As the snow starts to fall and the temperature continues to drop, we’re already thinking about the amazing day-trips we can take to get out and get active with our families. And really, there has never been a better time to try a new winter sport or activity with your family! You get to spend time outdoors, work out some of that stuck-in-the-house energy, and stay safe while doing it.
We’ve rounded up 8 outdoor activities for you to try with your kids this winter. Remember to wear layers!
A great way for families to be outside and enjoy the winter together, cross-country skiing is the perfect pastime when there’s snow on the ground. If your kids are just starting out, be sure to stick to groomed trails, as they are easier to learn on. Try to go when the snow conditions are good—you want to avoid ice!—and don’t stay out too long—cross-country skiing is physically demanding. Check out the best places for cross-country skiing in the GTA.
Ages: From age 3 or 4 on their own skis, though you can also bring babies in a pulk.
What you’ll need: Nordic skis, ski boots, and poles (or rent everything at select locations).
Downhill Skiing & Snowboarding
What’s great about downhill skiing and snowboarding is that you don’t have to wait for your neighbourhood to be covered in snow—once the weather is below zero, ski hills start to make their own! Most hills offer lessons and have beginner slopes, so if your family is new to the world of skiing and snowboarding, you can safely ease into it before you jump on a black diamond! Don’t miss our 10 favourite family-friendly places to go downhill skiing and snowboarding near Toronto.
Ages: Technically as soon as your kid can run and jump, they can start learning to ski. But a more broad guideline suggests starting around 3 or 4 years old.
What you’ll need: Skis, ski boots, and poles or snowboard and snowboard boots. Everyone will also need a helmet (you can also rent all the above items at select locations).
There are lots of great reasons to teach your kids to ice skate—it improves posture and coordination, enhances muscle strength, and can give kids a boost to their self-esteem. Plus, no matter where you live there is bound to be an outdoor rink not too far away. And it’s fun! We’ve rounded up the best family-friendly skating rinks in Toronto that are open this year.
Ages: If your child can walk, they can learn to skate. But the general guideline suggests 3 years old.
What you’ll need: Ice skates and CSA-approved hockey helmets (required for kids under age 6). Some locations have rentals available—check before you go.
Snowshoeing is an activity that the whole family can really get into—you don’t need any special skills to be able to snowshoe. It’s also a great way to spend quality time with your family outdoors and gives everyone a chance to enjoy nature—it’s a win-win-win! Check out the best places for snowshoeing across the GTA.
Ages: If your child can walk, they can learn to snowshoe. But the general guideline suggests 3 years old is a great time to start.
What you’ll need: Snowshoes! You’ll also need waterproof boots, and warm winter gear like hats, jackets, snow pants, etc. (Some locations do rent snowshoes—check before you go.)
There are so many great places to take the family snow tubing near Toronto and the GTA. What we love about snow tubing is that it really becomes a true event for the kids. And it doesn’t hurt that we can’t get enough of barrelling down those slopes on an inner tube! Don’t miss our round-up of the 8 best snow tubing parks that are just a short trip from Toronto.
Ages: 4 to 5 years old and at least 42 inches tall.
What you’ll need: Snowsuit, hat, gloves, and a helmet (Helmet rentals are available at most locations).
If you haven’t heard of fat biking, we’d wager a guess that you are not alone. Basically, it’s winter mountain biking. The bikes have fat tires that allow you to explore the snow in a whole new way. Be sure to stick to marked winter-bike trails to avoid run-ins with snowmobiles. There are lots of trails throughout Ontario but if you are looking for a place that has rentals as well as designated trails, Horseshoe Resort in Barrie, LivOutside in Muskoka, and Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville all offer fat biking rentals and tours.
Ages: Most youth fat bikes are for kids 9 and up.
What you’ll need: A fat bike (Most locations offer bike rentals—be sure to check before going).
Sledding & Tobogganing
Once the snow starts to stick, it’s a great time to grab the old sled or toboggan and hit the nearest hill for some family fun. If you are looking for a hill near you in Toronto, we’ve got 32 listed by neighbourhood. We’ve also pulled together our top 5 toboggan hills in Ottawa.
Ages: Kids under 5 should be sledding with an adult.
What you’ll need: A toboggan or sled, helmet, and warm winter layers.
There are a lot of amazing hiking trails throughout Ontario and tons of them are sprinkled throughout Toronto and the GTA. As long as you have your warm winter gear, and have checked ahead of time to make sure your trail of choice doesn’t close in the winter, you should be all set to hike in the snow! Add a layer of fun for the kids by bringing along hot chocolate in a thermos and planning a nature scavenger hunt! Check out our top 10 trails throughout the GTA.
Ages: Any age—if they can’t walk yet, bring a carrier backpack and you’re all set!
What you’ll need: Warm winter layers and waterproof boots.