Top Things to Do in Toronto This Winter!

Whether you’re a long-time local trying to break your routine, or new in town just making heads and tails of the place, one thing’s for sure: this bustling metropolis is jam packed with exciting programming, beautiful spaces and, of course, all the bars and restaurants your heart desires. Here are the top places to visit, festivities to join, and things to do in Toronto. You might not find these in the guidebooks so get out there and make the most of the snowy season!

Discover Crokicurl at Toronto’s shipping container market

stackt – photo by Curiocity Group Inc

What was once an empty lot in Downtown Toronto is now stackt, a unique urban experience full of retail stores, pop-up shops, restaurants, boutiques and other environmentally conscious small businesses. Connect to your community and get inspired in the unique urban environment built out of 120 shipping containers. Plus, this holiday season the Holiday Hills Festival is taking over the market with exciting, festive programming and even Toronto’s first ever Crokicurl rink (a mix of crokinole and curling), making this one destination not to miss while exploring Toronto this winter. website

Take the Beyond Kensington Market Toronto Food Tour

Kensington Market & Chinatown Toronto Food Tour – photos by Local Food Tours

These bustling, diverse neighbourhoods are truly something to discover. Full of immigrant communities, family-owned restaurants and mom & pop shops, there’s life in every corner of these urban cultural hubs. The Beyond Kensington Market Toronto Food Tour will take you on a journey to discover these hidden delights. You’ll have the chance to try a wide variety unique, tasty treats such as dumplings, Dan Dan noodles, fish & chips, a Caribbean specialty and more. In total, you’ll be able to visit 7 different tasting locations as you learn about the area, its history, and its stories from your knowledgeable local guide. Discover what Toronto is really about on the Beyond Kensington Market Toronto Food Tour. Learn more about this Toronto Food Tour

Have dinner at an exciting new restaurant

Over the last decade, the dining scene in Toronto has exploded, making it a top foodie destination. Reinventing cuisine and experimenting with atmospheres, Toronto’s chefs are always cooking up something beautiful. It seems as if every day a new dining experience awaits!

For even more dining recommendations, try these New & Best Toronto Restaurants.

anthony rose posing at new toronto restaurant gordy smiles
Anthony Rose at Gordy Smiles – photo by Caroline Aksich/Toronto Life
Gordy Smiles

A brand new venture from infamous Toronto chef Anthony Rose, Grody Smiles is a Mexican spot now open on Ossington Ave in place of his former restaurant, Schmaltz Appetizing. Open until last call on Fridays and Saturdays, it’s the perfect place to grab some late night eats alongside some drinks. Devoid of pretence, the cuisine is inspired by the food Rose loves, the and the tequila comes at three prices: cheap, less cheap and not cheap. website


Maybe the hottest new thing on Ossington Avenue, which is known for its high concentration of incredible restaurants and bars, Favorites is a Thai restaurant with an incredible wine list. It’s an unexpected collaboration between Khao San Road, Paris Paris and Superpoint, which all bring a unique expertise to the table. The result is inviting, enticing, and filled with the comforting smell of smouldering Japanese white oak from the charcoal grill. Tip: the restaurant is hidden behind a Sam James coffee location. website

the dining room of favorites restaurant toronto
Favorites Restaurant – photo by Nick Kozak/Toronto Star

This Italian restaurant at the heart of Little Italy does away with some of the usual suspects. Instead of Chef Rob Rossi’s usual meaty dishes, Giulietta’s many vegetable and seafood-centred sharing plates feel fresh yet still familiar. With simple and recognizable ingredients Giulietta takes the complication out of elegance, and offers a straightforward dining experience that’s been met with many accolades. website

Live it up at a wintertime festival

Whatever kind of gathering you’re looking for, Torontonians love to celebrate and beat the winter weather together. While many of these festivals occur over the holiday season in December, keep reading for more exciting events throughout the winter.

winterlicious dish
Winterlicious – photo via @LiciousTO on Twitter

If you love to eat, Winterlicious is a festival you can’t miss out on. While the restaurants mentioned above are not participating, you can pick among over 200 Toronto restaurants where you can enjoy a 3 course prix fixe meal at an amazing discount. With lunches ranging from $23 to $33 and dinners from $33 to $53, its the perfect opportunity to explore the city’s incredible fine dining options without breaking the bank. Take your palate on a trip to distant lands or savour local, seasonal flavours from January 31 to February 13, 2020. website

Holiday Markets

December in Toronto brings a whole new form of entertainment: a wide range of holiday markets offer countless opportunities for gift shopping, snacking on sweet treats, and soaking in the festive atmosphere. While the Toronto Christmas Market in the Distillery District is undoubtedly the most well-known, you can discover a selection of markets and more by checking out these Things to Do in Toronto Over the Holidays.

christmas market distillery district toronto
Toronto Christmas Market – photo by
Aurora Winter Festival

The Aurora Winter Festival has taken over Ontario Place until January 5, 2020, making it the perfect place to go over your winter holidays. It’s a magical setting for a day out with the kids, or an exciting location for a whimsical date. The premises is packed full of exciting activities and attractions. Tubing, skating, rides, games and mystical worlds make for an action-packed adventure! website

Canada’s Wonderland WinterFest

The family fun doesn’t stop there. Canada’s Wonderland also offers its own WinterFest, opening the amusement park on select days for a whole new season of fun. Between snowy rides you’ll find exciting attractions such as themed areas, seasonal dining, interactive activities and even live performances. There’ll never be a dull moment! website

Soak in some art and culture at one of these festivals

There are so many incredible, talented artists working in the city, making it a rich cultural hub all year round. Warm your heart and enlighten your mind at one of these premier festivals that showcase the best of the best from Toronto and beyond.

crowd looking at exhibition at DesignTO winter toronto festival
DesignTo – photo via
Next Stage Theatre Festival

Presented by Toronto Fringe, Next Stage showcases some incredible artists who’s performances range from comedy to tragedy, but usually sit at the intersection between the two. Offering an insightful take into the artist’s minds and lives, the shows are more personal and political than ever before. A lineup of unique playwrights, sketch artists and comedians are ready to share their stories of dealing with this strange, beautiful and often twisted world from January 8 to 19, 2020. website


DesignTO is here to bring colour and inspiration to the city from January 17 to 26, 2020, at it’s almost a complete takeover. The festival showcases over 100 exhibitions, events and installations in a wide variety of venues throughout the city. It even manages to include some film, too, with HotDocs’ brand new Art, Architecture, Design Film Festival. See what inspires you, and connect with the community through a shared visual language. website

Long Winter – photo by Rick Clifford via The Gladstone Hotel
Film Festivals

Home to the Toronto International Film Festival, the city is no stranger to showcasing some of the world’s most amazing films. That means there are offshoot events and other festivals year round – and we couldn’t pick just one to share. The Toronto Black Film Festival showcases some of the most incredible productions from the Black community from February 12 to 17, 2020, while TIFF Next Wave opens up the silver screen to rising young talents the same week, from the 14th to 16th.

Long Winter

More than just a festival, Long Winter is a series of all-ages events that span the entire winer season combining art and music into an exciting and eclectic experience that’s unlike anything you’ve experienced before. Even if you’ve attended Long Winter in the past, the inter-arts festival is always shifting tune by showcasing different talents and projects and taking over new, unique venues. Featuring a wide range of local artists and collectives, you’ll find performances, installations, interactive features, and so much more! website

Get a taste of nature and discover the beauty of winter

If you want to get outside, the city is full of spectacular urban parks that offer a retreat from the city year-round. Check out these incredible urban oases for some active wintertime fun, or travel a bit beyond the city for even more snowy adventures!

group of cyclists at sweet pete's in toronto posing in front of evergreen brickworks winter scenery
Fat Bike Rides – photo by Sweet Pete’s on Twitter
Fat Bike Rides

Just because there’s snow on the ground doesn’t mean that the pedalling has to end. The Fat Bike Rides offered by Sweet Pete’s at the Evergreen Brickworks are ready to take you on an adventure through the Don Valley. They offer weekend cycling tours for novices and experienced participants, as well as Tuesday night tours for more *ahem* seasoned riders. Their fat bike rentals come with everything you need to stay safe and warm, but if you bring your own bike the tour is only $15! Each outing is custom tailored to your group, so you’ll be able to make the most of the Don Valley’s exquisite snowy trails. website

Outdoor Skating Rinks

The city of Toronto is packed with outdoor rinks that make for some incredible snowy memories. The Barbara Ann Scott Skating Trail in College Park and Union Station Skating Rink are both brand-new experiences, while the Natrel Rink at the Harbourfront Centre is a tried and true lake-side favourite. The Bentway weaves a figure 8 underneath the Gardiner Expressway for a unique urban skating experience and the Colonel Samuel Smith Skating Trail brings you closer to nature with another snaking trail. With so many options, it’s easy to strap on some skates and hit the ice this winter!

people enjoying the view off the Scenic Caves Suspension Bridge near toronto in the winter
Scenic Caves Suspension Bridge – photo via South Georgian Bay Tourism

Tobogganing is another favourite wintertime activity for thrill-seekers of all ages. One of the city’s favourite go-to tobogganing spots is located at Riverdale Park, with the Eastern side offering the most thrilling rides. Christie Pits and Bickford Park are also both favourite downhill destinations near downtown Toronto. While High Park has some slopes that are open in Howard Park and off Parkside Drive, be careful as tobogganing has been banned in most of the park, as well as several other potential destinations.

Scenic Caves Nordic Centre

There are countless scenic trails and natural sites located just outside of Toronto that make for a perfect weekend getaway or adventurous day trip. One of the most sublime destinations is the Scenic Caves Nordic Centre which offers over 10 km of trails open for hiking and snowshoeing, with even more available for cross-country skiing. Cross their suspension bridge and look out at the picturesque scenery of the Niagara Escarpment. website

Indulge at a unique local bar

With so many bars to choose from in the city, its hard to know where to go. Try bar hopping along College Street in Little Italy, or check out our selections below.

civil liberties things to do in toronto
Owner Nick Kennedy of Civil Liberties – photo by Michelle Siu/The Globe and Mail
Civil Liberties

Civil Liberties skips the cocktail menu in exchange for something truly refreshing: the freedom to choose. Work with the expert bartenders to create a drink that perfectly fits your desires. The walls are lined with various liqueurs and jars filled with more obscure ingredients. In December, however, the space transforms completely and becomes Miracle on Ossington, a kitschy, festive Christmas themed bar that knows how to pour on the joy. website

Mahjong Bar

What appears to be an unassuming storefront, lit up with neon lights, is actually the front of a swanky hideaway full of delightful libations. You’ll feel like you’re unlocking a world of mystery as you step through the keyhole-shaped doorway into the real destination, a spacious yet intimate bar with decor inspired by the film “In the Mood For Love.” At Mahjong, however, it is cocktails that are of the essence. website

mahjong bar things to do in toronto
Mahjong Bar – photo by Mahjong Bar
Poor Romeo

Across the city, in the East End, you’ll find all-American Poor Romeo at the heart of Leslieville. Although its a fairly new endeavour, the bar already has an air of worn-in comfort. Perhaps, the ease of the place is thanks to the owners’ expertise from running Pinkerton’s Snack Bar just across the street. With rock n’ roll influences and classic North American comfort food, it’ll be easy to feel at home right away. facebook

Get a workout and your fill of adrenaline

basecamp climbing things to do in toronto
Basecamp Climbing – photo by Basecamp Climbing

Feeling out of shape from staying cozy indoors all winter? Put your body to the test with some more extreme activities. Check out Basecamp Climbing for a full body workout, a lot of fun, and the biggest sense of success when you reach the top of the rock wall. Or, compete with your friends more directly at Sgt Splatter’s Paintball as you go undercover in their epic 2 story facility, complete with abandoned cars and vehicles. Test your bravery with indoor skydiving at iFly Toronto, but just make sure you reserve a spot in advance!

Let it glow at an illuminating festival

One of the best things about embracing the winter’s long nights is taking part in a festival of lights, which can take on many different forms. Don’t let the fading sun fool you, that’s when the spectacles truly begin.

laser beams form part of the toronto light festival at the distillery district this winter
Toronto Light Festival – photo by Canadian Festival Guide
Toronto Light Festival

The Distillery District has one more more trick up its sleeve in store for you this winter season. Light-filled artworks by local and international artists will shine bright from January 17 to March 1, 2020. The festival hopes to provide a space where people can gather, wonder and warm their spirits. Inviting you to walk through the district’s pedestrian streets even on the coldest nights, the Toronto Light Festival offers a space for locals and visitors alike. Embrace the city’s creative spirit and take a breath of fresh air. website

Terra Lumina

At the Toronto Zoo, Terra Lumina envisions a future where people and nature can live in harmony. Using lighting, projection and other eye-catching multimedia effects the space practically comes to life. The immersive experience tells a story as you traverse a 1.5km long path through the zoo’s unique landscape, taking you on a journey through time. Book tickets now until April 13, 2020. website

Solstice Festival – photo by Red Pepper Spectacle Arts
The Kensington Market Winter Solstice Parade

For one night only on December 21st, the Solstice Festival takes over the streets of Kensington Market to celebrate the longest night of the year and the return of the light. Fire breathing, giant puppets and a spectacular Fire Finale make this surreal night one you’re sure to remember. Purchase a lantern made by local volunteers, and take part in this unique artist-driven, handmade and commercial-free parade. Driven by a collective creative spark, it’s a beautiful thing. website

Cozy up at a cool cafe

milky's coffee toronto summer things to do
Milky’s Coffee – photo by BlogTO

Toronto is absolutely full of beautiful cafes. Whether you want to curl up with a book, get some work done, hang out with friends or just grab a cup of joe to go. Dineen, Balzac’s and Jimmy’s Coffee are all staples of Toronto’s cafe culture while Boxcar Social and Odin will serve you more than just coffee. They have food and drinks, too. Wherever you are in the city, though, there’s surely a cool spot just around the corner waiting to be discovered.

Head over to a museum to see the latest exhibition

The exhibits featured at these museums are unbeatable for any lover of culture who finds themselves looking for things to do in Toronto.

ago art gallery of ontario downtown toronto things to do in toronto
Art Gallery of Ontario – photo by EllisDon
Art Gallery of Ontario

This majestic gallery space can keep you wandering around in awe for hours. You’ll surely be struck by both the local and international talent featured on its walls, and sometimes coming off them. As of May 25, 2019 the gallery is also now the permanent home of Yayoi Kusama’s INFINITY MIRRORED ROOM – LET’S SURVIVE FOREVER, an immersive journey into the boundless possibilities of art. website

Royal Ontario Museum

A visit to the ROM is a trip around the globe and all the way back to the age of the dinosaurs. Encapsulating life on this planet, it covers both natural history and human culture throughout time. You’ll find diverse exhibitions that capture intriguing, enchanting and sometimes disturbing facets of our culture. Until March 22, 2020, Bloodsuckers: Legends to Leeches parses fact from fiction when it comes to both mythical and all-too-real creatures with a thirst for blood. website

museum of contemporary art toronto
Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto – photo by Toni Hafkenscheid via Nuvo Magazine
The Museum of Contemporary Art

The Museum of Contemporary Art is Toronto’s newest large-scale arts complex. The museum showcases the most innovative, insightful and often surprising projects coming out of today’s arts milieu. As you wander around the 55,000 square foot industrial complex you’ll be faced with thought-provoking works from all sectors of the contemporary arts scene. The museum celebrates the city’s diversity and provides a space to foster creativity and community. website

Taste the flavours of Toronto at a brewery

Brewpubs have been taking over the city as more and more people are keen to try new and exciting brews. Nothing screams ‘local’ like beer brewed right where you’re drinking it. Plus, you can be sure Toronto’s brewers love to experiment!

kensington market toronto brewery things to do in toronto
Kensington Brewing Co. – photo by On the Go To.
Kensington Brewery

This brewery is a sort of ode to the market. Its delicious beers are inspired by the sights, smells and flavours of the area’s bustling streets. Stop by the Bottle Shop and pick up some brews to enjoy later, or take it slow at the bar. You can even bring in your own food and play some board games! They’ve always got their signatures such as the Market Pils and Fisheye IPA, but come back often to see what else they’re cooking up. website

Godspeed Brewery

Truly unique in a city where there’s always something brewing; Godspeed makes beers with a Japanese flair. Recently opened by brewmaster Luc “Bim” Lafontaine of Montreal’s Dieu du Ciel! we know Godspeed is in good hands. Not only are the creative beers sure to excite your tastebuds on their own, they also pair perfectly with the brewery’s incredible Japanese izakaya-style dishes. website

bellwoods brewery collage trinity bellwoods toronto
Bellwoods Brewery Bottle Shop – photo by Gaelle Leroyer / Local Food Tours
Bellwoods Brewery

Another popular gem paying tribute to its neighbourhood, but Bellwoods’ influence stretches far beyond. In fact, their original Ossington Ave. location was too busy so they expanded the brand to two sistinct storefronts where they sell bottles, pour glasses and innovate new flavours. Light fresh and hoppy, dark and rich, barrel aged or perhaps you’re looking for something more on the wild side? They’ve got it all when the season is right. website

Engage with Toronto’s performing arts scene

Soulpepper’s “It’s a Wonderful Life” – photo by dobbernationloves

There’s something about the winter that pulls people to the performing arts. From seasonal traditions such as the National Ballet’s The Nutcracker to independent theatre, the stories told on stage are sure to touch your heart. Toronto’s biggest theatre company, Soulpepper, puts on performances year round at the Young Centre for the Performing Arts. Get ready to be inspired, laugh, cry, and be transported to another world for a couple hours. For even more theatrical listings around the city, check out this Toronto Theatre Guide.

Sample refined indulgence at a wine bar

Now, these are spots where you’ll really prefect your palate and even getting drunk can be a stylish endeavour, one of our favourite things to do in Toronto.

paris paris trinity bellwoods toronto
Paris Paris – photo by Gaelle Leroyer / Local Food Tours
Paris Paris

Wine bar Paris Paris takes inspiration from the French. Fuelled by their love of wine, they’ve really made it the star of the show. The sweet and stylish wine bar is the perfect place to go for a casual drink any time of day. Make sure you also try the food! From oysters and charcuterie, to more substantial options like chicken and mushroom, the rich and abundant flavours are perfectly cut by a nice glass of wine, or two.

Chez Nous

A cool venture that’s pretty pure – Chez Nous serves only Ontario wine and not much else. They want you to feel at home as you appreciate the flavours of this beautiful province. The attentive wait staff will help you select the perfect glass, bottle or half bottle to match your preferences, or even to pair with the outside food you can kindly bring in. website

chez nous wine bar leslieville things to do in toronto
Chez Nous – photo by Hector Vasquez/BlogTO
Après Wine Bar

You’ll find yourself pulled unrelentingly to travel West once you hear about Après. Not only will you find dynamic and exciting wines at the forefront in this minimalist space, the food is delectable to match. Drawing from an ethos of natural and low-intervention wines, the food is simple, but prepared with a degree of precision and expertise that you can taste. website

Have a brand new dining experience at a food hall

The latest in Toronto dining trends, food halls have started popping up around the city. Even more are set to open in the following year. They’re kind of like a food court, offering a wide selection of food in a single space, but with more refinement and taste, it adds up to a single spectacular culinary vision.

campo food hall things to do in toronto
Campo Food Hall – photo by Hector Vasquez/BlogTO
Assembly Chef’s Hall

Bringing together 17 of the city’s top chefs, Assembly is unparalleled in selection and quality. In a gorgeous, art-filled and bustling space, each counter brings its own approach to good food prepared quickly. Try a unique selection of ramen bowls from Ramen Isshin, organic vegan dishes at Hibiscus or contemporary comforts from Resto Boemo that might even feature a dash of truffle. Come in the afternoon on weekdays to skip the lunchtime rush. website

Campo Food Hall

Campo presents a fun twist on the food hall. Fusing Spain’s food and culture, it’s a one stop shop for a myriad of Spanish delights. Simultaneously, the space is a grab-and-go counter, specialty grocer, bakery, juice shop, retail store, full-service bar, and exquisite restaurant, Labora, where meals are carefully crafted with ingredients imported from Spain. website

Check out Toronto’s iconic attractions

cn tower and tourist attractions things to do in toronto
CN Tower – photo by Tourism Toronto

And of course, while you’re downtown, its worth taking a peek at the destinations that Toronto’s known for. Try the iconic peameal bacon sandwich from Carousel Bakery as you shop around for local meat an cheese in the St. Lawrence Market. Just nearby is the Distillery District. Head over to discover a pedestrian village full of art, culture and history – you can read our guide here. Or, dive into the Ripley’s Aquarium and walk through the Dangerous Lagoon where sharks and rays swim over your head. You might even want to… visit the CN Tower! Test your fear factor on its newest adventure: the EdgeWalk. Here’s our complete list of the best attractions, they’re not just for tourists, we promise!

If you’re looking for more things to do in Toronto, check out these top downtown restaurants. Or, get a little bit of guidance from a walking tour. Take a look at our list of guides for even more inspiration!