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21 Easy Winter Getaways for Ontario Families

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21 Easy Winter Getaways for Ontario Families

Kids love winter fun. • Credit: Destination Ontario

What winter days lack in length, they make up for in adventure

Vacation ideas the whole family will love.

As much as we'd love to see you in Northern Ontario, the health and well-being of all travellers is our priority. Please call or check ahead online with each business, festival or event and attractions to ensure you have the most up-to-date information available. For the latest updates from the Ontario government, please visit ontario.ca/coronavirus.

It’s easy to wax poetic about summertime, when family vacations are synonymous with long days spent swimming, fishing, hiking and enjoying lakeside barbecues.

But what winter days lack in length, they more than make up for in adventure. After all, when else can you explore the inside of an ice cave, build a shelter made of snow, or climb the heights of a frozen waterfall? From snowshoeing to snowboarding,  Ontario’s cold and snowy weather isn’t a hindrance to your holiday—it’s the reason for it.

Young man catching some air on a snowboard.
Embrace the thrill of winter. 

Instead of escaping to a southern locale this winter, we’ve rounded up 21 adventures closer to home. Here are the best family winter getaways Ontario has to offer, from the province’s most remote corners to popular spots just around the corner.  

Best Winter Weekend Family Getaways

Cottage country is our go-to during the summer months, but it can be all but forgotten when the snow starts to fall. This shouldn’t be the case. Escaping the city limits even just for the weekend is a chance to see familiar shores in a different light—with entirely different activities on-offer for all ages. Here are some of our favourite weekend family getaways in Ontario this winter.

Kids looking at an ice crystal.
Kids are fascinated by beautiful ice crystals. 

Best Getaway #1: Sawpit Bay
Package: Explore Lake Superior’s ice caves
Why You’ll Love It: Sculpted by the wind, waves and sub-zero temperatures, the ice caves of Sawpit Bay are a photographer’s dream. Turn your outing into a treasure hunt for the kids by trying to identify the many ice formations you’ll find here, from frost flowers and frozen waterfalls, to stalactite and stalagmite icicles, to ice balls and hoar frost.
How To Make It Happen: Located about an hour’s drive north of Sault Ste. Marie near Pancake Bay Provincial Park, you don’t need to walk far to access the caves, but do take care. Underground springs and pressure cracks can create a precarious environment. Check conditions before you go and if advisable, wear snowshoes or ice crampons.
While You’re There: We bet you'll want to stay as close to the caves as possible, which is why you should book at the highly reviewed Bet-Cha-Wana Stay Cabins, found on Airbnb.

Best Getaway #2: Waterloo
Package: Snow tubing at Chicopee Tube Park
Why You’ll Love It: Named by FlightNetwork as one of the Top 50 Canadian Winter Experiences, Chicopee Tube Park is one of the area’s most popular wintertime attractions for good reason. With six different tubing chutes—reaching heights of up to 250 feet and lengths of 900 feet—everyone is guaranteed to have a good sleep at the end of the day.
How To Make It Happen: It’s not unusual for this park to hit capacity on weekends. Buy tickets online in advance to guarantee your spot.
While You’re There: All tube park participants must be at least 4 years old and 42 inches in height. Got a little one that doesn’t fit that description? While the rest of the family races down the hill, head across the street to Play-A-Latte, a café with a play structure and activities for kids 7 and under.

Best Getaway #3: Oshawa  
Package: Treetop Eco-Adventure Park
Why You’ll Love It: Set in the Oak Ridges Moraine north of Oshawa, this park is best known for its zipline and aerial obstacle course suspended high in the treetops. But that’s not the end of the adventurous activities for ages 3 and up; there’s also children’s courses, axe throwing and combat archery. (And yes, it’s open year-round!)
How To Make It Happen:
Pricing ranges between $17.70 and $53.10 per person, dependent on age and activity. Reservations are required and can be made online.
While You’re There: Extend your trip by planning a day at Dagmar Ski Resort. It has plenty of learner-friendly features, including magic carpets to get up the hill and specialized children’s instructors.  

Best Getaway #4: Lake Joseph/Muskoka
Package: Skate the Cranberry Ice Trail

Why You’ll Love It: There’s waterfalls, a hockey rink, fires and an on-site winery with hot mulled wine on the menu. As for the main attraction, it’s a 1.2-kilometre loop around 12 acres of cranberries, with the aptly named Cranboni smoothing the trail. As if that wasn’t enough, on Saturday nights the trail is lit by 400 tiki torches. Yes, please.
How To Make It Happen: The trail is open from 11am to 4pm daily, with torchlight skating on Saturdays from 6pm-9pm. Passes cost $12 for adults and $8 for kids 12 and under, with skates available for rental.  
While You’re There: Nearby, the Sherwood Inn offers a Cranberry Ice Trail package, which includes trail passes, a bog-to-bottle tour, accommodation and daily breakfast. Want to turn the family outing into a date just for two? Enlist the Sherwood’s babysitting services.

Best Getaway #5: Gravenhurst
Package: All-inclusive winter weekend getaway package as Bayview Wildwood Resort
Why You’ll Love It: If you’re trying to get your kids off their devices, this just might be the place to do it. Located beside Lake Sparrow, Bayview Wildwood Resort has an exhaustive list of outdoor activities, including cross-country ski trails, snowshoes, horse-drawn wagon rides, ice-fishing, an indoor pool and hot tub, ice skating rinks and even tobogganing hills.
How To Make It Happen: Packages include activities, accommodation, breakfast and dinner. Email resv@bayviewwildwood.com or call 1-800-461-0243 or 705-689-2338 for rates and reservations.
While You’re There: Stop in nearby Gravenhurst to sample the taps at the Sawdust City Brewing Co.

Best Getaway #6: Calabogie
Package: Learn to luge with national team athletes

kids on luges on a snow covered hill.
Kids love the thrill of this exciting sport. Photo: Ontario Luge Association

Why You’ll Love It: Perfect for kids 10 and over with a need for speed, these one-hour luging lessons are hosted by the Ontario Luge Association, with instruction from former Olympic athletes and coaches. 

How To Make It Happen: Lessons are hosted Saturday afternoons from January to March and cost $25. Individual lessons can also be booked on Sundays by phoning 1-800-669-4861 ext. 1705.

While You’re There: Make a weekend of it by booking a stay at Calabogie Peaks Resort, where wintertime activities include downhill skiing, snowboarding, pond skating, ice-fishing and more.

Best Getaway #7: Thunder Bay
Package: Stargaze at the David Thompson Astronomical Observatory

Image of the moon and Jupiter
See the moon and Jupiter up close. Photos: David Thompson Observatory

Why You’ll Love It: You’re far enough north that seeing the aurora borealis isn’t outside of the realm of possibility. At the state-of-the-art David Thompson Astronomical Observatory, you’ll have access to one of the largest telescopes in Central Canada, capable of spotting galaxies, planets and nebulae.
How To Make It Happen: Every Friday at 3pm, the observatory hosts a solar walk program ($5 for ages 13 and up). For nighttime programs, call 807-473-2344 or email reservations@fwhp.ca.
While You’re There: The observatory is located at Fort William Historical Park, the world’s largest fur trading post. Check its website for special wintertime events, such as the annual Voyageur Winter Carnival.

Best Getaway #8: Sudbury
Package: Skating in Kivi Park and on the Ramsey Lake Skate Path.

Family skating on lake in front of Science North.
After a visit to Science North, go skating on the Ramsey Lake Skate Path

Why You’ll Love It: One of the newest recreation areas in Sudbury, Kivi Park is an all-season playground set on over 450 acres of Cambrian Shield. You can hike, ski, snowshoe or fat bike through its extensive network of trails, but its latest addition is a 1.3-kilometre skate path, complete with lights and a sound system.
How To Make It Happen: Local outdoors store Adventure365 offers a rental service, with a location directly in Kivi Park. Everything you might need or want—from fat bikes to skis—is available to hire.
While You’re There: The kids will love spending the day exploring the all ages exhibits at Science North. Get more skate time on the 1.5 km Ramsey Lake Skate Path

Best Getaway #9: MacGregor Point Provincial Park
Package: Spend a winter weekend away from the crowds camping and skating

Snow covered green vinyl yurt beside a picnic table.
Stay warm and cozy in a yurt. Photo: Friends of MacGregor Point Park 

Why You’ll Love It: Located on the shores of Lake Huron near Port Elgin, MacGregor Point has an ice-skating loop hidden in the middle of the forest. It’s lit up at night, which you can have a chance to fully enjoy if you spend a night camping in one of the 16 year-round yurts.
How To Make It Happen: Yurt bookings may be made online through the Ontario Parks Reservations system for $86 per night.
While You’re There: Saugeen Shores’ Green Feet Ecosystem Services doesn’t have a kennel, but they work with local residents and organizations to offer dogsledding. Rides start at $125 per adult and $100 per child 12 and under.

Best Long Weekend Winter Family Getaways

The best Ontario winter family getaways aren’t complicated or expensive—they’re about rediscovering your family and learning new skills along the way.

Man driving a dog sled with woman and child in basket.
Borealis Sled Dog Adventures provides fun for the whole family

From winter camping to dogsledding, here are some of the most unique ways to spend a long winter weekend in Ontario.

Best Getaway #10: Killarney Provincial Park
Package: Wintertime yurt camping
Why You’ll Love It: If you’ve always dreamed of winter camping but been held back by the lack of gear and know-how, glamping might be the answer. Located at George Lake Campground, Killarney’s six yurts  are heated and available year-round. They also give you easy access to 33 kilometres of trails.
How To Make It Happen: Book your yurt online through the Ontario Parks Reservations system. The cost of $86 per night, with a two-night minimum.
While You’re There: Don’t have your own snowshoes? Swing by the park office, where they can be rented for $12.50 for adults and $7.50 for kids per day. Cross-country skis are also available for $15 per day.

Best Getaway #11: Thunder Bay
Package: Outdoor Skills & Thrills’ Snow Shelter Adventure
Why You’ll Love It: Got kids who keep trying to build an igloo in the backyard? This workshop is for them. Suitable for all ages and tailored to beginners, including those with limited experience in the outdoors, this private excursion will see your family building a quinzee or shelter in the snow.
How To Make It Happen: Available for groups of up to six, the Snow Shelter Adventure starts at $89 per person for a half-day, or $129 per person for a full day. Book online with Outdoor Skills & Thrills.
While You’re There: Every Sunday from late December until March, Thunder Bay hosts the family-friendly Winter FunDays at Prince Arthur’s Landing Marina Park, with free activities including snow sculpting and dogsledding.

Best Getaway #12: Sault Ste. Marie
Package: Skate along the waterfront in the Soo
Why You’ll Love It: One of the newest ice rinks to open in Sault Ste. Marie, Clergue Park’s kilometre-long circuit takes skaters past the Art Gallery of Algoma and the Elsie Savoie Sculpture Park. Plan your visit for a Friday or Saturday, when you can warm up with a trailside hot chocolate and s’more beside the fire.
How To Make It Happen: Located at 10 East Street, the trail is open from 10am to 10pm on weekends, and from noon to 10pm from Monday to Friday. For special events and vendor updates, follow the City of Sault Ste. Marie on Facebook.
While You’re There: Time your visit to coincide with the Bon Soo, the city’s annual winter carnival.

Best Getaway #13: Thunder Bay
Package: Learn to snowkite with Superior Kiteboarding
Why You’ll Love It: For over 15 years, Superior Kiteboarding owner Darren McChristie has been riding snow, waves and ice along the shores of Lake Superior. During his Intro to Kiteboarding workshops, you’ll learn the basics. But it’s during Kiting 101 and subsequent lessons that the action really happens—that’s when you get to strap on skis or a snowboard and really learn to fly.
How To Make It Happen: Contact Darren at darren@superioroutdoors.ca for pricing, availability and age requirements.
While You’re There: Your family will love dogsledding at Borealis Sled Dog Adventures in nearby Vermilion Bay.

Best Getaway #14: Cochrane
Package: Ravens Adventures Dogsled Tours

Dog sled team on a snow covered trail.
It's an adventure your kids will never forget. Photo: Ravens Adventures Dogsled Tours

Why You’ll Love It: Specializing in customizable private experiences, Ravens Adventures are one-of-a-kind tours designed specifically for your family. During your outing, you’ll meet Ravens’ pack of Siberian huskies, Alaskan huskies and border collie sled dogs, and even have a chance to drive the team. For those eager to howl at the moon, nighttime tours are also an option.
How To Make It Happen: Tours start at $100/hour per person ($200 per person for moonlight tours). Email ravensadventures@yahoo.ca or call 705-272-1210 to book your excursion.
While You’re There: Visit the Canadian Polar Bear Habitat to learn about the conservation of the species, and meet four bears that wouldn’t survive in the wild on their own.

Best Getaway #15: Batchawana Bay
Package: Learn to ice climb with Superior Exploration

Young girl climbing an ice hill
Ice climbing teaches kids to reach new heights

Why You’ll Love It: Since 1981, instructor Shaun Parent has taught over 4,000 students how to climb sheets of ice using crampons and ice picks. Considered the pioneer of ice climbing in the Lake Superior region, he takes newcomers to some of the highest and most accessible ice in the region, with pitches suitable for all skill levels.       
How To Make It Happen: Intro courses start at $175 per person. To register your interest, visit Superior Exploration’s website.
While You’re There: A gift shop stop for 40 years Agawa Crafts and the Canadian Carver is and now under the ownership of the Serpent River First Nation Economic Development Corporation. It carries locally made Indigenous handicrafts and leather goods.

Best Getaway #16: Haliburton Highlands
Package: Learn to skijor with Yours Outdoors

Young girl skijoring with a husky.
Skijoring is a great bonding activity

Why You’ll Love It: We haven’t forgotten an adventure for the most-beloved member of your family. During this workshop with world-class competitive skijorer Karen Koehler, you’ll learn how to kicksled or cross-country ski with the assistance of your dog.
How To Make It Happen: Group lessons start at $50 per person and can be customized according to your interests and needs. Contact Yours Outdoors with your requirements.
While You’re There: Host of the Haliburton Highlands Dogsled Derby, Pinestone Resort offers dog-friendly accommodation, with on-site cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails.

Best Getaway #17: Searchmont
Package: Downhill skiing and snowboarding at Searchmont Ski Resort
Why You’ll Love It: With two brand new triple lifts, 21 runs of varying difficulty, a terrain park for catching air, bush trails for the adventurous, and even Nordic trails, there’s something for every member of your family at this popular Algoma ski hill.  
How To Make It Happen: Day lift tickets start at $54, with discounted rates for night skiing and beginner belt tickets. Gear rental and lessons are also available.
While You’re There: Soak up the après-ski vibes and live music at the Kiln, Searchmont’s new restaurant and bar.

Best Getaway #18: Sault Ste. Marie
Package: Fat biking at Crimson Ridge
Why You’ll Love It: During the winter months, this golf course transforms into a wintertime destination, with skiing, skating and snowshoeing on-offer. What locals head here for, though, is the fat biking. There are over 15 kilometres of groomed scenic and technical trails to ride, which are open to the public seven days a week.
How To Make It Happen: Vélorution Bike & Ski, located at 162 Old Garden River Rd., rents fat bikes starting at $50 per day. It also will give you tips on all the other fat biking trails available in the area. 
While You’re There: At Entomica Insectarium, kids can meet, feed and even make a bug.

Best 4-day+ Winter Family Getaways

March break and the Family Day long weekend are perfect excuses to escape to a pristine winter wonderland far from the crowds. By booking a holiday of four days or longer, you’ll have more time to spend in one of the many destinations that offer family fun winter getaways with packages in Ontario.

Family running on snowshoes.
Get active on your winter getaway

Best Getaway #19: Manitoulin Island
Package: Book a family getaway to a secluded lodge in the heart of Manitoulin
Why You’ll Love It: In terms of family getaways in Ontario winter, the largest freshwater island in the world deserves a little bit more time to sink into it. We recommend basing your explorations from the recently renovated Green Bay Lodge. There are ample opportunities for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and ice-fishing. Since there’s no WiFi, family time—not screen time—will become the focus.  
How To Make It Happen: Bookings may be made online, with rates starting at $189 per night.
While You’re There: To learn more about the region’s Ojibwe, Odawa and Potawatomi history and culture, book an educational tour with Great Spirit Circle Trail.

Best Getaway #20: Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
Package: Thunder Bay’s Annual Sleeping Giant Loppet
Why You’ll Love It: If you’re not in the know, the term “loppet” usually refers to a long-distance cross-country skiing race—but in the case of Thunder Bay’s annual event, the emphasis is on building community rather than on the competition. With varying race lengths, the Mini-Loppet is a pint-sized version of the bigger event and ideal for kids; it’s just eight kilometres in length.
How To Make It Happen: The Sleeping Giant Loppet is hosted annually in late winter, with the next event schedule for March 6, 2021. Registration takes place online.
While You’re There: Want to get in some training runs? Kamview Nordic Centre is the Loppet’s official HQ. It even has trails set up for night skiing.

Best Getaway #21: Mattawa
Package: Go kicksledding at Nature’s Harmony Ecolodge

Man kicksledding with a young child on sled.
Try kicksledding this winter

Why You’ll Love It: Situated on 485 acres overlooking the Laurentian Mountains just outside North Bay, this ecolodge boasts extensive trails for cross-country skiing, tobogganing, snowshoeing and skating. However, it’s also one of the few places you can try kicksledding, a Scandinavian sport that’s likened to using a scooter on snow. 
How To Make It Happen: Accommodation, which ranges from winterized glamping tents, a Mongolian yurt to log cabins with fireplaces, starts at $100 per night. If you choose to stay elsewhere, day passes ($50 for a family of four) are also available to access the resort’s trails and groomed sliding hill, with tubes and sleds included in the rate. (Kicksled rentals cost extra.)
While You’re There: Add downhill skiing to the agenda with a trip to Antoine Mountain.

Head North Not South This Winter 

Instead of escaping to a southern locale this winter, warm up with these winter adventures closer to home. 

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