Dark days. Frigid temperatures. Who could blame you for wanting to curl up and hibernate till spring? But winter offers some awesome ways to enjoy the great outdoors that are only possible when the mercury falls. Here’s a list of outdoor winter activities that’ll help you stay in shape and make the most of the season. You may even wish it were longer. Time to bundle up and get outside.
HIT THE SLOPES
(North York Ski Hill at Earl Bales Park by Jon Watts via Flickr)
Skiers and snowboarders eagerly await the first snowfall and they’re some of the few who wish winter was longer. Before you join them up at Blue Mountain, get some experience at Earl Bales or Centennial Park where private and group lessons are available for all ages and skill levels.
HIT THE TRAIL
(Snowshoeing by Alex Indigo via Flickr)
Modern snowshoes are lightweight, made of plastic or aluminum, and look nothing like giant tennis racquets. You can rent a pair for about $12 a day and hike the trails along the Humber, Don, or Rouge River valleys or the Toronto Islands. It’s a great workout, fun for all ages, and very little skill is required – if you can walk, you can snowshoe.
Enter your favourite Farley Mowat novel and go dogsledding. Local recreation outfitter, Toronto Adventures offers introductory dogsledding bus trips, and there are a number of operators offering dogsledding activities north of the city.
ICE TO SEE YOU
You can do casual laps at Nathan Phillips Square, or glide along to hip-hop and soul at Harbourfront’s DJ skate nights. But have you tried skating the rink at Evergreen Brick Works, or the tree-lined nature trail at Colonel Samuel Smith Park? There’s a list of public skate facilities on the City of Toronto website, and a comprehensive list found at cityrinks.ca but all the really cool rinks have been found for you right here.
GO PUCK, YOURSELF
(Canadians: never too cold for shinny by PJMixer via Flickr)
The Leafs might be a recurring source of winter blues, but you can still enjoy the game. Get your shinny on with some pick-up hockey. City-run rinks host all skill levels, and you should be able to find a convenient time and location here.
KING OF THE HILL
( East Lynn Park by Paul Henman via Flickr)
The thrill of recklessly careening down a snow-covered hill is one of the universal joys of wintertime. Check out this list of Toronto’s 9 best tobogganing hills then fill your flask and GO! Or you could take it to the next level and head just outside the city you to go snow tubing. Check out this list for parks in Milton, Uxbridge and Barrie.
(Snowball Fight by Brett Davis via Flickr)
The City of Edmonton just hosted a giant free-for-all snowball fight as a way to embrace their long, cold winter. Hundreds of people of all ages showed up with canned-food donations and got in on the winter fun. It started as a simple idea that blossomed on social media with the hashtag #yegsnowfight. Maybe a few enterprising Torontonians could follow-suit?
POLAR BEAR DIP
(Polar Bear Dip by Paul Henman via Flickr)
Why wait till summer to jump in the lake? There are at least five Polar Bear Clubs in the GTA that fulfill that urge to jump into a large body of freezing cold water. The Toronto Polar Bear Club holds their annual charity event on New Years Day with funds going to support Habitat For Humanity. It could be an excellent way to cure that New Year’s Eve hangover.