Blue Mountain has long been a preferred four season destination for the inhabitants of Southern Ontario. Only 2.5 hours from Toronto, this small town at the base of Blue Mountain ski hill is an easy weekend getaway from the city with plenty of fun things to see and do for the entire family.
Ziplining, mountain coaster rides, caves, mountain biking, dining, shopping, and the waters of Georgian Bay are all located within minutes of one another. Many people come for the weekend, but others who know all that Blue Mountain has to offer, stay for a week. Plan your sightseeing with our list of the best things to do at Blue Mountain.
Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.
1. Stroll and Shop in Blue Mountain Village
The small pedestrian-only village at the base of Blue Mountain is a delightful place to visit for a good session of retail therapy. Boutiques, sporting good stores, home décor, and clothing stores all beckon you to wander in and look around. In the winter, you’ll find the latest downhill ski equipment and fashions to ensure you look your best on the hill. Come summer, the trendiest clothes fill the racks and make you think of summer days poolside.
In addition to the retail stores, the village has an excellent assortment of dining options. In summer, these establishments boast of inviting patios, some of which overlook the lake. Grab a table and rest up while enjoying a cold drink and a snack or meal. When the snow flies, the patios go away, but the restaurants hum with a happy crowd enjoying the après ski vibe.
Fortunately, Blue Mountain has a massive parking lot (free) mere steps away from the village area. If you stay right in the village, it’s possible to park your car and leave it here until you need to return home.
2. Go Downhill Skiing
Blue Mountain is one of the best ski resorts in Ontario and with good reason. Seven chairs and four surface lifts whisk you and your crew to the top in minutes flat and allow you to clock up some serious vertical. The 720 feet (220 meters) of vertical is not huge but decent by Ontario standards. This vertical is frequently inundated with huge dumps of snow directly off Georgian Bay and, what Mother Nature doesn’t supply, the resort’s 600 snow guns fill in the gaps quite handily.
Runs range from wide, gentle groomers to twisty trails through the trees and mogul-infested black diamond shots down the Niagara Escarpment. In addition to the traditional ski runs, three terrain parks offer all the latest humps, bumps, jumps, and rails that you can handle.
Official site: https://www.bluemountain.ca/
3. Ride the Gondola
If hiking up the Niagara Escarpment to the top of Blue Mountain sounds like a bit more effort than you’d like to expend, climb aboard one of the open-air gondolas and let the lift do the heavy lifting.
These gondolas have no seats; you stand up for the entire ride. This is fine because the open-air style affords you 360-degree views out over the resort area and off to Georgian Bay sparkling in the distance. The ride is quick; only six minutes up and six minutes down.
At the top of the gondola, stretch your legs and go for a walk along one of the many paths that lead to additional views.
4. Try Ziplining or Tackle a Rope Course
If you are looking for a bit of a thrill but nothing too crazy, get up in the air by taking the Wind Rider Zip Line. Once you are safely buckled in, you’ll descend the slopes of Blue Mountain, hitting speeds of up to 50 kilometers/hour, 15 meters in the air. The ziplines stretch from tower to tower and cover a distance of 122 meters.
It’s more fun to zipline as a group. Each of the zipline courses have three wires that run parallel to one another. Try to get your group to jump off all at the same time and race each other to the next tower.
Right beside the zipline is the Woodlot Low Ropes course. Three elevated courses have over 25 different elements, including bridges, cargo nets, and tire swings. Routes range from just a few feet off the ground right up to 30 feet in elevation. Farther up the hill is the Woodlot high ropes course. Targeted at those with less of a fear of heights, this tourist attraction also has seven routes and 75 course elements high in the trees.
5. Head Up the Climbing Wall
With speed climbing as a new sport in the 2021 Olympic games, the interest in climbing walls as a sport has increased substantially. At Blue Mountain, a tall climbing wall is located near the entrance to the Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster.
The 25-foot-high wall may look imposing, but once you are all set up in the safety gear, you’ll feel more confident about making it to the top and zipping back down again. It’s open to almost all ages (three and up), and each climb is supported by an on-wall staff member. The wall has four different courses to the top with varying degrees of difficulty.
6. Take a Spin on the Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster
One of the top adrenaline producing activities at Blue Mountain is a ride on the Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster. Depending on how brave you are, you can reach speeds of 42 kilometers per hour as you descend the mountain. You control the speed of your coaster with a set of handbrakes: engage them, or just let the coaster rip, it’s your choice.
The track snakes its way down the steep Blue Mountain slope for one kilometer, passing through dense forest and over onlookers below. Be prepared for big drops, corkscrews, and sharp corners as you test your fear limits. Coaster sleds hold two people; you have the choice to ride on your own or with a partner or child.
7. Hike the Trails
Blue Mountain has 18 hiking trails and five walking paths spread across the resort area. Trails range from leisurely walks in the forest to heart-pumping ascents up to the top of the hill. As an added bonus, the Bruce Trail runs along the top of the mountain, allowing you to experience a stretch of this legendary 890-kilometer-long route.
Most of the trails are in the forest on the way up, but at the top, they open up and provide incredible views out over the resort area and to the shimmering waters of Georgian Bay in the distance.
8. Get Out Mountain Biking
With the abrupt and unexpected closure in 2021 of the lift-serviced on-hill mountain bike trails at Blue Mountain Resort, the best place to hit the trails is now in the nearby Kolapore Uplands and Three Stages areas.
At Kolapore Uplands, you’ll find over 40 kilometers of flowy trails through a mixed forest. Trails tend to be fairly easy and well within the limits of any competent intermediate rider. The area is relatively lightly used, so trail congestion is rarely a concern or issue. If you see a long descent ahead, let those knobby tires rip!
Trails crisscross wetlands in some areas and can get a bit muddy, but for the most part, they are well drained and maintained. One watch-out is for leaf debris, especially after a rain event. This debris can be quite thick and slippery and sometimes hides rocks and holes, so be mindful as you blast along.
The trail network is very extensive, and it can be confusing at times. Be sure to either purchase a map in advance or take a photograph of the trails at the entrance in case you get turned around.
More advanced mountain bikers will want to test their mettle at the Three Stage Trail area. This crazy mishmash of trails is located in the Pretty River Provincial Park, a short distance from Blue Mountain.
The 40-plus-kilometer trail network can be hard to follow, since the routes are mostly unmarked. As a rule of thumb, the area extends across three levels. If you get confused, just head back uphill; this is where a majority of the trails are found and where your car will be parked. Avoid going to the very bottom level unless you enjoy a long, tough slog up.
Trails here wind their way through the forest, and some of the downhill routes will either scare or thrill you depending on your risk tolerance. The main entrance is at 2nd Line and Side Road 6.
9. Tour Scenic Caves
Just a short drive away from the Blue Mountain base area, Scenic Caves is a worthwhile family activity. Wander through a natural area that is estimated to be over 450 million years old. Winding trails and stairs take you through the cave area; additional routes are spread out across the 370-acre property.
One of the main highlights of a visit to Scenic Caves is the largest suspension bridge in Southern Ontario. From this majestic structure, you can see for miles and miles in every direction.
If you have young children with you, they will likely be more interested in the adventure playground, the gemstone mining adventure (additional fee), or the 18-hole mini golf course. If your legs are getting tired, jump on Rocky, the small train making its way around the park, or take a tractor wagon ride. For those with a taste of adventure, take a ride on the Thunderbird Twin Zipline.
10. Get Wet at the Plunge Aquatic Center
One of the top water-based attractions at Blue Mountain is the Plunge Aquatic Center. A major favorite for kids, this wet and wonderful playland of water is sure to elicit squeals of delight from all who visit.
Plunge Aquatic Center has both an indoor and outdoor area chock-full of exciting things to do. Some of the most popular include the numerous waterslides that twist and turn and send you flying out the end. Test your strength with the rope swing as you run, grab, and arc way out over the pool below. Take a jump off the wooden diving platform and try for the biggest spray possible.
A toddler splash pad is a favorite for those who aren’t swimmers. In this area, you’ll find a giant mushroom-style water feature, jets, and all kinds of ways to soak yourself silly.
After all the action, warm up and relax in one of the hot tubs.
11. Enjoy Cross-Country Skiing at Highlands
Blue Mountain isn’t all about downhill skiing. Some of Ontario’s best cross-country skiing is located a short distance away at Highlands. This premier cross-country facility has over 25 kilometers of groomed trails across varying levels of difficulty.
Whether you prefer classic or skate skiing, the trails are 30 feet wide, providing ample room for all participants. No need to worry about getting lost. The trails are exceptionally well marked at every intersection, and Highlands has an app that will allow you to know your exact location at any point in time.
12. Soak Up the Sun at Northwinds Beach
Just a short drive from the resort area, Northwinds Beach is one of the best beaches in the area. Break out your favorite water toy and hit the crystal-clear waters. The beach is well protected from strong south winds, and breakwaters keep waves to a minimum.
Select your favorite beach area and set up your gear on the soft golden sand. Just back from the beach are large trees providing some welcome shade on hot summer days. Picnic tables are positioned by the beach and make for a perfect spot for a leisurely lunch. Kids will enjoy the shallow and relatively warm water, and if they lose interest in frolicking in the water, a playground is located near the main parking lot.
13. See the View from Craigleith Provincial Park
If you’ve hiked or taken the gondola to the top of Blue Mountain, or gazed out from the suspension bridge at Scenic Caves, you will have seen off in the distance the immense body of water known as Georgian Bay. For an up close and personal experience, drive five minutes north from the resort area to Craigleith Provincial Park. This small, but fascinating park features flat limestone shelves that extend into the impossibly clear waters of the bay.
Park and walk east to the right to the end of the park to find a small beach area, where you can dip your toes into the especially frigid water or launch your kayak or canoe. Informational plaques in the park detail the numerous shipwrecks that occurred just offshore from the park.
Accommodation can be expensive at Blue Mountain in the summer. If you are watching your budget consider camping here.