7 Winter Activities Toronto Has to Offer
Planning a trip to Ontario’s capital city this winter? Or maybe you’re a Toronto local mapping out the perfect winter staycation.
Although it might be a bit chilly, the vast array of winter activities Toronto has to offer will make it well worth your while to explore this quintessential Canadian city.
We’ve rounded up a list of fun things to do in Toronto in the winter.
Tip: Bring layers and your appetite. You’ll need it.
Grab your toque, throw on your gloves, bundle up and head out on your adventure.
Enjoy Panoramic Views From the Tallest Building in Canada
Your first instinct will almost certainly be to visit the iconic CN Tower for its epic, panoramic views of the city.
This landmark is on the top of so many Toronto bucket lists for a reason. Experience the thrill of looking out from the top of Canada’s tallest building is a must when you’re in Toronto, no matter the season.
The CN Tower is just over 550 meters (1800 feet) tall, and until 2010 pulled rank as the tallest freestanding tower in the world. It’s since been surpassed by Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, but that doesn’t detract from the CN Tower’s splendour.
Ice Skating at One of the City’s Top Rinks
Canadians are known for loving nothing more than getting out on the ice, and Toronto is home to some of the most impressive places to skate.
From gliding past the “Toronto” sign in Nathan Phillips Square to skating alongside the epic skyline views at the Harbourfront Centre or doing laps at the West Island Rink under twinkling lights, the experience (and your photos) will be truly memorable.
Tip: While these rinks are weekend hotspots, a weekday visit could find you with the rink almost to yourself.
Light Up Your Day With Illuminated Works of Art
Unique light features in Toronto are a little reminder of how beautiful winter can be. Ice Breakers, The Winter Light Exhibition, and the Toronto Light Festival all brighten up dark winter nights while celebrating the work of artists worldwide and the season of winter itself.
You’re in Canada, after all. Winter is to be celebrated!
Tip: Bring a pair of touch screen friendly gloves if you plan on taking some photos to keep your hands warm.
Bring Your Appetite to The Distillery District
Toronto is a foodie’s paradise, so bring your appetite and savour flavours from across the globe in The Distillery District. Don’t let its name fool you; this district is more than a hot spot for spirits and brews.
The historic pedestrian-only neighbourhood has the old-world charm of quaint 19th-century buildings and cobblestone streets, while its restaurants celebrate modern flavours and new dining experiences.
Start with tapas and a custom-made gin and tonic and Madrina’s, make your main course Mexican and margaritas at El Catrin, and round out your meal at Cluny Bistro with handcrafted all chocolate, marshmallows and ice cream.
Tip: Walk off your meal(s) at the Toronto Light Festival, which just so happens to be steps from each of these restaurants in the heart of The Distillery.
Catch a Vibe on Queen Street West
Easily one of Canada’s coolest streets, Queen West is located in the fashion district of Toronto.
This historical hipster heaven is the literal definition of sound vibrations. Stop by The Good Son Restaurant to experience a one-of-a-kind upscale but comfortable dining atmosphere, with an epic food and cocktail menu that will leave you in awe (If you’re a carnivore, we recommend getting the burger, medium-rare).
Stroll Through the Market
One of the most diverse & vibrant neighbourhoods in Toronto, the walkable Kensington Market offers a wide variety of … well, everything.
With trendy bars, coffee shops, restaurants, cafes and boutiques, you could (should) get lost for hours wandering around the market.
If you're lucky enough to be in the city on December 21st, bring in the longest night of the year with a bang at Kensington Market Winter Solstice Festival.
Cozy Up by the Waterfront in a Room With a View
When you think of water, the word “winter” might not be the first that springs to mind. But being on the shores of Lake Ontario, one of the Great Lakes, it’s easy to work in some time near the water when you visit Toronto.
The Toronto waterfront is beautiful year-round, and the Westin Harbour Castle has some of the most unbeatable water views.
After a day outdoors exploring the city, treat yourself to some time enjoying the outdoors from indoors’ comfort.
In the winter, you can often catch a glimpse of the fireboat breaking ice for the ferry that runs between downtown and the Toronto Islands, all from the comfort of your room or the hotel’s 38th-floor restaurant Toula.
3 Things to Know Before You Go
Where: Toronto, Ontario (easily accessible by plane – with two airports near the city centre – train service to the downtown core and by car).
When to go: You may have visited Toronto before in the summer, but a winter-time trip shows off a whole new side of the city.
What to bring with you: Lots of layers, skates if you have them (if not, all the rinks mentioned above offer skate rentals), and your appetite.