There are so many things to do in Blue Mountain Village, one of Ontario’s most popular getaways, that it can be hard to sort it all out. Read on for my experience, or scroll down for your ultimate Blue Mountain guide with a comprehensive list of outdoor activities, tips on where to stay and where to eat in this bustling four-season resort just two hours north of Toronto.
Things to do in Blue Mountain, an adventure
“Put it in Turbo and an easy gear,” says our E-Bike guide, Julius, as we power up a forested trail. I switch to Turbo mode, jolt forward and pedal insanely until I realize I don’t need that much of a boost. I gear down and pedal at a more doable pace.
“What mode are you in now?” Julius asks as we hit a smooth stretch of the Georgian Bay Trail, a rails to trails path that runs parallel to the shores of Georgian Bay. “This is a chance to really see what the E-Bike can do.”
“No mode,” I confess. I’m loving this chance to try an E-Bike and cover some major ground around the Blue Mountains region of Ontario, but I’m more interested in cycling than getting a ‘pedal assist,’ even when my husband, Mark, whizzes by me at warp speed.
I’m just a purist, I think self righteously. Personal pedal power is so much more natural, more in tune with the grandeur of the Niagara Escarpment … and with my overblown sense of self as Nature Woman.
My superior attitude continues as we cycle past a profusion of purple, white and yellow wildflowers, and briefly stop at Northwinds Beach, a sandy strip overlooking the silvery blue water of Georgian Bay. My under-my-own-steam resolve falters when we hit a paved road up a major hill on our final stretch back to Blue Mountain Village, but I give it a go.
Pedalling furiously I slowly move forward. My legs are bellowing in pain and at one point I’m practically at a standstill, my front wheel wobbling.
Pedal assist, pedal assist, my legs shout. (My legs are very talkative.) Admitting defeat, I put my E-Bike into Eco mode, then Touring then up to Sport. Oh, fek it, I think, tossing my self-righteous attitude by the roadside as I launch into Turbo.
Blue Mountain Village
This is more like it, I think as we cruise into Blue Mountain Village, an alpine-style resort with a Whistler vibe and a curve of hotels, restaurants and shops wrapped around a scenic mill pond and a central plaza.
Activities at Blue Mountain
Our tour ends at the resort’s Activity Central at the base of Blue Mountain. Dismounting, I take a look around. Running up the slopes are a raft of ski lifts – silent at this time of year – and an open-air gondola used by mountain bikers, hikers and view-seeking tourists.
I check an E-Bike tour off my list of things to do at Blue Mountain and wonder what to try next. My eyes skim over the bag jump, zip lines, a putting course and the rock climbing wall before stopping at a curved metal rail. “The Ridge Runner!” I say to Mark.
The Ride Runner Mountain Coaster
I’ve wanted to try the German-made Ridge Runner mountain coaster since it opened in 2011. A cross between a roller coaster and a mountain-based nature experience, it twists and swerves down a 1,085-metre (3,560-foot) track in the forest.
After being assured I can go as slow as I want to, I fold myself into a bright blue car and sit back for the leisurely ride up the mountain, enjoying the feeling of being surrounded by pine trees and fresh mountain air. Maybe I’m just not into speed, I decide, because this pace suits me just fine.
Then I surprise myself by flooring it on the way down, partly motivated by my husband ahead of me who is no doubt breaking the sound barrier, and by the boy behind me who said, “Go fast. You’ll like it.”
I did like it. But I liked the slow trip up just as much.
Cycling the Georgian Trail
The next morning I hike up Blue Mountain, take the gondola down, then, for my last outdoor adventure, I decide to cycle – without an E-Bike this time. Leaving the steep bumps and jumps of Blue Mountain to the mountain bikers, and the hotel swimming pool to my husband, I aim for the flat Georgian Trail.
Naturally I go in the opposite direction my husband recommended. Immediately getting lost, I ask two sporty-looking blondes for directions and end up cycling downhill on a highway off Greyroad 19 before finally finding the trail. On my way back, a dreaded cycling nightmare is realized. I’m faced with the same long hill we travelled up on our E-Bike tour.
Where’s a gondola when you need one, my legs groan as I start up in the easiest gear I can find.
Pedal assist! Pedal assist, they screech as I continue to slog uphill, and for once my legs and my brain agree. Slow travel is idyllic, but everyone needs an occasional Turbo boost in their life.
The Ultimate Guide to Blue Mountain Resort, Ontario
What are the Blue Mountains of Ontario? A mystery unravelled.
It’s confusing. The Blue Mountains refer to a section of the Niagara Escarpment in Grey County that rises to about 300 metres. The Blue Mountains also refer to the region of southwestern Ontario that stretches out along Georgian Bay from the towns of Thornbury and Craigleith to Blue Mountain Village. To make it more complex, the towns of Clarksburg, Craigleith and Thornbury are now known collectively as the Town of the Blue Mountains.
Blue Mountain Village, also known as the Village at Blue, is near the town of Collingwood and sits between the Niagara Escarpment and Georgian Bay. Just over 2 hours north of Toronto, it makes a great weekend getaway.
What’s the difference between Blue Mountain Resort and Blue Mountain Village?
For the average visitor, none. The Blue Mountain Village Association is a not for profit association that manages and maintains all common areas and facilities in the Blue Mountain Village, while Blue Mountain Resort is run by Intrawest, a developer and operator of various village-centered destination resorts. The two work closely together.
Where to stay at Blue Mountain Village
Grand Georgian. The Grand Georgian hotel at Blue Mountain Resort has an appealing pool area with two outdoor jacuzzis, a seasonal outdoor swimming pool, an indoor sauna and fitness room. It’s second only to the Westin Trillium House in terms of luxury accommodation at the Village. Our one-bedroom suite had a great balcony overlooking the main square, which meant front row seats for the free entertainment that ranged from bands to movies. We also had a kitchenette, which would have been handy had we been inclined to use it. The cost for a Saturday night in high season was $400 plus tax. Definitely cheaper mid week.
What I didn’t like – Hotel wifi was only free in the lobby, otherwise it cost $9.95 a day.
Address: Grand Georgian. 156 Jozo Weider Blvd., Blue Mountains, ON. L9Y 3Z2 Tel: 1-877-445-0231.
Westin Trillium House. The top luxury hotel at Blue Mountain is the Westin Trillium House. It’s on the far side of Mill Pond so if you want to escape the noise and liveliness around the main plaza, this is a good choice. It also has the upscale Oliver & Bonacini Restaurant, always good for a splurge. Address: 220 Gord Canning Drive, Blue Mountains, ON, L9Y 0V9 Tel: 866-837-4192.
Mosaic. On past trips we’ve also stayed in Mosaic in a studio, which was fine, too. Centrally located in the village it has a year round outdoor pool, and 163 suites ranging from studio to 3-bedroom, all with kitchenettes. Address: 190 Jozo Weider Blvd, The Blue Mountains, ON L9Y 0P7.
It’s hard to imagine going wrong with any accommodation at Blue Mountain as overall it’s an upmarket well-maintained family-friendly resort.
Where to eat in Blue Mountain Village
We ended up having favourite dishes rather than favourite restaurants, but here our picks.
Copper Blues Bar & Grill on the main square. I loved my Baby Kale Caesar with an added Shrimp Skewer.
The Pottery Restaurant has a divinely sinful Baked Cheesecake in Phyllo Pastry with Roasted Spiced Apples. The original restaurant at Blue Mountain, it’s reasonably-priced and off the main beat in the Blue Mountain Conference Centre.
Another favourite was the Big Easy Angus chuck burger at the Firehall Pizza Co. in the main square.
Things to do in Blue Mountain Resort
For most of the following outdoor activities, you can reserve or buy tickets at the Blue Mountain Activity Centre. Double check the website for prices, dates and restrictions.
Ski and snowboard. Founded as a ski resort in 1941 by Jozo Weider, Blue Mountain has 42 trails and covers 364 acres of terrain. Still today, skiing and snowboarding are the big draws for the resort in winter. A variety of rentals, packages, lift tickets and lessons are offered through Activity Central.
Hike N’ Tube. Snow tubing is good old-fashioned fun, and a good activity if you’re looking for family-friendly things to do in Blue Mountain in winter.
Skating on Mill Pond. Make the best of winter by gliding over the ice. Skate and helmet rentals are available.
Snowshoe. The Niagara Escarpment is perfect for a serene snowshoe trek. Weekend guided tours, and snowshoe rentals are available. Half day rental $15. Youth $10.
Summer and Fall activities at Blue Mountain Resort
Hiking. My morning hike up Blue Mountain to the top of the Niagara Escarpment was a highlight of the trip (even if I got a bit lost, as per usual). If you’re looking for nature-based things to do in Blue Mountain, I recommend it. There are four marked trails: The Straight Up, which seems to be a bit of a ‘thing’ at Blue Mountain but which I avoided like the plague. I loved the Village Way through the woods. The other two hikes are Cascade and Memory Lane.
Mountain biking. Mountain biking is a major draw in summer and fall. If you’re after adventure-based things to do at Blue Mountain, Activity Central offers a number of mountain biking lessons, clinics and guided rides as well as bike, armour and gear rental. June 23 to Oct 9.
E-Bike Tours. What you quickly learn on an E-Bike tour is that these are pedal-assisted electric bicycles, not a substitute for cycling itself. Yes, you still have to pedal. They’re great for going uphill, if you have certain physical constraints and for covering long distances. I’ll never call myself a purist again. E-Bike tours with a guide are $39 for 60 minutes and $49 for 90 minutes. Ages 16 and up. Offered in summer.
Open air gondola. For panoramic views of Blue Mountain Village and Georgian Bay, take the gondola up Blue Mountain to the top of the Niagara Escarpment. Bonus for people staying at the resort: If you hike up, the downhill ride on the gondola is free. Otherwise a roundtrip ticket is $16 adult, $13 youth. Downhill is $8 adult and $6.50 youth. Mid June to mid Oct.
Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster. Careen down the one km of track at your own pace, from snail speed to 42 km per hour. Adult $16 Youth $13. June 23 to Oct 29.
Segway tour. Cruise around the top of the Niagara Escarpment with Mountaintop Segway Tours on a scenic off-road guided trek. 1.5 hour tour is $63. Offered summer and fall (to Oct 9).
Cascade Putting Course. If mini golf is your thing, try the 18-hole Cascade Putting Course, so named for the cascading landscape at the base of the Smart Alec ski run.
Apex Bag Jump. I don’t know how else to describe this except you jump off a platform onto a big bag of air. Adult $16, Youth $13 for one qualifying jump and two others. June 23 to Oct 29.
Wind Rider Triple Zips Zipline. A 50-foot high aerial adventure. Ages 12 and up. Adult $16. Youth $13.
Pedal Boats on Mill Pond. Why won’t my husband ever do this with me? It’s slow travel at its finest! Get tickets at the pond.
Plunge! Aquatic Park. This is a family-friendly waterpark right next to the Westin Trillium hotel. You’ll find water slides, indoor and outdoor pools, rope swings and hot tubs. A 3-hour pass for 13 and ups is $16. Ages 3-12 $13. Under 3 is free. June 24 – Dec 22.
Private Beach. Blue Mountain has a private beach for hotel guests. Parking is limited so take the private shuttle for the resort, free for hotel guests.
Looking to explore? Read more about top things to do in Canada.