Collingwood, Ontario, which is situated on the southern beaches of Georgian Bay, a sizable body of water that is a part of the even larger Lake Huron, has developed from a sleepy shipbuilding community into one of the most well-liked year-round vacation spots in Canada.
Collingwood and the adjoining township of The Blue Mountains, two separate communities that are frequently grouped by those unfamiliar with the area, are particularly well-liked by outdoor lovers. The distance between them and Toronto’s international airport is two hours.
Collingwood and The Blue Mountains are popular ski destinations in the winter because they are located at the northern end of the Niagara Escarpment, a region of exceptional natural beauty that extends to the magnificent Niagara Falls.
In the months without snow, it’s all about outdoor activities like boating, fishing, hiking, and bicycling – or engaging in more relaxing activities like golf or outdoor dining.
1. Hike and Bike the Georgian Trail
The 34-kilometer Georgian Trail, which connects Collingwood and Meaford (and passes straight by Craigleith Provincial Park), provides a wonderful opportunity to view Georgian Bay’s southern shoreline.
Built on the former Collingwood to Meaford railway line site, it is precisely level and has a hard-packed granular surface that is great for biking and strolling. The trail is turned into a wonderful cross-country skiing and snowshoeing track in the winter.
There are several rest areas with seats available for people who are not in a rush; several of these shady corners also offer fantastic views of Georgian Bay. Whatever route you choose, Thornbury is an excellent place to stop and rest. Take a brief detour to visit these gorgeous nooks of The Blue Mountains since the route directly passes by the harbor and the quaint downtown neighborhoods. Along the way, there are also many wonderful sandy beaches to be found.
2. At Blue Mountain Village, Summertime Fun
Blue Mountain Village, which resembles its counterparts in Whistler, British Columbia, and Mont-Tremblant, Quebec, very closely, offers endless entertainment any time of year you come.
While there are still plenty of outdoor things to enjoy throughout the seasons, the winters mostly focus on skiing and après-ski activities.
Mountain biking and hiking are popular activities, with the hamlet and its many lodging options serving as a base from which to go.
The village tucked away at the base of the mountains, is made up of a maze of pedestrian walkways connecting its stores, hotels, and tourist destinations.
You’ll encounter dozens of different entertainment venues and attractions along the route, including fire pits and splash areas, outdoor movie screens, cozy Muskoka chairs, buskers, and music performances.
One of Canada’s original mountain coasters, the superb Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster, deserves some of your attention. In your open-air, go-cart-like vehicle, you have propelled up the hill before letting gravity drag you back down to the hamlet at up to 42 kph (there is a manual brake if you prefer to go slower!).
Plunge is enjoyable for kids too! Over 10,000 square feet of watery fun can be found in the Aquatic Center, with heated indoor and outdoor pools, hot tubs, slides, and swings. There are also numerous children’s programs available, including swimming classes.
3. At Blue Mountain Resort, You Can Ski, Bike, and Hike
The Blue Mountains’ ski slopes, is just a drive west for five minutes from Collingwood’s downtown, have been popular since they were built in the 1940s. With a current footprint of 700 acres, and 250 suitable, Blue Mountain Resort offers downhill skiing established itself as Ontario’s premier ski resort, bringing more than a million tourists annually.
The third-most popular ski resort in Canada features a slope for skiers and snowboarders of every skill level thanks to its two “bases,” 36 ski and snowboard trails, and 15 chairlifts. Additionally, the resort frequently holds international ski contests and offers night skiing.
Beginner skiers will love Blue Mountain Resort’s highly lucrative hamlet with an Alpine theme that is situated at the foot of the slopes. Along with a wide variety of eateries and cafés, this area is home to anything, including sporting goods shops and galleries.
Once the snow has melted, outdoor adventure enthusiasts flock to the area to experience the greatest mountainous terrain ridings in Ontario, bringing life back to the hills. The resort is a good starting place for a number of hiking trails, and the village is packed with activities at this time of year, including outdoor concerts, festivals, and movies.
4. Explore Creemore Village
The charming, small village of Creemore is located 25 minutes south of Collingwood. Even just the gorgeous drive is reason enough to go, and once you reach the aptly named Purple Hills, be sure to pull over to take in the breathtaking views of Georgian Bay.
You can easily leave your car parked on the street and explore the area on foot thanks to the abundance of parking. You’ll be happy you did because it will be simple to browse the charming shops, galleries, and restaurants lining the main street. Sometimes, you may even sit outside for a while and observe life go by (slowly).
Among the must-see sights in this region is the North American prison with the smallest capacity. Only 4.5 by 6 meters in size, this stone jail was constructed in 1892. It was purportedly used to hold a cow that escaped (for a fun photo, get the kids to stand behind its bars). Another excellent backdrop for a selfie is a comparable-sized log cabin from the early 20th century.
5. Craigleith Provincial Park
The best site to come up close to the distinctive geology and rock formations of this region of Georgian Bay is Craigleith Provincial Park, which is midway between Collingwood and the sleepy hamlet of Thornbury.
If you take a stroll along the flat oil shale rock bordered by the bay’s startlingly vivid blue waters, you might be lucky enough to see some of the more than 450 million-year-old fossils that are occasionally revealed (but resist the urge to dig them up; doing so is illegal!).
It was founded in 1967 and is particularly well-liked by families because of how shallow the waters are. It’s also a popular fishing place and is a simple place to launch canoes and kayaks.
There is plenty of on-site camping, but it can get busy on weekends (reservations are required). Along with a children’s playground, there is also a sizable picnic shelter that can be used.
6. Consider a Trip to Thornbury
Thornbury is a typical example of an Ontario tiny town and is just 20 minutes by car west of Collingwood (or an hour by bicycle along the Georgian Trail).
You’d be wise to begin your exploration by parking at the public lot near Thornbury Harbour or securing your bike at the local port facility, even though street parking is scarce (we did say it was limited).
From here, past the people fishing, cross the historic railroad bridge over the Beaver River, and then proceed through the riverfront park. You will finally reach Thornbury Fishway.
This distinctive structure aids fish in getting to their upstream breeding areas, including salmon in the fall and trout in the spring.
The Thornbury Bakery Café, the Cheese Gallery, or any of the town’s coffee shops are wonderful places to get a snack on the main street. You deserve it.
7. Shop, Eat, and Stay in Collingwood’s Downtown
Of all the little towns in Ontario, Collingwood unquestionably has one of the most beautiful and bustling main streets. Huronia Street divides the downtown core, providing a very nice adventure, and stretches over a kilometer from the historic shipbuilding district (now the famous Shipyards complex) on the shores of Georgian Bay south to Hume Street.
The late 1800s and early 1900s-era historical buildings that line the street are now home to stylish boutique clothing boutiques, interior design shops, and a varied selection of eateries and cafés.
Visit the Collingwood Downtown Farmers’ Market on a Saturday to expand your shopping options further. Vendors from the surrounding area set up shop to sell everything from locally produced food (apples are a speciality of the area), handcrafted items, and original artwork. For details on other forthcoming activities, visit the Downtown BIA’s official website, which is listed below.
Book a stay at one of Collingwood’s newest luxury hotels for an experience you won’t soon forget. The stylish VanderMarck Boutique Hotel, located on Third Street just a block from the action, provides incredibly comfortable rooms and suites close to the top Collingwood eateries and stores. It also offers spa packages that include relaxing at Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain.
8. Explore the Scenic Caves
The wonderful Scenic Caves, a pillar of the Collingwood and The Blue Mountains tourism industries for decades, offer a variety of entertaining activities for both young and old. The newly renamed Scenic Caves Nature Adventures, situated on the Niagara Escarpment and close to Blue Mountain Resort, offers a variety of outdoor activities that will keep you occupied for several hours.
Of course, climbing into the attraction’s namesake caves and caverns is the highlight. It’s an exhilarating experience, especially when you tackle the appropriately titled “Fat Man’s Misery,” a deep cave with snow on its cold bottom the majority of the time.
You’ll also get to view the hidden natural cave and rock formations used as a fortress by the area’s former inhabitants, the Petun people.
The longest footbridge in Ontario is among the other highlights. It spans a 128-meter-deep canyon and provides breathtaking views of Collingwood and Georgian Bay, zipline adventures, and lots of family-friendly activities for kids, such as playgrounds and wagon rides. The attraction is open during the winter for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing excursions, including enjoyable nighttime trips.
9. Visit the Collingwood Museum to Relive the Past
For those interested in learning more about the town’s history, the Collingwood Museum, housed in a reproduction of the town’s 19th-century railway station, is a must-visit.
Highlights include exhibits and artifacts about Collingwood’s history of shipbuilding, historic heritage structures, and a significant archive.
Other exhibits include artifacts from archaeology, works by regional artists, old movie reels, model ships, and data about the First Nations inhabitants of the region. There are opportunities for self-guided tours and a gift shop on the property. There are numerous children’s programs accessible all year round as well.
10. Visit Collingwood Arboretum and Go for A Walk
In addition to the numerous hiking routes that wind through the Niagara Escarpment and Georgian Bay, Collingwood also has several lovely locations for a stroll close to the city center.
It takes only a little distance to get from the main street to Millennium Overlook Park, where you’ll already be able to see the town’s enormous old grain silos, which were formerly used to store this valuable commodity before it was carried across Canada.
Travel through the Shipyards neighborhood from here to reach Collingwood Arboretum. Regardless of the weather, this is a beautiful location to explore, with many intriguing sculptures to view along the path and a broad range of plants and trees.
The long boardwalks of Harbourview Park, which provide numerous spots to pause and observe the birdlife, are reached by continuing to the west.
11. Explore Southern Georgian Bay and Wasaga Beach
11.1. Southern Georgian Bay
Whatever your interests, South Georgian Bay has something for you to enjoy. In addition to having two of Canada’s largest freshwater marinas, South Georgian Bay is also home to the world’s greatest collection of freshwater islands.
It is a place where your family or group can experience a wide range of activities. Strategically situated 90 minutes north of Toronto, Southern Georgian Bay is only an hour’s drive from the magnificent pathways of Muskoka, Parry Sound, and Collingwood.
The region, which sits on the shores of lovely Georgian Bay, is renowned for its sunsets, beaches, trails, and natural woodland. The four distinct seasons have a lot to offer!
After the spring rains, spring bursts with new blooms and lush grass. For summer delight, Georgian Bay thaws and comes to life. Outdoor activities on land and in the water abound throughout the summer. Enjoy local markets, live theater, and specialty shopping.
As the season changes, the colors of fall are bright. Drive or stroll across beautiful landscapes as the colors are at their best. Winter is energizing as you cuddle up and take in Jack Frost’s majesty. Participate in a variety of wintertime events and festivities.
Your next trip should take you to South Georgian Bay. We promise that if you only want to remain for a day, you’ll extend your stay to three or more. Your area is South Georgian Bay. Your ideal getaway lies in South Georgian Bay!
11.2. Wasaga Beach
In Simcoe County, Ontario, Canada, there is a community called Wasaga Beach (or just Wasaga). It is a well-liked summer tourist destination since it is situated along the world’s longest freshwater beach.
The World’s Longest Freshwater Beach is located near Wasaga Beach, one of the top tourist sites in the world. Our beach is made up of white sand and spans South Georgian Bay, providing sweeping vistas of the Niagara Escarpment, a UNESCO World Biosphere. Wasaga Beach, which stretches for 14 kilometers along Nottawasaga Bay, is a well-liked Ontario Provincial Park in addition to being a popular destination for tourists in Canada.
In addition to its stunning oceanfront, it has several attractions for visitors, including routes through the forest and dunes that are ideal for bicycling and trekking.
This is the location to be if you’re looking for sun and sand!
12. Visit Clearview-Collingwood Train Trail
The Clearview Collingwood Train Trail is a linear, crushed gravel trail that connects to the Collingwood Train Trail and runs from Collingwood to Stayner. It follows a defunct rail line that was once a part of the Collingwood–Toronto section of the Ontario Simcoe and Huron Railway.
Before it was abandoned in 1960, travelers relished the scenic vistas of the surrounding area. This level railbed is now a multi-use trail that hikers and cyclists can utilize, stopping in Stayner or Collingwood for lunch or a break.
Collingwood is home to several amazing tourist attractions and rich historical details. Parks, museums, and other locations in Collingwood offer fantastic opportunities. Plan your trip to Collingwood as soon as possible!