With so many events and public celebrations cancelled this year due to COVID-19, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the thought of months spent at home. Just recently, many of the province’s major events like New Year’s Eve at Nathan Phillips Square, the historic Royal Winter Fair, and Nuit Blanche were cancelled by the Mayor of Toronto, with input from Premier Doug Ford.
Fortunately, there are still lots of activities you can do this winter in Ontario. Just because large crowded events are out doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun! If you plan your schedule right, you can still enjoy lots of exciting activities in Ontario and throughout Essex County with family and friends. You just have to make sure you’re abiding by Ontario’s current public safety regulations.
To help you get started planning some fun and safe winter activities for your family, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite cold-weather activities in Ontario.
1. Visit Langdon Hall
Langdon Hall Country House Hotel and Spa is located in Cambridge, and is one of Ontario’s most beautiful historic buildings. Built in 1902, the hotel is surrounded by 12 kilometres of walking trails, perfect for a leisurely afternoon stroll on a sunny day.
You don’t have to stay overnight to enjoy their beautiful amenities – you can visit for a spa day, or a delicious dinner at their fine dining restaurant. Even in the winter, their menus reflect local ingredients and are put together with style by renowned head chef Jason Bangerter.
2. Take in the view from Niagara Falls
If you’ve never seen Niagara Falls, take the opportunity to go this winter, as there will be fewer visitors than in the busy summer months. It’s one thing to see the falls in a photo or video, but seeing them in person is a truly remarkable experience.
Plus, in the winter you’ll get to see the incredible natural ice sculptures that collect along the sides of the falls because of the fast-moving spray.
3. Enjoy some icewine
Did you know that Ontario produces 75% of Canada’s icewine? Since Canada is one of the world’s largest producers, that means that Ontario’s wineries are responsible for creating a large percentage of the world’s best and most celebrated icewine.
Every year, the Niagara region hosts the Niagara Icewine Festival, a vital celebration of one of the area’s most important exports. This year, it isn’t yet known whether the festival will occur in person, or online. Pay attention to the festival’s website for more up-to-date information.
Even if you can’t attend the festival in person, you can still purchase a bottle of icewine to enjoy at home with your family. Its sweet, tart flavour is a great complement to cheese, pate, and curries.
4. Visit the St. Jacobs Farmer’s Market
If you’re looking for a great day trip, visit St. Jacob’s on a Thursday or Saturday when their Mennonite farmer’s market is in full swing. This food and flea market was established in 1975 by a group of Mennonite farmers, and remained a popular tourist landmark until it burned down in 2013. Fortunately, it was rebuilt and reopened just two years later.
The market remains open with COVID-19 safety precautions in place. During your visit, make sure to pick up market specialties like honey, peameal bacon sandwiches, sausage rolls, popcorn, jelly, and jam.
5. Shop at a local farmer’s market
St. Jacob’s isn’t the only farmer’s market around. There are quite a few closer to home. The Downtown Windsor Farmer’s Market is open until December 12th this year, and the Leamington Farmer’s Market is open from 9 am to 2 pm every Saturday, all year round.
Be on the lookout for the rest of our local markets, including the Amherstburg Farmer’s Market, Essex Farmer’s Market, and Belle River Farmer’s Market to hopefully start up again next year!
6. Take in an online performance
This summer, both the Stratford Shakespeare Festival and Shaw Festival moved 100% of their theatre programming online. The Shaw Festival cancelled all of their 2020 season, and instead have put on several online performances, ranging from cabaret nights to spooky murder mysteries, performed by their actors and posted for free on their YouTube channel.
The Stratford Shakespeare Festival has gone one step further, making tons of their past shows available on their very own streaming service: [email protected]. You can watch high definition recordings of shows like King Lear, Romeo and Juliet, and many more.
Plus, they’ve been busy producing and recording tons of other content, like And introducing…, a new series featuring talented actors who were supposed to have made their debut in the 2020 season. Subscriptions to [email protected] are only $10/month if you subscribe before the end of the year.
7. Go tobogganing
Tobogganing is a classic Canadian winter pastime. Once the snow falls and gets packed down enough, break out your saucers, sleds, and other winter toys, and find the nearest hill for a fun afternoon of tobogganing. In Windsor, Malden Park hill is a popular location, as is Ojibway Tom Joy Woods. Just be careful to avoid accidents by steering clear of other sledders!
8. Try winter camping
Did you know that in addition to offering space for tents, Ontario Parks also offers roofed accommodations in many of the province’s beautiful parks and nature regions? You can choose between a warm and cozy yurt, cottage, rustic camp cabin, lodge, or soft-sided shelter. These accommodations aren’t found in every park, but are quite reasonable to rent and come with amenities like cookware, linens, and more. If you’re wary of cold-weather camping, this is a great way to ease into it.
Since they’re operated by the provincial government, all of the roofed accommodations are being cleaned in accordance with local regulations and as a result may offer some modified check-in and check-out times.
Enjoy the Winter in a New Home
If all of these activities seem far away or unobtainable given when you’re living now, it might be time to think about moving!
Our Windsor real estate agents can help you start your search, and make sure that you’re looking in the right area based on your preferences, budget, and timeline for selling your current home. You don’t need to spend the winter in a home that’s not right for you. Contact the Dan Gemus Real Estate team today to learn more about this winter’s home buying outlook for Windsor and Essex County.