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9 unforgettable Ontario winter adventures for the whole family

Here's a guide to the top winter attractions that will leave your family begging for their next day trip. 

Resist the annual urge to go full “hibernation mode” this winter and plan fun winter adventures across Ontario to get you out of the house, discovering new things and making memories with those you love most. 

Winter in Ontario offers a myriad of exciting activities for families to get out and make the most of the season—and with the convenience of GO Transit—these winter wonders are super easy to get to and skip the hassle of traffic, finding and paying for parking and missing out on the exciting build-up on the trip there. 

From areas around the GTA to Barrie and Niagara Falls, here's a guide to the top winter attractions that will leave your family begging for their next GO day trip. 

1. Toronto: The Distillery Winter Village

The Distillery Winter Village in Toronto is a must this time of year. Explore the historic Distillery District transformed into a winter wonderland offering more than you can do and see in just one visit. Pose for a family portrait in front of the iconic oversized Christmas tree in Trinity Square, grab a delicious meal at one of the many eateries in The Distillery District, say “Hi” to the adorable roaming elves, listen to live music and carolers, explore the candy cane forest, get an adorable keepsake at the pup photo booth, and shop for one-of-a-kind gifts. The Village will only be bustling and ready to welcome you until December 31, so don’t delay your magical trip there. Specific days and times require tickets, while others are free, so check the website and plan accordingly. 

Get There: Take GO to Union Station, then take a TTC bus to Front St East at Cherry St.

2. Toronto: Cavalcade of Lights

Immerse yourself in the magic of Toronto's Cavalcade of Lights, a dazzling display of more than 300,000 holiday lights and festivities in the heart of Toronto. From now until January 7, Nathan Phillips Square is a magical spectacle every evening from 3 to 11 pm. This free event features live music, ice skating (skates available to rent on-site!), and the famous (and very real) 18-meter spruce Christmas tree, making it a perfect family-friendly outing. 

Get There: Travel by GO bus or train to Union Station. From Union Station, it’s a 14-minute walk north up Bay Street, or you can take the TTC to Queen Station or Osgoode Station.

3. Toronto: Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre

If a festive performance inside a warm theatre is more to your liking this season, the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre is putting on two winter shows from now through December 31st.  For a blend of entertainment and winter charm, secure tickets to the "Chris, Mrs. - A New Holiday Musical" and "Slava’s Snowshow." Fun fact about the Elgin and Winter Garden Theatre: They are two stacked theatres, with the Winter Garden Theatre seven storeys above The Elgin Theater—and they’re the last standing Edwardian stacked theatres in the world!

Get There: Hop on the GO, head to Union Station, and then make the short walk to the theatre district or take the TTC to Queen Station.

4. Toronto: High Park

High Park, a jewel in Toronto, transforms into a winter wonderland this time of year, offering a range of family-friendly activities. Enjoy skating on the picturesque Grenadier Pond, tobogganing down snow-covered hills after a fresh snowfall, or take a winter stroll through the serene landscape with a warm beverage in hand. You can even join a free guided tour of the Colborne Lodge historic house museum while you’re there.

Get There: Take GO or UP Express to Bloor GO Station, walk 10 minutes west to High Park, or hop on TTC Line 2.

5. Brampton: Gage Park Outdoor Skating Recreational Trail

Brampton's Gage Park features an elaborate outdoor ice skating trail, weaving through the park's festive light installations that light up the park with festive spirit this time of year. Suitable for all skill levels, this trail is a magical experience that will make you feel like a star in a Hallmark Christmas movie. 

Get There: Take the GO to Bramalea GO Station, and a short bus ride or ride service will lead you to Gage Park.

6. Whitby: Whitby Lights the Night Christmas Festival

Whitby Lights the Night Christmas Festival in Whitby Civic Park and Celebration Square is a sight this holiday season. Walk amongst jaw-dropping light displays with more than 100,000 lights, festive entertainment, and seasonal treats. 

Get There: Take GO to Whitby GO Station, followed by a short walk or local transit to the festival site.

7. Hamilton: Winter Wonders at RBG

Enjoy a cozy winter evening at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Hamilton! Stroll through the warm glow of lights and interactive displays, complete with festive tunes. Take a break with a warm drink, or check out the indoor Botanical Train display for something a little different. Cap off the night with a visit to The Shop at the Gardens for all your last-minute gifts. Make your trip even more enjoyable by opting for the GO + Winter Wonders Combo Ticket for Saturday trips, which includes GO travel to Aldershot GO station, a free shuttle ride, and admission to the RBG.

Get There: Take GO to Aldershot GO Station on Saturdays and use the free shuttle to RBG. On other days, take GO to Burlington GO Station and then take Burlington Transit Route 1 to the Gardens

8. Barrie: Barrie Rotary Festival of Trees

Barrie Rotary Festival of Trees is a festive extravaganza located throughout Heritage Park and Meridian Place that captivates visitors with dazzling displays of decorated trees. Round up your friends and family for a lively walk along the waterfront before this spectacular light show disappears at the beginning of January. 

Get There: Take GO to Allandale Waterfront GO Station, walk along the waterfront, or take Barrie Transit.

9: Niagara: New GO + Niagara Wonders Two-Day Combo Package

For a grand winter adventure, snag the New GO + Niagara Wonders two-day combo package and save 60% on single admission to top attractions. Your combo ticket includes return transportation to Niagara Falls on the GO Train, 48 hours of local transportation on hop-on, hop-off WEGO, and admission to five Niagara Parks attractions: Journey Behind the Falls, the Butterfly Conservatory, and the Niagara Parks Power Station & Tunnel. 

Add a festive stop to your list while in Niagara. Check out the Winter Festival of Lights and Falls Illumination or the annual Poinsettia Show at the Niagara Parks Floral Showhouse. 

Get There: Access this package, board the GO Train to Niagara Falls and embrace a hassle-free journey to these iconic attractions.

While kids 12 and under ride GO Transit for free, adults can enjoy weekday travel (while things are a little less busy) starting at $30 for two people. 

For weekend travel, $10 One-Day weekend Passes offer unlimited travel for adults on any weekend day, including any adjacent statutory holiday. Discover how to save