Winter’s here! For a while, it looked like we were going to get off easy, but the predictions were right, and the snow and cold temperatures are here to stay. Actually, let’s re-phrase that last statement: Fortunately, the snow and cold temperatures are here to stay. If you disagree, this month’s Better Home Blog article is just for you, and we are confident that if you try one of these top 9 things during the winter you will agree with our statement “fortunately the snow and cold temperatures are here.”
Chances are it’s not actually the season you dislike, just the cold temperatures, driving inconveniences and short days. We’ve discussed staying warm in another post this month so if you get cold easily CLICK HERE for some tips. For this post, let’s stick with this: make sure you dress for the temperature and you will have fun.
Once you are dressed adequately, there are lots of great things to do in the winter. Experiencing them all in a single season may be tricky, but each one will give you a new appreciation for Canada’s greatest season. By the way, you won’t find any traditional winter activities like skiing, snowboarding, sledding, snowball fights, ice-skating or shoveling on this list. We’ve got some even cooler ideas for you!
A winter bonfire.
Now, we’re not recommending building a huge fire in your backyard (unless you have the proper space and equipment for it), but if you have the opportunity to hang out near a bonfire in the winter, you’ll discover there is really nothing that will compare. Roasted marshmallows, hot chocolate, and stick-grilled smokeys (hot dogs or sausages work too) will never taste better than they will around a winter bonfire. One of the best parts of this activity is that it will keep you warm. Just make sure you have something to sit on so your bum doesn’t get wet from the melting snow.
Did you know that there is a License-Free Family Fishing weekend in Ontario when you and your family can go fishing without a license? During 2012, the winter dates are February 18–20. If you don’t have all the gear or don’t know about ice safety, sign up for a tour. Then bundle up for warmth, pack up the family, and be prepared for a really unique and Canadian winter experience. As soon as a fish is caught, your kid’s smiles alone will make the trip worth it. A great resource for information is Ontario Ice Fishing.
It’s the quintessential Canadian activity that is still used for long-distance travel in the north. There are quite a few different areas around Ontario where you can go dogsledding and most of them include the chance to try driving or “mushing” the team pulling your sled through stunning terrain. Dogsledding also has the potential to make a great date (remember, Valentine’s Day is just around the snowbank).
For more information and a list of operators, have a look at the Winter Vacations Ontario website.
Build an igloo.
We’re not kidding. Believe it or not an igloo is actually pretty warm. This is one of the few things on our list that you can do without going very far. All you need is some snow, a little patience, and a second person to help you. Prepping the snow can take a few days, so start by making a 10’ x 10’ pile in the yard that is about 18” deep. Let it sinter (or settle) for a few days and go online for instructions. Tool-wise, all you need to build your igloo is a handsaw and a shovel. Your kids will have the best fort in the neighbourhood.
A polar bear swim.
It’s a pretty safe bet that most of us have seen it on the news and thought, “Those people are crazy!” However, as it turns out, these swimmers know something you don’t: the level of endorphins racing through your system after a polar bear swim (or quick dip) skyrockets, and you will feel unbelievably refreshed and content. The key is to take a thermos full of warm tea with you and proper clothing to keep you warm before you go in as well as after you get out.
Full-moon snowshoe or ski.
Have you ever noticed that the snow can light up the night by reflecting a full moon? Now imagine getting out of the city and away from traffic and streetlights and noise. You’ll have the chance to see the birds, bunnies, deer and other animals scurrying about on a bright, cloudless moonlit night. The keyword here is “see” because this is one of the few times you can see what’s going on at night from a similar perspective as the animals that thrive in winter. This can be an incredibly peaceful, scenic and memorable trip.
Bed & breakfast tour via snowmobile.
A snowmobile is one of the best ways to see Ontario or other parts of Canada. You can spend the day driving/riding through areas you wouldn’t be able to access otherwise, and then spend the night enjoying cozy beds and warm meals that have never tasted better. In addition to food and a room for the night, quite a few places also offer spas, outdoor hot tubs, saunas and sometimes even a winter bonfire.
For more information about snowmobile tours and routes, visit Go Ride Ontario.
Genuine horse-drawn sleigh ride.
Although this is definitely a common activity on this list, it’s surprising how many people haven’t tried it. It’s also one of the things on this list you can do with all family members, even if they have limited mobility. Many sleigh rides can be combined with other winter activities like making maple syrup.
There are hundreds of sleigh ride tour operators throughout Ontario. A quick Google search of the name of the city you live in and “sleigh rides” will produce all the information you need to check this one off your list.
Skating on a homemade rink.
Yes, we are aware that most of you have probably been ice-skating before, but have you done it on a rink that you built on your own? A rink can easily be built in your backyard and the process of building is a big part of the fun. It can be done with your friends or with your kids, and when you get the chance to skate the first few laps, the satisfaction will leave you smiling for days. Unless you can’t skate well, in which case we recommend well-placed snow banks for softer landings.
A great resource for all types of winter activities in Ontario is the Ontario Outdoor website.