If you are new to Canada and want to get to know the local culture, history, food, and people in Ontario's Southwest, the best way to do that is by travelling locally. No matter which season you arrive in, don’t wait before you start exploring. It would be a shame for you to miss out while waiting for warmer weather. To help you get started we’ve put together a “must visit” list that you should check out this winter.
This list isn’t going to be filled with the usual tourist traps. These are the true and authentic Southwestern Ontario experiences that all newcomers will benefit from seeing, tasting, and exploring. Click here for a map of all locations mentioned in the following blog post.
Visit a Museum or National Historic Site
Canadian history isn’t just our achievements, it also includes our failures. We can continue to learn, grow, and become better for it. We hope that by sharing these moments of our history with you, you’ll see the potential and join us in making your new home a great place to both live and visit.
The Ska-Nah-Doht Village - Mount Brydges
As a new settler to the area, it is important to understand that what we refer to as “Ontario’s Southwest” is located on the traditional territories of the Anishnaabeg/Anishinaabeg/Anishnabek/Anishinabek, Haudenosaunee (Iroquois), Huron-Wendt/Huron-Wendat, Attawandaron (Neutral), Lenape, Ojibway/Chippewa, and Wendat Indigenous Peoples.
To learn more about the heritage of the land you now call home, visit the Ska-Nah-Doht Village, a recreated longhouse village that symbolises what would have existed 1,000 years ago. The Ska-Nah-Doht Village is open year-round, and features exhibits about the traditional practices of the Haudenosaunee Peoples that would have lived in similar longhouses.
Click here to learn more about Indigenous Tourism in Ontario’s Southwest.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin – Dresden
Did you know that during the 19th century an estimated 30,000 Black refugees fled the United States to escape slavery via a system of routes ending in Canada? This system was called the “Underground Railway” and one of the stops along the route was Uncle Tom’s Cabin, and it’s now a National Historic Site. You can tour Uncle Tom’s Cabin and learn about the Underground Railroad and early Black settlements in Ontario.
If you want to learn more about Black History in Ontario's Southwest, click here.
Ruthven Park – Cayuga
Another National Historic Site you’ll want to visit is Ruthven Park that features a Greek revival mansion, built in 1847. During the early 19th century, many Europeans settled in Ontario and began building on land that Indigenous Peoples inhabited.
We encourage you to explore Ruthven Park grounds and trails. It is a beautiful spot to hike during any season!
Banting House – London
The Banting House is known as the birthplace of insulin because it’s the location that Dr. Banting’s had his private practice out of in the 1920s. Dr. Banting was the man that discovered Insulin, which is used is used by people with type 1 diabetes to control their blood sugar. Guided tours are available and even offered in many languages (English, French, Mandarin, Lebanese, Japanese, Farsi, Arabic, Korean, and Russian).
Try Local Food
We believe that you can get to know people through their food. And since Ontario’s Southwest is home to both the “Dairy Capital of Canada” and "Ontario's Garden", we believe that we have something very special to offer.
Chef's Table Experiences – Woodstock and Cayuga
Where do you think the best seat in the restaurant is? If you said, “in the kitchen”, we have the perfect experiences for you!
At sixthirtynine, a local restaurant in Woodstock that only uses the finest local ingredients in their food, you can sit at the Chef’s Table and watch your food being made.
You can also book an Open Chef Table night at the Twisted Lemon Restaurant in Cayuga. During this tasting experience, you will have exclusive access to Chef Dan as he cooks for your table in a private kitchen.
Arrowwood Farm – Melbourne
Come and enjoy a wonderful Harvest Table dinner at Arrowwood Farm. These dinners are often themed by the time of year or specific cuisine styles. Enjoying a delicious dinner at a local farm means is the authentic farm-to-table experience both locals and visits love.
You don’t have to leave your house to enjoy local beverages! WindsorEats created the Bevy Box to support multiple craft producers and small businesses across Canada. They have multiple boxes available to satisfy all preferences and they ship across Ontario. Each item in the Bevy Box is lovingly selected and sure to impress anyone that enjoys craft beer, wine, spirits, or coffee.
The Taste of Farm Life experience is a great way to see what types of food we grow and raise in Ontario’s Southwest. You get to try goat milk ice cream and see how it’s made. You’ll meet farm animals, gather eggs, and learn about the local ecosystem.
Trust us, you don’t want to miss out on winter! Yes, it’s cold, but there is so much to do that you wouldn’t be able to do at any other time of the year. Make sure that you dress warmly and get out there to enjoy these Canadian winter experiences.
Winter Fat Tire Biking - St. Williams and Woodstock
Yes, you can (and should) mountain bike in the winter and lucky for you, there are multiple fat tire biking experiences in Ontario's Southwest that you can try. Join mountain bike expert Paul Meiklejohn through the Carolinian Forests at Long Point Eco-Adventure on a 2-hour fat tire biking adventure! You don’t even need your own bike because the cost of the tour includes a bike rental.
If you want to make fat tire biking a more frequent activity this winter, you may want to join a local cycling club. We recommend the Woodstock Cycling Club since they offer programs for all experience levels during the entire year.
Watch a Hockey Game - London, Windsor, and Sarnia
We aren’t sure what is more Canadian than watching a hockey game. So, if you want that Canadian hockey experience, you can attend a London Knights game at Budweiser Gardens, Windsor Spitfires game at the WFCU Centre, or a Sarnia Sting game at the Progressive Auto Sales Arena.
Winter Winery Experience at Alton Farms Estate – Plympton-Wyoming
Ontario’s Southwest is home to many amazing wineries, and we encourage you to check them out during any season! But if you are going in the winter, we think that you’ll enjoy Alton Estate Farms for their beautiful winter trails that you can either hike or cross-country ski on. Click here to read more about the wineries in Ontario's Southwest that are winter ready!
Learn to Ski at Boler Mountain - London
The winter is so much more fun when you participate in winter activities such as skiing! And if you’ve never skied before, that’s okay! Boler Mountain has everything that you need to get started, including lessens and equipment rentals. Click here for more information on their private lessons.
We are so excited that you chose to make Canada your new home and hope that you love it as much as we do. Share your winter adventures with us on social media by using the hashtag #OntSouthwest.