It’s no secret that winters in Toronto can get pretty ugly, cold and windy. They vary year to year, but you can definitely expect snow, lots of wind and any number of other cold weather woes for what feels like forever. It’s also safe to say that not everyone – whether a Toronto local or a visitor – enjoys the colder months. If that sounds like you, here are eight things to do in Toronto if you hate winter.
Hop Into an Indoor Pool
Ignore winter and pretend it’s still summer in the city by diving into an indoor pool, of which there are many in Toronto to choose from. There are a whopping 60 indoor pools run by the City of Toronto of varying sizes, so you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding one in your neighbourhood. Leisure swimming is free for all ages, but there is a fee for lane swimming. Drop-in lane swimming is $4 per swim, or $38 for a 10-visit card.
Warm up in a Steam Room
What better way to forget all about winter weather than by being ensconced in warming steam? The traditional Turkish steam room at Hammam Spa has visitors relaxing and detoxifying in thick steam that gets up to 102 degrees. A drop-in visit is $55 (but it's best to call ahead to ensure there's space). You can also try the steam room (as well as whirlpools and indoor swimming pool) at Elmwood Spa in downtown Toronto. The water therapy circuit is free with a spa treatment, but if you just want to hop between the steam room and swimming pool, a three-hour visit costs $50.
Hang Out With Sharks at Ripley’s Aquarium
It’s hard to think about the cold when you’re watching schools of vibrantly hued fish and other undersea creatures you wouldn’t normally see outside of a coral reef someplace warm, tropical and sunny. Spending an afternoon at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada makes for an ideal spot to escape the winter weather. There are 16,000 marine creatures here from marine and freshwater habitats from around the world. One of the most popular exhibits is the Dangerous Lagoon, an underwater tunnel filled with sharks that’s viewed via a moving sidewalk. It's as close as you’ll come to swimming with sharks – without actually being in the water.
Exercise Your Pet Indoors
Pets need exercise all year round – even when it’s cold and you’d rather not head outside. One fun way to bond with your furry friend without being outdoors comes courtesy of Doggie Central. They offer indoor play sessions for pups of all ages wherein you and your dog can enjoy the centre’s indoor pet facility for a play session that doesn’t involve dressing in multiple layers. Choose from sessions for small, medium and large breeds (or open play for any size dog) and sessions for puppies only.
Play Some Indoor Beach Volleyball
Feel the sand between your toes without having to book a flight to Mexico by signing up to play some indoor beach volleyball. There are a couple of options for where to play in Toronto including Beach Blast, which has seven heated indoor sand volleyball courts. They offer league play as well as drop-ins. Drop-ins take place Fridays and on weekends and cost $20. You can also pretend you’re playing volleyball on a sunny beach in the Caribbean at North Beach Volleyball. Call ahead to see how busy the courts are and if there’s space, head over for a game. A drop-in session here costs $18 (or $15 if you come in during non-peak times).
Feel Like You're in the Tropics at Allan Gardens Conservatory
Leave winter behind for a while with a visit to Allan Gardens Conservatory. Wander through six garden-filled greenhouses that contain tropical plants from all over the world, covering over 16,000 square feet. The Palm House and Tropical Landscape House will especially make you feel like you’ve landed someplace warm with a beach nearby. The Conservatory is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. 365 days a year and it’s free to enter.
You can also check out the smaller but equally tropical Cloud Gardens Conservatory downtown.
Learn Something New
Toronto is filled with opportunities to learn something new, from sewing and knitting, to jewellery or soap making. While away the cold winter days by signing up for a class in something that interests you. Just a few fun examples of what you can learn in Toronto include knitting, sewing, soap making and other DIY body care and woodworking.
Combine Beer & Culture
At Henderson Brewing Company in Toronto's west end, you can stay warm while sipping beer and getting cultured courtesy of the many events happening throughout the month. For example, during Books & Beers, Henderson hosts a different author each month from House of Anansi Press. Or during 5-minute Film Fest, sip a beer while enjoying a rotating roster of short films and documentaries.