5 Outdoor Winter Activities To Do in Toronto

Stay active this winter and get outdoors safely with activities from ice skating to disc golf.

By Arienne Parzei

Psst, want to know the secret to getting the most out of the winter months in Toronto? Head outside and get active! Even during lockdown and pandemic restrictions, it’s important to get outside both for your physical and mental health. And lucky for us here in Toronto, there are a number of activities that are both fun and safe to do. Read below for five winter activities you can do in Toronto this season.

Ice skating

As soon as the weather gets cold enough, Torontonians start flocking to their local ice skating rinks. There are 50+ artificial rinks run by the City of Toronto, so if you’re local, you’ll find one close to home. From classic rectangular rinks to figure eight and even loop trails, our ice varies as much as the neighbourhoods you’ll find them in. 

For the 2020/2021 winter season, a maximum of 25 skaters is allowed on the ice at one time. To manage this, the City of Toronto has implemented an ice skating reservation system. Simply go online, find your desired ice rink, and make a reservation for a specific time slot. Make sure to arrive 15 minutes before the start of your scheduled reservation. You’ll then have 45 minutes to enjoy the rink.

Having a hard time making a reservation? Showing up may be your best option. Five of the 25 spots are set aside for walk-ins. After a skating session has begun, if there are any no-shows for reserved spots, they’ll be given away to walk-in skaters. Also note that masks and face coverings are required while on and off the ice, waiting in line and in indoor public spaces such as washrooms that are open in winter.

Tobogganing

There’s something about speeding down a snow-covered hill that brings out the child in everyone. Tobogganing is an exciting winter activity that tends to be enjoyed mainly by kids, but adults can be seen getting in on the fun too. Toronto has over 25 City-approved toboggan hills, those that are free of hazards like trees, rocks and nearby roadways. 

You don’t need fancy gear to go tobogganing but you will need a bit of stamina to climb up the hill each time before racing back down. In addition to maintaining physical distancing on the toboggan hills, it’s important to also practice safe tobogganing—wear a helmet, sit or kneel on your toboggan and make sure your route is clear before you go.

Disc golf

Disc golf is an activity that’s typically played during the warmer months but this year the City of Toronto is highlighting the six disc golf courses found across the city for wintertime play, including a temporary course at Scarlet Woods Golf Course. 

Played similarly to classic golf, players use a range of discs (driver, mid-range and putter discs) to reach a basket in as few throws as possible. The player with the least number of throws after nine baskets (half-game) or 18 baskets (full game) is the winner. It’s free to use the disc golf courses, you’ll just need to supply your own discs.

Snowshoeing

After a big, fresh snowfall, snowshoeing can be a fun alternative to going for a hike. And you don’t have to leave the city to do it! There are a variety of trails across Toronto that cater to snowshoeing. Head out to High Park, Tommy Thompson Park, or the Toronto Island Park and snowshoe the established trails. 

Make a visit to the Don Valley ravine system and explore the intricate network of woodland trails, follow the 9 km former railway line along the Beltline trail, and enjoy eight loop trails that span 1.5 to 2 km in length that have been set up at the five City-run golf courses. Rental services are currently paused at outdoor recreation retailers, so you’ll have to supply your own snowshoes.

Hiking/walking

Don’t have a pair of snowshoes but want to enjoy those Toronto trails? No problem! You can still head out and stretch your legs with a good pair of winter or hiking boots. There are so many trails to choose from across the city including ones found in Rouge Valley, Moore Park Ravine and the Humber River. So if you find one is busier than you’d like, it’s easy enough to hop over to another spot.

About the Author

Born and raised in Toronto, Arienne Parzei is an award-winning travel videographer and photographer and has been running her travel website and YouTube channel for over a decade. When she’s not on the road, you’ll find her enjoying Toronto’s outdoor spaces, cycling trails and diverse culinary scene. Favourite Toronto Neighbourhood: The Distillery District. Instagram: @seeusoontravel

See it. Snap it. Share it. In every neighbourhood, around every corner, through every door there's something that begs to be discovered in Toronto.

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