Yes, we’ve got a lot of snow, and we know what to do with it! From coast to coast in Canada, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to winter activities. From historic snowshoeing tours in Ontario and Quebec to ice fishing and ice skating along frozen rivers and canals, not to mention indulging in maple taffy at a sugar shack in March, here are some of the coolest Canadian winter activities from across the country.
Get Outside in Ontario!
Skate on the Rideau Canal or head to Grey County
One of the most Canadian winter activities to do is to skate along the Rideau Canal in Ottawa. Many locals (Ottawans, or Ottawites, as they like to be called) lace up for their daily commute to work, and almost 20,000 skaters hit the 8-kilometre-long frozen canal every day! Ottawa’s famed Rideau Canal is the longest outdoor skating rink in the world. The Rideau Canal is open for skating during the winter months and is always free of charge and frankly, one of the best experiences for exploring our nation’s capital. Skates are available to rent by the canal if you don’t have any of your own.
The beautiful shores of Georgian Bay by Lake Huron in Ontario is a great spot to take the family and experience some of the coolest winter activities that Canada has to offer. With plenty of snow, the Bruce Trail snakes its way through the region along the Niagara Escarpment. You can find excellent winter hiking and snowshoeing spots near the town of Kimberley in Grey County. Unwind from your winter adventures by visiting the Scandinave Spa in The Blue Mountains, where you can soak your tired bones in a series of stunning pools.
In the Muskoka Region north of Toronto, the Arrowhead Provincial Park Ice Skating Trail was named one of the best skating rinks in the world by Travel + Leisure magazine. Muskoka is known for its beautiful small towns and there’s excellent snowmobiling, ice-fishing and snowshoeing opportunities.
Winter Activities in Alberta
Festivals, food, and of course, Banff
For some winter activity ideas in Alberta, start in the capital city of Edmonton and check out the Silver Skate Festival. This 10-day festival has everything from ice sculptures, daily public skating, numerous performances and even a winter triathlon! Held this year from February 8-18, this festival has enough to entertain people of all ages. Bonus: most of the festival is free of charge!
Alberta’s beautiful Lake Louise in Banff is perfect for ice skating, or take a historic snowshoeing tour in Kootenay National Park to see the Paint Pots. The beautiful Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel has some of the most stunning and relaxing indoor pools you can imagine, while there are also famous outdoor hot springs in the area perfect for some relaxation and rejuvenation.
Fun Festivals and Snow in Quebec City
Take a selfie with Le Bonhomme Carnaval!
The Quebec City Winter Carnival is a wonderland of Canadian winter activities. Held every February in Quebec’s capital city, visitors can skate circles around le Bonhomme Carnaval, the festival’s beloved mascot and marvel at the detailed ice sculptures. You can even play a game of human foosball or join the ice canoe race at the St. Lawrence River. Then, spend the night chilling out in the Hôtel de Glace with a warm cocktail or two. Make sure to try some Caribou, which is a local Québécois brand of mulled wine and sweetened with maple syrup!
Riding a sled down a 7.5-kilometre run at Le Massif resort west of Quebec City is one of the most entertaining winter activities with just the right amount of speed. You’ll get a brief lesson (and a helmet) and you’re off, gliding down a groomed trail at your own pace. Not far away is the supremely stylish Le Germain Hotel Charlevoix. They can set you up with a late-night snowshoeing trip with flashlights. The stars are something to see, as are the silhouettes of sturdy evergreens against a full moon.
Explore the Mountains in British Columbia
Try ice-climbing in the Canadian Rockies
For some winter fun in British Columbia, head 30 minutes north of Vancouver to Mount Seymour. This area has some of the best trails of snowshoeing, where visitors can take guided tour and explore over 10 kilometres of snowy pathways in B.C’s beautiful winter forests. Mount Seymour is also home to the first tubing park in Western Canada, where the whole family can tube down the mountain at an exciting 50 metre drop! Other popular mountains near Vancouver for winter activities include Grouse Mountain and Cypress Mountain.
Ever heard of ice climbing? Yes, it’s a thing (and of course it’s in Canada!). For something different this winter, take an ice climbing tour to one of British Columbia’s many frozen waterfalls! Popular spots to do this are in the Whistler and Squamish area, and the towns of Nelson and the region of Kootenay in southern British Columbia. The tours provide you with all the equipment, and no climbing experience is required. You can even book a customized ice climbing tour and experience the Canadian Rockies like never before.
Eat all the Maple Syrup in Nova Scotia!
Nothing says winter in Canada like a maple syrup brunch
The further east you travel the smaller the mountains get, but that means the list of Canadian winter activities gets even bigger. Head to Sugar Moon Farm in northern Nova Scotia to hike amongst their maple trees before sitting down for their famous all-day maple brunch. Take a sleigh ride at the Hatfield Farm in Hammonds Plains or snowshoe at Shubenacadie Wildlife Park.
The Oval in the Halifax Commons is largest outdoor artificially refrigerated ice rink in Atlantic Canada with plenty of room for speed skaters and slow Saturday loops. The luxurious Prince George Hotel is a comfortable and luxurious accommodation choice after a day of skating and winter fun.
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