When I travel, it’s almost always with carry-on only. You know what that means … there’s no room to bring home any shopping! But I’m okay with that. My most cherished souvenirs have never been trinkets or tchotchkes. They have always been my memories. And sometimes, you don’t need to head to far-flung corners of the world to make those memories. They can be made right here at home.
My husband and I were invited on an amazing trip that would take us from Barcelona to Monte Carlo and finally to Rome – and if we’d accepted the invitation, we’d have been there right now. But as hard as it was to say no to this incredible itinerary, I knew that deep down in my heart, there was no place else I’d rather be than home in Toronto for Christmas. So, I turned down the Mediterranean and said yes to Ontario! Incidentally, my husband is from LA and while I’m in the process of moving there, a Christmas with sunny skies and palm trees just doesn’t put me in the holiday spirit. Give me snow and crisp, cold air and skies that darken by 4pm, thank you very much!
And my days have been packed; it’s all Christmas all the time at my house (yes, I’m one of those people!) and when I’m not at home, I’m catching up with friends and family around the city. So where are my favourite spots to make memories in Ontario? It would be impossible to name all the places I love to visit in this beautiful province I call home but here are a few.
Pretty Much Anywhere in Toronto
The best part about Toronto is that it’s a great walking city. And it’s just beautiful in winter if you’re dressed for it. Plus, the city is jam-packed with amazing coffee shops so you can stop in and warm up any time. Hazelnut latte from Dineen, anyone? Hanging out with friends one afternoon in the city, we stumbled upon a pretty spot with bare trees covered in white fairy lights. It’s situated right outside the office building that’s used in the show Suits so why not sit a while, sip our lattes and hope for a Gabriel Macht / Patrick J. Adams sighting? We’re not picky. Either one would have done!
Nathan Phillips Square
Just around the corner is Nathan Phillips Square and this is the heart of the city but at Christmastime, it’s definitely the place to be. Pull out your hat, mitts and scarf, lace up your skates and get on the ice for a fun-filled day. It’s especially beautiful at night when the city’s iconic Toronto sign and Christmas tree are lit up. Grab a hot chocolate to warm up and enjoy the festive feeling that’s in the air. This is the perfect place to make family memories.
Outside of the city, one of my favourite places in Ontario is Blue Mountain. Another great winter destination (it’s a ski resort, after all), Blue Mountain offers something for everyone and for the past 10 years, it has been the site of my annual girls’ weekend. Even if you don’t ski, there’s lots to do – from shopping in the village, enjoying the great restaurants and of course, visiting the spa. No trip to Blue Mountain is complete without a stop at the Scandinave Spa for a relaxing massage, followed by a dip in the outdoor baths. What I love most about this picturesque spot is that you only have to drive about two hours outside of Toronto to reach a nature lover’s paradise. The Scandinave is situated on 25 acres of natural Ontario birch, Canadian maple and pine trees. It’s beautiful, peaceful and good for the soul.
So whatever you’re doing this holiday season, I hope you have the chance to enjoy some special moments with your friends and family. Come visit us in Ontario and if you live here, get out there and explore our beautiful province. I know I will be!