One of our favourite places to visit outside of the hustle and bustle of Toronto is Blue Mountain. It's about a 2 hour drive from downtown Toronto and what used to be a favourite place to visit for skiing and snowboarding before having kids, is now a year-round family favourite destination for us. It's now an annual tradition to go up every summer. In today's blog, I'm excited to share my download on the things we love to do and see in the summer to provide ideas on what you can do if you're visiting the area too!
Blue Mountain Village
There is a lot to do in the Blue Mountain village - from shops, restaurants, activities, spa, and hikes. Now that the destination has become quite popular, I recommend to visit the website and plan ahead. Book restaurants in advance, buy tickets for activities in advance (when we came to visit we didn't buy in advance and tickets to use the paddle boat were sold out for three days!). Visit the Blue Mountain website to check their calendar of events.
For young kids, some favourites are the paddle boat, the mountain coaster, mini-golf, and getting ice cream! There are a few options for ice cream and frozen yogurt such as Menchies and Scoops. If you're staying at a Blue Mountain property, you also get access to the private Blue Mountain beach, about a 10 minute drive away. If you're looking to take dip to cool off, Plunge! offers a pool with a small splash area indoors and some small pool slides for littles to enjoy. All activities require passes to be purchased in advance which can be done on the Blue Mountain website. In peak season, passes do sell out so be sure to purchase in advance.
All of the restaurants are delicious. Expect slower service than the busy Toronto restaurants. Some of our favourite eats is Tholos for Greek, Chuck Burger for organic beef burgers and fries, and the lattes and donuts from Royal Majesty Espresso Bar and Bakery (yum!), and the pizza and Caprese salad from Fire Hall Pizza (You can place and order for pick-up from their side window - so far it's been fast!).
A visit to the IWA spa is recommended if you have time to squeeze it in, with their unique Gan Ban Volcanic Rock sauna (lie on them, take a restorative yoga class), get your nails done, or go for a massage. Spots fill up fast!
Northwinds Beach, Blue Mountain
Northwinds beach is a public beach about a 8 min drive from Blue Mountain village that offers a strip of sand, rocks, and shallow waters. It's a fun place for kids to hit the beach, make sand castles, and splash around in the water. Sand toys (shovels, buckets, pails) can be picked up at the nearby Dollarama or Dollar Tree to bring to the beach. Parking can get busy, we find it helpful to go early in the morning but we've still been able to get a spot after some waiting in the parking queue in the afternoons. Things to bring to the beach: snacks, a picnic blanket or large towel to sit on, beach toys, and if you're planning to spend more time there - bring some shade such as an umbrella, tent, and also beach chairs.
The Georgian Trail
A 34 km trail along the magnificent southern shore of Georgian Bay between Collingwood and Meaford is a great path for biking. There are points along the trail to park and unload your bikes, visit the website to view the map and parking locations https://www.georgiantrail.ca/. One of our favourite rides is from Blue Mountain (we park at the tourism center near Northwinds Beach) and biking to Thornbury. It's about 45-60 min bike ride on a flat trail and then reaching Thornbury, there's lots of great shops and eateries, ice cream, and a cider house to enjoy before riding back.
A charming town that is about a 20 minute drive from Blue Mountain, a must visit. There is a harbourfront area with a view of boats, a rock beach, and a playground. There is a delicious ice cream shop called Pom Pom Treats (my husband loves the root beer floats), and then a main strip with some local shops and eateries to explore. Popular is the Thornbury Bakery with menu options for breakfast and lunch along with pastries.
The restaurants in Thornbury are unique and all very good. Many of them require reservations to be made in advance so do plan ahead. Some favourites are The Mill Cafe located beside the fish ladder, and The Cheese Gallery (amazing grilled cheese sandwiches, cheeses and charcuterie).
The Thornbury Village Cider and Brew House makes cider and beer and can be visited for tastings, take-out, or sit on the patio for a drink. All of the above is within walking distance. In the early fall or tailend of summer, the salmon ladder is also a sight to see!
For more adventure, bring along a fishing rod and do some fishing!
Sunset Point, Collingwood
We stumbled on this beautiful spot by accident and I still think of it as a hidden gem. Sunset point is a waterfront park in Collingwood, about 10 min drive from Blue Mountain village. It offers amazing waterfront views, a perfect place to view the sunset, a rock beach, green space to hang out (picnic, fly a kite, walk around), and a large playground. There is also an eatery called The Chipper for take-out (burgers, hot dogs, tacos, fries) beside an ice cream shop. We frequently visit Sunset Point. On a windy day it's flying a kite, or catching the sunset, or visiting to let the kids run around and release energy. The vibe is beautiful.
Hurontario Street, Collingwood
The main street in downtown Collingwood is Hurontario Street that offers a strip of shops (home decor, clothing, wellness) and restaurants to explore. I love to walk up and down the strip to explore and there is also an ice cream shop (for the kids!). On Saturday mornings, there is a Farmers Market near the Loblaws parking lot. Some of my favourite shops are Leuk, Haven, Collingwood Rock Shop, and the Makers Outpost for unique finds and Canadian made goods. The greek restaurant Fig and Feta is a favourite (take out or dine-in), grab a drink at 1858 Caesar Bar (amazing Caesar combinations!) and there's a new Vietnamese restaurant off the main street on the way to Blue Mountain called Pho Le that I recommend. If you're staying at a property that has a kitchen, Blue Ridge Meats is a butcher for fresh meats along with some pre-made food options too. There are lots of patios and restaurants to explore.
For a special immersive culinary experience (a great date night idea!), The Pine Collingwood restaurant offers a tasting menu in a 3-hour seating. Reservations can be made in advance for two starting at 6:30PM on Thursdays to Saturdays. Spots book up fast and there's also a waiting list that worked well for us to get a spot!
A really fun experience to treat yourself to is to visit the Scandinave Spa that offers baths (hot, cold water circuit), massage, areas to lounge outdoors in hammocks or a firepit. Booking in advance is key and can be done online on their website. On my recent visit, I noticed the addition of a Forest Bathing experience! It's a wonderful experience to try. What to bring: bathing suit and flip flops and a robe (a robe is provided if you're getting a massage). There is option to visit the baths only, be sure to check in with the venue on what the best times to come are as there are some peak periods that get busy fast.
There are a lot of amazing options for golf in Blue Mountain and surrounding areas that can be booked. There is also a driving range located between Blue Mountain Village and the Scandinave Spa to enjoy.
There are a number of farms in the area for fruit picking. Some rough timelines/months to pick fruits: July - Strawberry picking, September - Apple picking, October - pumpkin picking. This July we visited Al Ferri & Sons for strawberry picking.
When I searched in my Google Maps app 'waterfalls near me' a few popped up. It's a beautiful drive through the region to visit some natural waterfalls. We recently visited Walter's Falls and Eugenia Falls.
I felt called to share the beauty of the region. There are so many things to do and hidden gems and I feel like this is only the tip of the iceberg! Wishing you an amazing adventure and a fun summer!
Hello, I'm Nathalie - owner and photographer of Pictonat Photography located in the heart of Toronto. I have a passion for delivering images that capture emotions and tell a story with an intimate and fresh feel. My area of focus is on families of all ages from bump to baby and beyond and visual storytelling for women entrepreneurs.