10 fun things to do in the snow this winter in Toronto
Snow in Toronto doesn't necessarily spell a need to get cosy and/or hibernate. On the contrary, our big snowfalls are typically accompanied by relatively mild temperatures (all things considered) and an often necessary dose of beauty in the midst of a sun-deprived winter.
Fortunately, folks around these parts long ago figured out how to have fun in the midst of weather that makes day-to-day tasks like commuting a bit of a nightmare. Whether its tobogganing or exploring an abandoned ravine, there's no shortage of activities to make the snow a welcome occurence in this city.
Here are my picks for the top things to do in the snow in Toronto.
Hit the slopes
Ok, sure -- the hillls in and around Toronto will drive you a little nuts if you're used to skiing in BC or even Quebec, but if careening down the slopes is a passion, there are few better ways to have fun when it snows. And, if you're just starting out with downhill skiing, the GTA's cautious hills are the perfect place to your feet wet, er, cold.
Explore a ravine on snowshoes
Snowshoeing is an underrated winter activity if there ever was one, and while Toronto's ravines are probably at their most fun to explore during summer and fall, you will find few things more beautiful in this city than an ancient riverbed perfectly coated with snow. The scene is actually awe-inspiring.
Bust out your sled
This one is obvious, but quite possible the most fun snowy activity that exists. Where Toronto is frustratingly bereft of big skill hills, our many ravines provide the perfect places to pile on a sled and careen downhill. Riverdale is the most-loved of our many tobogganing options, but there are plenty of other under the radar hills as well.
Explore the Islands on cross country skies
The Toronto Islands are a winter wonderland, and thanks to their ample walking paths and virtual isolation in the winter months, there are few places better to cross country ski. From wooded nooks to waterfront vistas that reveal the towering skyline in the distance, you couldn't pick a better place to feel like you've left the city without actually having to travel.
Strap on your camera
You'll want to bundle up, but a dumping of snow offers the aspiring photographer a chance to see the city in a new light. Even the most pedestrian streets and intersections are transformed into things of wonder when wet snow falls and clings to street poles and other infrastructure. Best bet? Organize an impromptu photo meetup and tackle the snowy city as a group.
Skate outdoors but under a roof
As nice as it might sound to skate in the midst of a snowfall, the rate at which our outdoor rinks are cleared means that ice conditions deteriorate to uncomfortable levels very quickly. Not so at Toronto's only covered outdoor ice rink. You'll have to make your way to Greenwood Park, but there's something rather cool about skating on (mostly) clear ice in the midst of a snowstorm.
Unleash your inner sculptor
In fairness, not everyone will want to spend an hour in the snow fashioning an elaborate piece of (very) temporary art. But, if you're creative and committed enough, the possibilities are rather remarkable. And, hey, if you're not up for making some snow art, you can always hunt it out. Just remember to bring a flask.
Ride your bike!
No, you don't have to be crazy to ride a bike after a snowfall. But you do need to be prepared. First, don't head out if your only ride is equipped with slick tires. Second, be careful in the midst of major snow -- drivers aren't expecting you. But if you're a little brave and own a mountain bike, the side streets can be super fun on two wheels after a few centimetres of snow.
Get lit up on a winter patio
A cop out, perhaps -- but the best part about hitting up a winter patio when it snows is the strange juxtaposition between your immediate surroundings and what's happening on the other side of the window. Better still, the booze that you consume will make you more attune to the beauty that awaits on the way home.
Do a maple syrup hike
Maple syrup hikes generally take place near the end of winter, but what better way to have one last hurrah in the snow. There are a number of sugar bushes around the GTA, but Kortright is my favourite for its wooded hike and gluttonous pancake and sausage breakfast that follows. It'll warm your soul.
What did I miss? Add your suggestions in the comments.
Photo by cookedphotos in the blogTO Flickr pool
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