Ten Ways to actually enjoy winter in Toronto this year
Because it’s a long season, and we can’t all be snowbirds.
1. Play indoor bocce ball at Lob
If there’s one sport that conjures up the carefree days of summer, it has to be bocce ball. Though Toronto fans of the lawn game usually have to wait until spring to toss their first ball, a new Riverdale bar has winterized the sport in a seriously awesome way. Lob opened earlier this year in a 10,000-square-foot space at Queen and Broadview, where four-person teams play their signature game: a blend of nine-hole mini golf and bocce ball. Like a rambling backyard, each “track” in the course has various elements that make it way more interesting to play than in a hidden-away corner in a dive bar. The space is also home to a fantastic bar and restaurant. The kitchen uses fresh local ingredients, creating traditional favourites such as jerk ribs, the signature Lob burger and much more. Lobtoronto.com
2. Go ice-skating under the Gardiner
Trekking to Nathan Phillips Square to skate in a circle is so 2016. This season, it’s all about The Bentway, the meandering icy trail that weaves around the concrete pillars under the Gardiner Expressway. It’s a dramatic, graffitied setting in which to practise your twists and twirls (or hang on to your partner’s hand for dear life). For the easily chilled, there are also cozy food trucks, warming stations and fire pits on hand. The season runs until February 28. Thebentway.ca.
3. Score home-decorating tips at the Interior Design Show
For some, January may mean hibernation and sobriety, but for the more industrious, it means home makeover season. The Interior Design Show, which is going down at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, always brings domestic inspiration in spades. This year, the guests of honour are the founders of Shanghai architectural design practice Neri&Hu, Lyndon Neri and Rossana Hu, who are known for creating show-stopping conceptual spaces like the Alila Kuala Lumpur. The show runs the weekend of January 17 to 20. Interiordesignshow.com.
4. Snap Instagrams at a spectacular light show
Spring and summer may be the more traditionally social media–heavy months, but numerous light shows around the city are really upping winter’s photo-op scene this year. One that you won’t want to miss is the Toronto Light Festival, which is coming back to the Distillery District from January 18 to March 3. The show will feature glowing installations by local and international artists—last year, there was a gummy bear pyramid and a pair of pink angel wings. Torontolightfest.com.
5. Eat delicious food at Winterlicious
There’s no question Toronto is overflowing with incredible restaurants—but actually eating at them on a regular basis does require a serious hit to the wallet. Thankfully, Winterlicious is back this year, from January 25 to February 7, letting food-obsessed, budget-conscious Torontonians dive into three-course meals at some of the city’s very best restaurants for way less cash than usual. There are 191 excellent places participating, including Kost, Miku and Wynona. Toronto.ca.
6. Pretend you’re down south at an aquarium jazz party
Ripley’s Aquarium might be packed with googly-eyed children during the day, but on the second Friday of every month, it transforms into Friday Night Jazz, a sophisticated shindig with live bands and cash bars. It’s easy to imagine you’re on holiday while listening to smooth tunes, drinking a gin and tonic and watching a school of tropical fish swim over your head. Ripleysaquariums.com.
7. Sample stouts at a rowdy beer fest
If you thought sipping craft beer with hundreds of enthusiastic new friends during the middle of the day was purely a warm-weather, dockside thing, think again: one of the city’s best beer festivals takes place on March 1 and 2, at the Evergreen Brick Works (just look at this epic cheers photo). This year, attendees will get to sample more than 200 craft beers from breweries around Ontario and Quebec, and soak up the booze with satisfying snacks from some delicious food trucks. Brewfest.ca.
8. Take a staycation at one of the city’s cool new hotels
When the winter blues seriously start to hit, sometimes skipping town for a week of sun and sand seems like the only thing to do. But if time and money are factors, we recommend a slightly more feasible option: booking a room at The Broadview Hotel instead. The historic building’s spacious guest rooms are beautifully designed, and there are enough restaurants on the property (three, in fact) to keep you well-fed on gourmet eats for at least a few days. Plus, the beauty about a staycation is there’s zero pressure to explore, and no guilt about watching flicks in bed all day. Thebroadviewhotel.ca.
9. Meditate at one of the city’s new serene meditation studios
Toronto’s latest meditation studios are like lush urban oases that make you immediately forget about the frigid walk to get there. Hoame, near Spadina and Adelaide, is a particularly Zen retreat, and its pink Himalayan salt cave and an infrared sauna will do more for the soul than a leisurely ocean dip. Plus, their dark meditation room has a ceiling dotted in stars, so you can imagine you’re lying in the grass searching for constellations. Hoame.ca.
10. Have a bonfire at Ontario Place
In case you haven’t noticed the mini city of sparkling lights south of the Gardiner, the newly revitalized Ontario Place is a bona fide winter wonderland. Until March 17, the West Island is the ultimate destination for wholesome wintery activities, including ice-skating and poutine-eating. They even have rustic bonfires set up, where you can roast marshmallows and sip hot chocolate by the glow. Ontarioplace.com.