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Blue Mountain Ontario
There are so many great things to do in Blue Mountain, one of Ontario’s most popular getaways, that it can be hard to sort it all out.
Blue Mountain Resort might be Ontario’s premier ski resort, but it has blossomed (some might say exploded) in popularity as a spring, fall and summer destination, too.
Where are the Blue Mountains in Ontario?
Running along the shores of Southern Georgian Bay, this is a scenic region near the town of Collingwood. It’s an ideal mix of unspoiled nature and upscale comfort, with plenty of hotels, activities and restaurants.
Blue Mountain, Ontario, is about 160 km (100 miles) north of Toronto. If traffic isn’t bad, it can take just over two hours to get here from Toronto. On a weekend, you’re looking at more time.
What Can You Do at Blue Mountain?
You can visit Blue Mountain Village where there are a ton of activities; cruise into Collingwood, the area’s main town; or head up the rugged Niagara Escarpment to hike and take in the cool blue views of Georgian Bay below.
You’ve got beaches (admittedly, not the best in Ontario unless you whip down to Wasaga), caves, wineries, bike trails, spas and more.
Can you tell my husband and I love the area? We like it so much we bought a home here. So take it from an insider: there are a lot of fun things to do at Blue Mountain. It’s a great weekend getaway, and even better during the week when the crowds melt away.
First, I’ll explain what to do at the Village, also known as Blue Mountain Resort, because it’s tourist central for the region. Then let’s look at the best things to see in the Collingwood Blue Mountain area.
Things to Do at Blue Mountain Village
The first thing you’ll likely want to do when you get up here is head to Blue Mountain Village. This alpine-style resort is like a mini Whistler, with lots of hotels, restaurants and shops that wrap around a scenic mill pond. Often the central plaza has entertainment going on.
If you want to try some of the resort’s outdoor activities like the Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster (a personal favourite) or ziplining, make your way to the Activity Central building by the base of the ski runs.
Note: Vacations and day trips to Blue Mountain are popular so you should really get a day pass for activities beforehand. Seriously. Things sell out, especially on weekends. Where did all these people come from?
Ride the Open Air Gondola
Taking the gondola up the Niagara Escarpment is one of the top Blue Mountain attractions, and provides sweeping views of the Village and Southern Georgian Bay.
How high is the summit of Blue Mountain? About 1480 feet above sea level.
It’s not the most dramatic gondola ride in the world, not like, say, the Aerial Tramway in Palm Springs or the Gemmi Cable Car in Leukerbad, Switzerland, but it’s still a fun Blue Mountain activity and offers one heck of a northern vista.
Whip Down the Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster
A cross between a roller coaster and a mountain-based nature experience, the German-made Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster swerves down a 1,085-metre (3,560-foot) track in the forest.
Its top speed is 42 km per hour. When I did the Ridge Runner I’d planned to go at the pace of a rock being eroded by the waves of Georgian Bay, and after being assured I could be as pokey as I wanted, I folded myself into a bright blue car and surprised myself by flooring it all the way down.
I was partly motivated by my husband ahead of me who was no doubt trying to break the sound barrier, and by the boy behind me who said, “Go fast. You’ll like it.”
I did like it. I wished it had gone faster.
Cascade Putting Course
One of the most family friendly things to do at Blue Mountain is to play mini golf. The 18-hole Cascade Putting Course is so named for the cascading landscape at the base of the Smart Alec ski run.
Wind Rider Triple Zips Zipline
A 50-foot high aerial adventure, the zipline is a family-friendly Blue Mountain activity for ages 13 and up.
Rent a Pedal Boat on Mill Pond
Why won’t my husband ever do this with me? It’s slow travel at its finest. He disagrees. (Although, on the one day he grumpily agreed to go pedal boating on Lake Piediluco in Italy, we also got engaged, so there must be some kind of feel-good factor to it.)
Plunge! Aquatic Centre
If you’re looking for things to do at Blue Mountain with kids, you might like the Plunge! Aquatic Park. This child-friendly waterpark is right next to the Westin Trillium hotel. Here you’ll find water slides, indoor and outdoor pools, rope swings and hoops.
Cruise around the top of the Niagara Escarpment with Mountaintop Segway Tours on a scenic off-road guided trek. A guide will show you how to use it properly. Participants need to be 18 or over.
Hiking Up Blue Mountain
Hiking up the Niagara Escarpment on Blue Mountain Resort property is always more of a workout than I think it’s going to be. Although considering it’s called a mountain, and you’re walking up ski trails, I’m not sure why I’m convinced it will be easy.
Marked trails go up the escarpment from the base of the resort. The Straight Up is a bit of a ‘thing’ but I avoid it like the plague because, as you may guess from the name, it goes directly uphill.
A bit more winding is the Village Way through the woods.There are other trails, and the names seem to change, so pick up a map at Activity Central before you start out.
Do You Have to Pay to Hike at Blue Mountain Resort?
Yes. About a year ago they decided you can’t hike at the resort without paying. (Yeah, I was pretty surprised too.) If you’re just spending one day at Blue Mountain, an Explore All Day Pass will give you trail access as well as rides on the gondola.
Buying Blue Mountain Activity Passes and Tickets
Here’s a run down on their (rather confusing) price structure. Double check the Blue Mountain website for prices, dates and restrictions.
- Most Popular: The Play All Day Pass offers unlimited access to most Blue Mountain activities. It sells out fast so buy ahead online.
- Hiking and Gondola: The Explore All Day Pass is pretty much limited to gondola access and access to hiking and biking trails.
- Add Ons: You need an Add On Adventure ticket for Mountain Segway Tours, the Timber Challenge High Ropes and Woodlot Low Ropes.
- Single Activity: To do a single activity you can try your luck with a Play As You Go Pass, but it’s first come first serve and doesn’t include the gondola.
Blue Mountain Resort’s Explore Park is a bike park with 12 cross-country trails including a couple of challenging climbs, five downhill bike trails and five mountaintop rides.
You can rent bikes through the resort at Activity Central. You can also rent e-bikes, especially good if you want to get down (and particularly back up) to the Georgian Trail.
Blue Mountain Restaurants
One of the best things to do in Collingwood and Southern Georgian Bay is to eat. Here are some picks, but note that menus change rapidly and specific dishes might not be available.
Restaurants at the Village
Outdoor Patio: The Copper Blues Bar & Grill is on the main square. My fav was a Baby Kale Caesar with an added Shrimp Skewer.
Off the Main Path: The Pottery Restaurant is a casual restaurant off the main beat in the Blue Mountain Conference Centre. If the Village is crowded, this is a good option. There is a lovely path there that leads west from Activity Central. (Hug the base of the mountain.)
Burgers: I preferred my Big Easy Angus Chuck Burger at the Firehall Pizza Co. to Mark’s pizza. To each their own. Located in the main square.
Happy Hour: For a drink and a snack, the Northwinds Brew Pub in the Village has happy hour specials.
Where to Eat Outside the Resort
Ravenna Country Market
Truthfully, we prefer some of the smaller low-key eateries outside the Village. If we’re out for a drive we rarely miss going to Ravenna Country Market at the corner of Grey Rd 2 and Grey Rd 119, South of Thornbury.
It’s just a little local store, but the soups are fresh and homemade, the sandwiches filling and the friendliness makes everything that much better. We discovered it when we were exploring the Apple Pie Trail.
Another popular local stop is the Thornbury Bakery on the main street at 12 Bruce St S, Thornbury, ON N0H 2P0. More than 80 years old and still going strong, it serves fresh-baked goods daily.
Thornbury Cider House
Get a taste of the region at the Thornbury Village Cider House at 90 King St E, Thornbury, ON N0H 2P0. I was all about the tasting flight of local cider, but my husband preferred the beer.
If you have cooking facilities Saucy Pasta in Collingwood is where to go for fresh pasta and sauces to heat up at home. They have gluten free options as well. I’m addicted to their Alfredo sauce. 10 Keith Ave Unit 205, Collingwood, ON L9Y 0W5.
Things to Do in the Collingwood Blue Mountain Area
Visit the Scenic Caves
About 3.5 km from Blue Mountain Village are the Scenic Caves. They’re located at the highest part of the Niagara Escarpment, and were a spiritual place for the Petun people who used to live in the Blue Mountain region. In my opinion, they still are.
The Scenic Caves have a lot of different activities. You can explore the otherworldly Blue Mountain caves (warning: they can be claustrophobic if you’re inclined that way), get good views of Georgian Bay and check out the 420-foot Suspension Bridge.
Other family activities include eco-adventure tours and zip-lining in the summer, while in winter there are sports such as cross-country skiing, winter trails and guided night snowshoeing tours.
The Scenic Caves are located at 260 Scenic Caves Rd, The Blue Mountains, ON L9Y 0P2.
Hike the Bruce Trail
There are tons of terrific trails near Blue Mountain Resort and they’re free. For some of the best, consider the Bruce Trail. It’s Canada’s longest footpath – a whopping 900 km in total.
The trail can be accessed from a few different spots near Blue Mountain. Most of the access points are unmarked, so it’s best to ask at your hotel or the information point for directions.
We often hike a section of the Bruce Trail near Meaford. Check out the Bruce Trail website for more information.
Less Challenging – Explore the Georgian Trail
The Georgian Trail is a well-maintained and much-loved (at least by me) former rail line that is now a superb strip for bicycle rides and strolls. The 34-km long route is fairly flat and goes all the way from Collingwood to Meaford. It runs parallel to Highway 26 and Georgian Bay.
There are many access points including ones across the road from Northwinds Beach and in Thornbury.
Unwind at a Blue Mountain Spa
This adult-only spa escape is a blissful circuit of outdoor pools, saunas, steam room, indoor and outdoor relaxation areas. It’s close to Blue Mountain Village at 152 Grey Road 21, Blue Mountains, Ontario. L9Y 0K8.
There can be long waits to get in. Book ahead. This is one of the best Blue Mountain activities for tranquility, romance and friend-type getaways. We used to drive up from Toronto just for a day here.
Tip: One way to make sure you get in without waiting in line is to add a massage, which you can make reservations for: Tel: 1 877 988-8484.
For more info visit my Scandinave Blue Mountain review.
IWA Spa Blue Mountain
There is another spa right in Blue Mountain Village. If you want to lie on a warm volcanic rock (Ganban Volcanic Rock Therapy), do yoga or get a massage, IWA Spa is handily located at 190 Jozo Weider Blvd.
Best Blue Mountain Beaches
Northwinds Beach is one of the most popular beaches in the Blue Mountains Collingwood area. It has shady areas, bathrooms and grassy spots to lay out on. There is some sand but it’s rocky going in, so you might want to wear water shoes.
It’s located across from the Craigleith Depot between Collingwood and Thornbury off Highway 26.
Sunset Point Beach in Collingwood
The other big beach destination is Sunset Point Beach in Collingwood. Located right in town, it gets crazy crowded on the weekend but it’s calmer during the week and well equipped with washrooms, snack bar and tables.
Peasemarsh Beach is a smaller sand and pebble beach connected to a nature preserve off Highway 26 just east of Thornbury. I don’t personally use the beach but go for the tranquil walk through the nature preserve.
One more beach in the Blue Mountains is Christie Beach, a sand beach towards Meaford off Highway 26 at the end of Christie Beach Road.
Blue Mountain’s Private Beach
Blue Mountain has a private beach. It’s free for hotel guests but the public can pay a fee to use it. It’s really a nice sandy beach. Parking is limited so if you’re a resort guest, take the private shuttle from Blue Mountain Village.
Follow the Apple Pie Trail
It’s not an actual trail. It’s a fun self-guided tour around Georgian Bay and the Blue Mountains. Best done in fall when you can visit the apple orchards and pick your own apples, the Apple Pie Trail is a culinary adventure trip inspired by the region’s apple-growing past and present – and can be done anytime of year.
Many restaurants, cideries, farms and bakeries around the Blue Mountains Collingwood region participate in offering visitors tempting tastes and flavours.
(And, I add modestly, I was the first journalist to write about it years ago for the Toronto Star, so I’m glad it’s still going strong.) Download a map at the Apple Pie Trail website or pick up a free one in many locations around the area.
Hurontario, the historic main street in Collingwood, has cute shops, restaurants and (fairly pricey) boutiques. There is a lovely waterfront trail if you go down to the water and west of the main street. Be prepared to see a lot of ducks and swans.
Blue Mountain Hotels
We’ve stayed at just about every hotel at Blue Mountain Village, and quite a few cheaper ones in the area. Here’s a rundown on some options for your Blue Mountain getaway.
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. Before we bought property here, it was our top pick for a romantic Ontario getaway.
Address: 220 Gord Canning Drive, Blue Mountains, ON, L9Y 0V9 Tel: 866-837-4192.
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 hotels at the Village.
Address: Grand Georgian. 156 Jozo Weider Blvd., Blue Mountains, ON. L9Y 3Z2 Tel: 1-877-445-0231.
On our first trip to Blue Mountain Resort we stayed in Mosaic in a studio, which was fine, too. It’s cheaper than the Westin but all accommodation at Blue Mountain Resort gets expensive. Centrally located in the Village, Mosaic 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.
Overall, it’s hard to imagine going wrong with any accommodation at the Blue Mountain Resort as it’s an upmarket well-maintained family-friendly resort.
Penny’s Boutique Motel, Thornbury
Mark and I used to stay at Penny’s Motel when it was cheap and (not so) cheerful. Now it’s been overhauled with a retro chic vibe. Oyster Bar anyone?
Blue Mountain Camping
Craigleith Provincial Park
Rough it in the midst of scenic splendour at Craigleith Provincial Park on the shores of Georgian Bay. Established in 1967, this large campsite is located at the bottom of Blue Mountain right on the bay. Day usage is available as well.
The shoreline consists of flat rock and fractured plates of shale, (so searching for fossils some 450 million years old are another possible summer activity at Blue Mountain).
Visit Ontario Parks for more info on camping at Craigleith Provincial Park.
Winter Activities at Blue
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.
The Niagara Escarpment is perfect for a serene snowshoe trek. Weekend guided tours, and snowshoe rentals are available.
Fat bikes are Blue Mountain’s latest outdoor winter activity. Rent them at Activity Central.
Facts About the Blue Mountains
Is Blue Mountain, Ontario, on Georgian Bay? Pretty much. The base of the Blue Mountains lie on Nottawasaga Bay, which is part of Georgian Bay. The area feels like Northern Ontario, but it’s actually the northern edge of Southern Ontario.
Is Blue Mountain an actual mountain? No. The Blue Mountains refer to a section of the Niagara Escarpment in Grey County, Ontario that rises to about 300 metres.
Is Blue Mountain a town? Kind of. The communities of Clarksburg, Craigleith, Ravenna, Thornbury and a few others are collectively the Town of the Blue Mountains.