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posted on November 10, 2021

As the cold weather sets in, it’s tempting to hibernate in a cocoon of blankets and binge-watching, but venturing out to experience Ontario’s winter charm is worth the effort! Getting outside this season is a great way to stay active, discover the province’s beauty, and fend off seasonal blues. 

From relaxed winter sleigh rides to adrenaline-fuelled adventures at the nearest ski resort Ontario has something for everyone, and many destinations are just a short drive from Toronto or Ottawa. Here are the best places to ski in Ontario if you’re hoping to hit the slopes.

Disclaimer: Rates, parking information, and other details are subject to change. All information presented below applies to the 2021-22 season. Before hitting the road make sure to refer directly to the service provider for the most up-to-date information on their fees and operation. 

Best ski resorts in Ontario

There’s nothing like a ski trip to get your fix of winter fun. When it comes to skiing, snowboarding, and family-friendly snow tubing Toronto and Ottawa’s favourite resorts have you covered.

Blue Mountain

As the largest resort in the province, Blue Mountain Ontario has a ski hill for every skill level. Every winter at Blue Mountain Toronto daytrippers flock to the resort’s quaint alpine village to savour the slopes along with prime shopping and dining. A favourite of families and ski buffs alike, it’s widely considered the best ski resort in Ontario.

Distance from Toronto: 2 hours

Distance from Ottawa: 6 hours

Single day admission: starting at $69

Season pass: $399

Snow tubing: Yes

Cross-country skiing trails: Yes

Other details: Blue Mountain Resort is open from 9am–4:30pm and free parking is available for the 2021-22 season. It has 42 runs covering all levels of difficulty, and kids’ lessons are offered as well as multi-week classes for advanced skiers. The resort also has 30 lit runs for night skiing as well as equipment rentals. There are plenty of restaurants, bars, and nightlife venues on site, as well as dining options in nearby Collingwood and Thornbury.

Mount St. Louis Moonstone

There are more mountains near Toronto than you might think, and Mount St. Louis Moonstone is a local favourite. Known for its cozy and welcoming environment, this family-owned spot has a reputation as the best ski resort near Toronto for families and beginners. 

Distance from Toronto: 1.5 hours

Distance from Ottawa: 5 hours

Single day admission: $78

Season pass: starting at $610

Snow tubing: No

Cross-country skiing trails: No

Other details: Mount St. Louis Moonstone is open 9am–4:30pm from Monday to Tuesday, and 9am–9pm from Wednesday to Sunday. Free parking is available as of the date of this post. Private and semi-private lessons are offered, as well as equipment rentals. There are 36 runs, mostly geared toward beginner and intermediate skiers, and night skiing is offered most of the week. Head to the resort’s chalet for lunch, snacks, and Muskoka Brewery après.

Horseshoe Resort

Located in Barrie, Horseshoe Resort is another ski resort Toronto residents and visitors can easily visit, and downhill skiing isn’t the only draw. Home to the longest tubing hill in Ontario (and the only one with a double drop) the resort has the best snow tubing in Barrie for an “all thrill, no skill” experience. Fans of Nordic skiing can head to Copeland Forest for some of the best cross country skiing in Ontario, complete with its own chalet.

Distance from Toronto: 1.5 hours

Distance from Ottawa: 5 hours

Single day admission: starting at $79

Season pass: starting at $719

Snow tubing: Yes

Cross-country skiing trails: Yes

Other details: Horseshoe Resort is open 9am–4:30pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and 9am–9pm the rest of the week for night skiing. Free parking is available as of the date of this post, and ski and snowboard lessons are offered for kids of all ages. It has 29 runs at all skill levels, with 25% of the trails geared towards beginners. Restaurants on site include Eleven01 and Crazy Horse Sports Bar & Grill, plus a cafeteria and café.

Calabogie Peaks

Looking for a ski resort near Ottawa? Calabogie Peaks won’t let you down. This charming, rustic resort is home to the highest mountain in Ontario, and truly shines in the winter. Its diverse terrain makes Calabogie one of the best ski hills in Ontario for intermediate skiers, and its mountaintop views are a treat for all visitors. Off the slopes, visitors can enjoy pond skating, ice fishing, and nightly bonfires.

Distance from Toronto: 4.5 hours

Distance from Ottawa: 1 hour

Single day admission: starting at $45

Season pass: $749

Snow tubing: Yes

Cross-country skiing trails: Yes

Other details: Calabogie Peaks Resort offers free parking as of the 2021-22 season as well as rental equipment and lessons for kids and adults. It has 24 runs for all skill levels, with 30% of the trails aimed at beginners. The resort has several dining options including various pubs and cafés, as well as the cozy, alpine-inspired Canthooks Restaurant.

Searchmont Resort

Located less than an hour from Sault Ste. Marie, Searchmont Resort boasts some of the best skiing in Ontario for lovers of the rugged outdoors. Immersed in the Algoma wilderness, the resort features bush trails, glades, night skiing, and a seven-minute lift ride with spectacular views of the Canadian Shield.

Distance from Toronto: 8 hours

Distance from Ottawa: 9.5 hours 

Single day admission: starting at $60

Season pass: $729

Snow tubing: No

Cross-country skiing trails: Yes

Other details: Searchmont Resort is open 9am–4pm from Wednesday to Sunday, and night skiing is offered on select nights in December and January. Free parking is available as of the date of this post. Snow school camps and private lessons are offered for kids, as well as equipment rentals for all skiers. It has 26 runs at all skill levels, with 80% of the trails for beginner and intermediate skiers. Head to the Kiln Bar & Eatery for dining on site, or to local eateries in the town of Searchmont for après-ski.

Best winter activities in Ontario

Don’t worry if skiing isn’t your thing. When it comes to winter activities Ontario is brimming with possibilities.

Discover winter hikes and snowshoeing in Ontario

There are many beautiful trails for hiking and snowshoeing Toronto locals and visitors can enjoy as day trips. Gentle trails require no experience, just warm clothing and the right gear such as ice cleats, poles, and snowshoes. 

Here are our top choices of the best hiking and snowshoeing Ontario has to offer:

  • Scenic Caves Blue Mountain has winter trails for every level of difficulty at its Nordic Centre, complete with gorgeous views from the highest point of the Niagara Escarpment. It’s a two-hour and 20-minute drive from Toronto, and the daily trail rate starts at $23. 
  • Rattlesnake Point Conservation Centre is one of the best winter hikes near Toronto, offering trails at all difficulty levels and opportunities to spot wildlife along the way. It’s only a one-hour drive from Toronto, and admission costs $9.50.
  • The Crack Trail at Killarney Provincial Park is a tough trek that rewards hikers with gorgeous views of the La Cloche Mountains, Killarney Lake, and white pine forests at the peak. The park is a four-hour and 40-minute drive from Toronto, and costs $12.25 per vehicle for day use. 
  • Algonquin Provincial Park has a variety of interpretive walking trails and snowshoe trails for all levels. The park is a two-hour and 45-minute drive from Ottawa and a three-hour drive from Toronto. Fees for day use start at $18 per vehicle. 

Try ice fishing in Ontario

For a solo escape into nature or a weekend with friends, Ontario’s ice fishing scene is a great option for both seasoned anglers and total newbies. Make sure you have an Ontario fishing license and dress warmly before heading out onto the ice. Don’t worry if you don’t have the right equipment — for gear and other ice fishing rentals Ontario businesses have you covered.

  • Lake Nipissing is a legendary ice fishing spot known for pike, walleye, and perch, and the area has plenty of rental options for bungalows and gear. Driving from Toronto takes five hours and use of the lake is free.
  • Wakomata Lake is a much-loved location for year round trout fishing, with cozy cottage rentals on the shore. It’s a 6.5-hour drive from Toronto and use of the lake is free.
  • Lake Simcoe boasts over 40 species of fish and local businesses provide guided fishing trips and ice hut rentals. It’s a 1.5-hour drive from Toronto and use of the lake is free.
  • The Bay of Quinte has a reputation as one of the best spots in the world to catch walleye, and is located in beautiful Prince Edward County. Local businesses offer guided trips for first-time anglers. It’s a 2.5-hour drive from either Toronto or Ottawa and it’s free to fish on the bay.

Explore outdoor skating trails in Ontario

Imagine gliding between snow-blanketed trees, sheltered from the wind with the crisp scent of winter all around. When it comes to outdoor skating Ontario has it all, so why settle for an indoor rink? Dress warmly, get a pair of skates that fit comfortably, and prepare to enjoy a winter wonderland.

  • Arrowhead Ice Skating Trail is one of the most popular ice skating trails Ontario has, winding through Muskoka’s forests and lit with tiki torches after dark. Located in Arrowhead Provincial Park, it’s a three-hour drive from Toronto and a four-hour drive from Ottawa. Day use of the park costs $12.25 per vehicle.
  • Discovery Harbour is a family-friendly excursion featuring historical attractions and a 1.5 km skating trail along the shores of beautiful Penetanguishene Bay. It costs $8 to skate, and is free for children under five. Getting there is a two-hour drive from Toronto.
  • Blue Mountain Ice Skating Trail offers a stunning mountain top view along the Niagara Escarpment and is suited to all skill levels. It’s a two-hour and 15-minute drive from Toronto and costs $17-$19 to skate for two hours.
  • Fern Resort has a 1.5 km wooded skating trail that visitors can enjoy both during the day and after dark. Skate packages cost $44 and include meals and access to the resort. Getting there is a one-hour and 45-minute drive from Toronto.

Relax on a sleigh ride in Ontario

Perfect as a family outing or a romantic getaway, embarking on a winter sleigh ride is like stepping into the world of a Christmas carol. This is one of the best winter activities Toronto and Ottawa visitors and locals can enjoy as a day trip, and one of the most memorable. 

  • St. Jacobs Horse Drawn Tours takes guests on a ride through open fields and sugar bush, complete with sleigh bells and hot apple cider. Getting there is a 1.5-hour drive from Toronto, and tours start at $150.
  • Back of Beyond Equine Centre offers sleigh rides through snowy woodland trails as well as an introduction to the resident horses. Tours end with hot chocolate by a cozy campfire, and a romantic evening package is also available. It’s a three-hour drive from Toronto, and tours start at $150.
  • Pinto Valley Ranch includes an hour’s relaxation in their rustic country hall as part of every tour, so you can warm up by the wood stove after exploring the beautiful winter trails. The ranch is a 50-minute drive from Ottawa and tours cost $250.

Seek thrills on a snowmobile trip in Ontario

Snowmobiling is one of the most adventurous ways to enjoy Ontario’s spectacular winter scenery. You’ll need the correct clothing and gear before you take off, as well a valid driver’s license and a trail permit which can be purchased from the Ontario Federation of Snowmobile Clubs (OFSC) for $195. For snowmobile rental Ontario has many options offered by local sledding clubs and businesses.

  • The Bon Echo Loop is one of the most popular snowmobile loops in Southern Ontario, spanning 232 km through scenic highlands, forest, and rugged terrain. The trail starts in Bancroft, 2.5 hours from Ottawa and three hours from Toronto.
  • Cochrane and the Northern Corridor is a true sledder’s mecca with a network of over 1700 km of trails as well as a vintage snowmobile museum. The trail starts 8.5 hours from Toronto.
  • Elliot Lake is a scenic starting point for popular sledding destinations such as Manitoulin Island and Wawa’s backcountry, and is known for its small town charm and warm hospitality. Getting there is a 5.5-hour drive from Toronto.
  • The French Connection Loop takes sledders on a two-day adventure defined by French-Canadian history and hospitality, and is a great route for wildlife sightings. The trail is a one-hour drive from Ottawa.

Ontario offers a wealth of winter fun, so why stay cooped up at home? With Turo, you can book the perfect car to conquer the cold. Our hosts offer AWD or 4×4 vehicles, plus extras like roof racks for your skis. 

Tempted to turn that day trip into an ambitious cross-border adventure? We say go for it. Happy travels!

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