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The Globe and Mail

9 ways to cure your post-holiday blues in Toronto

Skaters make their way around the Natrel Rink at the Harbourfront Centre along Toronto's waterfront.

Tim Fraser/The Globe and Mail

Had your fill of leaden fruitcake yet? Does the thought of in-law visits have you considering unlawful acts? If your holidays aren't so much traditional as routine, break the spruce-shaped aspic mould and treat yourself – and maybe your family — to a merry diversion. Here are some not-overly-seasonal ways for you to get out of the house.


Inhale at Allan Gardens

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Palm trees, orchids, cacti, begonias. For instant relief from the cold grey of late December, slip into the warm oasis of exotic humidity at Allan Gardens at Sherbourne and Carlton. The 102-year-old greenhouse complex is open every day of the year, and it's free.

Blitz your body

The people turning taps at Body Blitz recommend women (and all the guests are women) limit stays to two-and-a-half hours. If you rush, you can complete their therapeutic waters circuit four times. But that would be to miss the point. Better to relax and just enjoy the Dead Sea pool, Epsom salt pool, aromatherapy steam rooms and infra-red sauna three times each. Or slow right down and skip a circuit for a massage. You'll figure it out. Visits start at $54. Two locations: 471 Adelaide St. W. and 497 King St. E. Closed Dec. 25, 26, Jan. 1.

Figure-eight skating

Colonel Samuel Smith Park in south Etobicoke has a 250-metre skating trail that follows a figure-eight course through a landscaped, lakeside park. This is no dinky rink. On Lake Shore Boulevard West, at the bottom of Kipling Avenue. Free. Open 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. daily except Dec. 25, Dec. 26 and Jan. 1.

Toronto's coolest dance party

At Harbourfront's Natrel Rink, skating is free, eats are on hand and lockers are nearby. Saturday nights see DJs spinning rinkside while skaters revolve on the ice. On Dec. 22, there's a Holiday Skate Party with DJ D-Lux and, on Dec. 29, a Bollywood Blitz with DJ Baba Kahn. South of the York Quay Centre, on Queen's Quay West at the bottom of Lower Simcoe Street. Closes at 5 p.m. on Dec. 25.

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Looking for Snow?

The Art Gallery of Ontario has this season's only reliable source of the white stuff, now that the Michael Snow Objects of Vision sculptural exhibit has been extended until March. Snow's works explore the art of seeing, "making vision the subject of the object." Think about that for a while as you zone out and gaze, really gaze, at 15 works in a merrily blissful trance, with no artless Christmas carols playing in the background. The AGO has extended holiday hours, closed only on Dec. 25. 317 Dundas St. W. Adult admission is $19.50.

Explore the Humber Arboretum

What's an arboretum? Get to Humber College and you'll see that it's a 100-hectare, semi-cultured, semi-wild collection of gardens and natural areas, and an altogether great place to take a stroll while remarking on how pleasant the day is. More than 1,700 tree, plant and shrub species make this the place in Toronto to fawn over flora. Open all year, during daylight hours. Even the parking is free. 205 Humber College Blvd., just west of Highway 27.


Saddle up

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You don't need experience, just a reservation, for the trail rides through the rural environs of Oakville at The Ranch. Keep a keen eye off-trail – resident wildlife such as deer, coyotes, turkeys and foxes are much less fearful of humans when they are on the backs of huge, hooved, snorting creatures. Don't ask why. 2401 Burnhamthorpe Rd. W., Oakville, via Bronte Road. $42 per hour ride. Closed on Dec. 25.

Learn to rip at Mount St. Louis

Mount St. Louis Moonstone has invested heavily in its two terrain parks, meaning they have plenty of entry-level skiing and snowboarding for those just starting to develop a sense of slopeside style. Thanks to expanded snowmaking, the parks are in good shape already. From midtown, an hour-and-a-half drive on Highway 400 will get you north of Barrie to exit 131. Full-day adult tickets for $53. Closed on Dec. 25.

Relax in style

The Masseys started building Ste. Anne's in the 1850s. It wasn't until 1940s that it became less a grand stone farmhouse, more a castle overlooking the Northumberland hills. For the past two decades, it has set the standard for Canadian spas. In between dips in the Fieldstone Grotto and spells in the eucalyptus-infused steam room, choose from 40 treatments, including massages that drift you all the way from Thailand to Sweden. Most relaxing of all is Ste. Anne's offering to book a Via ticket for you and pick you up at the Coburg station. Scheduled day visits start at $159, overnight stays at $435.Closed on Dec. 25.

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