Road Trips

Weekend Road Trip: 10 Favourite Winter Destinations In Southwestern Ontario 

Take A Road Trip To One Of These Winter Getaways in Southwestern Ontario.

By Greg Lehman Wheels.ca

Jan 23, 2015 6 min. read

Article was updated 8 years ago

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My grandma used to always tell me that winter was a great time of year if you were a penguin or a polar bear. She may have been right, but it’s also a great time to enjoy the beauty of Ontario and take in the great outdoors (even if it’s from the comfort of your car).

I asked some friends and family for their nominations for favourite winter destinations in Southwestern Ontario. In no particular order, here is a great list of places to check out this winter.

1. Collingwood

Collingwood is synonymous with winter for many people in Ontario. Whether you enjoy outdoor activities like skiing and snowshoeing in places like Blue Mountain, or you simply go to enjoy a weekend getaway in a cottage in the snow, Collingwood and surrounding area has something for everyone.

A simple Google search will bring up lots of activities and sights to see in Collingwood including the Scenic Caves Nordic Centre, Blue Mountain Village and the Apple Pie Trail among others.

Road Trip Travel Time:

from Toronto: (155 km) 1 hour 58 min

from Waterloo: (137 km) 1 hour 56 min

from London: (244 km) 2 hours 59 min

Road Trip Destination: Collingwood

2. Hamilton

The Waterfall Capital of the World has lots to see during the winter months. While you may think waterfalls are something to see during the warmer times of the year, the people of Hamilton are here to prove you wrong.

Just visit the Facebook group “Hamilton’s Waterfalls Illuminated at Night” and you’ll see there’s an entirely new world of waterfalls that you probably didn’t know existed. The group is full of pictures of colourfully lit waterfalls during special occasions and events. Hamilton is home to more than 100 waterfalls, making it easy to see a few in a single road trip.

Road Trip Travel Time:

from Toronto: (68.9 km) 55 min

from Waterloo: (70.2 km) 54 min

from London: (129 km) 1 hour 22 min

Road Trip Destination: Hamilton Falls

3. Niagara-on-the-Lake

Whether it’s the Icewine Festival during the month of January or the Days of Wine and Chocolate that happen every weekend in February, Niagara-on-the-Lake will give you plenty to do during the winter months.

Of course these two events are just part of a long list of things to do while you’re visiting Niagara-on-the-Lake. For more winter ideas, be sure to check out their website or Facebook page.

Road Trip Travel Time:

from Toronto: (128 km) 1 hour 34 min

from Waterloo: (144 km) 1 hour 41 min

from London: (201 km) 2 hours 9 min

Road Trip Destination: Niagara-On-The-Lake

4. MacGregor Point Provincial Park

Admittedly, I’ve only been winter camping once. I visited MacGregor Point near Port Elgin, ON a few years ago. Despite my hesitations about camping in the winter, I had a really fun time. I stayed in a yurt that had comfortable beds and a heater to keep us warm at night. There was a BBQ and plenty of nature to enjoy. Really, what more do you need than that?

I went snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and enjoyed so much of Ontario’s outdoors for a few days. I’d highly recommend the experience for anyone looking for a unique way to enjoy winter. There’s a reason it made Wheels.ca’s list of Top 10 Winter Camping Destinations as well.

Road Trip Travel Time:

from Toronto: (238 km) 3 hours 18 min

from Waterloo: (159 km) 2 hours 26 min

from London: (184 km) 2 hours 48 min

Cross Country Skiing

5. Elora

“Ontario’s most beautiful village” is another place I love to go for a day of hiking or visiting shops and restaurants. Elora offers beautiful scenery along the gorge and a peaceful escape from the city. The trails are easy to navigate and a pleasurable walk for even the most novice of hikers. You can even go winter ziplining which is something that I’ll definitely need to try this year.

When you’re done hiking, ziplining and shopping, be sure to stay in town for dinner. Elora has many wonderful places to eat and once you’re here, you won’t mind spending some extra time in the village.

Road Trip Travel Time:

from Toronto: (115 km) 1 hour 41 min

from Waterloo: (30.2 km) 30 min

from London: (137 km) 1 hour 38 min

Winter Hiking

6. Sparta

A truly unique destination and one of my personal favourite day trips in Southwestern Ontario, Winter Wheat is a great way to spend an afternoon. From the moment you drive on to the property near Sparta, ON, you are immersed in an entirely different world than the one you left at home.

The Alice in Wonderland type of environment has chainsaw sculptures and small cabins throughout the property. You can also buy some of the beautiful hand-crafted art from their store, so that you can bring a little piece of Winter Wheat home with you.

Winter Wheat is closed during the months of January and February.

Road Trip Travel Time:

from Toronto: (208 km) 2 hours 19 min

from Waterloo: (130 km) 1 hour 24 min

from London: (43.3 km) 40 min

wood bear sculpture

7. Orillia

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a big dog lover. One of the things that’s been on my bucket list for far too long is dogsledding. If you visit the Ontario Travel website , you’ll find many locations throughout Ontario that offer dog sledding tours.

One dog sledding location that was recommended to me was Wind Drift Kennel near Orillia. They offer ½ hour, ½ day or full day trips. They’ll even let you drive the sled on your own (with the dogs doing most of the work, I’m sure). I’m taking this item off my bucket list early in 2015, if you haven’t been before, you might consider doing the same.

Road Trip Travel Time:

from Toronto: (149 km) 1 hour 39 min

from Waterloo: (207 km) 2 hours

from London: (289 km) 2 hours 51 min

Road Trip Destination: Dog Sledding

8. Kincardine

Bring me to the water and I’m instantly at home. No matter what time of year it is, Kincardine is a beautiful place to visit.

Art galleries, snowshoeing on trails or public skating are just some of the things you can do near the water this winter. If you like to travel with your dogs as I often do, be sure to visit Kincardine’s off-leash dog park to let them have some fun in the snow too.

Road Trip Travel Time:

from Toronto: (221 km) 3 hours 13 min

from Waterloo: (142 km) 2 hours 6 min

from London: (151 km) 2 hours 19 min

Road Trip Destination: Skating

9. Stratford

A picturesque town not far from where I live, Stratford offers a lot of variety for people visiting for the day, a weekend or ever longer. There are so many great restaurants that can be found in this town, you’ll have trouble trying them all in one weekend. In addition, you can go antique hunting, shopping and just enjoy a drive through the pretty neighbourhoods, full of Victorian style homes.

If you’ve got any Bieber fans in the family, you can even visit all of his favourite places in the town he grew up in.

Road Trip Travel Time:

from Toronto: (150 km) 1 hour 51 min

from Waterloo: (53.6 km) 41 min

from London: (60.5 km) 57 min


10. Muskoka

A popular summer destination comes to life in an entirely different way during the winter months. The Discover Muskoka website lists a huge amount of options depending on the type of winter getaway that you’re after.

From skiing, ice fishing or just spending a weekend in a log cabin, Muskoka has something for everyone. Bring the whole family or sneak away for a quiet weekend with your lover. There’s no shortage of things to see and do even during the snowy months.

Road Trip Travel Time:

from Toronto: (182 km) 2 hours 14 min

from Waterloo: (241 km) 2 hours 35 min

from London: (323 km) 3 hours 23 min

Fire Place In A Log Cabin

Don’t let winter be a time of year that you just stay indoors. Ontario has so many beautiful things to see and great places to visit, you’ll find lots of ways to keep busy even when it’s snowing outside.

What would you add to this list? Are there any places or things that you love to do in Ontario during the winter? Share your thoughts and favourite destinations in the comments below.
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