The top 10 winter weekend escapes from Toronto
Winter weekend escapes from Toronto can provide the brief respite required to endure the long, hard season. Not all of us have the time or money to head to the tropics each winter, which is why it's so useful that Ontario is dotted with year round resorts and cottages/cabins that allow weary city folk take a load off for a few days. Most of the places on this list are designed to take advantage of winter activities like skiing, but I've also included a few that are purely about getting cosy by a fireplace and hiding from the weather.
Here are my top 10 winter weekend escapes from Toronto.
Try out a yurt
Winter doesn't mean that our provincial parks shut down. One of your best bets for winter camping is a renting a yurt. They're cheap, warm, and there are more of them than you might think Ontario parks boast over 50 yurts within a reasonable drive of Toronto. Yurts typically cost $86 per night before taxes and additional fees.
Rent a cabin at a provincial park
If a yurt sounds just a little to rustic for your liking, you can also rent a variety of other roofed accommodation at our provincial parks, which include back country cabins (arguably even more rustic), cottages, and camp cabins. Most of these are open year round, though there are exceptions, so be sure to check the dedicated page on the Ontario Parks website.
Be entertained at Blue Mountain and Scandinave Spa
Blue Mountain is perhaps one of the most obvious destinations to hit for a winter weekend getaway, particularly for those who love to ski and can handle the crowded hills (not mountains) of Ontario. The best part, however, isn't the skiing. It's the proximity of restaurants, indoor pools, adventure activities, and the indoor/outdoor Scandinave Spa that mean you don't have to pin all the fun on skiing.
Curl up by the fire at a log cabin
My favourite winter activity has nothing to do with the outdoors. On the contrary, I like to find a sport where I can read by a fireplace and occasionally glance at the unforgiving weather outside. The cabins at Cedar Grove Lodge have a rustic beauty to them without sacrificing on comfort. You don't even have to worry about cooking, as the lodge does that for you. Cabins start at $120 per person.
Head to the Falls
Niagara Falls is at its finest in the winter if you go to the place for the right reasons, namely to explore the last remains of North American motel culture, eat at retro diners, and gawk at how even brutal winter weather can't quite tame the Queen of the Cataracts these days. In winter, accommodations are way cheaper, there are less tourists, and you can still take a (heated) ride on the SkyWheel.
Hit up Hockley Valley Resort
If you're looking for a ski getaway that's close to Toronto, Hockley is one of your best bets. With 14 trails for skiing and snowboarding (many of which are lit at night), a half pipe, and decent on-site accommodation, you can focus on your traversing through day and evening, before resting up to do it all over again.
Escape the city to Cobourg
The Breakers made our summer getaway guide int he category of cheap escapes, but with many rooms outfitted with gas fireplaces, and lots of quaint restaurants and pubs in Cobourg and nearby Port Hope, it's also a nice place to take a mini vacation when life in the city is all slush, long waits for the TTC, and general misery. Rooms start at $105 per night in the off season.
Enjoy a French-style Inn without leaving Ontario
The Claire de Lune B&B on Pigeon Lake in the Kawarthas is a cosy French-style mini-restort, complete with cosy wood-panelled rooms and a fireplace-adorned vivoir where guests eat breakfast and relax in the evenings. There are only a few rooms, but it's a gorgeous little place. Rates start at $135 per night including breakfast.
Rent a cabin on airbnb
The beauty of renting vacation properties on airbnb in the winter is that so many of them are readily available. You can rent a gorgeous cabin for $135 a night. Don't want to drive so far? There are plenty of other options.
Pamper yourself St. Anne's Spa
St. Anne's Spa isn't cheap, but winter in Toronto can get so bad that a weekend of pure indulgence and self-pampering might not seem like a crazy expenditure in mid-February. The accommodations are inviting, the list of services and facilities is extensive, and the food is gourmet without being hyper fussy. Getaway packages start at $299 per person per night.
What did I miss? Add your favourite winter weekend getaways to the comments.
Photo of Scandinave Spa at Blue Mountain