Colonel Samuel Smith Park
Winter is back with a vengeance, but that doesn't mean you can't stop to smell the flowers.
Keeping Torontonians sane through the winter for a century, the smells and colours of exotic plants and flowers at Allan Gardens Conservatory (Gerrard and Sherbourne) are natural wonders only heightened by cold and snow.
If you crave a speedy nature fix, there are tons of monster hills to toboggan, but probably none beats the blast and skyline backdrop of Riverdale Park (Broadview south of Danforth).
Skating, that other quintessential outdoor winter activity, doesn't have to be done at Greenwood Park skating rink (Gerrard and Alton) or Harbourfront (love the music), though those are great venues. Colonel Samuel Smith Park in Etobicoke has a skating trail.
The mind-clearing sliding and swooshing doesn't have to stop there. Our golf courses, usually off limits to anyone but club-wielders in funky shorts most of the year, are great for cross-country skiing. There are five in the city that are both scenic and not overly challenging for the novice skier.
If you like watching birdies, there's no better place than the Leslie Spit, aka Tommy Thompson Park (foot of Leslie), our accidental paradise and one of the most important bird sanctuaries in North America.
If simply enjoying the wild is your thing, the ravines are an easy choice. The Don Valley even has an outdoor exhibit under its bridges courtesy of up-and-coming artists.
More formal art lovers are in luck, too. We're home to one of the best collections of public artworks anywhere, and they're not just anchoring condo developments, although those can be interesting, too.
Out of breath yet? We haven't even talked trees. For huggers, there are some notable swaths: High Park's oak savannah; the Don's Crothers Woods and Mount Pleasant Cemetery, one of our most intact forests.
For urban explorers who like to plot a direction, there are Discovery Walks, self-guided tours that to lead you on educational journeys through outdoor habitats from the Old Mill marshes in the west end to the western Beach (www.toronto.ca).
Looking for something farther off the beaten trail? The industrial strength of the port lands and Cherry Beach is chill, too, even if the water is off limits.