Toronto was my home for many years and while summer is my favourite time to be in the city, there was always a ton of fun things to do in Toronto in winter too.
From winter festivals to dazzling light shows and snowy weekend getaways, here are 101 ideas for winter activities in Toronto this year!
Some of the places mentioned in this post are currently closed due to COVID-19. However, I have left them in for future planning as things may reopen throughout the year. I have done my best to update this post with safe and socially distanced activities, as well as events that have gone virtual. Please read local government guidelines for the most up-to-date information before booking any travel.
Fun Outdoor Things to do in Toronto in Winter
Given the ongoing status of indoor gatherings fluctuating, the best things to do in Toronto this winter are outdoors.
1.Skate by the lights of city hall at Nathan Phillips Square. One of my favorite things to do in Toronto in winter is grab a pair of skates and head to one of Toronto’s public outdoor rinks. As space is limited to 25 skaters an hour, the city is encouraging people to reserve a spot online beforehand.
2. Fat bike the lower don – The best way to explore the lower don trails this winter is on a fat bike. Sweet Pete’s runs two-hour fat-bike adventure rides out of the Bike Works location at Evergreen Brick Works.
3. Visit Tommy Thompson Park to learn about Toronto’s urban wildlife. It’s considered one of the best places for bird-watching in the city!
4. Explore the street art on Graffiti Alley. This kilometre-long stretch is home to some of the city’s most iconic street art pieces! Winter is a great time to visit as it’s far less busy, allowing you to take amazing photos.
5. Walk through a tunnel of lights at Bloor-Yorkville BIA.
6. Visit Rouge National Urban Park. Grab your hiking shoes or snowshoes and explore one of the park’s many hiking trails that take you through various landscapes.
7. Go tobogganing. This is the perfect activity to do in Toronto with kids! Grab a sled and head to one of 23 toboggan hills across the city for an afternoon of fun.
8. Watch a movie at Ontario Place drive-in theatre. Throughout December, Ontario Place is hosting a drive-in theatre with a variety of holiday-themed movies.
9. Visit the Toronto Islands. While the islands are a favourite among locals during the summer months in Toronto, some are still accessible during the winter and they are the perfect place to go for some peace and quiet.
To get to the islands, catch the 13-minute ferry from the Jack Layton Ferry Terminal at the foot of Bay St. and Queens Caye. Only the Ward’s Island ferry operates during the winter season.
10. Take a winter stroll through a ravine. You don’t have to go far away from the city streets to get into nature. Toronto is blessed with a large ravine system. Some of my favorite ravine walks include the Humber Valley and Crothers Woods.
11. Skate under the Gardiner. The Bentway Skate Trail a skating rink unlike any others in Toronto, running one kilometre under the Gardiner Expressway overpass.
12. Casa Loma holiday light tour. While the inside of Casa Loma is currently closed, they are hosting a magical outdoor holiday light show from Dec 22nd until January 31st, 2021, at 4 pm daily. On this self-guided tour, you’ll get to wander through a light display in the outdoor gardens.
13. Visit the farm animals at Riverdale Farm in Cabbagetown neighborhood (where I used to live)!
14. Take an evening walking tour. See the best sights of the city in this small group walking tour.
15. Experience Terra Lumina, an enchanted night walk at Toronto Zoo.
16. Check out the art installations at Winter Station. The lifeguard station’s along Toronto’s east end beaches get turned them into temporary interactive art installations by international artists. They are on display from Family Day weekend until March 31st, 2021.
17. Play a round of disc-golf at one of the city’s six locations. It’s open year-round!
18. Visit high park for a winter stroll through the trail systems.
19. Have a snowball fight in any of the cities parks, a classic fun Toronto winter activity.
20. Scare yourself on a ghost tour. Ghosts and Spirits of the Distillery run evening walking tour.
21. Visit the flat iron building. This unique building which is skinny on one side and fat on the other has become one of the most photographed places in Toronto.
23. DJ Skate night at Harbourfront – One of the city’s most popular winter events takes place at Harbourfront Centre on Saturdays for DJ Skate Night.
Toronto Winter Festivals
While most in-person winter festivals are canceled this year, many have gone online or have adapted to arrange for social distancing.
24. The Winterfolk Music Festival is back in 2021 in a new format. Instead of the usual venues across Danforth ave, artists will be performing via live stream from February 19–20, 2021.
25. Presented by Toronto Fringe, Next Stage is back this year in a digital format with ‘community booster’. This four-day event will be a boost of energy, ideas, and creativity, for those enduring an isolated pandemic winter. The dates are January 21 – 24, 2021.
26. 21C Music Festival is back this year with a livestream concert packages with four dates in January and February.
27. Toronto Black Film Festival is having an online live edition from February 10-21, 2021.
28. DesignTO is going distanced and digital – window installations will be viewable from the outdoors at venues across the city from January 22nd-January 31st.
29. Bloor-Yorkville Icefest – See over 70,000 pounds of ice carved into sculptures! A Trip Around the World will be taking place Feb. 5th – 7th as a socially distanced outdoor trail this year.
30. Toronto Comicon – If you’re a cosplayer you need to check out Comicon at the Metro Toronto Convention Center for a weekend of exhibitions and special guests. This event is scheduled for March 19-21st 2021.
The rest of these festivals aren’t happening for 2021, but I hope to see them back in 2022!
31. Toronto Tea Festival – Who doesn’t live tea in the winter? Enjoy a weekend of tastings from local tea producers, shopping, showcases, workshops and more. This festival took place February 1-2nd in 2020.
32. The Toronto Light Festival takes places during the cold, dark days of winter from January to March at the Distillery District with gorgeous outdoor light installations by local artists.
33. See the beautiful winter light exhibitions at Ontario Place. It took place February 8th in 2020.
34. Explore the Christmas Market at Distillery District! This is one of my favourite things to do in Toronto in winter. At the Toronto Christmas Mrket you can go shopping, drink mulled wine, and go on a ferris wheel ride overlooking the city. It takes place in December.
35. Kensington Market Winter Solstice Festival – Celebrate the shortest and darkest day of the year on December 21st. What started out as a group of 30-odd people now attracts thousands who march through the market’s streets.
37. Wavelength Winter Festival – This music and arts festival saw 20 bands over the course of 4 days across various venues in Toronto. It took place from February 13-16 in 2020.
Food and Drink Events in Toronto During Winter
38. Eat your way through St. Lawrence Market. It’s one of the oldest markets in Canada with over 120 delicious vendors! While the Sunday antique market is currently closed, the south (main) Market building remains open to the public as an essential service. You can also join a guided food through the market.
39. Visit a winter farmers market at Evergreen Brickworks on Saturdays. It is operating during COVID-19 as an essential service.
40. Explore Eataly where you can pick up fresh ingredients to make something at home or try one of the amazing on-site restaurants. They are currently doing home delivery.
While restaurants and bars are currently closed for COVID-19, things may reopen later in the winter. Many are also doing delivery at home, which is a great way to support locally owned businesses during this time.
41. Eat Weekend brunch. Toronto has an amazing brunch culture with new restaurants popping up all the time. Some of my favourite places to go for brunch in Toronto are Le Petit Dejeuner, Auntie’s and Uncles, and Saving Grace. You can even join a brunch tour!
42. Take advantage of Winterlicious where you can try some of the best restaurants in Toronto at amazing prices. 2021 dates have not yet been announced.
43. Join a guided food tour through Toronto where you’ll explore the best eats in Queen West, The Distillery District, Kensington Market or Little Italy.
44. Take a wine & cheese tour with a guided sommelier and try some of Ontario’s best wines.
45. Eat at the highest restaurant in North America. The CN tower 360 restaurant offers unparalleled views of Toronto with equally amazing food.
46. Indulge your sweet took at the Sugar Shack Festival. The 2021 dates have not been set yet – follow the website for the most up-to-date information.
47. Get your beer on at the Winter Craft Beer Fest at the Roundhouse Park outside of the Steam Whistle Brewery. It took place on February 1st in 2020.
48. Tour Steam Whistle brewery – Steam Whistle Brewery offers 30-minute tours where you can learn all about the brewing process and taste the finished product!
49. Join a group beer tour. Don’t want to go to a brewery alone? No problem! You can join a guided group beer tour which is a great way to meet people if you’re traveling solo.
50. Go on a whiskey tour in Toronto and learn all about Canadian whiskey.
51. Go clubbing. Toronto has some amazing night clubs where you can stay warm during the cold months (if you can manage the lines). Crawl your way through the many clubs on King St. West or join a guided cocktail tour.
52. Take in a drag show. If you haven’t watched a drag show before Toronto is the perfect place to try. Head to the village on Church Street and praise those queens.
53. Play lawn games at Track and Field bar while drinking!
54. Hit up an arcade bar. Another great way to spend a night out with friends. My favourites arcade bars in Toronto are Rec Room across from the CN tower and Get Well on Dundas West.
Indoor Places to Visit in Toronto in Winter
While most indoor places to visit in Toronto in winter are currently not open, I am leaving them for future planning as the status of indoor gatherings may change. Please refer to the official websites I have linked below for the most up to date information on openings.
57. See fascinating marine life at Ripleys Aquarium or better yet, go dancing there! Check out Friday night Jazz which happens every second of the month at the Aquarium.
58. Visit the Bata Shoe Museum – this unique museum in Toronto tracks 4,500 years of history of foot coverings from all over the world. It’s the largest collection in the world!
59. If you’re a fan of Canada’s favorite sport, then spend an afternoon at the Hockey Hall of Fame to learn about Canada’s greatest players!
60. Bend your perception of reality at the Museum of Illusions which has over 80 interactive illusions, installations, exhibits, and holograms
61. Visit the Ontario Science Centre to learn more about the facinating world that we live in. This is a great things to do with kids in Toronto in winter!
62. Explore a museum of Islamic art, Iranian art and Muslim culture at the Aga Khan Museum in North York.
63. Shop at over 250 stores at the CF Toronto Eaton Centre, one of Canada’ most iconic walls. (Tip: Go during the weekday for a more pleasant experience). They are currently offering curbside pickup.
64. See the Toronto Maple Leafs play at ScotiaBank Arena.
65. Learn something new at the Toronto Library. Toronto’s libraries offer a range of free classes from crafts and hobbies to technology and health.
66. Swim at an indoor pool – The City of Toronto operates 60 public indoor pools in the city so you have lots of options. This is a great way to stay active indoors during the winter!
67. Catch a broadway show at one of Toronto’s world-class venues. Right now they are offering virtual experiences.
68. Go indoor rock climbing! My fave place is Rock Oasis in the East End.
69. Test your thinking skills at one of Toronto’s escape rooms!
70. Witness the incredible views of Toronto from top of the CN tower.
71. Cozy up at a cafe – whether you want to get some work done or catch up with friends, Toronto has a number of amazing cafes to chill at.
72. Go shopping on Queen Street West, where you can find some of the most unique gifts to bring back in Toronto.
73. If you don’t want to be outside at all, stay underground to shop and explore Toronto’s PATH. This indoor path is more then 30 kilometres long with shops and food courts along the way. (Fair warning – it’s very easy to get lost here).
74. Catch a show at Comedy Bar – guaranteed laughs!
75. Warm up in Allan Gardens Conservatory, a beautiful indoor tropical garden which you can come and stroll around.
76. Have your mind blown at Jamie Allan’s llusionarium magic show. This is the first time audiences can see these illusions up close – all in a socially-distanced setting. This exhibit is set to open on January 5th.
Places to Visit Near Toronto in Winter
If you’re looking to escape the city for a day or weekend, here are some great places to visit near Toronto! Before booking any travel, check local government guidelines to ensure it is safe to travel.
77. Explore the natural wonder of Niagara Falls – There’s no better Toronto Getaway than a weekend trip to Niagara Falls. The falls become a magical winter wonderland during the winter, and you can score amazing deals on accommodation during that time.
78. Check out the Winter Festival of Lights – an 8 km light display along the Niagara Parkway. The Festival lights will be on until January 10, 2021.
79. Hit the slopes at Blue Mountain – Less then two hours away from Toronto is one of the top places for downhill skiing and snowboarding!
80. Relax at a spa – One of the most relaxing things to do in Toronto this winter is to spend a day at the Scandinave Spa in Collingwood. It’s magical sitting in the outdoor hot tubs while the snow falls over you.
81. Explore the frozen waterfalls of Hamilton. There are over 100 waterfalls tucked behind the trails of the Niagara Escarpment, making it the perfect place for a winter hike. Tourism Hamilton even has a waterfall guide to help you find them!
82. Rent a cottage in the woods. While most people think of Muskoka as a summer destination, during the winter months it has just as much to offer visitors. There’s ample opportunity for winter fun including ice skating, snowshoeing, ice fishing, and dog sledding. Search on Airbnb for the best deals on cottages.
83. Visit The Thousand Islands. This beautiful part of Ontario has more than 1,800 islands along the St. Lawrence River, between the border of the U.S. and Canada. You can also join a private tour from Toronto.
84. Visit Algonquin Park. Get lost in the frozen lakes and forests of Algonquin, one of Ontario’s most amazing provincial parks.
85. Or any other provincial park. If Algonquin is booked up, check out one of Ontario’s many other provincial parks for a weekend trip.
87. Visit Bruce Peninsula National Park. Just three hours away from Toronto and you can be transported to water that looks like a tropical paradise. You can also join a private guided tour to Bruce Peninsula.
88. Drink ice wine at Niagara-on-the-lake during the Niagara Icewine Festival.
89. Join a guided snowshoe hike at Halton Hills Conservation Area.
90. Go cross-country skiing at the Albion Hills Conservation Area of Caledon, which has 26 kilometres of groomed and track-set trails.
91. Walk with adorable Alpacas at Haute Goat – it’s just an hour away from Toronto!
92. Go on a winter adventure at Scenic Caves Nordic Centre. Explore the 27km trail network by cross country ski, or hike by snowshoe.
93. Try ice climbing with One Axe Pursuits in Elora.
94. Go winter horseback riding at Von Doeler’s Ranch
95. See the aurora borealis by heading north to an area with little or no light pollution. It’s more than possible to see them in Ontario and winter is the perfect time to try.
96. Stay at a heated yurt or cabin in Killarney Provincial Park and summit a mountain during the day. The view from above with the landscape covered in snow will be magical!
97. Head to Ottawa for a weekend and go skating down the Rideau Canel – one of Canada’s most iconic winter activities.
98. Wrap yourself in Chocolate at St. Anne’s Spa in Grafton Ontario. Banish dry skin with this unique Ontario winter experience!
99. Go dog sledding through the snowy forest at North Ridge Ranch in Muskoka
100. Go winter Glamping at Alabaster Acres. Just an hour away from Toronto where you’ll find a gorgeous tent nestled in the forest waiting for you.
101. Go tubing down snowy slopes at Chicopee Tube Park, one of Ontario’s most unique winter experience.
Where to stay in Toronto
Budget: The Only Backpacker’s Inn. If you’re traveling solo or on a budget, this is one of the most highly-rated hostels in Toronto. And it’s in the Danforth which is one of my favorite Toronto neighbourhoods!
You could also try Couchsurfing or Housesitting with TrustedHousesitters if you’re looking for free accommodation in Toronto.
Mid-Range: Chelsea Hotel – I lived here for two weeks when I first moved to Toronto! It’s centrally located downtown by Young-Dundas square, right next to a subway station so you can get anywhere else in the city.
If you are looking for more affordable options in Toronto, be sure to check out Airbnb.
Luxury: The Westin Harbour Castle is located right on Lake Ontario with rooms overlooking the water.
There you have it, 101 fun things to do in Toronto in winter! While I know it’s a tough year with restrictions constantly changing, I hope this post could help you find some inspiration for safe and fun winter activities in Toronto!
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