The Distillery District
1. Stroll through the Distillery District on cobblestoned streets and visit eateries and shops housed in Victorian-era industrial buildings. While this neighborhood is outdoors, it is also home to the annual Toronto Christmas Market from mid November and December. From January to March, the Toronto Light Festival takes over and is not to be missed.
2. Take advantage of the many outdoor ice rinks that pop up all over the city and go for a skate. Some popular spots include Nathan Phillips Square and Harbourfront Centre, both of which offer skates rental for a small fee. For more adventurous skaters there are many outdoor trails as well, such as Colonel Sam Smith Park. In January, a new ambitious trail will be added underneath The Gardiner highway.
Allan Gardens Conservatory
3. To get rid of your winter blues, visit the greenhouses at Allan Gardens and basque in the greenery to tide you over until spring. Admire the tropical plants and succulents and all the different plant species that are all kept under one roof. During Sundays in December until mid-January, the conservatory is transformed into a Christmas Flower Show with over a thousand flowering plants, more than 30 varieties of poinsettia and festive plant topiaries. Just like every other day of the year, the admission to the Flower Show is free.
St. Lawrence Market
4. The St. Lawrence Market is a staple to food lovers and the Toronto community year-round. Saturday is the best and the busiest day to go because of the addition of the south building vendors that are not normally there during the rest of the week. Go hungry and drink a glass of fresh apple cider and sample your way through the two buildings. The food market is closed on Sundays but it becomes a quaint antiques market instead.
Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada
5. Observe a plethora of beautiful sea creatures and walk through the impressive underwater tunnel. Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada is a great place for families with many interactive educational activities for the kids. Alternatively, on the second Friday of every month, evening jazz and drinks can be enjoyed among the exhibits. Whenever you decide to go, make sure you check out the glowing jellyfish.
See some art
6. The Art Gallery of Ontario always has amazing exhibitions as well as an impressive permanent collection. The building itself is designed by Frank Gehry and a work of art inside and out. The TIFF Bell Lightbox is great for catching a unique film but also houses film related art exhibitions through the year. For contemporary art lovers, there’s The Power Plant, a smaller scale gallery located in the Harbourfront Centre.
See a show
7. Toronto is home to many theatres big and small, catching a show is the perfect evening activity. Mirvish theatre brings in large scale productions from all over while Soulpepper Theatre offers a more intimate experience in the heart of the Distillery District. The National Ballet of Canada features modern and traditional pieces in the beautiful Four Seasons Centre for Performing Arts. The Canadian Opera Company is one of the largest producers of opera in North America and offers many performances. Smaller music venues are peppered throughout the city, with mainstays like the Horseshoe Tavern that has been around since 1947.
See a game
8. For sports fans, seeing a game at the Air Canada Centre (ACC) is a must. The Toronto Maple Leafs and The Toronto Raptors have games all throughout winter and there’s no better way to watch them than with a passionate crowd. The ACC is also only a short walk from The Hockey Hall of fame, so you can brush up on some history and learn more about MVPs of the past. Also notable is Real Sports Bar and Grill, with over 200 screens and over 100 beers on tap.
Ontario Place Winter Festival
9. The west island of Ontario Place is a prime spot to enjoy some seasonal festivities with a special Winter Lights installation of 12 outdoor pieces from 20 local artists. There are also cozy bonfires and an outdoor skating rink. If you get hungry you can munch on a fresh Beaver Tail, a popular Canadian fried dough treat.
Enjoy the winter landscape
10. Winter may be cold but it can be quite beautiful as well. Winter Stations encourages people to observe the waterfront landscape during the colder months of Toronto by putting up art installations at lifeguard stands along the beaches in the east end. Evergreen Brickworks in the Don Valley has easy nature trials for those who enjoy getting out of the hustle and bustle of the city. You can grab lunch at Cafe Belong or if you’re an early bird you can visit the Saturday farmers’ market that runs year round.