and cafe scene. The Rideau Canal connects Ottawa to Lake Ontario and the St Lawrence River, and was originally built in 1832 as a precaution should war erupt with the United States. It is the oldest continuously operating canal system in North America and was added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2007.
During winter, the entire canal freezes over and the section passing through central Ottawa becomes the world’s largest and second longest skating trail. At 7.8 kilometers long, it is definitely a workout for anyone looking to conquer the entire length!
While you’re in town, it only make sense to check out the gorgeous gothic architecture of the Parliament Buildings, sip on a local craft beer from an Ottawa brewery, or drive past 24 Sussex Drive and try to catch a glimpse of Mr Trudeau!
For a truly authentic winter experience in Ontario, you have to head to MacGregor Point.
Located a 3.5 hour drive away from Toronto, the MacGregor Point Provincial Park is located on the shores of Lake Huron and is home to some of the most breathtaking sites in the province.
Come the winter months, you can hire a heated cabin or yurt for a romantic getaway with that special someone, or you can make it a family affair with larger lodgings also available. Grab your trapper hats, snowshoes, and hot apple cider and build yourself a fire to soak up the great outdoors.
Hiring a cabin or yurt is done through Ontario Parks, and is actually a lot more affordable than you might think. Just make sure you bring along all the creature comforts you’ll be wanting as the closest stores are a while away!
Winters don’t have to be spent stuck in Toronto. There are hundreds of amazing locations in this beautiful province to check out when the snow is on the ground. Do you have a favourite location to head to during winter? Let us know in the comments below!