Family Winter Fun!
While most of us are dreaming about being on a sunny beach at this time of the year, there are some great ways to make the most of our cold winter climate. Here are 10 must-do winter family fun activities!
1. Hit the Trails
After a fresh snowfall, you'll want to make your mark in the white fluffy stuff whether it be by cross-country skiing, downhill skiing, tubing, or snowboarding, For more information on trails, hills and snow conditions, visit www.skiontario.on.ca, your guide to winter fun and excitement at Ontario's best ski resorts.
2. Go for a Winter Hike
Go for a winter hike or go snowshoeing. Tote your camera, kids, and binoculars and admire the beautiful winter transformations. Winter is a great time to get outside to take in some of the art and beauty of nature.
3. Go Skating
There are plenty of indoor and outdoor facilities for skating in the GTA, including some really fun outdoor spots: skate under the lights at Nathan Phillips Square's famous outdoor ice rink; the Natrel Rink at Harbourfront is one of Toronto's favourite outdoor rink for lacing up; Cedarena in Markham is a 75 year old outdoor rink in the Rouge Valley surrounded by trees; or try Mel Lastman Square Skating in North York. Prefer to skate where it's warm? Toronto4Kids has a complete listing of Indoor Arenas in the Greater Toronto Area and other great spots for skating.
4. Dog Sledding
Dog Sledding is becoming a more popular way to celebrate the great Canadian winter! Here are a few places to go dog sledding in Ontario: Ride the Wilderness, Winter Dance, and Wilderness Adventures. If you're interested in seeing a local dog sled race, head out to the Kortright Centre in February for their annual dog sled races. It's a fun day for the kids - who will be greeted by canine cacophony, while getting the opportunity to meet these very friendly dogs and their handlers… up close! For more information on this event, visit: www.kortright.org.
Build a Snowman
Dress your snowman in one of your old Halloween costumes or used clothing. Use drops of food coloring to make colorful streaks through the snowman. Have contests to see who can make their snowman look most like your favourite character, a friend, you, or Mom or Dad!
Sliding downhill is an exhilarating activity! You can use sleds, tobogganing carpets, or toboggans. Scout out a good, safe hill to conquer with that toboggan you've been storing in the garage! Children five to nine year of age are most susceptible to injury. Parents of young children should not let them sled alone and older children should be taught to check for hazards.
7. Winter Scavenger Hunt
Organize a winter scavenger hunt! Look out for these items this winter as you hike, ski, and play outdoors. Young and old will love the thrill of discovery in the great outdoors. A winter scavenger hunt can include: animal tracks in the snow, pine cones, twigs, icicles, a tunnel made in the snow by animals, a frozen waterfall, cocoons, nests, or identifying various pine trees.
8. Make a Snow Sculpture
Make a snow sculpture for some creative outdoor fun. Plow your driveway or yard to pile the snow high. Begin to sculpt with your hands, spoon, shovel, or other tools. Use your imagination to carve a form such as an animal, a snowman, Santa, or anything with a Winter theme. You can add color to your snow sculpture by dissolving food coloring in water and painting it on the sculpture or mixing it with the snow. Have a fun and don't forget to take a picture when you're done!
Winter Carnivals and Festivals
And for those winter enthusiasts really looking to get away, here's your chance to pack in all your favourite winter activities all into one place! Check out Winterlude - North America's greatest winter festival in Ottawa/Hull. Winterlude offers fun-filled weekends of excitement and activity for the whole family! Skating on the world's longest skating rink, glittery ice and snow sculptures, playing in Snowflake Kingdom, the largest snow playground on the continent, and meeting the Ice Hog family - all this and much more. Best of all, it's free! For more information: visit: www.canadascapital.gc.ca. Winterlude takes place from February 1 to 18, 2013.
If Winterlude is too far to go, check the out the many winter carnivals and festivals taking place right in your area! You won't want to miss out on the fun, from horse and sleigh rides to special exhibits, kids games, snow mazes, outdoor skating, bonfires, fireworks, pond hockey, ice sculptures, winter Olympics, live music and entertainment, and much more. Visit the Toronto4Kids events calendar for a complete list of winter carnivals and festivals.
Make some Hot Cocoa
Hot chocolate can really sooth and warm kids after outdoor activities. You can make it ahead and bring along a thermos to keep warm. Add some fun toppings to dress up your hot chocolate: a dash of cinnamon, a few spoonfuls of whipping cream with a dash of cocoa powder, chocolate sprinkles (or other fun colourful sprinkles), chocolate sauce, chocolate chips, or the classic: miniature marshmallows.
So why stay cooped up this Winter when there is so much to do to enjoy our great Canadian outdoors! Get out, bundle up, and have fun!