Sudbury Sizzle – how to spend an EPIC winter weekend in Canada’s Nickel City!

Words by Jim Bamboulis

Canadians – generally speaking – have a love/hate relationship with winter. While some prefer to hibernate, even escape to warmer locales, others welcome it, stay active, head out and enjoy it. The cold temps make it super easy to stay inside, binge eat and binge watch. Shoveling snow after a blizzard exhausts even the most seasoned snow shoveling veteran. But most of us – generally speaking – eventually face the music, accept winter for what it is every year and look for ways to make the best of it.

While road tripping around Canada during the winter isn’t exactly top of mind for many Canadians, there is beauty and adventure to be found, including and especially in places you’ve probably already overlooked or dismissed altogether. But maybe it’s about time for a change. Whether you’re a solo adventurer, a couple staycating or a family yearning for less screen-time, it’s about time Sudbury – yes Sudbury – got some much deserved attention and love.

Sure, it’s a city that’s been traditionally known more for its rugged industry than ski slopes, nickel production than its diverse cuisine. But it’s about time you discovered what locals have known for years – Sudbury is home to the great outdoors and it doesn’t hibernate. Alive during the colder months, it’s a city that’s closer than you think and one that will surprise you in more ways than one.

Heart Pumping, Adrenaline Fueled

Strap on a pair of skates, hop on a fat bike, slide into a pair of skis or get fitted with snowshoes, Sudbury’s home to any adventure you crave. Head a few minutes south of the city, to massive and beautiful Kivi Park, where more than 450 acres of Cambrian Shield await to be explored. Nina’s Way is a 1.3 km skate path that winds through the spectacular birch forest, while countless – and at times super challenging – cross-country ski, snowshoe and fat biking trails will keep you sweating despite the crispy cool air.

Don’t have equipment? Don’t worry.  Adventure365 has your back. Staff is super friendly and knowledgeable and will make sure your snowshoes, skis and fat bike all measure up and give you the best possible experience as you venture blissfully on to the trails.

There’s skiing, then there’s night skiing – and between us – I prefer the latter. Adds a bit more of an intimate feel, a stillness, a oneness with the pristine nature that surrounds you. You somehow feel every nuance of the wind hitting the leaves, skis gliding along the worked-in trail, your breath crystallizing. It’s an incredible experience and one you can enjoy just west of the city, at Walden Cross Country.

Established since 1978, the uber friendly staff here greet with you a hello and take care of you every step of the way. Come at dusk, and watch as LED’s light way along the 3km looped cross-country course that offers gentle hills perfect for everyone from couples to families who want to take their time and savour the moment.

Snowshoeing! That’s my jam. Hiking in the snow, getting a workout, all while enjoying beautiful vistas and fresh air. Sign me up. Even for locals, the BioSki Cross-Country and Snowshoe Club, around since 1974 and located in Lake Laurentian Conservation Area, is one of the best places to get your snowshoe game in high gear.

For those looking for a beautiful, fairly easy yet heart-pumping snowshoe experience, the 2km Beaver Pond Loop trail is perfect. Look for snow dusting the pine trees, mushrooms sticking to the bark, and views of the frozen marsh in the distance. Bring a thermos of hot chocolate, stop and drink all while listening to the sound of silence.

Eat and Drink the City

Hungry and thirsty, right? Sudbury isn’t the type of place where you just give up and head to the nearest McDonald’s. No sir! The Nickel City is becoming increasingly famous for its local grub and quickly making a name for itself with new food and drink experiences that are popping up everywhere.

Porketta Bingo. It’s a big deal, a ritual in this town. It’s not even really bingo. Instead, it’s a card game that lasts hours with the winner not only getting bragging rights but a famous pork roast. That said, porchetta is serious business with many restaurants making the infamous sandwich their own unique way.  Ask a Sudburian who makes it best, and each has an opinion.

The Porchetta Sandwich at Regency Bakery. Photo by Jim Bamboulis

Another big boy meal is the Meatball Sandwich with everyone eager to express their thoughts as to where to get the best one. On a lighter note, Sudbury also boasts many new cafes, bakeries and restaurants that serve everything from artisanal sandwiches to delicious Italian and everything in-between.

A mainstay and a must-visit is Leinala’s in the city’s southend. This beloved Finnish bakery is famous for its Jelly Pigs stuffed with apple raspberry jam. People go nuts for these and for good reason. They’re delicious and awesome. Have a few napkins handy because if you’re not careful that jam will end up on your clothes instead of in your belly.

As for drinks, Sudbury’s craft beer scene has become super popular with many craft breweries establishing  their own niche. Supporting local is a passion here – as it should be – so it’s no wonder the likes of 46 North, Spacecraft and Stack are making a name for themselves, introducing a variety of different types of beers to a local population looking for options.

Meanwhile, Crosscut Distillery, around for only two years, is only the 4th distillery north of Toronto and has become a local, even regional hotspot. Inspired by old-world craftsmanship, Owner Shane Prodan uses only local ingredients and quality grains to produce  unique spirits with distinct flavours, including juniper and the super local haskap berry.

Discover Sudbury’s EPIC Murals

Stroll downtown and even venture beyond. You’ll learn that Sudbury has a very deep artistic side, its colours, its artists and their work proudly displayed everywhere. You see, Sudbury is home to more than 30 murals that can be found throughout the city. And thankfully, the tradition of reinventing the city through art shows no signs of slowing down.

For several years, Up Here – an independent urban art and music festival – has truly captured the imagination, transforming the city into a hub of everything creative. Artists have the chance to submit their proposals for the chance to have their work showcased in the city, be it via music, mural or art installations.

As part of the 2019 version of Up Here festivals, graffiti artist RISK – with the amazing help and collaboration of several organizations – is now credited with shattering the record and in turn creating the largest mural in Canada. Transforming Sudbury’s old 74,000 sq. foot hospital – a place that holds deep community roots – into a magical work of vibrant art in 2019. Using nearly 1000 gallons of paint, and with the help of countless volunteers, several of RISK’s crew, three lifts and a crane, dilapidated turned into inspiration.


Yes, hockey in Canada is a passion, even a religion. But when it comes to smaller towns, the game represents something much deeper. The Sudbury Wolves isn’t just another local hockey team with a rich history and long-standing traditions. Sure, every Wolves home game is an opportunity for locals to share their collective love for the team and the game but hockey here is very much a conduit to something bigger.

It also reinforces the urge to reconnect with friends, family and neighbour. To have some grub and a drink over a face-to-face conversation. In a city where everyone seems to know everyone else, going to a hockey game is a chance to be in-the-know, even learn the latest gossip about the community. Sure, it’s important the Wolves win, but on a deeper level, hockey here connects people beyond the action on the ice. It creates stronger bonds within the community that spans generations.

Photo by Jim Bamboulis

You Must Be Tired…

Do yourself a favour – check into the Hampton Inn in Sudbury’s south end and put your mind, body and soul at ease. Centrally-located, clean, amenity-filled with a playful vibe, the good folks at the Hampton Inn transform an average stay into an exceptional one.

Photo by Jim Bamboulis

Friendly, attentive and eager to comfort, you’ll quickly realize that the hotel isn’t just a place to play, rest and eat. It’s also a gathering place, a hub for everything from an amazing, variety-filled breakfast to start the day to a cozy and relaxing tea or coffee – which is always fresh and available 24-7 – at the end of the day. The lobby is all positive-energy-filled making it conducive to meeting fellow travelers eager to share their own stories.

Winter road-tripping is underrated. Take the trip.  #DiscoverSudbury.

About me

Screen Shot 2018-09-17 at 5.20.43 PMHey y’all. I’m Jim. I spent 16 years in the broadcast media world before starting up Travel Mammal, a site dedicated to working with brands to promote travel, food, and cultural experiences.

I’ve created content and collaborated with everyone from Chevrolet, Lonely Planet, Trivago, Nevada Tourism and The Weather Network to New Brunswick Tourism, Yellow Pages, Tourism Toronto, and Airbnb. Safe travels, y’all.

A HUGE thank you to Sudbury Tourism for giving us the chance to discover the beauty of Sudbury during the winter season. Unlike many other communities during the coldest time of the year, the Nickel City springs to more life and offers plenty to do, eat and see. Thank you!

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