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There are so many things to do in Blue Mountain Village, one of Ontario’s most popular getaways, it can be hard to sort it all out. Read on for my experience, or scroll down for your ultimate Blue Mountain Canada guide, with a comprehensive list of outdoor activities, tips on where to stay and where to eat in this bustling four-season resort just over two hours north of Toronto.
The best Ontario Getaway
The Blue Mountains, about 160 km (100 miles) north of Toronto, in Southern Georgian Bay is a great weekend getaway from Toronto. An ideal mix of unspoiled nature and comfort, this scenic region of northern Ontario has hiking trails, outdoor adventures in both summer and winter and plenty of hotels and restaurants. From the tourist-focused Blue Mountain Village to more local communities such as Thornbury and Meaford and Collingwood, there are a number of points of interest to explore.
About Blue Mountain
Normally about a 2.5 hour drive from Toronto, it can take longer on weekends when roads are crowded so plan accordingly. Once you’re there you can discover the stunning Niagara Escarpment, rich forests of maple and oak and the cool blue views of Georgian Bay. From cycling to zip-lining there are no end of activities, and I talk about my adventures below. Following that is a guide to the best things to do in Blue Mountain, as well as the top hotels and restaurants.
Things to do in Blue Mountain, our E-bike Experience
“Put it in Turbo and an easy gear,” said our E-Bike guide, Julius, as we powered up a forested trail. I switched to Turbo mode, jolted forward and pedalled insanely until I realized I didn’t need that much of a boost. I geared down and pedalled at a more doable pace.
“What mode are you in now?” he asked 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 confessed. I was loving this chance to try an E-Bike and cover some major ground around the Blue Mountains region of Ontario, but I was more interested in cycling than getting a ‘pedal assist,’ even when my husband, Mark, whizzed by me at warp speed.
I’m just a purist, I thought 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 continued as we cycled past a field of purple, white and yellow wildflowers, and briefly stopped at Northwinds Beach, a sandy strip overlooking the silvery blue water of Georgian Bay. My under-my-own-steam resolve faltered when we hit a paved road on a major hill on our final stretch back to Blue Mountain Village, but I gave it a go.
Pedalling furiously I slowly moved forward. My legs were bellowing in pain and at one point I was practically at a standstill, my front wheel wobbling.
Pedal assist, pedal assist, my legs shouted. (My legs are very talkative.) Admitting defeat, I put my E-Bike into Eco mode, then in Touring then up to Sport. Oh, fek it, I thought, tossing my self-righteous attitude by the roadside as I launched into Turbo.
Blue Mountain Resort
This is more like it, I thought as we cruised 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 ended at the resort’s Activity Central at the base of Blue Mountain. Dismounting, I took a look around. Ski lifts ran up the slope – silent at this time of year – and there was a line for the open-air gondola used by mountain bikers, hikers and view-seeking tourists during summer.
I checked an E-Bike tour off my list of things to do at Blue Mountain and wondered what to try next. My eyes skimmed 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 said to Mark.
The Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster
I’d wanted to try the German-made Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster ever 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 could go as slow as I wanted to, I folded myself into a bright blue car and sat 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 decided, because this pace suited me just fine.
Then I surprised myself by flooring it on the way down, partly motivated by my husband ahead of me who was 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 hiked up Blue Mountain for the views of Georgian Bay then took the gondola down. For my last outdoor adventure, I decided 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 aimed for the flat 34-kilometre Georgian Trail that runs along Georgian Bay.
Naturally I went in the opposite direction my husband had recommended. Immediately getting lost, I asked two sporty-looking blondes for directions and ended 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 was faced with the same long hill we travelled up on our E-Bike tour.
Where’s a gondola when you need one, my legs groaned as I started up in the easiest gear I could find.
Pedal assist! Pedal assist, my thighs screeched as I continued to slog uphill. For once my legs and my brain agreed. Slow travel is idyllic, but everyone needs an occasional Turbo boost in their life, and I don’t think I’ll diss an E-bike ever again.
The Ultimate Guide to Blue Mountain Resort, Ontario
What are the Blue Mountains of Ontario?
It’s confusing Sometimes it’s plural. Sometimes it’s singular. 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. Yet, Blue Mountain is sometimes called Blue Mountain Collingwood, as the town of Collingwood is only 8 km away.
Blue Mountain Village, also known as the Village at Blue, or Blue Mountain Resort, sits between the Niagara Escarpment and Georgian Bay.
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.
Blue Mountain hotels
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.
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.
Check prices and availability for one of the Blue Mountain Resort hotels above.
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.
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
In the village we ended up having favourite dishes rather than favourite restaurants, while there are some places to eat farther afield that we always try to make time for. Here are our picks:
Copper Blues Bar & Grill on the main square. I enjoyed my Baby Kale Caesar with an added Shrimp Skewer.
The Pottery Restaurant has a 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.
Something else I liked was the Big Easy Angus chuck burger at the Firehall Pizza Co. in the main square.
For a drink and a snack, the Northwinds Brew Pub had good happy hour specials.
Where to Eat Outside the Village
Truthfully, I prefer some of the smaller low-key eateries outside the village. If we’re out for a drive we never miss going to the 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 eatery 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, and if you ever wanted to try a chop suey bun, this is your chance.
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.
Things to do in Blue Mountain Resort
For many 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.
Year-round activities at Blue
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. It’s first come first serve and there can be lineups on the weekend. This is my favourite thing to do at Blue Mountain – and sometimes we drive up from Toronto just to go to the spa.
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 you can visit my Scandinave Blue Mountain review.
The Scenic Caves
The Scenic Caves are at the highest part of the Niagara Escarpment, and this was a spiritual place for the Petun people who used to live in the Blue Mountain region. Here you can explore the otherworldly caves (warning: they can be claustrophobic), get good views of Georgian Bay and check out the 420-foot Suspension Bridge. There are other family-friendly activities here as well, such as eco-adventures tours and zip-lining in the summer.
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.
Follow the Apple Pie Trail
While this fun tour around Georgian Bay and the Blue Mountains is best done in fall when you can visit the apple orchards and pick your own apples, you can eat apple pie anytime of the year. Actually, the Apple Pie Trail is a lot more than pie, it’s a culinary adventure trip inspired by the region’s apple-growing past and present.
Many restaurants, cideries, farms and bakeries around the Blue Mountains participate in offering visitors tempting tastes and flavours. It’s a self-guided tour that you can incorporate into any Blue Mountain vacation.
The Apple Pie Trail is a Culinary Adventure Trail and Apple Pie is just the beginning!
Inspired by South Georgian Bay’s apple-growing history, we bring together culinary, shopping, adventure, farms and other local experiences that celebrate our history and reinterpret the mighty apple for the 21st century. You can download a map at the Apple Pie Trail website.
Explore the Georgian Trail
You don’t need to an E-bike for this flat trail that runs 34 km from Collingwood to Meaford. Following Georgian Bay, though not always directly along the water, it’s ideal for cycling and walking in the summer and for cross-country skiing in the winter. It’s a fun way to check out some of the surrounding towns in the area such as Meaford and Thornbury.
Blue Mountain: things to do in Summer and Fall
There are endless options for things to do at Blue Mountain in summer. From family-friendly adventures that you can sign up for at Activity Central by the foot of the ski hill at Blue Mountain Village to more rugged adventures, it’s a nature lover’s destination. If you’re looking for things to do in Blue Mountain with kids, you’ll find a huge range of activities below.
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.
We love hiking on the Bruce Trail, Canada’s longest footpath – a whopping 900 km in total. Parts of 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. The stretch you’re aiming for is Lavender to Craigleith. Check out the Bruce Trail website for more information.
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. Mountain biking activities generally run from late June to October.
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.
It’s not all mountains in the Blue Mountains. You can rent bikes to cycle the much-flatter Georgian Trail in Meaford at the super friendly Ride on Bikes at 14 Trowbridge Street East, Meaford, Ontario.
Open air gondola
For panoramic views of Blue Mountain Village and Georgian Bay, taking the gondola up Blue Mountain to the top of the Niagara Escarpment is one of the most breath-taking things to do at Blue Mountain. 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. I actually wished it would go faster and I’m a scaredy cat, but it’s still fun. Adult $16 Youth $13. June 23 to Oct 29.
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.
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.
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.
Blue Mountain’s 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.
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. Half day rental $15. Youth $10.