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5 hidden gems to explore in Simcoe County for the perfect winter getaway near Toronto

Simcoe County may be home to the best skiing, snowboarding and tubing in Ontario, but for those looking for their next day or weekend trip, there is so much more to discover in this region, just a short hour-ish drive north of Toronto.

If you're looking to get away from the concrete jungle, then the cities, towns and wilds of Simcoe County are perfect for whatever it is you're seeking, whether that's relaxing and taking it easy, or getting outside and immersing yourself in nature.

Snoeshoeing in Simcoe CountyAnd, though the cottage country locale is absolutely gorgeous and jam-packed with things to do in the summer, there is tons of fun to be had and incredible beauty to be seen in winter, too. Here are a few must-sees and must-dos in Simcoe County this winter:

Experience the great outdoors at Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre

Yes, Simcoe County has pretty much any ski resort you'd want to go to in the province — Horseshoe, Snow Valley and Mt. St. Louis Moonstone among them — but for a different type of outdoor adventure, try snowshoeing and cross-country skiing at the Wye Marsh Wildlife Centre.

The 3,000 acres of provincially significant wetlands and woodland are home to countless diverse species of flora and fauna, so you're sure to encounter some furry and feathered friends and really get in touch with nature on the 25 km of groomed trails, which are extra peaceful and awe-inspiring in winter.

All equipment is available to rent on-site, and the terrain is suitable for all ages and skill levels. You can even snowshoe under the stars as part of the Marsh by Moonlight Snowshoe Series. Downtown Midland is nearby for après activity, dining, and drink, as well as overnight accommodation.

Skate outside at Quayle’s Brewery

With indoor and outdoor seating, a delicious menu, live music on weekends, and farm-fresh craft beer on tap, you'll definitely want to hit up Quayle's Brewery in Oro-Medonte.

All beer is made on-site using the hops grown on the sprawling property, which you can view from the brewery as your sip and eat.

And, this year there's a skating rink to enjoy! Bring your own skates, and after you've tired yourself out, warm up with some tomato basil bisque, clam chowder, or a number of other menu items on the dog-friendly heated patio, which looks especially dreamy now that it's all lit up.

Don't forget to grab a beer-tasting flight to enjoy, too, as you sit overlooking Simcoe County's rolling hills.

Relax and unwind at Vetta Spa

Vetta offers a Nordic spa experience like no other, with a focus on the healing and rejuvenating properties of Finnish hydrotherapy.

Vetta spa

Cycle through hot and cold pools, followed by rebalancing relaxation, before repeating it all again for maximum benefits. Afterwards, you can book a massage from an RMT before enjoying a meal at Vetta's bistro or fine dining restaurant. The pristine natural beauty and serenity of Simcoe County makes Vetta the perfect place for some R&R, helping to take your mind away from life's daily stresses and the hustle of the city.

An added perk is that the facility strives to support small local businesses and operates sustainably with the planet in mind.

Plus, you can stay at the nearby Horseshoe Resort to enjoy skiing, snowboarding, tubing, fat biking, and cross-country skiing the following day with Horseshoe's special package deals that include the Vetta Spa!

Experience Winter Utopia at Duntroon Cyder House

This stunning local cidery turns into a festive winter wonderland for the colder months, with cozy outdoor firepits on an outdoor patio, adorable heated dining domes, a market full of local products, cider tastings, and snowshoeing offered through the orchards on site and the nearby Bruce Trails.

Duntroon Cyder is made completely in-house in the traditional European way, and is free from added sugars and preservatives. The fully-operational organic farm makes for the most scenic, Insta-worthy experience.

Build your own winter excursion at Friday Harbour Resort

Friday Harbour is a year-round destination right on Lake Simcoe that has all types of winter fun typical of the region, from snowshoeing the Nature Preserve trails and ice skating during their Skate Escape to elevated dining experiences.

Friday Harbour

There are 12 restaurants, coffee shops and takeout spots to choose from, and all types of cuisine ranging from Japanese to French. There's also shopping, a salon, indoor golf and other activities, and a cute boardwalk and pier with picturesque views of the lake.

Now that you've got some hot tips on this fun winter escape, make sure to add a Simcoe County experience to your next Ontario getaway.

Lead photo by

Tourism Simcoe


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