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Destination Collingwood: Secret Retreats Revealed
Collingwood and The Blue Mountains have been known as a four season paradise for decades, fortunate to have the Niagara Escarpment as a back drop to Ontario’s largest ski resort, Blue Mountain and the crystal clear waters of Georgian Bay as the foreground attracting active individuals in their pursuit to a healthy lifestyle whether it be for a weekend or a lifetime. Because of the region’s close proximity to large urban centres being only an hour and a half to two hours away from the GTA it’s easy to hop in the car and get away for a day trip or to escape for a weekend getaway. There’s no shortage of options when it comes to outdoor activity in the region whether you are new to winter sports or a seasoned weekend warrior.
Nowhere else in Ontario can you snowshoe across Ontario’s largest suspension footbridge while enjoying a spectacular 10,000 square kms panoramic view of Georgian Bay and the surrounding area. Scenic Caves Nordic Centre offers 8 kms of snowshoe trails and 27 kms of professionally groomed cross country trails suitable for both classic Nordic skiing and skate skiing. Open 7days a week from December through to March, you can bring your own equipment or rent and the staff are very helpful if you are new to either sport. The trails are well marked and maps are also available. On Saturday, February 2nd, 2013 NordicFest, Ontario’s cross country ski and snowshoe festival returns to Scenic Caves Nordic Centre. You can join hundreds of outdoor enthusiasts from beginner to expert skiers and snowshoers for a fun and inexpensive day on the trails, test the latest skis and snowshoes from major manufacturers and participate in fun activities. For more information visit: www.sceniccaves.com.
For the wine lover a winter wine tasting adventure could be just the ticket for you and a friend too. Georgian Hills Vineyards has paired up with Free Spirit Tours to offer a one hour snowshoe experience finished off with a winter wine tasting. Book a snow day in apple country and enjoy a picturesque guided snowshoe tour in the Kolapore Uplands Wilderness Area on the world renowned Bruce Trail. Then cozy up by the fireplace at Georgian Hills Vineyards and savour four local wines paired with local cheeses, a quintessential Canadian experience! Tours can be booked through Free Spirit Tours (705) 444-3622 or through Activity Central (705) 443-5522. Visit: www.georgianhillsvineyards.ca
No visit to Collingwood and the surrounding area is complete without a visit to Scandinave Spa. The Scandinavian baths are renowned for their ability to cleanse the skin and provide a sense of well-being. Relax in the Finnish Sauna, Norwegian Steam Bath, Thermal & Nordic Waterfall as well as Hot Baths & Cold Plunges. Complete the experience by enjoying the serenity of the Solaria, relaxation areas and outdoor fireplaces. There is also a Bistro on site catered by Café Chartreuse. Leave the kids at home for this one because it’s adults only. Tip to day trippers – if you have a flexible schedule, plan to go on a Monday or Tuesday in high ski season between Christmas and March Break to avoid waiting for the baths. The owners and staff at Scandinave Spa pride themselves on providing an excellent relaxation experience for their guests and limit the number of visitors into the baths at any one time. First come, first served. Visit: www.scandinave.com
All of this winter activity can work up an appetite and if you’re a raw foodie, you’re in luck because Pure Organic Food & Juice Bar will definitely delight you offering a wide array of smoothies ranging from green to chocolate superfood and you can order an extra boost by including ingredients like bee pollen, maca and Irish moss to name a few. Their dining menu (which you can also order to go) includes some amazing dishes that are not only beautiful, but also super good for you like their spring rolls – marinated shitake mushrooms, mint and zucchini vermicelli in a coconut-mango wrap or you can temp your taste buds with their truffle pasta which is made from homemade zucchini noodles, nori, fresh herbs in a white truffle cream sauce. Their guac plate is a local favourite. Visit: www.purefoodbar.com.
Before you leave the area and head back home make sure you take in a quick trip to the Craighleith Heritage Depot which is now a museum. In a quick 20 minute visit you can take in the history of the ski industry in the region. It’s nostalgic, interesting and well worth your time. Visit: www.thebluemountains.ca/Craigleith-Heritage-Depot.cfm
Julie Card is the owner of www.mycollingwood.ca a web based community portal dedicated to highlighting fun and exciting experiences in the region. Visit www.mycollingwood.ca for a full range of winter events and activities, as well as dining and accommodation options in the Collingwood and Blue Mountains Region.