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Celebrate Winter With a Cold Weather Escape Near Toronto
While it always seems easier to hibernate in the winter and stick closer to home, there are quite a few destinations well worth exploring that won’t take you too far from the city. Whether you’re in the mood to kick back and relax in a cabin with a hot drink, hit the slopes, skate, sled or hike, there’s a getaway close to Toronto geared towards your winter interests. Here are 10 easy winter escapes from Toronto.Continue to 2 of 11 below.
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Blue Mountain & Scandinave Spa
Blue Mountain near Collingwood bills itself as a summer and a winter destination and there is a lot to do here once the cold weather sets in. First and foremost, Blue Mountain is one of the most popular ski and snowboard destinations in Ontario. There are 42 trails, 30 of which are lit for night-skiing and there are runs here for everyone from beginners to advanced skiers and snowboarders. Blue Mountain also offers snow tubing, ice skating and snowshoeing. There’s also plenty of other things to keep you busy here, including restaurants, bars, shops and spas. In particular, don’t miss out on some relaxing time at Scandinave Spa. Set in a forest, the year-round Scandinavian baths and hydrotherapy circuit is a unique way to experience nature and unwind in the winter.
Travel time from Toronto: Around two hoursContinue to 3 of 11 below.
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Known as “Ontario’s most beautiful village”, the pretty town of Elora offers much in the way of winter activities, not to mention the chance to browse quaint shops, galleries and artist studios. Cross country ski or go for a winter hike in the Elora Gorge Conservation Area or Belwood Lake Conservation Area, go snowshoeing, take a snowmobile ride, or go ice skating.
Travel time from Toronto: Around one hour and 40 minutesContinue to 4 of 11 below.
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Niagara Falls is always a fun getaway from Toronto – even in the winter. And some might argue, especially in the winter. As the cold weather and snow roll in, the plummeting temperatures create surreal ice sculptures out of the spray from the falls, turning nearby trees and lampposts into natural, ice-covered art. This is particularly eye-catching in the evening when the Falls are illuminated with multi-colored lights. Even though it’s winter you can still take part in the Journey Behind the Falls attraction, which gives you the unique perspective of seeing the Falls from below and behind. You can also still ride the Niagara SkyWheel in winter. Enclosed gondolas on Canada’s largest observation wheel are heated for a cozy ride with views over the Falls.
Travel time from Toronto: One hour and 45 minutesContinue to 5 of 11 below.
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Often described as the prettiest town in Ontario, Niagara-on-the-Lake is a well-preserved 19th-century village that looks postcard-perfect in the winter. Only a few minutes from Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake is home to two winter festivals that are worth having on your travel radar. The first is the annual Icewine Festival that takes place weekends in January from the 13 to the 29. There are over 40 wineries participating in various wine and food-themed events. A Discovery Pass is a good way to experience as much as possible. The $40 pass gets you eight experience vouchers valued at $10 each, redeemable at participating wineries. Or, you can check out Days of Wine and Chocolate – because what’s better than wine and chocolate? This event takes place weekends in February from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is focused on the art of wine and chocolate pairing.
Travel time from Toronto: One hour and 30 minutesContinue to 6 of 11 below.
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You might think of Muskoka as a summer-only destination, but there’s plenty to do in cottage country in the winter. For starters, the Muskoka region is home to four ice skating trails. Arrowhead Provincial Park Ice Skating Trail is a 1.3 km trail that takes skaters through the thick snow-covered Muskoka forest. Popular Fire & Ice nights see the trail illuminated by hundreds of tiki torches. Along with lots of chances to lace up your skates, a winter escape to Muskoka also offers over 1200 kilometres of groomed trails for sledding, hundreds of kilometres of cross country ski trails and downhill skiing and snowboarding at Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area. When you’re not skating, skiing or sledding, beer fans can check out some the area’s breweries, including Lake of Bays Brewing Co., Muskoka Brewery and Sawdust City Brewing Co.
Travel time from Toronto: two hours and 15 minutesContinue to 7 of 11 below.
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Ontario Provincial Parks
Pitching a tent in the winter months isn’t for everyone, though many people camp straight through the winter. But you can still experience the feeling of escape that comes with a camping trip without actually having to sleep under the stars. How? By renting a yurt. Yurts offer warm, affordable yet simple accommodation in several parks that are a reasonable drive from Toronto. If you go you’ll just have to bring your own bedding, cookware and dishes. Other options for roofed accommodation in Ontario Provincial Parks include rustic cabins, camp cabins, and cottages, depending on the level of comfort you’re looking for.
Travel time from Toronto: VariesContinue to 8 of 11 below.
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Theatre season in Stratford might be over, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t put this picturesque town on your winter travel list. Known as a great destination for scouting antiques, Stratford is also home to many unique shops and boutiques, as well as art galleries to explore. Gallery Stratford, one of Ontario's longest operating public art galleries, is home to over 1000 works mainly by Canadian artsits. If you love chocolate, you might want to consider doing the self-guided Savour Stratford Chocolate Trail or if bacon and beer is more your style, the Savour Stratford Bacon & Ale Trail.
Travel time from Toronto: One hour and 50 minutes.Continue to 9 of 11 below.
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Prince Edward County
Cozy up in Prince Edward County for an easy winter getaway from Toronto. There are several winter festivals and carnivals that happen in the area during January and February including Winterfest at Sandbanks Park on Family Day (Feb 15). You can also take advantage of the 11 kilometres of trails in Sandbanks Provincial Park and do some cross-country skiing, or try snowshoeing on the frozen sand dunes. Prince Edward Country is also known for its thriving local art scene so there are plenty of galleries to visit, or you can try the Arts Trail, a chance to explore 26 professional galleries and studios, get a tour and meet the artists. If you go, book a room at chic and cozy Drake Devonshire where you’ll also find great food and regular events in the form of live music, artist talks and more.
Travel time from Toronto: Two hours and 15 minutesContinue to 10 of 11 below.
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Hockley Valley Resort
If you don’t feel like going quite as far as Blue Mountain, but skiing and snowboarding are still on the agenda, Hockley Valley Resort is a good option for some winter fun close to Toronto. Located less than an hour north of the city, Hockley Valley has 14 trails for downhill skiing and snowboarding for all levels, from beginner to advanced. They also ski and snowboard lessons for all ages. If you choose to stay, there’s accommodation on property as well as a spa and three restaurants.
Travel time from Toronto: 45 minutes to an hourContinue to 11 of 11 below.
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Hamilton is a destination that has something for everyone, whether you’re interested in art and live music, history and culture, shopping or outdoor adventure. And you can still experience much of what the city has to offer in the winter months. If you time your visit right, you can add Hamilton Winterfest to your itinerary. The event runs from February 4 to 20 and involves art exhibits, recreational programming and neighbourhood celebrations. Another reason to visit Hamilton in the winter: Frozen waterfalls. Known as the city of waterfalls, Hamilton is home to over 100 waterfalls and they look pretty spectacular when they’re frozen into surreal-looking landscapes.
Travel time from Toronto: About an hour