Family Fun in the Wintertime

Winter is a great time to get outdoors and have some fun. Southern Ontario has an impressive variety of snow sports, outdoor activities and recreational opportunities for kids and families. Read on for some of our local favourites, then bundle up and enjoy!

Skating is a quintessential Canadian wintertime activity. Whether you like to play a game of shinny, enjoy figure skating or just want to do some laps with the kids, skating is a lot of fun and can be done pretty much everywhere. Check out your local rink or this list of outdoor skating rinks in the GTA.

Build a Snow Fort, Snowman or Igloo

These classic backyard pastimes need little explanation. What’s better than using just snow and your own (mitten-ed) hands to create a masterpiece? Kids can decorate snowmen with old clothes and costumes, the favourite carrot nose and drops of food colouring. Encourage them to get creative by taking on the challenge of building an igloo. Don’t forget to make a snow angel while you’re at it!

Daredevils Only: Tobogganing
Flying down a hill on a shaky toboggan or a slick magic carpet is an activity best reserved for the very young and the very brave. Find a good (and safe!) hill in your neighbourhood or at your local park, dust off the toboggan and bundle up with lots of warm clothing, which also provides extra padding. Then prepare to feel the exhilaration of this child-approved favourite.

Skiing & Snowboarding
If you’re a skier or a snowboarder, you know the joy of getting out for a day on the hill. And if you’ve never been, most ski resorts offer rentals and lessons. (Snow tubing is also a great alternate activity!) Check out Snow Valley Ski Resort, Mount St. Louis Moonstone or your local hill for downhill skiing – perhaps Hockley Valley if you’re in Tottenham, Mono or Alliston, or the ROC if you’re in Aurora. You could also try cross-country skiing on some nearby neighbourhood trails.

Festivals & Events
There are many festivals and local carnivals during the winter months across southern Ontario. If you live in Alliston or Bradford near Barrie, Barrie’s Winterfest & Festival of Ice (February 4-5 in downtown Barrie, Heritage Park and the Barrie waterfront) is an annual tradition you don’t want to miss. The Town of Aurora hosts a fun-filled family day, Arctic Adventure, on Family Day (fittingly), as well as the Aurora Winter Blues Festival on February 4, 24 and 25. If you’re in Brantford, you’ll want to check out Frosty Fest, an annual winter carnival on Family Day weekend (Sunday, February 19 and Monday, February 20) complete with outdoor rides, food vendors, a snow slide and more.

Maple syrup festivals don’t start until early March, but they’re also all over southern Ontario and offer all kinds of sweet treats and activities – see a list of festivals here.

If you feel like taking a road trip, check out this list of winter festivals in Muskoka, Collingwood and more.

Ice Fishing
This is a great one to try if you’ve never been before. Ice fishing is a fun and novel activity, and you just may get hooked on the challenge and adventure of the sport. You can ice fish on any lake (just make sure the ice is at least four inches thick) or in some conservations areas (read more here), or try one of these ice fishing getaways. Ontario Family Fishing offers a free family fishing weekend on Family Day weekend (February 18-20), so you can try ice fishing that weekend license-free.

Hiking, Snowshoeing & Bird-Watching
As birds migrate and look for open water, it’s a good time for bird-watching – and it’s an activity that kids often enjoy, especially if there’s a chance to feed the birds. Hiking and snowshoeing are great opportunities to get outside and enjoy the winter scenery while staying warm. Whichever activity you choose, make sure to bring your camera or binoculars so you can admire and capture the beauty of the season.

Indoor Crafts & Baking

Really too cold outside? Kids will enjoy making these homemade snow globes, orange-based bird feeders or good old-fashioned paper snowflakes. Baking up some classic comfort foods is another wintertime activity that kids will enjoy – try these ginger cookies, cinnamon rolls or “boot tracks”. A movie night of favourite winter classics enjoyed with mugs of hot cocoa in front of the fireplace is another great way to savour the season indoors.

So don’t hibernate this winter – don your tuque and mittens, lace up your boots and get ready to enjoy a world of wintertime fun with your family.

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