Experts say that keeping active and spending time plenty of time outside throughout the winter could have a significant impact on your physical and emotional health. We just think it's a great way to let of steam, get everyone out of the house and to simply have some fun.
Whatever your reason for getting some outdoor time in the winter, the chances are good that you'll find something to do locally that you'll enjoy. There are lots of outdoor activities to be found be in the Kitchener-Waterloo Region, many of them located along the banks of the enormous Grand River.
Primarily for those newer to our area or those considering moving here, we've complied list of activities that has something for everyone, including trail walking, tobogganing, and skating as well as shopping at an outdoor farmers' market and taking in the sights aboard a majestic steam train. In fact, there may something here that even longtime residents of the area didn't know about.
As a local real estate team, who live and play in the Waterloo Region as well as work in it, we love to share what we know. Not just about things to do and places to go, but also about the state of the local real estate market!
If you happen to have questions, either as a possible homebuyer or homeseller, about the Waterloo region, the current state of the market or even the potential value of your home, please feel free to contact us, we'd be delighted to answer and and all of your questions!
For now though, let's get back to this list...
Outdoor Skating and Tobogganing Hills
From December through March, more than 30 free outdoor skating rinks are opened and operated by the City of Kitchener. Rink management is undertaken by volunteers, and occasionally opening hours vary according to the weather, but for the most part the rinks are open on most days, and there is a lot of fun to be had by all (including those new to skating)
Victoria Park is a popular destination for couples to take a romantic winter stroll around the lake, see the clock tower that was moved to the park from the original city hall, and go hand-in-hand ice skating at the park's outdoor rink.
Victoria Park was opened in 1896 and named after Queen Victoria in honor of her diamond jubilee. A free, self-guided walking tour of this historic area of town is also offered by the City of Kitchener
One of Kitchener's top tobogganing hills is found in McLennan Park, which is on the southern edge of the city. Locals refer to this former landfill as "Mt. Trashmore," and it is now a beautiful viewpoint for seeing the entire city and, if you go at the right time, a stunning sunset. Foxglove Park and Hillside Park are two additional places where you can go sledding.
In Uptown Waterloo, Waterloo Public Square is a well-liked spot for romantic winter evenings. It plays host to the biggest Christmas tree in the city, an outdoor skating rink, and a ton of cafes and restaurants that keep this neighborhood busy all winter.
There is also a lot to see and do in Waterloo Park, which is only a short stroll from Waterloo Public Square. Visit the outdoor Eby Farm to see some llamas and alpacas, take a tour of the Waterloo Region's oldest log school, built in 1820, or stroll down the wooden boardwalk to take in the holiday lighting.
For Winter Adrenaline Junkies
Skiers and snowboarders from all around Southern Ontario visit the Chicopee Ski Hill. There is a hill there with your name on it, whether you are an expert or a beginner. And when the day is through, you can unwind with an après-ski snack or tasty beverage in front of a warm fireplace in the Silvertip Lounge.
Why not try snow tubing if you don't enjoy skiing or snowboarding? Chicopee Tube Park, which is on the opposite side of the ski slope, is a favorite hangout for both kids and adults. Ride the magic carpet back to the top after zipping down one of the six chutes. .
Grand River Conservation Parks Offer Wintertime Fun
Laurel Creek is a portion of Grand River Conservation Authority and is situated in North Waterloo. Their 4.5 km of pine forest trails are groomed and tracked, making them perfect for hiking, snowshoeing, and bird watching. On-site equipment rental is available.
The town of Fergus' Belwood Lake Conservation Area, which has a 12 km reservoir built during the Shand Dam's construction in 1942, is a great place for ice fishing, hiking, and bird watching.
Pinehurst Lake is a location within the Grand River Conservation Authority that merits mentioning too. This conservation area includes ice fishing and bird watching in addition to ploughed hiking routes, groomed and tracked cross country skiing tracks, and snowshoeing trails. Additionally, there is equipment rental on-site.
The largest network of Grand River Conservation Authority winter paths may be found at Shade's Mill Conservation Area, located south of Kitchener. The 10 km of groomed and tracked trails are great for bird watching, hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. When the weather is favorable, ice fishing is permitted on the reservoir. Fish huts can be used throughout the day, and you can rent skis and snowshoes nearby too.
Snyders Flats is a part of Grand River Conservation Area that is not as well known. It is a repurposed gravel pit that now features ponds, woodlands, and meadows along a looped hiking track and provides a great winter stroll for those who want to move at a more leisurely pace too
Even More Trails for Hiking...and Much More
Huron Natural Area is a network of beautiful hiking paths that travel past marshes, woodlands, and meadows that are of provincial significance. It is a haven in the middle of a bustling city. Even though this area is being transformed into a location that honors past and present Indigenous cultures, it is still a great place for winter bicycling, bird viewing, or just hanging out with friends at the kids' natural playscape.
If you have a canine companion with you, there is also a leash-fee dog park on the premises of the Kiwanis Park, which is a perfect starting place for a trek along the picturesque Grand River.
The RARE Charitable Research Reserve's trails on the outskirts of Kitchener are a hiker's dream. The trails merge for a section beside the Grand River after winding through woodlands and moss-covered stone formations. The native plant and animal species are protected in this conservation area, which is also a well-loved location for bird watching.
Explore KW's Culture and History
At Waterloo Central Railway, take a ride on a real steam locomotive to experience a trip back in time. The railway runs between Northfield Drive, Waterloo, the St. Jacobs Farmers' Market, the Village of St. Jacobs, and the municipality of Elmira. There are numerous themed train trips available all year long, but the winter ones can be particularly charming.
The St. Jacobs Farmers' Market, which is open every Thursday and Saturday throughout the year, is a terrific place to buy fresh vegetables, satisfy your sweet craving with an apple fritter, and get to know some Old Order Mennonites who still ride horses and buggies to the market. Discover locally grown or freshly made foods in the Market Building, the Peddlers Village, and the Market Tent, or peruse hundreds of unique products made by regional craftsmen.
Take a horse-drawn trolley trip provided by St. Jacobs Horse Drawn Tours starting at "The Log Cabin," which is situated at the entrance to the St. Jacob's market. This is a unique and instructive experience where you can ride through a Mennonite Farm or visit a Maple Sugar Bush. Private excursions and winter sleigh rides are also offered.
The Old Post Office, one of the numerous architectural wonders in the Historic Downtown Cambridge, was originally constructed in 1885 and renovated in 2015. This location is well-loved by filmmakers and wedding photographers who enjoy using the old buildings and the bridge over the Grand River as their backdrop.
It is only a short drive from Kitchener. Every Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday night during the winter, you can witness how special effects and holiday lights change the Old Post Office into something truly magical.
The West Montrose Covered Bridge is another popular movie backdrop. The last surviving covered bridge in Ontario is this 19th-century structure, which is situated in the adjacent Township of Woolwich. It is a bridge over the Grand River that was named a cultural heritage site in 2007.
The childhood house of William Lyon Mackenzie King, Canada's tenth and longest-serving Prime Minister, is located in theCcity of Kitchener. The museum inside charges a small admission fee, but the grounds and the surrounding trails of Woodside National Historic Site are open to everyone without charge.
The Kitchener Farmers' Market is open every Saturday throughout the year. There are children's activities, adult classes, a variety of mouthwatering desserts, and gourmet coffee that smells amazing.
The Pennsylvania-German pioneers who moved to the Waterloo Region in the early 1800s are honored by the Waterloo Pioneers Memorial Tower. The tower, which has a view of the Grand River, provides easy access to the Walter Bean Trail.
The Walter Bean Trail travels through the Old Mill Ruins on the other side of the Grand River. This location, which some people believe to be haunted, represents the conflict between the Six Nations of Grand River, who first inhabited this territory, and the German-Dutch settlers who began to harness the Grand River's water power in the 1800s and built the numerous mills, the foundations of which are still scattered along the mighty river.
The Iron Horse Trail, a section of the Trans Canada Trail, follows a former railroad route to link the cities of Kitchener and Waterloo. Along this paved track, which is great for walking or cycling, you'll see remnants of KW's industrial past and pass by well-known locations like Victoria Park and Waterloo Park.
View the Bingemans drive-through light show. With two tunnels and more than 300 moving and static light displays, Gift of Lights is a family-friendly drive-through holiday light show! Listen to Gift of Lights Radio at 103.3FM while driving about in your own vehicle to take in this festive spectacular.
Grab your auger and fishing gear, then make your way to Pinehurst Lake to snag some lunch. During the winter, you can easily catch bluegill or black crappie and it's a great way to introduce someone (or yourself) to the joys of winter fishing!