Winter in Toronto, in the Canadian province of Ontario is magical, for someone who’s never experienced an insane amount of snow before. Needless to say, it is also brutally cold, with temperatures dipping to as low as -40 degrees Celsius. Unlike the summer, when there are a gazillion things to do and time flies at the speed of light, in winter, it’s just the opposite. Time crawls!
You won’t find Canadians dilly dallying on the streets if they don’t have to; it gets dark at the stroke of 5 pm and the weather will make you want to drink hot chocolate and proceed to hibernate for months. Secondly, while Toronto does have some pretty spots, it doesn’t have the mesmerizing views that Vancouver or British Columbia boast of – the stuff that winter postcards are made of.
Still, there are dozens of activities you can partake in during the winter in Toronto. Here’s a quick tried-and-tested list to get you started.
Live like a local – Get rid of the itinerary for a while and get an authentic, local experience. Not just in winter, but during any season at any place. For starters, experience what it’s like to shovel snow! For a tropical girl like me, this routine back-breaking work Canadians carry out several times a day, seemed novel! Go ice fishing, bowling, hiking, or go see a live ice-hockey game.
Watch a show or head to the museum – I’m not even kidding when I say that I watched more movies, plays and live shows in Canada in a month than I have in an entire year in India. Toronto loves it’s art and culture and there’s constantly live music shows, fun plays, musicals as well as AMAZING art, science and entertainment exhibits on display in most museums and theatres.
Experience a VIP movie – You’ll need to shell out some extra cash, but you can consider it for the occasional splurge. At a VIP movie, you can order alcohol and appetizers, entrees, mains and dessert to your seat, it’s kid-free and the comfy leather seats are HUUUUUGE, as Donald Trump would say.
Visit the Niagara Falls – I’ve already written a whole post about how beautiful the Niagara Falls are in winter. In any weather, it should definitely be included in your travel plans. Witnessing the Niagara Falls frozen is an experience of a lifetime, but that’s not all there is to do in the area. Clifton Hill is a glitzy entertainment strip that leads to the falls and has hours of family entertainment – from horror houses to Ripley’s believe-it-or-not museum, themed restaurants and many other family attractions. You can also visit the Fallsview Casino, Casino Niagara and Seneca Niagara Casino to try your luck at winning the jackpot.
Winter Sports – There’s no better time to try ice skating, skiing, dog sledding, tobogganing, snow-shoeing, tubing. There are a fair share of hills for you to practice on so don’t miss out on the opportunity!
Winter Festival of Lights – Also located at a close distance from Niagara Falls, the Winter Festival of Lights is a spectacular display that captures the essence of the holiday season beautifully! A 5 km route is turned into a winter wonderland drive-thru with over 3 million sparkling lights being formed into shapes of winter animals, Christmas characters, a display on the religions of the world, fountains, tunnels and more. Almost every tree is illuminated and the place really looks like an enchanted forest.
Christmas Markets – If you can brave the cold, head to one of the many areas in Toronto that get giant holiday makeovers! The Christmas Market at Distillery District ranks among the top 10 in the world, but there are many smaller ones that are pretty great too! Live carolers, giant decked up trees, food trucks/carts serving hot beverages and funnel cakes, and options to pick up some last minute gifts bring the magic of Christmas alive!
Shop till you drop – You can spend days in a Canadian Mall and still leave unsatisfied. Shopping is a great (but expensive) pass-time and you’ll you can bet it will always be crowded with holiday shoppers and window shoppers alike. The Eaton Centre boasts of a humongous Christmas tree that stretches to over a 100 feet and every inch of it is sparkly, bright and glowing.
Eat – Like Toronto’s summer festival aptly called Summerlicious, the winter festival, Winterlicious sees over 200+ participating restaurants offering a 3 course meal for a fixed price that ranges between CAD 23 -33 for lunch and CAD 33-53 for dinner for deal-hungry diners. Toronto has a huge variety of food options for every budget, however, one thing you shouldn’t miss is Tim Hortons! Oh, how I miss Tim Hortons!!
Edward Gardens – Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! Edward Garden isn’t just for middle-aged women who love gardening. This stunning indoor indoor botanical garden will have you in awe of the beautifully maintained and presented wildflowers, perennials, rock gardens, cacti and so much more!
Just head outdoors – The winter season in Canada is far too beautiful to be spent hibernating indoors. Even if you’re not one for adventure sports and Christmas markets, you will definitely stumble upon breathtaking scenery in the most unlikely places. Graffiti Alley, Downtown Toronto, High Park, Rouge Park, Kensington Market and Lake Ontario is just the tip of the iceberg!
That comes to the end of my travelogues in Canada. If you enjoyed coming along on the journey, drop me a comment below!
For now, let’s pack our bags and head off on another adventure. Stay tuned!