Snow much fun!

While summers in Cottage Country are certainly iconic, it’s winter that truly brings adventure for kids of all ages.

by Anneliese Lawton

Each year when the calendar strikes May 24, cars packed with coolers, camping gear and fishing rods make their way along Cottage Country highways to kick off a truly Canadian summer. Tiny toes will find their way to the beaches, eager teens scurry down to the dock, and parents give a nod to the slower pace of summer. But after every last s’more, campfire song and cannonball has been completed, and as lake temps drop and leaves begin to change, we’re reminded the inevitable is soon to return.

Yes, indeed, cold dreary winter always claws its way back, but that doesn’t mean you have to hibernate indoors.

Without further ado, it’s time to pull your teen from under the comforter, time to turn off the re-runs of Wild Kratts (though we love that all-Canadian show, eh?) and time to hit the slopes, a local attraction, or the rink.

Come on: strap on a pair of stout boots, pull on some cozy mitts and check out these local destinations.

Algonquin Theatre

Feeling frigid? Why not catch a show? The Algonquin Theatre is open and running under COVID protocols. Introduce your kids to the art of theatre and enjoy everything from kid-friendly shows to teen-friendly comedy. Check out the Algonquin Theatre calendar for showtimes and tickets.

37 Main St. E., Huntsville | Algonquinthreatre.ca

Back of Beyond Equine Centre

Plan family adventure at the horse farm. Start your trip by meeting the 13 resident horses and ponies and learn their stories. Then, pile under blankets aboard one of the classy red sleighs and take off into a magical winter wonderland along private woodland trails. End your sleigh ride at a crackling campfire where you can warm your toes and sip delicious hot chocolate while roasting gooey marshmallows. Bliss!

2572 Muskoka Rd. 10, Huntsville | BackOfBeyondEquineCentre.com

Muskoka Lakes Farm and Winery

Are you looking for a one-of-a-kind experience? This is it! Explore Bala, the Cranberry Capital of Ontario, in a magical winter setting. With forest on one side and cranberry beds on the other, Muskoka Lakes Farm and Winery has a 1.2-km-long skating loop around 12 acres of cranberry marshes. If that wasn’t cool enough, every Saturday night they light the trail with 400 tiki torches. The farm also has an acre-sized skating rink over frozen cranberries – perfect for hockey. And (parents, listen up) they have “special” hot drinks, including hot mulled wine and hot cranapple cider for the 19+ kids.

1074 Cranberry Road, Bala | Cranberry.ca

Arrowhead Provincial Park

Arrowhead Provincial Park is great to visit any time of the year, but in the colder months it transforms into a winter adventureland. Do you have it in you to camp in the cold? Spend a night in a cozy cabin or bring your winter camping gear and pitch a tent outside. Or skate the famous ice trail alongside snow-laden trees where you can also skate a torch-lit path on select evenings each month. Boogie down the hill on a snow tube, cross-country ski the trails – there’s an adventure for every comfort level.

451 Arrowhead Park Rd, Huntsville | Ontarioparks.com/park/arrowhead

Winding Fences Farm

The perfect place for a winter picnic. Bundle up, pack your favourite snacks and gather around a warm bonfire. For families with older children, the farm has wonderful trails perfect for self-guided snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.

1102 Ambleside Lane, Windermere | WindingFences.com

Muskoka Steamships and Discovery Centre

Heads up parents of youngsters, this destination is especially for you. The Muskoka Steamships and Discovery Centre has an indoor Kidzone perfect for those particularly chilly days. This dynamic, high-energy space is designed to engage, inspire curiosity and feed the imagination of everyone. Check out the wooden boats and play with interactive exhibits all while staying toasty warm in this one-of-a-kind museum.

185 Cherokee Lane, Gravenhurst | RealMuskoka.com

Settlers Village

Once a thriving family farm, Kawartha Settlers Village is now home to a fascinating collection of more than 20 historic homes and buildings. Experience what life was like for pioneers as you stroll leisurely through the Village and discover artifacts from 1830 to 1935. Or visit the Nature Trail and Environmental Park (also a great place to spot birds) with countless wildflowers, trees and shrubs. A perfect balance of indoor and outdoor winter fun for all ages.

85 Dunn St., Bobcaygeon | SettlersVillage.org (closed December and January)

Haliburton Forest & Wildlife Reserve

Now a sustainable forest of over 100,000 acres, 100 lakes and millions of trees, the Haliburton Forest prides itself on ecotourism. Kids of all ages will love the dogsled rides, tree canopy tours, snowmobiling, ice fishing, the Wolf Centre, Logging Museum and the many cross-country skiing and hiking trails. There’s also camping and lakeside accommodation available for overnight stays. The Cookhouse offers tempting comfort food as well as prepared frozen meals and other catering options.

1095 Redkenn Rd., Dysart et al | HaliburtonForest.com

Yours Outdoors Fur and Flintlock Adventure

For older children, this five-hour adventure trip looks back at the history of fur trading in Haliburton. You will snowshoe or hike with wildlife biologist Mike Buss to a trading post and a log cabin, where you will hear stories of the fur trade as it was conducted in the late 18th century. There are demonstrations of the use of artifacts, including flint and steel fire making, flintlock firearms and traps. The biology and ecology of fur-bearing animals is interpreted in light of Indigenous technologies and lifestyle. There is also a traditional lunch of baked beans, bannock, wild rice and hot rum toddies (for those over 19). This is just one of the many winter activities offered by Yours Outdoors.

1344 Barry Line, RR 1, Haliburton | YoursOutdoors.ca

Anneliese Lawton is a Muskoka-based freelance writer with a handsome husband, a spunky pooch and two rambunctious children.