The Blue Mountains, despite sounding like a towering range, is actually a charming rural municipality nestled in Southwest Ontario. It's a picturesque collection of small towns that are a sight to behold all year round. Whether you're into apple picking during the crisp fall season, diving into the cool waters in the heat of summer, hitting the busy ski resort for some thrilling winter sports, or just cozying up by the slopes, this place has got you covered. It's a little slice of paradise that's about a 100-mile drive from Toronto, making it a perfect getaway.
With so much to do in the Blue Mountains, it’s hard to narrow down activities when you visit! So, we've done the hard work for you and compiled our top activities to help you craft the perfect Southwest Ontario trip. It's like your personal travel guide but without the hefty price tag.
Glaciers carved these breathtaking caves and rock formations close to Georgian Bay thousands of years ago, and the caves are in one of Canada's 18 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Embark on a self-guided tour of the caves and the trails between them. The caverns plunge as deep as 230 feet, making this a real adventure. But don't worry; the trails are clearly marked, so you can enjoy your time in the rocky labyrinth while feeling perfectly safe. It's like a natural maze but without the fear of getting lost.
Cross the Blue Mountain Suspension Bridge and take in panoramic views of the forested park and the stunning blue waters of Georgian Bay. This 420-foot-long suspension bridge, the longest in Ontario, offers panoramic views of the forested park and the stunning blue waters of Georgian Bay. It's a popular spot throughout the warmer months, and you'll likely be up there with other visitors. But be warned; they'll make the bridge sway as they walk. It's totally safe, but it might get your adrenaline pumping. It's like walking on air, but with a safety net.
Scandinave Spa is a must-visit. This Nordic-style thermal spa is a destination in itself. For a traditional experience, immerse yourself in the soothing waters of the outdoor hot baths with views of the forests, enjoy saunas and steam rooms, and then get chilly with an icy plunge. If that sounds a little intense, treat yourself to a massage and a day of silence and relaxation without the icy water. It's like a mini vacation within your vacation.
Travel writers overuse “Something for everyone,” but it’s true when describing Blue Mountain Village. This ski resort has become an all-year destination by providing a plethora of activity options. From axe throwing to a beauty bar, an art studio, an aquatics center, and even a brand-new VR arcade, there's something to keep everyone entertained. And when all that fun makes you hungry (or thirsty), there's no shortage of restaurants, bars, and cafes. You can pretty much eat around the world at Blue Mountain Village. Whether you're craving Mexican at Camino Tacos, sushi at Kikaku, Poutine at Mile High, or Asian fare at Mother Tongue, your taste buds are in for a treat.
When it comes to accommodation, Blue Mountain Village offers various types. From self-catering options to a full resort experience, there's something for everyone. There are private rentals aimed at families or groups of friends who want a home away from home, as well as a resort-style hotel. Hilton even manages a number of cottages with pools, hot tubs, and other conveniences. It's like having your own personal retreat in the heart of nature.
How about a day trip to Collingwood? This picturesque town near Blue Mountain Village is right on the beautiful Georgian Bay. Year-round, you can explore its downtown area dotted with boutiques, art galleries, and delightful cafes or take a stroll along the waterfront. History buffs can also dig into the past at the Collingwood Museum. In the winter months, Collingwood is a base for snow sports, including snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing. It's like stepping into a postcard but with the added bonus of winter sports.
The Apple Pie Trail is a must for food enthusiasts. This trail celebrates the apple-growing heritage of the region and offers a delightful experience. The name is slightly misleading, as this self-led Ontario food and drinks tour offers much more than pie. Of course, you'll encounter the classic dessert, but expect cider, apple cider vinegar, apple butter—pretty much everything apple, in fact. It's like a culinary journey but with a fruity twist.
For the adventurous, a day of rock climbing on the rugged cliffs of the Niagara Escarpment is a must. There are rumors that these outcrops are how the area got its name, as they appear blue-gray at some times of the day. Whatever the truth in that tale, the UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve offers excellent bouldering and rope climbing opportunities for climbers of all skill levels. It's like a natural gym, but with a view.
Hiking around the Blue Mountains is a must. Blue Mountain Resort is home to six main hiking trails, eight side trails, and four trail loops. From leisurely walks to more challenging hikes, there are options for every fitness level. Most trails are short–with a maximum length of about 2 miles—but you can combine them for a day of walking. Immerse yourself in the beauty of the forests, meadows, and scenic lookouts along the trails, with plenty of options for stops at all the rest of Blue Mountain Resort's attractions. It's like a choose-your-own adventure, but with nature.
For cycling enthusiasts, the Blue Mountains offers trails suitable for all skill levels. Cross-country trails are largely mountaintop, with great views from lookout points and forested trails winding through the Niagara Escarpment. Downcountry trails offer tougher ascents and descents to test your fitness and your endurance on two wheels, as well as two bike skill areas, Little Rollers and High Rollers. It's like a roller coaster but with more control.
If the trails at Blue Mountain Resort aren’t quite enough for you, try Collingwood Loops. A combined 87 miles of cycling tracks run from Blue Mountains Resort to Collingwood and around the Collingwood area. There are switchbacks, loops, and mountain descents, with some routes leading to local convenience stores and village attractions. These are more challenging routes, and some of the cycling routes are shared with motor vehicles, so do take care. It's like a scenic road trip but on two wheels.
The flat, hard-packed Georgian Trail runs from Collingwood to Georgian Bay. At 21 miles long, cycling the Georgian Trail takes some time, but as the trail was once a railway, it’s a flat and relatively easy ride as long as you have the endurance for it. Collingwood is usually the starting point for the Georgian Trail, and it passes through Thornbury and Meaford as it meanders along the bay. This same trail is a popular cross-country skiing spot in the winter, so if you’re sporty enough, you can enjoy Georgian Bay views all year long. It's like a marathon, but with a view.
The Meaford Museum, once the town’s pumping center, now holds the unique history of the area. Interestingly, Meaford was once a booming holiday destination itself. With a railway running to Toronto and its own opera house, the town had 11 hotels. Going further back, it was a pioneer outpost, as industries such as apple growing and agriculture and quilting grew to dominate. Want to know more about Meaford and the Blue Mountains and Georgian Bay area? Then you'd better get yourself to the Meaford Museum. It's like a time machine but without the flux capacitor.
Cool off and have a splashing good time at The Plunge Aquatic Centre. Enjoy thrilling water slides, relax in the warm pools, or float along the lazy river. This indoor water park provides entertainment for the whole family, no matter the weather outside. In the winter, it’s a great alternative to the slopes for tired kids and adults who’ve had enough of the powder. It's like a beach vacation but without the sand.
At the base of the mountains, Craigleith Park offers hiking, camping, fishing, cycling, and more. It’s a great starting point for sailing or kayaking in Georgian Bay, visiting Wasaga Beach, and you can even hold a function on the edge of the water in the park’s picnic shelter. If you’re lucky, you might find a few fossils on the shoreline, too, as the shale that forms it is over 450 million years old. It's like a natural playground but with a historical twist.