Five things to do this winter in Toronto's east end

  Photo: Getty

Photo: Getty

Short days, cold nights and unpredictable weather are enough to beat down the best of us. Symptoms can include mild depression, a lack of motivation and a carb-loading spiral of Netflix marathons. Although it doesn't feel it yet, winter is officially here and will soon be in full force.

Whether you suffer from a passing case of winter blues or speed-dial pizza delivery disorder, there are lots of things to do locally that can help lift your mood. Here are a few ways to brighten the season in Toronto's east end.

SKATING AT GREENWOOD PARK

Lace up your skates and unleash your inner Sidney Crosby or Kaetlyn Osmond at Greenwood Park, which boasts Toronto's first and only outdoor covered ice rink. Since opening in 2013, the rink has become a showpiece for the community and the city, even hosting the Maple Leafs to an outdoor practice. If the covered surface wasn't enough, a 215-metre skating path winds its way around a large, landscaped area in between the rink and heated change rooms. There's even an area just to hang back and watch if putting blade to ice isn't your thing. Check out the City of Toronto's website for details.

HITTING THE BEACH FOR WINTER STATIONS

For most, hitting the beach is about the dead-last thing you'd want to do on a mid-winter's day. But from Feb. 19 to April 1, Toronto’s eastern beaches from Ashbridges Bay to Balmy Beach will be infused with colour and vibrancy by a series of one-off art installations for the third annual Winter Stations competition. Artists, designers and architects will transform the utilitarian lifeguard stations into wintertime public art, aiming to celebrate one of the city’s most underappreciated winterscapes. Check out winterstations.com for more information.

CAFE-HOPPING IN THE EAST END

Posting up at one of the many coffee shops along Queen East and up and down its side streets is arguably a perfect way to kill a morning, an afternoon or the rest of the winter. Regardless if it serves tea, coffee or iced half-caf double-shot no-whip skinny mochas, the local cafe is a favoured gathering place for people-watching and hot beverage-sipping in the depths of winter. Toronto's east side has a coffee scene unlike anywhere else in the city, and whether it's the latte art, banter with baristas or just a groovy environment to whittle away and pass time, it's easy to fall in love with the vibrant characteristic of the shops in these parts.

Check our coffee guide to find the best cafes

SLEDDING AT RIVERDALE PARK

One of the most cherished spots on Toronto's east side, Riverdale Park offers a pitch-perfect sledding hill with a prime view of the downtown skyline. The slope here is super wide so there's plenty of room to space out even on busy days, and it's got a steep and uninterrupted descent which makes for a thrilling ride. Come on the weekend and you'll see all sorts of sleds bombing down the hill from old school toboggans to inner tubes, which makes for that classic sledding experience from when you were a child. Visit the City of Toronto's website for more.

DINING OUT AT WINTERLICIOUS

Toronto's popular food event, Winterlicious, is back in 2018 for another season. Running Jan. 26 to Feb. 8, the annual foodie fest is a chance to beat the winter doldrums and get out to enjoy some of the best restaurants in the city. The event has over 200 different restaurants creating special menus to show off their specialties, including starters, entrées and desserts. This dining experience costs around $23 to $33 for lunch, or $33 to $53 for dinner per person, plus taxes and gratuity. Reservations are available starting January 14. Visit the City of Toronto's Winterlicious website for more info.