With the cold and the snow on your doorstep, it’s often the impulse to stay inside, huddled under a blanket with a hot cup of tea, re-watching The Office, Friends, or whatever your sitcom of choice may be. Well, just because the temperature has dropped doesn’t mean the city of London has stopped with fun and exciting activities for you or the family!
With cold weather and blankets of snow covering the ground comes a whole new set of activities that you can’t enjoy any other time of the year. Just around the house, you get to build a snowman in your front yard, adorn every nook and cranny with festive décor, and put out milk and cookies for jolly old Saint Nick.
But there’s so much more to do outside your home and around the city of London. All you’ve got to do is brave the cold, get outside, and enjoy some of these awesome winter activities!
SKI, SNOWBOARD, OR TUBE DOWN BOLER MOUNTIAN
Boler Mountain is the destination for outdoor excitement all year round. In the summer, there’s hiking and mountain biking trails, the Treetop Adventure Park, and an 1100-foot zipline! But the fun doesn’t stop when the snow starts to fall, it gets even better. When the mountain transforms from green to white, you know it’s time to break out the skis and snowboards.
Boler Mountain has over a dozen trails for skiing or snowboarding down the mountain. They range from green circle (the easiest) to black diamond (the hardest). You have the opportunity to bring your own equipment, or you can rent a set of theirs. Grab a day pass, or if you’re really dedicated to sliding down hills, a season pass for you or even the whole family!
If you’re new to downhill winter sports and looking to learn, they’ve got programs for everyone from age 5 to adults. Classes are divided by age, but they also offer private lessons if you’re interested in one-on-one attention to really speed up your learning process.
Boler Mountain even offers a freestyle ski and snowboard program for youths aged 8 to 13. Your child can learn how to handle jumps and bumps. To participate, your child should already have strong skiing or snowboarding skills since they jump right into the terrain, and won’t be going over the basics.
Skiing and snowboarding aren’t the only downhill winter activities at Boler Mountain though, there’s also tubing. For the uninitiated, tubing is when you sit in the middle of a big rubber donut and hurtle yourself down a hill. Boler Mountain’s tube runs are 10 stories tall, and you’re able to reach speeds of up to 70 kilometres per hour, which means you’re going nearly double the speed limit of a school zone!
Your $20 (plus tax) tubing ticket lasts for two hours. On average, that means you’ll get to ride down the hill somewhere between 4 and 8 times, depending on how busy it is.
PICK A TREE AND EXPLORE TREE LANE FARMS
With winter comes Christmas, and with Christmas comes a Christmas Tree. Sure, you could haul your who-knows-how-many-years-old fake tree out of storage again, or you could pack your family into the car and head out to Tree Lane Farms in Ilderton!
Tree Lane Farms has 110 acres of land that are entirely dedicated to growing Christmas trees. That’s right, they’ve got over 40,000 trees waiting to be taken home by a family such as yours! They’ve got pre-cuts if you’re just looking to grab one and go, but Tree Lane Farms has prepared an amazing Christmas experience if you stay and explore!
Of course, the main goal is to get a tree. If you’ve elected to get a U-Cut tree, you can head out into their forest and peruse the selection, rows upon rows of evergreens. They’ve got white spruce, white pine, and blue spruce to pick from. Bring your own saw or borrow one of theirs, but absolutely no chainsaws are allowed. You and your family cut your selected tree down, and then you can get it shaken and wrapped for easy transport home.
Need some decorations for that tree? Head to their Christmas store for any festive décor that you could ever need. Tree toppers, ornaments, and tree skirts are all available to make your tree even prettier once you get it home. They’ve also got other holiday-themed items like stockings, mugs, pillows, signs, and so much more!
On the grounds, there are even more activities that Tree Lane Farms provides. On weekends, wagon rides take you to and from the tree field. Cozy up to the community campfire, or find one of their smaller, more private firepits to share with friends and family. Grab a hot drink and a Fritter Shop fritter. You can even meet one of Santa’s reindeer, Prancer!
Picking and cutting your own Christmas tree is an awesome winter activity for the entire family, and Tree Lane Farms makes it even sweeter with the added holiday cheer.
SKI AND SNOWSHOE AROUND CIRCLE R RANCH
You may know the Circle R Ranch for their awesome horseback riding lessons and trail rides through the spring and the fall, and sleepaway camps in the summer. But when the temperature drops and the snow falls, Circle R Ranch becomes the place to go in and around London for cross country skiing and snowshoeing!
The ranch offers 13 kilometres of trails that have been groomed and tracked to make for skiing perfection. There are six different paths to choose from, each with their own distance and difficulty level.
The Sugarbush is the easiest trail to take, and is only 1.3 kilometres, perfect for a beginner-level skier or just a nice leisurely ski.
The two most difficult trails are Tuckerman and Skating. Tuckerman is a 5 kilometre loop for classic-style cross country skiing. The Skating trail, however, is designed for skating-style skiing, which requires shorter skis, a skating-like motion of the feet, and no poles. The Skating trail is also 5 kilometres long.
Meanwhile, the snowshoe trail is 4 kilometres long.
For something extra special, sign up for one of the Moonlight Ski & Snowshoe Dinner events! You are treated to a dinner of homemade chili (either con carne or vegetarian), cold and hot beverages, a salad bar, and dessert. After your meal, you head out for either a ski or a snowshoe adventure under the stars. The winter night is peaceful and serene, something that can be hard to come by in the city. Any level of skier or snowshoer is welcome to sign up, and you can even rent equipment there if you don’t have your own!
Circle R Ranch is a reminder that the cold weather doesn’t mean you should stay inside! Cross country skiing and snowshoeing at Circle R Ranch makes for a fun and physical day to keep your activity and spirits high in the winter!
MAKE YOUR OWN DECORATIONS AT A HEEMAN'S WORKSHOP
There’s buying Christmas decorations and then there’s making your own. Head out to Heeman’s in Thorndale to participate in one of their incredible workshops that let you create your own Christmas décor.
The daymakers at Heeman’s will walk you, your friends, and your family through making one of their amazing centrepieces with real plants! Make a wreath, decorate a boxwood tree, or even recreate the tree from the Grinch!
They will provide just about everything required to make your centrepiece. You aren’t required to bring extra materials or equipment in order to make your decoration. However, if you’ve got a favourite pair of pruning shears or gloves, then you are more than welcome to bring them along! If not, they will be provided for you. Make sure you book yourself a spot ahead of time, because spaces are limited, and you don’t want to get left out in the cold!
Attending a Heeman’s workshop allows you to both celebrate the joys of winter and avoid the horrors of its weather, the best kind of winter activity if you ask me.
GO TO A LONDON KNIGHTS GAME
Hockey is a winter sport, there’s no doubt about it. Even though Budweiser Gardens is air conditioned, there’s still something extra winter-y about cheering for the London Knights.
The 2018-19 season started in early September and continues to roar on through December and into March. Check out their schedule to find out exactly when they’ll be playing at Budweiser Gardens and grab a ticket for you and some friends or family. Engage in the raucous chant of “GO KNIGHTS GO” every time one of our players touches a puck and scream your heart out when they get a shot past the opposing goalie.
And if you should happen to be hungry on your way to the game, definitely check out last week’s Best Of to find out the best places you should eat before the Knights game.
SEE THE LIGHTS AND SKATE IN VICTORIA PARK
Come winter, Victoria Park transforms into a winter wonderland. Festive lights shine bright through the whole park, washing the white snow in neon colours. It’s a wonder to walk through in the evening (or the afternoon since the sun goes down so early nowadays), and enjoy the holiday spirit and gorgeous lightshow.
In front of the bandshell, a skating rink is installed. It’s absolutely free to skate there anytime from 10 AM to 10 PM every day. The only time you can’t skate during this time is between 5:30 PM and 6:30 PM, when they’re resurfacing the ice. As long as the weather is agreeable, the rink is open from early December all the way through until the end of March Break.
If you don’t have skates of your own, you can rent some for just $7 on weekdays from 5 PM to 10 PM, and noon to 10 PM on weekends. Or if the skates you own need to be sharpened, they’ve got you covered as well for just $6.
SKATE AND ENJOY THE FESTIVITIES AT STORYBOOK GARDENS
They offer a winding trail of ice for skating six days of the week from December until the end of February (weather permitting). Practice your skating on something more exciting you’re your standard square or oval rink! There’s even a rink-side Beavertails location! Grab a hot chocolate and a fresh beavertail before or after your skate, and you’re in for a wonderful day.
Storybook Gardens transforms into Snowybook Village from December 22nd to January 5th. The village offers extra skating hours, special holiday lights and décor, mascot meet and greets, and campfire programming to keep you warm during all of it!
There’s even a New Year’s Eve party, or a “hoopla” as they call it. They do the countdown at 8:30 so your little ones still get to experience the fun and excitement of ringing in the new year, without staying up way past their bed time. The festivities also include crafts, skating, and a campfire. You must pre-register in order to get tickets for this event though, so pick them up soon!
WARM UP AT 10EIGHTEEN
With so many outdoor activities on this list, there’s no doubt that you’ll need to warm back up after braving the chill of winter, and there’s no place better than 10Eighteen. Coffee, tea, and hot chocolate are all on the menu, prepared fresh by the top-notch baristas, and served steaming hot. They do have some of the best coffee in town, after all. They’ve even got special drinks to celebrate the holidays! The perfect way to recover from the chill of winter.