Valentine ideas at Ontario Parks

Ski the Chocolate Cup Challenge, an annual Valentine’s Day ski race at Atikokan, near Quetico Provincial Park. Hosted by the Beaten Path Nordic Club, this year’s Chocolate Cup is on February 12. Families are welcome. Plenty of chocolate will be served and there are prizes for all. Stay an extra day and ski the groomed trails at Quetico or book a stay in one of two yurts.Take your Valentine for a winter picnic at Springwater Provincial Park. A giant picnic shelter has a heated cabin available for reservations and the park’s unique wildlife sanctuary is perfect for an afternoon stroll. Groomed trails attract cross-country skiers and snowshoe enthusiasts. The park is open daily from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm.

Skate to music at the Olympic-sized rink at Bronte Creek Provincial Park in Oakville. The outdoor rink is open daily from 9:30 am to 9:30 pm. Adult and children skate rentals are available and there are heated change rooms and washrooms. A park store serves seasonal refreshments. http://brontecreek.org

Under a full moon, take a Moonlight Ski hosted by Wasaga Beach Provincial Park. The event takes place on Saturday February 19 from 5 pm to 9 pm at the Wasaga Nordic Centre on the Blueberry Trails. The trails are part of a 30 km cross-country ski network. The Nordic Centre offers ski rentals and will serve light refreshments. Warm up by the fireplace in the Nordic Centre or enjoy a campfire at the outdoor warm up shelter and be entertained by Scott Thomas, the Singing Superintendent. Rental equipment is available on a first-come, first-served basis at a reduced cost of $5 per rental. There is no additional cost for parking or trail use for the event. Overnight accommodation is available in The Town of Wasaga Beach.

Foodies love the Maple Rest Heritage House in Prince Edward County. It is affordable and often used as a base to explore the County for the best food finds. Sandbanks Provincial Park rents out the Victorian farmhouse which has a fully equipped kitchen, four bedrooms, four four-piece bathrooms, a gas fireplace, and satellite TV. Jacques cottage is another Sandbanks property available for rent in winter.

Algonquin, Silent Lake, Killarney, MacGregor Point, Pinery, and Quetico Provincial Parks have cozy yurts for rent. Each yurt has electric heat and lighting, bunk beds and/or double beds for six, a table and chairs, and a propane barbeque. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are popular in all the parks. You’ll also find night tobogganing and a skating rink at the Pinery, dogsledding adventures and a new skating rink in Algonquin and a cool skate path at MacGregor Point.

A thirty-one bed conference centre lodge and five fully equipped cabins can accommodate large family reunions or groups of friends at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, one hour east of Thunder Bay. All you need to bring is your ski equipment and your food. Fifty kilometres of groomed trails are here. Westjet, Air Canada and Porter Airlines fly into Thunder Bay. Car rentals are available at the airport.

Roofed accommodation books quickly. Consider mid week rentals.