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Sault Ste. Marie Is Seriously A Winter Wonderland & These 9 Activities Prove It

Have you ever tried winter surfing?

Contributing writer
Sault Ste. Marie Is Seriously A Winter Wonderland & These 9 Activities Prove It

Say hello to ice-frosted trees and streets, snuggly scarves, puffy jackets and cozy nights in by the fire. The snowy season is nearly here, which means Ontario is about to transform into a winter wonderland.

In Sault Ste. Marie, you can truly embrace the best of the cold weather. Located seven hours north of the GTA by car (or a short plane ride), this action-packed Ontarian town is one of the province's best destinations for a snowy getaway.

Nestled between Lake Superior and Lake Huron on the banks of St. Marys River, Sault Ste. Marie (affectionately known as "the Soo") is packed with opportunities to ski, snowboard, skate, snowshoe and even surf (yes!) your way through the winter.

Whether you arrive by plane or by road trip, these nine activities will keep you busy on your adventures through Sault Ste. Marie's idyllic winter landscape.

Get The Scandinavian Experience At Stokely Creek Lodge

Price: From $175 per person

Address: 194 Pickard Rd., Goulais River, ON

Why You Need To Try It: Stokely Creek Lodge is an ideal place to enjoy a snow-filled getaway with your friends, fam or partner. There are so many different little huts to choose from, from simple rooms with communal bathrooms to sprawling cedar lofts and cabins.

Guests have access to Scandinavian saunas, wood-burning fireplaces, unlimited hot chocolate and a rec room with ping pong. It's a great spot to warm up after your chilly day outdoors, have a good rest and get ready to do it all again.

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Go Cross-Country Skiing At Hiawatha Highlands

Price: $19 (equipment rental not included)

Address: 780 Landslide Rd., Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Why You Need To Try It: Quietly gliding through the picturesque Hiawatha Highlands on a glittery snow-covered day is a Northern Ontario must-do.

With more than 50 kilometres of machine-groomed trails to cruise along, the Hiawatha Highlands is suitable for skiers of all levels. There are trails for classic and skate skiing, and you can rent boots, skis and poles before you get started.

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Enjoy Waterfront Skating At The Clergue Park Skating Trail

Price: Free

Address: 10 East St., Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Why You Need To Try It: Located opposite Algoma Art Gallery, this easy ice-skating trail forms a one-kilometre loop through Clergue Park and along the bank of St. Marys River — perfect for a casual day out.

In past years there have been concessions selling hot cocoa, s'mores and warm cider. If you come on the right weekend, you might even be able to skate by torchlight or cozy up by a trailside bonfire. Stay tuned to the Soo's website for updates on events and access times.

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Try Snowshoeing At Crimson Ridge

Price: $8 for adults (equipment rental not included)

Address: 418 Fourth Line W., Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Why You Need To Try It: Come December, Crimson Ridge Golf Course transforms into a winter wonderland with all kinds of outdoor activities on offer.

There are 15 kilometres of groomed snowshoe trails to explore, and you can rent a pair for $10 if you don't own any. A day pass to Crimson Ridge includes access to the fat biking trails and forest skating too.

Snowshoe tours are also offered by Lake Superior Watershed Conservancy, Forest The Canoe and Thrive Tours.

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Hit The Slopes At Searchmont

Price: Full day lift tickets from $60 (equipment rental not included)

Address: 103 Searchmont Resort Rd., Searchmont, ON

Why You Need To Try It: Is it even winter if you don't go whizzing down a snow-covered mountainside? Located just under 50 kilometres north of downtown Sault Ste. Marie, Searchmont Ski Resort boasts 26 runs with something for all levels of skier or snowboarder.

The resort is popular for its massive 214-metre vertical run that attracts daredevils from all over, but it also suits more chill pursuits, including Nordic skiing (both skate and classic cross-country styles) through the beautiful terrain.

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Go Fat Biking To Whitefish Island

Price: Free (BYO bike)

Address: Hub Trail and Canal Dr., Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Why You Need To Try It: Starting from downtown Sault Ste. Marie, join up with the Hub Trail and follow it along the shore of St. Marys River, turn onto Canal Drive and head across to Whitefish Island.

From here you can soak in the sights, including International Bridge (which connects Ontario to Michigan, U.S.A.), Sault Ste. Marie Locks and the churning rapids of St. Mary's River.

It's a fairly short but easy route, about three kilometres long, with plenty of stops along the way for a snack or coffee.

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Try Winter Surfing On Lake Superior

Price: Free (surfboard rental from $35)

Address: Various beaches along Lake Superior, ON

Why You Need To Try It: Not only is surfing in winter a real thing, it's one of the best ways to surf Lake Superior thanks to the strong winds that make for perfect waves.

If you're game, make sure to bundle up warm in a wetsuit because this lake gets seriously cold. Beginners might want to take a few lessons in summer first before tackling this winter adventure.

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Explore Amazing Ice Caves On The Superior Coast

Price: Free

Address: Various spots along the Lake Superior coast, ON

Why You Need To Try It: Spectacular ice caves form along the Lake Superior Coast between January and March each year, and with winters getting warmer, this is one marvel worth spotting while you still can.

As the waves of Lake Superior wash against the shoreline, they leave behind layers of water that gradually freeze into unique caves of ice that are amazing to see. There are several spots you can find them, including at Sawpit Bay, about an hour's drive from the Soo.

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Enjoy Some Local Beers At Outspoken & Northern Superior 

Price: Various

Address: 350 Queen St. E. (Outspoken) and 50 Pim St. (Northern Superior), Sault Ste. Marie, ON

Why You Need To Try It: After experimenting with new winter activities, nothing beats warming up and kicking back in a cozy local brewery.

Outspoken offers craft beers and comfort food courtesy of local eatery, Shabby Motley, while Northern Superior's Tap Room serves nibbles like hot pretzels and charcuterie with their range of in-house brews.

Order a flight of specialty beers while you choose your favourite adventures to post on the 'gram.

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With so much to discover, from Crimson Ridge to Hiawatha Highlands, Sault Ste. Marie is one of the best places to visit for a Northern Ontario winter vacation.

Whether your ideal getaway involves sipping craft ale by a fireplace, skating through a forest or even catching a freezing wave, you can make the most of winter in the Soo.

To learn more about winter wonderland adventures in the Soo, check out Sault Ste. Marie's website or follow them on Facebook or Instagram.

In Ontario, a vaccine passport is required to access some events, services and businesses, including restaurants and bars.

Before you get going, check our Responsible Travel Guide so you can be informed, be safe, be smart, and most of all, be respectful on your adventure.

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