Happy Kids in Winter!

Unlike some adults, kids can never get enough of winter. Looking for unique ideas to keep your little ones engaged? Plan your visit around these all-ages outdoor activities and events across the Explorers’ Edge region of Ontario, and make this winter one of exceptional health, wellness and fun for the whole family. Check out all there is to do!

Go Dogsledding
If you want to experience the excitement of dog sleds in action, head to the Kearney Dog Sled Races February 9-10, 2019, and the 35th Annual Seguin Dog Sled Mail Run from Humphrey to Rosseau on held in February 2019 (exact date TBA). Try dog sledding for yourself at one of many dog-sledding operators in Explorers’ Edge, and for some personal exertion, try kicksledding (think dog sledding – without the dogs). You can rent kicksleds at White Squall Paddling Centre in Parry Sound.

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Go Horseback Riding
Deerhurst Resort in Huntsville offers winter trail rides across snow-covered fields or through hushed, powdered forests, and families can go together on a cozy sleigh ride.

Go Skating
Outdoor rinks
are everywhere you turn in the region, including at many area accommodations. The combination of fresh air and hours of gliding will have everyone in the family rosy-cheeked and sleeping soundly.

Go Skating At Night
Arrowhead Provincial Park lights up the night with tiki torches lining its popular Ice Trail on a handful of days throughout the winter season. If skating isn’t your thing, glide by the trail on the adjacent cross-country ski track. During daylight hours the family will also enjoy tubing, snowshoeing, skating on the pond and longer cross-country ski loops. Enjoy an apres-ice-trail lunch or dinner at a nearby dining establishment.

Go Inside to Explore
The Kidzone at the Muskoka Boat & Heritage Centre is a dynamic and high energy space on the upper mezzanine level of the heritage centre. Designed especially for families with children, check out the giant chalk board wall, replica steamship creation, an illuminated Light-Peg wall, building challenges using Keva planks and LEGO blocks, ‘Dig It’ sand and water play tables, board games, and much more! With such a huge variety of things to see, do, and touch, the kids will be entertained for hours. And don’t miss the newly opened Watershed Wonders exhibit while you’re there!

Go Winter Picnic-ing
Eat outdoors in winter! Local parks are perfect, like Bracebridge’s Kerr Park or Parry Sound’s Kinsmen Park – both have toboggan hills and Kinsmen Park has an outdoor rink, too. Or strap on some snowshoes and venture further afield, stopping for a picnic lunch along the way.

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Go Birding
Chickadees and Gray Jays are famously friendly residents of Explorers’ Edge in winter. Stash some bird seed in your pocket when you go snowshoeing. If you’re patient, you’ll have them eating out of your hand in no time.

Go Wild 
Algonquin Park’s annual Winter in the Wild festival on Saturday, February 16, 2019 offers cool activities like snowshoeing, skating, winter camping demonstrations, guided bird walks and cross-country skiing. Yes – you can go to iconic Algonquin Park in winter too!

Go Snowmobiling
Take a guided snowmobile tour with Back Country Toursor rent some sleds at one of many area operators to use the OFSC snowmobile trails (permits required).

Go Fat Biking
The cycling season never stops with the hottest new winter activity – fat biking. Rent some bikes and head out onto managed trails…it’s like riding on butter.

Go Ice Fishing
Ice fishing is as fun in the winter as it is in the summer and anyone from 2 to 92 can do it. If parents don’t have an Ontario fishing license (kids under the age of 18 do not need one), then the whole family can try this excellent outdoors activity during Family Fishing Weekend February 16-18, when no licenses are required. Check out local bait shops for more details.

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Go To A Winter Carnival
Many communities in Explorers’ Edge host winter carnivals. Check out the Burk’s Falls Winterfest (Date TBD), or the  Port Carling Winterfest (date TBD), the Dwight Winter Carnival February 8-9, the Dorset Snowball February 15-16 and the Gravenhurst Winter Carnival February 14-18. For a complete list of all the fun-filled events happening this winter, click here.

Go Downhill Skiing
The hill where Olympic champ Dara Howell honed her skills is perfect for kids wanting to try downhill skiing and boarding. Head to Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area in Huntsville, Muskoka for day and night time passes. And don’t forget – winter might end early in Toronto and spots further south in Ontario, but during March break it’s still winter in Explorers’ Edge, when you can sign your kids up for three-day camps or just hit the slopes as a family.

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Go Sugar Bushing
In March and April, many local sugar bush operators welcome visitors to see how they turn sticky maple sap into Canada’s favourite nectar (and taste it for yourself). Visit Brooklands Farm in Milford Bay and Sugarbush Hill in Huntsville for a tour, just to name a couple. And watch for the annual Maple Syrup Festival at Killbear Provincial Park closer to April.

Finally – be sure to make s’mores this winter too! Build a campfire at a designated spot, break out the marshmallows and create some ooey-gooey goodness to serve with some piping, hot chocolate. It’s the perfect way to cap off another day of outdoor fun with the kids in the great Canadian wilderness just north of Toronto.

To plan your family’s stay in the Explorers’ Edge region of Ontario this winter, click here.

 WINTER TURNS UP THE FUN!

 

PhotoGuest Blogger: Dawn Huddlestone

Dawn Huddlestone is a freelance writer, as-yet-unpublished novelist, and wannabe photographer. She’s living the dream in Muskoka with her family and a growing zoo of pets. 

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