Canadian winters may be cold as hell, but they certainly are pretty. Sure, we’re jaded by the slushy grey demeanour of Toronto winters, but transport yourself back to the first snowfall of the year: white, serene and fresh. Pretty, right? Now transport yourself to Northern Ontario or even just a few hours outside of the city: it’s like that nearly year-round. Who cares if you only have slush pants from your early teens? Raid your parents’ closet, visit your closest Value Village or use it as an excuse to buy some cute new gear and book a trip to one of these winter-friendly destinations.
You don’t get much more luxurious than the Scandinave Spa at Blue Mountain. This is a non-winter-lover’s dream; the Scandinavian baths and hydrotherapy (where you move from cold water bath to warm water baths to stimulate blood circulation and help relieve stress) are the ultimate relaxation. There is a strict no-talking policy in the baths, which elicits a calmness that is hard to find in other spots. There’s a variety of packages to choose from, whether you’re looking to indulge in the baths or go full-on #treatyoself with a massage and luxury trip. You’ll forget you ever hated winter when you set foot in this magical place. Pro-tip: enjoy a digital detox and leave your phone in your locker. If you must snap a pic, do it before you leave or right when you get there. You’ll enjoy the phone detox.
If your 2017 goals are to get fit, cross-country skiing is quite possibly the greatest full-body workout out there. Personally, I love working out outside, so cross-country skiing or snowshoeing is a great way to combine fitness while enjoying winter. There are plenty of spots in Collingwood, Horseshoe Valley or Muskoka to rent skis and spend the day enjoying the snow. Pro tip: dress lightly. You’ll want a few layers to work with, but once you get going, I promise you’ll work up an incredible sweat. Something to break the wind and a warm base layer is likely all you’ll need.
Dog-sledding isn’t reserved for BC, Alberta ord Quebec — you can do it right in our own backyard. There are bus tours with Toronto Adventures that leave right from York Mills or Keele station and take you for a full-day of dog-sledding. You’ll learn to mush (or be a passenger if you’re not comfortable with leading the pack) and there’s also snowshoes to test out when you’re waiting for your turn to take the dogs for a spin. Pro-tip: bring loads of layers. You’ll be warm while mushing, but there’s quite a bit of waiting around and you’ll be outside the entire day.
Rent a winterized yurt
Winter camping is a little insane/you need really expensive gear to have a somewhat enjoyable experience. But glamping in a heated yurt? Now that’s a little more appealing. It’s still likely to be a little… adventurous… for those of you that aren’t the biggest fan of winter, but this Airbnb just north of Algonquin Park is dreamy. It’s an ultra romantic getaway with your beau and the perfect break from the 9 to 5 city grind. View the stars from bed and chill, anyone? Pro-tip: I haven’t done it yet. Can someone please report back?
Looking for the ultimate Canadian winter adventure? I’m not really sure there’s anything more Canadian than ice fishing. Muskoka Stay N’ Play Tours offers a good variety of packages, inclusive of accommodation, gear, snowshoes and snowmobile transportation. Perhaps the most appealing package I found (and I’m trying not to be judgemental simply because it’s the prettiest website) is the Drake Devonshire Inn “Winter Warrior Ice Fishing Expeditions”. Basically, you can be the ultimate “Torontonian does winter” and have transportation, washroom facilities, photos and cleaned fish handed to you in a well-designed package for us city dwellers. Pro-tip: please do a guided tour. While Ontario Ice Fishing certainly seems like a great resource for how to find the best walleye or lake trout (!!!), ice safety is a real thing and, if you’re a beginner, you’ll need far more than tips on how to catch the best fish.