toronto islands winter

The top 5 things to do on the Toronto Islands in winter

Winter on the Toronto Islands is a whole lot quieter than the summer months, when city dwellers looking for a temporary escape make the short trek across the harbour in droves. While the number of ferries servicing the Islands dwindle in mid-October, the trip to Ward's Island is still made consistently throughout the day. Once you arrive, you'll find that attractions like the Centreville Amusement Park have closed for the season, but if you're adventurous enough and do some advance planning, there's actually still lots to do when the crowds have left for the season.

Here are the top five things to on the Toronto Islands in the winter.

Cross country skiing
There are trails spread all across the Islands that dedicated cross country skiers make good use of throughout the winter. As beautiful as most of these are, the highlight of gliding across this winter wonderland is the looming skyline across the harbour. The juxtaposition is irresistible, and it's impossible not to think that you're in on a secret that the rest of the city just doesn't know about.

Far Enough Farm
While the Centreville Amusement Park closes for the season, Far Enough Farm is open 365 days of the year, allowing visitors to interact with its animals, which range from horses and donkeys to alpaca and black swans. It's obviously a hike to get to the farm, but it's well stocked if you make the trip.

Lagoon skating
There's no shortage of outdoor skating options in Toronto, but the vast majority are on artificial ice. That's not so bad when the temperature rises, but a natural skating experience still carries with it significant allure. Skating on the inner harbour is dangerous except during the coldest of winters, but the lagoons around the Islands are a better bet, and the locals have plenty of experience in determining when the ice is thick enough.

Artscape Gibraltar Point artist residences
The artist residence program at Gibraltar Point is year around, and if it's true seclusion you're after, there's no better time than winter to hunker down and work on that manuscript you've been plugging away at. There are both programmed and self-directed options available, but do bear in mind that you'll need to apply for acceptance to both.

Stay at a B&B
Almost all of the bed & breakfasts on the Islands are open year round. A few of them even feature separate studio/apartment spaces if you're looking for ultimate privacy. Prices typically range between hover between $100 and $150 per night, which is actually quite good given what you'll pay for a downtown hotel. The accommodations might not be as nice as on the mainland, but the experience is certainly unique.

Add your suggestions for things to do on the Islands during the winter in the comments.

Photo by Patrick Dell in the blogTO Flickr pool


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