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The Coolest Places to Have Winter Fun in & Around the GTA

The Coolest Places to Have Winter Fun in & Around the GTA

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Despite what you might think, the phrase “winter fun” does not have to be an oxymoron. It is possible to enjoy the outdoors even if you’re not into fort building, snowball fights or winter sports.

If you want your kids to get outside more this winter, and if you’re determined to learn how to embrace (or at least tolerate) the season, here are a few suggestions for family fun. And because there will be days when you’re just not feeling it, we’ve included some indoor options as well. You’re welcome.

In or Just Outside the City

Ice Skating

Practice your pirouettes amongst the city lights (and get the obligatory Toronto sign selfie) at Nathan Phillips Square. November 25 marks the unofficial start to the holiday season with the Cavalcade of Lights including fireworks, live music, and a tree-lighting ceremony. Or head south to Harbourfront Centre and the Natrel Rink where the friendly staff at Boxcar Social can recommend a great new-world wine, craft beer or coffee to take the edge off your skating experience.

Tobogganing

Riverdale Park in Toronto is a hill with a view and a popular spot for locals. Watch the sun set as you speed down the slopes then head across the street to warm up at The Rooster or walk five minutes south to Chinatown at Broadview and Danforth for lots of great restaurant options. Outside of downtown, check out Cedarvale Park (multiple hills), Crestview Park (lit for evening fun), or Centennial Park (steep angle, best for experienced riders).

Toronto Zoo

The Toronto Zoo is an all-season attraction but winter is the best time to see Canadian and Tundra animals in their natural state. After that, warm up in one of five tropical pavilions and be sure to check out Canada’s only giant panda cubs before they leave Toronto forever next March.

Sleigh Rides at Blue Mountain

Over the fields you’ll go, laughing all the way, with your blanket and warm drink as you take in the scenic hill-top views near Blue Mountain. Reservations are recommended.

Snow Tubing at Snow Valley in Barrie

Snow Tubing has exploded in popularity over the last few years and once you go you’ll understand why. Buy a set number of single rides (rides can be shared amongst multiple people) or a 2 or 4-hour package in the Kid Zone. Kids must be 42” tall to ride the lifts. Bring your own helmet or rent for $10.

Two+ Hours Outside the City

Winterdance Dog Sled Tours

Come for the sledding and stay for the snuggles. With more than 150 purebred Siberian Huskies on site, you’re sure to fall in love. Owned and operated by a husband and wife team in the Haliburton Highlands, Winterdance offers several different options to experience the beauty of the area, from 2-hour trips to multi-day excursions. Mush!

Ice Skating Trail at Arrowhead Provincial Park

Arrowhead Ice Skating Trail

Shortly after opening in 2012, this storybook experience quickly became one of the season’s must-do activities. The 1.3 km trail winds through a lush Muskoka forest, thick with picturesque evergreen trees. Try visiting through the week or on Sundays to avoid being turned away. Or avoid the huge crowds by heading to one of Muskoka’s other skating trails.

Indoors in the City

SkyZone

For those rainy days when burning energy is the number one priority, treat the kids to an hour or two at an indoor trampoline park where they can bounce, flip and throw soft things at each other to their heart’s content. Locations in Toronto, Vaughan, Mississauga, Whitby, St. Catherines and Kitchener. $16.99 for one hour.

Theatre

A trip to the theatre is a holiday break tradition for many families, and this year there are lots of kid-friendly options to choose from including Curious George, Annie and The Wizard of Oz at the Lower Ossington Theatre, Elf at the Princess of Wales (Nov 21-26 only), Beauty and the Beast at the Young Peoples Theatre and A Christmas Carol at the Elgin Theatre.

Toronto Marlies

Toronto Marlies hockey is professional hockey at an affordable price. Tickets to see the Maple Leafs of tomorrow start around $20 and great rates for groups and suites are available. Don’t forget your foam finger!

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