If you’re anything like us, you’re finding it hard to believe that 2019 is winding down and we are gearing up for another year. Where does the time go?
After a solid 12 months of hard work, we think that this last week of the decade should be used to refresh and recharge, to bond with the kids and each other, and to enjoy some well-deserved rest and relaxation.
Here are some fun (mostly inexpensive) ideas in and around Hamilton for the whole family to enjoy:
SKATING ON PIER 8
Ice skating is a rite of passage for all Canadians – whether they just learned to walk or they are adults who are spending their very first winter here in the land of ice and snow! Pier 8, on Lake Ontario, is a beautiful setting for newbies and experienced skaters alike to enjoy this winter activity in Hamilton. Skate and helmet rentals are available. (No hockey is permitted.)
HIKE TO A FROZEN WATERFALL
If you appreciate the beauty of a true “winter wonderland,” don’t miss a chance to bundle up and enjoy the natural majesty of Hamilton’s famed waterfalls in their frozen glory. We recommend Tiffany Falls and Devil’s Punchbowl….and then a very large mug of hot chocolate indoors while you look at the pictures you will undoubtedly be inspired to take!
SKIING, SNOWBOARDING, TUBING
Just under 40 minutes from Hamilton, you will find Kelso Conservation Area. Inside the park, head to Glen Eden , a popular spot for skiers and snowboarders looking to enjoy some fresh powder. If there is enough snow, they will open the Snow Tube park for any non-skiers in the family. Classic winter activity for Hamilton-area snow-lovers!
At least once in your life, while you spend a winter in Hamilton, make sure you try this surprisingly challenging activity. Snowshoes were invented to make trekking over the white stuff a little easier, but don’t kid yourself; it’s a real workout! Chances that you own your own snowshoes are probably slim, so head to Crawford Lake, an absolutely beautiful conservation area just a short 30-minute drive from Hamilton. You can rent shoes for your group, enjoy the trails, and then warm up at the Visitor Centre.
Here’s one activity that requires little to no skill, and is guaranteed to have everyone ready for a nap or a good night’s sleep by the end of the adventure. Vehicles for the sport are limited only by your imagination – and you don’t have to leave Hamilton this winter to enjoy the thrill of racing downhill like an olympian on a bobsled. Safety first, though – be sure to use only the hills that have been approved for tobogganing to be sure no one takes unnecessary risks.
Here’s one you may not have thought of. For a different type of activity that is sure to create some fond memories, Horseplay Niagara operates through the winter and has options for both new and experienced riders. Located approximately one hour south of Hamilton, this is a day trip that is available to families with children ages 6 and up.
Maybe you prefer indoor activities. There is no shame in that! Some of us here prefer the view of the ice and flakes from the other side of the window, too. Here are some options in and around Hamilton that you can enjoy this winter:
We are recommending the Hamilton Museum of Steam and Technology this year for its free drop in activity (December 27-31): The Science of Music. Kids get to explore and create – even making their own instrument to take home.
While you’re there, you may choose to take a tour of the old pumphouse, too.
Of course, there are other local museums in Hamilton, and here’s a great tip for residents of the City: Access is free of charge with a municipal library card!
If the kids start feeling some cabin fever, but outdoor activities aren’t the right option, the Flying Squirrel is a favourite local spot for parents trying to help them burn off some steam. Located on Upper James in Hamilton, they offer “Toddler Time” to keep the little ones separated from the more acrobatic jumpers.
WINE TOURS & TASTING
We would be remiss if we didn’t include one or two activities for the grown-ups. Hamilton is situated ideally for wine lovers. The Niagara Region is a short drive from the city and is renowned for its wine route. We also have local wineries, like Ridge Road Estate Winery in Stoney Creek, which offers a stunning view of Lake Ontario, clear across to Toronto. Adults only, please.
Hamilton’s art culture is well known and constantly evolving. The Art Gallery of Hamilton, located at 123 King St West, is open to the public from Wednesday to Sunday, with private tours only on Mondays and Tuesdays. (Two weeks’ notice is required for a private tour and, of course, the gallery is closed December 25 & 26, and January 1.)
There are several special exhibitions on through the holiday period, including THIS IS SERIOUS: Canadian Indie Comics, running till January 5, 2020.
For an educational and somewhat sombre experience that will leave an unforgettable impression, this display at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum is running through the holidays with closures on December 25 & 26, and January 1st. Using virtual reality to enhance the history preserved through Anne Frank’s own writings, visitors can experience some of the dark histories of World War II in a unique way.
Located at the site of the Hamilton International Airport in Mount Hope.
Finally, for the music buffs of all ages in the family, this display at the Joseph Brant Museum in Burlington has an off-the-charts cool factor.
Running till January 12, 2020, this exhibit includes:
- 10 playable pinball machines featuring KISS, The Beatles, The Who, and more
- KISS drumkit
- Alice Cooper’s electric chair stage prop
We hope that, whatever you choose to do to close out 2019, you enjoy some downtime with loved ones and that you are able to start 2020 feeling refreshed and ready for whatever the next decade holds!