Winter in Toronto: we can fight it or we can embrace it, by throwing ourselves head first into a snowbank.
And why not?
Who doesn't love sliding full speed on a magic carpet down a hill, or tossing the perfect snowball? Or savouring a steaming mug of hot chocolate after making an army of snow men? If winter is truly what you make of it, then High Park is Toronto's ultimate winter playground: a 400 acre wooded paradise in the heart of the west end totally dedicated to the fun side of winter.
Toronto’s largest park may be most famous for the spring cherry blossoms or the annual Shakespeare In The Park but some of its best attractions can only be found in the winter. Entering High Park feels like leaving the city for an enchanted, snow covered forest. One third of the park is carefully maintained in its natural state and the beloved black oak trees house a great variety of fauna. The bare trees of winter give us the opportunity to see some wildlife that we may have otherwise missed. Squirrels are always an active presence in the park and you and I are not the only ones that notice. Keep looking high in the trees and you may see an owl, hawk or even a falcon looking at the same squirrel as you!
High Park Zoo is one of the most popular spots year round. The Animal Paddocks,initially built for deer, date back to 1890. Currently, eleven paddocks house a variety of domestic and exotic animals including bison, llamas, emus, highland cows, wallabies, capybara and peacocks. Even Santa and his reindeer have been known to make an appearance around the holidays! The zoo is accessible daily from 7:00am until dusk. Volunteers are on hand from 11:00am until 3:30pm to answer any questions or assist you during your visit. The much anticipated llama pen will re-open on March 9 allowing you to feed and pet the llamas (during weekends and statutory holidays). It will be open daily during March Break giving you another reason to visit the park while the kids are off school. As always, the zoo is free to visit however donations to Friends of High Park Zoo are greatly appreciated.
Throughout the winter High Park remains an athlete's dream terrain. Running in the winter is no easy feat. Icy winds, black ice and…how do we say this delicately…frozen snot are just a few of the issues true running enthusiasts must contend. The roads in High Park are regularly plowed making them friendly for runners but the real draw is the gorgeous scenery and the opportunity to replace the hustle and bustle of the city with the tranquility unique to this special place. If you're not a runner you can work on your cardio on the hiking paths maintained for cross-country skiing and snow shoeing. While the paths may be picturesque, the true star of High Park in the winter is the massive tobogganing hill near the intersection of Howard Park Ave and Parkside Dr. Canada may be deep into Olympic fever but this hill is the site of the real competition. Stop by any weekend or school holiday to see some serious racing and spectacular tumbles in the snow. After a full day up and down the hill even the most accomplished gold medalist will occasionally need to take a snack break. Luckily, The Grenadier Cafe has a full menu to fuel a few more runs down the hill and a take out counter so mom and dad can get a coffee to-go. They need their energy for cheering on the winners!
High Park has two outdoor skating rinks near the High Park Boulevard entrance. The City of Toronto offers a range of drop in programs (both supervised and unsupervised) for all ages including public skate and Shinny for the hockey lovers. Times may vary depending on the day of the week and/or holiday. Learn to Skate programs for everyone from preschoolers to adults are also offered. More information is available on the City of Toronto site.
Can you imagine having winter's paradise only steps from your home? Have a look at our outstanding Fresh Starter in The Junction, offered for $314,900.
~ The urbaneer team