21 Bucketlist Places to Visit in Ontario in Winter 2023
Are you looking for the top places to visit in Ontario in winter?
When the days get shorter and the air colder, it’s pretty easy to feel the need to escape for a vacation. It’s all too easy to overlook an Ontario winter getaway, opting to escape the cold by heading to the sunny south.
But we’re here to convince you that there are so many great places to see in Ontario in winter. Ontario winters are beautiful, full of adventure and part of the true Canadian experience.
We found our money could take us further, plans were less stressful, and we could really appreciate some of the best places to visit in Ontario in the wintertime.
Bucketlist Places to Visit in Ontario in Winter
We’re here to help you pick out your next Ontario winter getaway spot with a list of our favourite places to explore in our home province of Ontario.
From sipping ice wine in Niagara on the Lake to boarding the Polar Bear Express in Cochrane, both southern and northern Ontario offer some of the best places to see in all of Canada when it’s winter.
Nothing says winter in Ontario like a trip to the nation’s capital. Ottawa is a beautiful city to explore during any season, but it really comes alive during wintertime.
Between snowy sites of the Parliament buildings, skating on the Rideau Canal, and catching the action of the city’s winter festivals, what’s not to love about Ottawa in the winter.
What to Do in Ottawa
When visiting Ottawa in the winter, be sure to lace up your skates and head to the world-famous Rideau Canal. The canal turns into a 7.8 km skating rink during the winter months, making it the world’s largest naturally frozen skating rink.
And if you happen to visit during the first three weeks of February, you’ll be just in time for Ottawa’s Winterlude Festival.
This citywide festival celebrates all things winter with a variety of fun activities and events, including ice sculpture competitions, a winter triathlon, live music performances, street food and much more.
✅ Skate on the Rideau Canal
✅ Experience the Winterlude Festival
Where to Stay in Ottawa
There are plenty of great places to stay in a city the size and caliber of Ottawa. Downtown accommodations will give you access to some of the best things to do in the city, while hotels in the surrounding neighbourhoods will offer quieter streets and cheaper rates.
📍 Fairmont Chateau Laurier – To get the full Ottawa experience, we recommend staying in one of the historic hotels downtown, like the luxurious Fairmont Chateau Laurier right on the Rideau Canal.
2. Blue Mountains
Located two hours from Toronto, Blue Mountains is a popular winter getaway in Ontario for plenty of good reasons. This mountain town is home to Ontario’s largest ski resort, as well as a variety of spas, shops, restaurants and cafes in the quaint village of Blue Mountain.
What to Do in Blue Mountains
Whether you’re a skier, snowboarder or love to hit the slopes in an inflatable tube, Blue Mountain Resort is a great place to be in the winter. With ski 40 trails, 5 terrain parks and over 40 snowtubing lanes, Blue Mountain Ski Resort is the largest and most popular ski resort in Ontario.
And if you’re looking for a way to relax after your day on the slopes, Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain is definitely worth checking out. We’ve personally experienced the hot and cold treatments that Scandinave is known for and recommend it to anyone and everyone. It was absolutely incredible.
✅ Hit the slopes at Blue Mountain Resort
✅ Unwind at Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain
Where to Stay in Blue Mountains
There are plenty of great places to stay in Blue Mountains, but we highly recommend booking a stay in the Blue Mountain Ski Village. This village offers a variety of accommodations, from cozy hotels to luxury condos, all within walking distance of the ski resort.
📍 The Westin Trillium House Blue Mountain – Stay in luxury at The Westin’s waterfront property, located steps away from the ski hills and the buzz of Blue Mountain Village.
3. Muskoka, Ontario
One of Canada’s most beloved winter getaways has to be Muskoka, Ontario. This region is known for its stunning scenery, and winter is no exception.
Muskoka offers visitors incredible snowshoeing opportunities, picturesque frozen lakeside views, and a plethora of outdoor activities to keep you warm in the winter months.
What To Do in Muskoka During Winter
Muskoka is home to plenty of outdoor adventures that make it one of the top places to go during winter in Ontario. The area is known for its great snowshoeing and cross-country skiing trails, as well as dog sledding tours!
Muskoka is also home to a number of picturesque waterfalls, including Bracebridge Falls, High Falls, and Rosseau Falls.
One of Muskoka’s top tourist attractions is Arrowhead Provincial Park. Skating on the ice rink that lines the park’s circular island is one of the best things to do in Muskoka, drawing in tourists all winter long.
If the outdoors isn’t your style, don’t worry – Muskoka also has plenty of great spots to explore indoors. Visit local towns and markets or hit up one of the local craft breweries that scatter the region.
✅ Skate on Arrowhead Provincial Park’s Ice Skating Trail
✅ Book a dog sledding experience
Where To Stay in Muskoka During Winter
Muskoka is full of cozy cabins, winter wonderlands, and resort-style accommodations that make it the perfect winter escape.
📍JW Marriott The Rosseau Resort and Spa – For a luxurious and relaxing Ontario winter resort for families or couples, we recommend JW Marriott The Rosseau Resort and Spa.
4. Algonquin Provincial Park
This iconic Ontario Provincial Park is a top place to visit in Ontario in winter for anyone looking to experience Ontario’s wilderness at its finest. With over 7,600 square kilometers of wilderness to discover, Algonquin Park is a true winter wonderland.
Algonquin Park is also an incredible place to spot wildlife, like moose, bear, wolves, otters and birds.
What to Do in Algonquin Park
There are endless outdoor things to do in Algonquin Park in winter. One of the best ways to experience this park is by going on a winter camping trip. Tent camping or yurt camping is available within the park.
If winter camping isn’t your thing, consider a winter hike, snowshoeing, fat biking, cross-country skiing, or skating on the park’s outdoor rink. There are tons of trails to explore in this vast park, with various access points around its perimeter.
✅ Camp in a yurt
✅ Explore Algonquin Park’s wilderness trails
Where to Stay in Algonquin Provincial Park
When it comes to winter camping in Algonquin Provincial Park, there are two main options: front-country campsites and yurts, and backcountry camping.
📍 Algonquin Provincial Park – Front-country sites and yurts are available all year round at Mew Lake Campground. Backcountry camping requires hiking, skiing, snowshoeing or dogsledding to your site.
5. Downtown Toronto
Downtown Toronto is a great place to experience the winter season with literally endless activities and top attractions to choose from.
But it’s also safe to say that Toronto offer so much to do beyond the well-known tourist attractions, and winter is a great time to see a different side of the city.
What To Do in Downtown Toronto
Aside from some of the top tourist attractions in Toronto, like the CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium, or the Hockey Hall of Fame, Ontario’s capital city offers some uniquely winter activities that are worth checking out.
Consider spending an evening at the popular outdoor skating at Nathan Phillip’s Square, shopping at the Toronto Christmas Market (in November and December) or taking part in one of Toronto’s winter festivals.
If you’ve never explored the unique downtown neighbourhoods of Toronto, like Cabbagetown, Chinatown, Distillery District and Greektown, consider adding one of these to your next visit.
Toronto also has amazing shopping districts, like Yonge Street, Bloor Street West, Queen Street West, Kensington Market, and so on. Here you’ll find tons of unique shops, including high-end retailers, eclectic vintage thrift shops, one-of-a-kind boutiques, and popular name brands.
There’s so much to discover in Ontario’s capital city that doesn’t cost much more than the price of the drive to Toronto and making sure you’re well fed.
✅ Skate at Nathan Phillip’s Square
✅ Walk the city streets or cozy up at a restaurant downtown
Where to Stay in Downtown Toronto
There are endless accommodation options in Downtown Toronto, so finding the right fit for your getaway is guaranteed.
📍 Delta Hotels by Marriott Toronto – We suggest staying at the Delta Hotels by Marriott if you’re looking to relax and be centrally located at the Toronto Harbourfront.
6. Sault Ste Marie
This charming city is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. With its stunning lake views, rich history, and abundance of outdoor winter activities, Sault Ste Marie is a great place to spend a winter getaway in Ontario.
Located at a unique connecting point of Lake Superior, Lake Huron and the Georgian Bay, as well as at an international boarder with the USA, Sault Ste Marie is an intriguing northern Ontario city for many reasons.
What to Do in Sault Ste Marie
There are plenty of things to do outdoors in and around “the Soo” (as locals call it), especially when the city becomes a winter wonderland.
For a truly winter experience, try ice fishing in a nearby lake, Nordic skiing on the 45 km of groomed trails at Hiawatha Highlands, or visit Searchmont Ski Resort for a day of skiing and snowboarding.
If you’re really adventurous, head over to the Lake Superior waterfront in search of one of the lake’s majestic ice caves: Alona Bay Ice Cave, Coppermine Point Ice Cave, Gross Cap Conservation Area Ice cave, Hibbard Bay Ice Cave. Just be sure to take safety very seriously. These ice caves are nothing to take lightly!
For something a bit more low-key, take an outdoor stroll along the waterfront or explore the downtown core for boutiques, galleries and restaurants.
✅ Hit the slopes at Searchmont Ski Resort
✅ Check out the Lake Superior ice caves
Where to Stay in Sault Ste Marie
With a few luxurious accommodations as well as some budget-friendly choices, there’s a cozy place to stay for all budgets in Sault Ste Marie.
📍 Quattro Hotel & Conference Centre – This 3-star hotel with indoor pool and free breakfast receives excellent reviews and high customer satisfaction.
This northern Ontario city is a true winter paradise. With its world-famous science centre, unique mining landmarks, and a plethora of outdoor winter activities to do, Sudbury is the perfect place to spend a winter weekend.
What to Do in Sudbury
A visit to Sudbury wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Science North. This interactive science centre is northern Ontario’s most popular tourist attraction and is perfect for kids and adults alike.
Don’t miss the chance for a photo-op at the Big Nickel and head seven stories below ground for an underground tour at Dynamic Earth.
For outdoor adventures, strap on your skates and hit Ramsey Lake’s outdoor skating path. This 1.5km path is one of the best and most unique outdoor rinks in Ontario.
If you’re looking for a winter hike, head to Laurentian Conservation Area where you’ll find over 30 kilometres of trails to explore, or bring the Group of Seven art to life at Onaping Falls outside the city.
✅ Visit Science North & Dynamic Earth
✅ Go skating on Ramsey Lake
Where to Stay in Sudbury
There are plenty of great places to stay in Sudbury, but we recommend the Hilton Garden Inn Sudbury.
📍 Hilton Garden Inn Sudbury – This hotel is located close to Adanac Ski Hill and offers comfortable rooms, an on-site restaurant, and indoor pool and fitness centre.
8. Thunder Bay
Thunder Bay is a fantastic winter destination in Ontario for those looking to experience the rugged beauty of northern Canada.
With its snowy Nor’wester mountains to inspire winter thrill-seekers, and long winter season for winter tourism businesses, Thunder Bay is quite the hotspot in the winter months.
What to Do in Thunder Bay During Winter
If you’re looking for a place to pick your toes into ice climbing, or a spot to check the box on dog sledding, Thunder Bay might be right up your alley. And Thunder Bay’s winter creativity doesn’t stop there.
Skiing and snowboarding? Check. Ice Fishing? Yep. Even ice racing and snowkiting? This city has it all when it comes to outdoor winter activities.
And of course, a trip to Thunder Bay wouldn’t be complete without at least a selfie in front of the Sleeping Giant, or better yet, a hike to the peak for spectacular lookouts over Lake Superior.
Finally, a visit to Kakabeka Falls (Ontario’s second largest waterfall after Niagara Falls) will round out your trip to Thunder Bay, one of Ontario’s best northern cities in the winter.
✅ Explore Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
✅ Visit the towering Kakabeka Falls
Where to Stay in Thunder Bay
A city the size of Thunder Bay has quite a few great places to stay.
📍The Courthouse Hotel – We recommend checking out The Courthouse Hotel, a beautiful historic building with modern luxurious decor.
9. North Bay
Take a winter retreat to laidback North Bay, located on the serene Lake Nipissing. Embracing its Northeastern Ontario roots, North Bay offers plenty of outdoor activities and attractions for winter travelers.
It’s also a great base camp for exploring the nearby communities or going on hunting, fishing or camping excursions. Known as the “gateway to the north”, North Bay promises a relaxed lifestyle characteristic of the north, but is located only a few short hours from Toronto.
What to Do in North Bay in Winter
If you’re looking for a relaxing place to enjoy the Canadian outdoors in winter, North Bay is a great place to start.
Skiers and snowboarders can explore the slopes of Laurentian Ski Hill, while those looking for a peaceful hike will enjoy the 50+ km of groomed trails, perfect for Nordic skiing and snowshoeing when the snow falls.
Bring your skates and head over to one of the city’s outdoor rinks, or pack your fishing gear and head to the frozen Lake Nipissing for ice fishing. Don’t forget to visit Duchesnay Falls for an up-close view of one of Northeastern Ontario’s best waterfalls in winter snow.
And for an extra sweet outing, if you’re visiting North Bay during maple syrup tapping season in March, head to nearby Powassan for their annual Maple Syrup Festival.
✅ Walk along the icy shores of Lake Nipissing
✅ Visit the roaring Duchesnay Falls
Where to Stay in North Bay
Accommodations in North Bay range from rustic cabin rentals, to classy hotels.
📍 Fairfield by Marriott Inn & Suites – We recommend the Fairfield by Marriott Inn & Suites in North Bay for its modern and comfortable accommodations and high satisfaction ratings.
10. Bruce Peninsula
Located between Georgian Bay and Lake Huron, Bruce Peninsula is one of Ontario’s most beautiful destinations for a winter getaway.
The towns that line the Bruce Peninsula offer a unique Ontario outdoor experience of cliff trails, crystal blue coastlines and fascinating geological features. Snow often abounds on the Bruce Peninsula, making it one of Ontario’s most popular cottage destinations in the winter months.
What to Do on the Bruce Peninsula in Winter
Visiting the Bruce Peninsula in winter is one of the best ways to see the beautiful Georgian Bay coastline without having to contend with the summer crowds.
You can take a guided snowshoe tour to the icy Grotto cave in Bruce Peninsula National Park, or explore the Bruce Trail and its side trails.
If you venture on the trails on your own, keep safety at the forefront of your mind, as the sheer cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment are very unforgiving and all the more dangerous when covered in snow and ice.
Don’t forget to check out the incredible stargazing opportunities in the area, as the Bruce Peninsula is one of Ontario’s Dark Sky Preserves!
✅ Snowshoe to the icy Grotto in Bruce Peninsula National Park
✅ Stargaze in the Bruce Peninsula Dark Sky Preserve
Where to Stay on the Bruce Peninsula in Winter
While many of the accommodations that line the Bruce Peninsula are seasonal to the warmer months, there are still some fabulous B&Bs and cottages open all winter long.
📍 The Forest House B&B – The Forest House B&B – Adults Only in Tobermory is one such accommodation that is continually highly rated by guests.
11. Kawartha Lakes
The Kawartha Lakes is prime cottage country, with rolling hills, peaceful rivers and hundreds of lakes that are perfect for exploring by foot or by snowmobile.
It’s the perfect place to retreat for a week at a cottage or to explore as a day trip from Toronto.
What to Do in the Kawartha Lakes in Winter
The Kawarthas region offers all sorts of winter activities for those looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Book a cottage or stay in a unique country B&B surrounded by frozen-over lakes and wild forest.
Head into one of the many quaint towns such as Lindsay, Fenelon Falls and Bobcaygeon, or take a drive to Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park to walk one of the park’s groomed trails.
The natural beauty of the Kawartha Lakes region is more than enough to qualify it as one of the best places to visit in Ontario in winter.
✅ Snowmobile through the Kawartha Lakes
✅ Explore the quaint towns in cottage country
Where to Stay in Kawartha Lakes
With a number of luxurious and rustic cottages alike, the Kawartha Lakes region has no lack of unique accommodations for rent.
📍 Burleigh Falls Inn – The quaint Burleigh Falls Inn is a prime example of what this area has to offer.
12. Killarney Provincial Park
Killarney Provincial Park is one of Ontario’s winter wonderlands. With its snow-covered forests and icy waters, Killarney offers a unique outdoor experience for visitors looking to explore its rugged beauty during the colder months.
Camping in Killarney Provincial Park during the winter is a much different experience than during the summer months. During the winter, motorized vehicles are not permitted past the park office, meaning you’ll have to ski or snowshoe into your site, pulling your camping gear behind in a sled.
What to Do in Killarney Provincial Park
Making your way to your campsite isn’t the only time you’ll want to strap on your skis, because Killarney’s forested trails offer many spectacular trails to explore.
It’s rocky landscape is often featured in Canadian landscape photography, and if you’re skilled on the camera you’ll have the chance to capture some truly beautiful shots.
Campers can choose to rough it tent-style, or book a cozy yurt (soft-sided shelter) to keep warm at night. And before bed, be sure to check out the starry sky above, because Killarney was Ontario’s very first Dark Sky Preserve, and for good reason.
✅ Ski and snowshoe the park trails
✅ Appreciate the night sky from Canada’s first Dark Sky Preserve
Where To Stay in Killarney Provincial
Since Killarney Provincial Park offers winter camping, we recommend pitching a tent (if you’re brave!) or booking a yurt for your overnight accommodations in the area.
13. Niagara Falls, Ontario
Niagara Falls is an incredibly magical spot in the winter months, particularly during a snowfall when the falls are icy white.
Even though the popular Hornblower Cruises aren’t running during this time of year, there are still plenty of ways to experience Niagara Falls in its most beautiful form.
What to Do in Niagara Falls During Winter
Visitors to the area can explore the city on foot, taking a stroll in front of Table Rock Welcome Centre (offering up-close views of the falls) and Clifton Hill (the Entertainment District). A wintery walk around the area is guaranteed to give you some incredible views of the falls from different angles.
There are also several museums and attractions to explore in the area, such as Journey Behind the Falls, The Bird Kingdom and Niagara’s Fury.
✅ Take a wintery walk around Niagara Falls
✅ Explore attractions like Journey Behind the Falls and The Bird Kingdom
While Niagara Falls is in close proximity to most Ontario travelers, if you’re flying into Toronto, check out the best ways to get to Niagara Falls from Pearson International Airport.
Where To Stay in Niagara Falls, Ontario
Niagara Falls is filled with hotels and holiday homes of all types.
📍 Sterling Inn & Spa – If you’re looking for a luxurious place to unwind, book a stay at Niagara Falls’ premiere boutique hotel, The Sterling Inn & Spa.
Great Wolf Lodge, Niagara Falls
Niagara Falls is also home to one of the best indoor waterparks in North America! From waterslides to mini golf to a full list of programming activities throughout the day, Great Wolf Lodge is one of the best family getaways in Ontario in any season.
📍Great Wolf Lodge, Niagara Falls – Escape the cold with Great Wolf Lodge family resort this winter!
14. Niagara on the Lake
Niagara on the Lake is a charming town located just minutes away from Niagara Falls.
This area offers its visitors an incredible winter getaway as they explore some of the best Niagara Region wineries, take carriage rides through the snow-covered streets, or simply cozy up in one of the many luxury inns and hotels that dot the area.
What to Do in Niagara on the Lake During Winter
Niagara on the Lake is a great option for those looking to escape to luxury-land and explore some of Ontario’s finest wine country. There are several wineries located across the region, as well as quaint shops offering local goods and products.
Booking a wine tour is one of the best ways to experience Niagara on the Lake, and is our recommended activity for this getaway.
In our recent trip to Niagara on the Lake we stopped at the Wayne Gretzky Estates to enjoy the busy outdoor ice rink and heated patio. It was filled with families enjoying the activities of this winery estate.
✅ Indulge with a wine tour
✅ Spend the night at a luxury boutique hotel & spa
Where To Stay in Niagara On the Lake
Niagara on the Lake has made a name for itself when it comes to boutique hotels, spa hotels, and vintage hotels.
15. Royal Botanical Gardens, Burlington
The Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington is a beautiful destination year round, and especially enjoyable in the dead of winter!
Not only is the lush Mediterranean Garden a breath of life in the cold season, but the outdoor holiday displays in Hendrie Gardens are a reason to visit in and of itself!
What to Do in Royal Botanical Gardens
Between late November and early January each winter, Hendrie Park is lit up with 1.5 km of festive lights, with treats and hot drinks, live entertainment, and an indoor train display through the gardens. This makes for a delightful way to spend winter evenings getting in the Christmas mood.
On the other hand, if you’re just looking for a great place to take the family for a day out, the Gardens staff host programs for all ages to explore the garden life even in the winter.
The marsh trails in Cootes Paradise on Lake Ontario also provide beautiful wintery sites to enjoy all season long.
✅ Visit Hendrie Park’s festive outdoor displays
✅ Relax in the lush indoor Mediterranean Garden
Where to Stay in Royal Botanical Gardens
For those looking to make the most of their time at the Royal Botanical Gardens, we suggest staying at the newly renovated Hampton Inn & Suites Burlington.
Hamilton is one of Southern Ontario’s most thrilling and diverse cities when it comes to outdoor adventures. With over 150 waterfalls, a beautiful section of the Bruce Trail, the towering Niagara Escarpment, and a city brimming with life, Hamilton is definitely one of our favourite places to visit in Ontario in the winter.
What to Do in Hamilton in Winter
Hamilton is the perfect winter destination for those seeking outdoor adventure! Aside from taking a stroll along the trails in Cootes Paradise, we highly recommend visiting some of the frozen waterfalls that have made Hamilton the “waterfall capital of the world”.
And if you’re feeling up to trying your hand at a winter extreme sport, OneAxe Pursuits and The Alpine Club of Canada offer guided ice climbing tours of Tiffany Falls.
Outdoor skating at Pier 8 on Lake Ontario is another fun Hamilton winter pastime and the perfect way to take in the beautiful city skyline at night!
✅ Ice climbing at Tiffany Falls
✅ Outdoor skating at Pier 8 on Lake Ontario
Where to Stay in Hamilton
Downtown Hamilton has a number of excellent, reasonably priced chain hotels to choose from.
📍 Homewood Suites by Hilton Hamilton – The Homewood Suites by Hilton offers spacious, well-appointed suites in a convenient downtown location, perfect for walking to many of the downtown shops and restaurants.
Located on the shores of Lake Couchiching and Lake Simcoe, Orillia is a beautiful and vibrant city in central Ontario.
Orillia offers an exciting range of winter activities to make your winter vacation memorable. From ski hills to fat biking trails to ice fishing excursions, Orillia is a popular Ontario winter getaway destination for plenty of excellent reasons.
What to Do in Orillia During Winter
In winter, Orillia is a great place to enjoy a range of outdoor activities. Grab your skis and hit the slopes at one of the nearby ski resorts of Mount St. Louis Moonstone, Snow Valley or Horseshoe Resort.
If skiing isn’t your thing, take a snowmobile tour with Cottage Country Tours in nearby Severn and explore the area’s winter wonderland.
Or, cozy up in style at Fern Resort for an all-inclusive winter getaway, where you can enjoy horse-drawn wagon rides, outdoor ice skating on a 1.5 km trail, curling on the lake ice and lots more.
✅ Downhill ski or snowboard at one of Simcoe County’s ski hills
✅ Book an all-inclusive stay at Fern Resort on the lakefront
Where to Stay in Orillia
Nestled in Ontario’s cottage country, Orillia boasts a wide variety of accommodations, including lots of cottage rentals surrounding the city. For those looking for a relaxing hotel stay, we recommend Fern Resort, an all-inclusive resort on the lakefront in Orillia.
Elora is a charming and quaint village located in Wellington County. Known for its limestone cliffs along Elora Gorge, as well as being a hub for outdoor adventures in every season, Elora is one of the best places to visit in Ontario during winter.
What to Do in Elora During Winter
In the winter months, Elora offers some pretty unique winter adventures. Ice climb with OneAxe Pursuits on a frozen Elora Gorge cliff, snowshoe the 1.5 km long Aboyne Trail or the Elora Cataract Trailway, or shop the boutiques that line this quaint tourist town.
Close off your night with a spa treatment at the renowned Elora Mill and Spa, and a gourmet dinner in the dining room lined with ceiling to floor windows overlooking the limestone gorge.
✅ Ice climbing with OneAxe Pursuits
✅ Treat yourself to the spa at Elora Mill and Spa
Where to Stay in Elora
When it comes to noteworthy accommodations in Elora, the historic Elora Mill Hotel is an obvious top pick. But this isn’t the only luxurious place to stay in Elora.
In fact, Inner Joy Getaways offers a unique, and rather intriguing, accommodation along the Grand River.
📍 Inner Joy Getaways – Stay in beautifully repurposed and refinished shipping containers transformed into themed suites. Each of these luxurious suites include a private hot tub and special touches reminiscent of the local areas.
19. Manitoulin Island
Manitoulin Island is a stunning island in northern Lake Huron and the largest freshwater island in the world. Winter on Manitoulin includes some of the most spectacular snowscapes, with plenty of activities to make your Ontario winter vacation truly unique and unforgettable.
What to Do on Manitoulin Island in Winter
During the winter months, visitors to Manitoulin Island can enjoy a variety of activities such as snowshoeing, ice fishing, ice caving, skiing and snowmobiling.
The world-famous Cup & Saucer Trail is especially popular during the winter months, when you can take in beautiful snowy views of the island from the top of the Niagara Escarpment. Ice fishing is also a popular winter activity on the island’s inner lakes.
If you visit Manitoulin when the cold has frozen over Bridal Veil Falls, you might even be able to climb behind the falls to see its majestic ice cave. But be very cautious as this can be a high risk activity and safety should be of utmost importance.
For those looking for a unique nighttime experience, consider renting a stargazing cabin at Manitoulin Eco Park DarkSky Preseve, where, if you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights!
✅ Snowshoeing the Cup & Saucer Trail
✅ Stargazing at Manitoulin Eco Park DarkSky Reserve
Where to Stay on Manitoulin Island
The most popular accommodation on Manitoulin Island the Manitoulin Island Hotel and Conference Centre, located in Little Current.
Cochrane, Ontario is a snowmobiling town packed full of winter activities and winter travelers. It’s the launching point for tours to Moosonee on the James Bay and the starting point for Abitibi Canyon Loop, which features some of the furthest north groomed snowmobile trails in Ontario.
What to Do in Cochrane
If you love winter, you’ll love Cochrane! There are plenty of activities to keep you busy in the winter months, including dog sledding, snowmobiling, and ice fishing.
For a truly unique experience, visit Polar Bear Habitat where you can observe polar bears in their natural habitat.
Take a tour of the Abitibi Canyon Loop on a snowmobile for incredible views of the gorge and its surrounding areas.
Or, if you’re looking to head even further north, head on the Polar Bear Express Train to Moosonee on the James Bay!
✅ Go snowmobiling on Abitibi Canyon Loop
✅ Visit Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat
Where To Stay in Cochrane
Being a small, northern Ontario town, Cochrane has limited hotels. Our recommendation for where to stay in Cochrane is the Econo Lodge.
The small northern city of Timmins is known for its snowy winter landscapes and abundance of outdoor activities. Snowmobiling is very popular here, as it is one of Canada’s top snowmobiling regions.
Home to one of the largest airports in northern Ontario, Timmins is an easy flight in and out from Toronto. Better yet, if you’re up for a spectacular scenic drive, it’s about 3.5 hours due north of Sudbury through some of the finest Canadian Shield landscapes.
What to Do in Timmins
Timmins offers a wide range of activities for winter adventures, including snowmobiling, Nordic skiing and snowshoeing trails, ice fishing opportunities and much more. Mount Jamieson, the tallest tube park in Ontario, is also a perfect getaway spot for those looking for a thrill.
For something more tranquil, take a drive south to High Falls, where you can admire the spectacular waterfall and explore the surrounding trails.
✅ Visit Mount Jamieson, Ontario’s tallest tube park
✅ Head to High Falls waterfall
Where To Stay in Timmins
Timmins is home to a good number of chain hotels, offering guests some choice in where they want to stay.
📍 Best Western Premier Northwood Hotel – We recommend the Best Western Premier Northwood Hotel for its extremely positive reviews.
Places in Ontario to Visit in Winter Map
We’ve included this map of Ontario to help give you an idea of where each of these bucketlist places to visit in Ontario are located.
Where is the Prettiest Place to Visit in Ontario?
There are so many pretty places to visit in Ontario, it’s hard to choose just one!
That said, there’s one place that always stands out for its pure natural beauty, and that’s the Muskoka Region. With its deep blue lakes and waterfalls, rugged Canadian Shield terrain and welcoming small towns, the Muskoka Region is truly beautiful in every season.
How to Get Around Ontario in the Winter
The best way to get around Ontario in the winter is by car. While public transportation is quite reliable within cities, winter weather is notorious for throwing off bus schedules and delaying flights.
On the other hand, if you don’t like driving in unpredictable winter weather, public transportation is likely best for you. If you’re visiting cities, you can usually rely on the city public transit system.
If you’re looking to see places outside of the city but don’t want to drive yourself, consider booking a tour with a reputable company.
💡 If you need recommendations for tour companies, send us an email at email@example.com and we’d be happy to help direct you!
Renting a Car in Ontario in Winter
If you’re planning on renting a car for your trip, we recommend doing so in advance as rental cars can go quickly during peak seasons or busy times of the week.
There are lots of reputable car rental companies in Ontario, but not every company services every city. To take the guess work out of renting a car, we recommend booking with Discover Cars.
Note: The standard age to rent a car in Ontario is 21 years old (exceptions may apply), and most rental companies charge a young driver fee to drivers under the age of 25.
Need to Know: Driving in the Winter in Ontario
If you’re planning on driving in the winter, there are a few things you should know about winter driving in Ontario:
✅ First, always check the weather forecast and road conditions before you start driving. Winter weather can be unpredictable, and it’s always best to be prepared.
✅ Always make sure your car is equipped for winter driving. This means having a full tank of gas, extra windshield wiper fluid, a shovel and brush to clear snow off your car, and even gravel for traction in case you get stuck.
✅ Stock your vehicle with an emergency kit including food, water, extra clothes and blankets, matches, flares, and anything else you could need in case you get stranded.
✅ Always drive slowly and carefully in winter weather conditions. Highway pile ups and cars ditched in the side of the road are common sights during winter in Ontario.
What to Pack for a Visit in Ontario in Winter
When packing for a trip to during winter in Ontario, be sure to pack warm clothing, sturdy shoes or boots, and plenty of layers. The weather can range from mild to very cold, so you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared for a range of temperatures.
And if you’re hiking, snowshoeing or skiing, you’ll likely find that you will work up a sweat and need to start shedding those heavy layers!
Think about what activities are offered in the place you will visit, and grab your gear before leaving home so that you can save on rentals. Skis, snowshoes, snowboards, and ice skates are fair game for winter travel.
Conclusion: Places to Visit in Ontario in Winter
There are so many amazing places to visit in Ontario in winter! Many small towns in Ontario come alive when the snow begins to fall with festivals, outdoor ice rinks, and sugar shacks to make these cold months beyond bearable and actually enjoyable.
From the far northern towns of Cochrane and Timmins to the frozen waterfalls of the Niagara Escarpment, Ontario is truly a beautiful and charming place to spend the winter months.
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Erie is the owner and author of Everywhere Ontario. She’s lived and traveled around Ontario for over 30 years, visiting small towns and big cities from the shores of Lake Erie to the crisp northern air of Hearst along the Trans-Canada Highway. She is passionate about maximizing fun and supporting local tourist businesses and is always looking to provide the best recommendations to her fellow Ontario travelers. Read more about Erie here.