Bryan Dearsley shares his favourite things to do in Blue Mountain Village near Collingwood Ontario, one of the best places to visit in Canada… whatever the weather!
When you think of a village, certain images spring immediately to mind: narrow, pedestrian-friendly cobblestone streets, quaint shops, cozy pubs, and that special sense of community that makes you feel you’re part of something truly unique.
All of which makes the success of Blue Mountain Village even more remarkable. It’s relatively new, every inch of it created to fit in with the developer’s grand vision of a ski community; it’s often as crowded as a subway station; and nobody actually lives there. But, it works… and it works exceptionally well.
The third such resort village to be built in Canada following the success of Whistler in British Columbia and Tremblant in Quebec, Blue Mountain Village – often referred to simply as ‘The Village’ – was designed to make the most of the tremendous popularity of the Blue Mountain Ski Resort. The most popular ski destination in Ontario and the third busiest in Canada, the resort had been attracting ever-increasing numbers from Toronto and points south for decades.
These days, the success of the village has led to its having become one of the best places to visit in Canada for outdoor fun and adventure. To help you make the most of your visit, be sure to review our list of the many fun things to do in Blue Mountain Village.
1. Explore the Lanes of Blue Mountain Village
The ‘old-Ontario’ themed village sits on 32 acres of prime real estate at the base of Blue Mountain, and consists of over 1,000 luxury accommodation units, 40 unique restaurants, bars and stores, and some 37,500 sq ft of conference space.
Nestled at the foot of the slopes, the Village is a lively place pretty much any time of year. But it’s during the busy winter season that it really hustles. Once the snow flies, it’s teeming with skiers and snowboarders young and old jostling for a place in the line-ups for the slopes or a warm spot for a meal or a drink.
Completely traffic-free (apart from the odd delivery vehicle or horse-drawn wagon), each of the picturesque, store-lined laneways winds its way to the wide central square. Crowned by a spectacular bonfire pit surrounded by numerous chairs, it’s a bustling place with buskers, out-door concerts and events.
2. Stay in Blue Mountain Village
Five top-notch hotels surround the development, the ritziest being The Westin Trillium House. Widely recognized as one of the top luxury hotels in the area due to its high-levels of service and location, the 222-room Westin overlooks the Mill Pond at the southern end of the Village and boasts a year-round heated outdoor pool plus hot tubs, as well as spa and conference facilities.
Units offer kitchenettes or full kitchens, and the 1,482 sq. ft. presidential suite has the equivalent of six beds (including pull-outs), dining table for 10 and cathedral ceilings with floor-to-ceiling windows offering incredible views of the mountain and Georgian Bay.
Other village-centered accommodation options include the Blue Mountain Inn, the Grand Georgian, Seasons at Blue, Weider Lodge, and the classy Mosaϊc, a boutique-style hotel with 163 suites and two-story townhomes with private courtyard and BBQ’s (there are also a number of deluxe units of up to three bedrooms).
3. Shop in Blue Mountain Village
With more than 100,000 sq ft of dedicated retail and entertainment space, there’s little chance of ever being bored. The current tally of retail outlets covers everything from perfume (L’Occitane en Provence) to sporting goods stores like Columbia Sportswear and Red Devil Sports, each capable of equipping an Olympic team or two.
In fact, you’d be hard pressed to find a need to drive anywhere once you’ve checked in, as there’s a store here for every member of the family, and for any occasion: do-it-yourself dining (groceries from the Village Market), sweet treats (Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and Happy Valley Candy), and toys and games (Jack & Maddy).
Art lovers are also catered to, thanks to the always-interesting Brights Gallery. Open year-round, Brights is home to an impressive collection of original Canadian and international art and has been one of the top places to visit in Blue Mountain Village since it opened in the early 2000s.
4. Visit the Best Restaurants in Blue Mountain Village
As for dining, there’s some 20 different choices of eatery within an easy walk of your room, encompassing everything from the fast and frivolous (beaver tails, anybody?) to the relaxed and fancy.
Those looking to satisfy their inner gourmand will want to try the Oliver & Bonacini Café Grill in the Westin. Serving modern North American food inspired by Canada’s diverse culture, diners can choose from a vast array of appetizers, seafood, steaks, pasta, fire-roasted pizzas and burgers. A highlight of the restaurant is its huge southwest-style smoker barbecue, which adds a truly unique flavour as it slowly smokes dishes over timbers brushed with a chipotle barbecue sauce.
Other great dining options include the Greek / Mediterranean themed Tholos Restaurant, and the C&A Steak Company. If you’re looking for a little added fun with your dining, visit Twist Martini & Wine Lounge. This adult-centric eatery offers more than just great martinis – as dinner winds down, the DJ starts up, and it’s party time.
5. Splash About at Plunge! Aquatic Centre
There’s no shortage of things for the kids to do, too, whether it’s on their own or with the rest of the family. The highlight for many a youngster visiting Blue Mountain Village with their family having is the chance to get wet and wild at the Plunge! Aquatic Centre.
Inspired by traditional Muskoka-style boathouses, this 10,000 sq ft water park is one of the top family attractions in The Blue Mountains and has a huge indoor / outdoor heated pool, hot tubs, rope swings, and slides. Swimming lessons and kids programs are available, as well as a clinic offering an introduction to scuba diving.
6. Get Creative at Crock A Doodle Studio
For kids with an artistic streak – and possibly looking for a little indoor fun – pay a visit to Crock A Doodle Studio for some hands-on pottery making. Your finely sculpted (or not!) work of art can be glazed and kiln-fired to a brilliant, durable, food-safe finish for later pick-up. While you’re waiting, you couldn’t do much better than take the kids for a skate on the four-acre Mill Pond.
Learn more about Crock A Doodle Studio Blue Mountain here.
7. Ride the Ridge Runner
Another must-do the kids will love is the excellent Ridge Runner. This thrilling mountain coaster whips riders along a 3,560ft route downhill at an impressive 42kmh.
Affixed to a track that resembles a theme park rollercoaster, the Ridge Runner twists and turns down the Niagara Escarpment through the treed terrain. The ride’s open-air seating allows riders to enjoy stunning views of Georgian Bay and the surrounding ski hills as they zoom along at between 10 ft and 20 ft above ground level.
And if things seem a little too scary, riders can adjust their speed using simple to use brakes to a more comfortable pace.
8. Movies Under the Stars
There’s nothing better than watching the latest flicks on the big screen. Better still when that big screen is outdoors and smack-dab in the middle of a village square, and within arm’s reach of great restaurants and bars – not to mention an ice cream parlor and chocolate emporium. So never mind the popcorn.
Blue Mountain Village’s ‘Movies Under the Stars’ program runs throughout the summer until Labour Day, and just keeps getting better. Movies are screened in the Village Square every Wednesday and Friday at dusk, and include plenty of fantastic family-friendly titles, most of which were until just recently being shown on the big screen. (Tip: Arrive early for a chance to win a great prize and to claim your Muskoka chair).
To learn more about these and other fun things to do in Blue Mountain Village, website this top attraction’s website at http://bluemountainvillage.ca.
Bryan Dearsley is Editor-in-chief of LuxuryCollingwood and Riley Luxury Media. You can email him at [email protected].