Destination Ontario: Collingwood
By Cece Scott www.cecescott.com
A whole lot of shakin’ going on
Collingwood, named one of the 35 most beautiful destinations in Canada (Expedia.ca 2016), is known for its bon vivant spirit, spectacular scenery, fine dining, great shopping and hospitality, in addition to a wide range of naturecentric, four seasons’ activities.
Things to see and do
Collingwood is part of the South Georgian Bay Triangle, and is situated on Nottawasaga Bay – within the shores of Georgian Bay. The area encompasses some touristy hotspots, including Blue Mountain Village and Wasaga Beach – the longest freshwater beach in the world. With sweeping views of the Niagara Escarpment, the Wasaga area is known for great hiking, cycling, swimming and SUP (stand-up paddle boarding). Golf enthusiasts tee off at well-known courses, including Blue Mountain Golf & Country Club, Atoka at Cranberry, and OsterBrook Golf & Country Club.
One of the most popular events, is The Collingwood Elvis Festival (the largest Elvis celebration in the world). Now in its 23rd year, the festival (endorsed by both Priscilla Presley and Graceland) draws upwards of 30,000 attendees who sing and groove with more than 100 Elvis impersonators. This year, the festival runs from Friday, July 28th to Sunday, July 30th. The weekend has become such a favourite with Torontonians that they can now hitch a ride to the festival on the Rock & Roll Express from six different Toronto locations.
Blue Mountain, Ontario’s largest mountain village resort, was envisioned as a skiing paradise by Jozo Weider in 1941. Today, skiers can access 42 trails over 364 skiable acres. In the summer, the mountain becomes a bike park with a flowing singletrack and technical downhill descents.
The Scenic Caves, originally home to the Deer Tribe of the Petun First Nations people, are a staple of the Triangle. The caves, some 70 feet deep, were at one time a spiritual Native oasis. Ekarenniondi is a sacred rock at the caves, and was believed to have marked the pathway to the Village of the Souls. Located in one of Canada’s sixteen designated UNESCO biospheres, Scenic Caves Nature Adventures offers a host of other eco adventures, including tree-top canopy walks, 1,000-foot escarpment zip lining, a 420-foot suspension bridge, and 10,000-square-kilometre panoramic views.
Feed your soul
The Triangle offers up some excellent fine dining, both in, and out of, town. Wasaga’s Catch 22 features fresh fish caught in the nearby Georgian Bay waters. The renowned Oliver & Bonancini Cafe Grill, with fire-side tables for cozy après ski and pondside terrace seating for après golf, is located at Blue Mountain Village. Magnone’s Italian Kitchen captures the heart and soul of Italy, and the trendy Copper Blues Bar & Grill has has a more relaxed menu. Fallicious is a great time to visit the village, when many retailers and restaurants offer incentive shopping and dining specials.
The Scandinave Spa at Blue is nestled on 25 acres amongst birch, maple and pine trees. Soak in the therapeutic baths and saunas, and enjoy outdoor fires, hammocks and relaxing areas to wile away the day, while taking in the panoramic views of the escarpment.
Walk it off
The Georgian Trail, with magnificent views of the bay and Blue Mountain, runs along the shores of Georgian Bay, through Collingwood, Thornbury and Meaford. With 35 kilometres of trails, its the perfect destination for cross-country skiers, hikers, bikers and walking enthusiasts.
Highlights of the four distinctive heritage walking tours revolve around the architectural stylings mastered by local Collingwood architects. The Collingwood Museum features 150 years of marine heritage. A vibrant downtown core serves up unique shops, boutiques and fine dining establishments – all within walking distance in the town of Collingwood.