What with flight delays and the rising costs of, well, everything and oh, those lost bags, isn’t it time to consider winter family vacation closer to home? There are lots of great destinations to enjoy in Northern Ontario year-round, even when the temperatures drop and there is snow on the ground.
Snow that is deep and powdery and that sticks around for a long time is, in fact, one of the big reasons to plan a visit to a Northern Ontario community – or more than one – this winter.
Manitouwadge’s Kiwissa Ski Hill offers lots of skiing and snowboarding options for all ages and skill levels. In the fall of 1956, at one of their first meetings, 12 ski hill members voted to dub themselves the Kiwissa Ski Club, honouring a local Ojibway trapping family. Close to seven decades later, the hill is going strong and is in fact a focal point and source of great pride for the community.
Manitouwadge residents say that the ski hill is the reason that they thrive in the winter. You and your family can too! Kiwissa invites you to enjoy its 94-metre vertical drop with 10 challenging runs and a spectacular view of the town. The more difficult runs range from the 375-metre Pine to the 420-metre Girl’s Run, while the easiest include the 800-metre Bunny and the 1000-metre 614. The club offers rental of snowboards, skis, helmets, and goggles, available on select weekends based on volunteer availability.
Manitouwadge also celebrates winter off the slopes. The Community Christmas party begins with a parade of lights, and everyone is then invited for the lighting of the town Christmas tree with cookies and hot chocolate and a visit by Santa to follow at the Community Recreation Centre auditorium.
Frosty Days is an annual 4-day event held over Family Day weekend. Opening ceremonies begin at the Kiwissa Ski Hill with a fire and hot chocolate followed by their annual torch run. Events include cardboard box races, a family ice fishing tournament, downhill ski and snowboard races, ice sculpture and chili contests and the intriguingly-named Everything Chocolate sale – and more!
But hot chocolate (and more chocolate) and cookies can’t keep you going forever. Deemed as offering “cosmopolitan excellence in a small town” by one of its happy TripAdvisor reviewers, Best Friends Bakery and Coffee Shop offers a truly remarkable selection of delicious sweet and savory snacks and more. Patrons say that they especially enjoy the cheese buns, bacon buns, cinnamon rolls, and the date squares. If you plan on having something for the road or the slopes, order in advance. This shop is as good and better, said one reviewer, than any coffee shop in a major city.
There’s also Village Pizza and Subs and a local haunt (Audrey’s) known for its Canadian food menu and friendly staff and a bar/lounge. Brand new to the restaurant scene in Manitouwadge is The Diner, serving an all-day breakfast along with some tasty lunch and dinner choices.
Other winter activities in Manitouwadge include cross country skiing, ice fishing, snowshoeing/hiking, and snowmobiling so you’ll want to plan to stay more than a day or two.
Accommodations options include bed and breakfast and Air BnB establishments and a motel in Manitouwadge as well as a Travelodge by Wyndham and the Marathon Harbour Inn in nearby Marathon just about an hour away.