Pandemic busters: 15 ways to have fun this winter

Pandemic busters: 15 ways to have fun this winter

You’ve made yet another batch of cookies, binge watched all the Netflix shows and now you’re alphabetizing the cat’s toys. But don’t despair, this city is still full of awesome experiences—indoors and out.

1. Learn something new

The Toronto District School Board is offering its (very affordable), regular adult classes, entirely online: from Tao Calligraphy to Investing 101 for Millennials, you won’t be bored...or broke.

2. Get arty

Plan a brighter future in a vision board workshop or just let out your inner artist: the Toronto Arts Council offers some funky workshops with everything from goal-setting to cartooning. For more traditional art classes, AGO has several painting and drawing classes, including one that’s inspired by Studio 54 (remember disco?) as part of their upcoming Studio 54 Night Magic exhibit. If music and dancing is more your thing, there’s also AGO Live, Hello from the other side, a series of live ballet and symphony performances.

3. Get out and explore

Toronto has 140 neighbourhoods: how many have you actually been to? From Cabbagetown to Corso Italia, Leslieville to Little Malta, it’s a great way to experience our city’s incredible diversity. Walk, drive or pick up a short-term rental bike from over 625 locations (winter cycling is totally a thing, especially when there isn’t much snow), and scout out the city. Or try a graffiti tour: there’s a lot of cool local colour out there if you know where to look.

Graffiti Wall

Credit: Narcity

4. Take a hike

Find your Zen with a walk through Don Valley River Park, which runs along the river, and check out some very cool public art along the way. Rouge National Urban Park has 10 designated trails, with downloadable maps you can access on your phone. If you’re looking to venture a little further out, Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area in Milton has trails that lead to lookouts, caves and 1,000-year-old trees.

5. Hit the hills

Ski slopes may be closed right now, but local toboggan hills are all open. Whether you’re looking for a gentle hill or a daredevil descent, tobogganing is a cheap thrill that’s easily accessible in the city. Riverdale Park has a stunning view of the city skyline and a wide-open hill, Trinity Bellwoods picks up the pace with short, steep runs, and if rocket-fast is your goal, head to Gladhurst Park.

Check out the Top 20 toboggan hills in the city

Toboggan hill in Toronto

Credit: BlogTO

6. Get your chef on

Want to get better in the kitchen? There’s no shortage of online classes out there. From sourdough to sushi, Toronto’s food experts take you through fun and interactive cooking classes you can follow right in your own kitchen.

7. Do something different

Spend a couple of hours downtown finding haunted places or historically interesting spots in a scavenger hunt, or try geocaching to hunt for hidden treasures in parks across the GTA.

8. Learn about wine

Love a good bottle of vino but want to know more? Local wineries and wine suppliers are all about virtual tastings these days. They’ll send the bottles to you, then during a live online session, you can sip, savour and discuss vintages and flavours. Right now is the perfect time to try icewine, which Ontario is (justifiably) famous for.

9. Bring live music into your living room

Moshing at home might not be as thrilling as heading to a club, but hey, there’s something to be said for going to a concert in your pyjamas, right?

10. Dance like nobody's watching

Because surprise, no one is (your cat doesn’t count). From hip hop to ballet to Afrobeats, winter is a great time to sweat and learn some new moves.

Read more: Working out at home: 9 tips for staying motivated

11. Become a local tourist

Many one-of-a-kind boutique hotels are still open, so why not be a tourist in your own backyard, and maybe add a little luxury into your life? Part art gallery, part hotel, the Drake Hotel’s artist-designed rooms are as Torontonian as the CN Tower. Order room service or take out, turn on some movies, go for walks, or let out your inner photographer and do a photo tour through a neighbourhood you haven’t been to before.

Hotel Room

Credit: The Drake Hotel

12. Shop local

Who doesn’t love a box of shoes (or a sweatshirt or some really cool jewellery) on their doorstep? Shopping locally has never been more popular...or more important.

13. Check out a cemetery

Lush gardens, century-old trees and serene rivers: our cemeteries are not only beautiful but also hold a lot of historical significance. You can learn a thing or two during a quiet wander. For example, in 1834, a cholera epidemic devastated Toronto’s Irish and British communities, and St. Mary’s Church discovered a mass gravesite during a recent renovation: you can visit the monument they put in place to remember those forgotten victims. Mount Pleasant Cemetery is a beautiful, serene destination as well, and the resting place of a number of famous Canadians including William Lyon Mackenzie King, Timothy Eaton and Canada’s first female surgeon, Jennie Smillie Robertson.

14. Visit an art gallery, only outdoors

Check out some of the 400 pieces of outdoor art scattered throughout the city such as the “Elevated Wetlands” off the Don Valley Parkway – you know, the giant molars. Or maybe abstract elephants? Who knows? You’ll find everything from traditional statues to amazing steel clouds in the sky to a giant red canoe. Download the art map and follow along.

Abstract Elephants

Credit: Opencity Projects

15. Snap some pics

With all the virtual classes available right now, there’s never been a better time to brush up on your photography skills. Need a little inspiration from the experts? The Scotiabank Contact Photography Festival site will keep you busy with workshops, artists’ interviews and readings.

Thinking about making a move to a new place this year?

Do your research on condos.ca, read up on the GTA housing market, and connect with a Condo Pro for the info and insights you need to make a smart move.

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