A Blue Mountain Getaway
For three days in February, this city girl, her adventurous little boy, and New Yorker husband enjoyed a visit to a mountain village, nestled on the shores of Georgian Bay. It was a winter escape with skiing and skating, swimming beneath an early morning snowfall, and walks through a charming little resort.
Only ninety minutes from Toronto, and just west of Collingwood, Blue Mountain was our surprise filled snowy destination.
WHERE WE STAYED AND ATE
We were lucky enough to stay at the Mosaic, right in the Village. Mosaic rooms range from bachelors to town homes and each is equipped with a kitchenette or full-size kitchen. There is also a heated outdoor pool and hot tub, workout room, and small children's play room for guests.
We enjoyed three days in a two bedroom suite with a full size kitchen. Due to my son's allergies, we cooked our breakfast and lunch meals, and planned for dinner out at three select restaurants that happily accommodated food allergies: Oliver & Bonacini, Magone's Italian Kitchen, and Copper Blues Bar & Grill. We also bought some basic food items such as milk and fruit at the Village Market. A good plan would have also been to stop at the Loblaws in Colllingwood on the way to Blue Mountain, and pick up food essentials.
WHAT WE DID
Skiing at Kids at Blue
Kids at Blue offers a snowboarding and skiing program (for children 2 to 5 years old) and a half and full day camp (for children 3-12 years old). The Burton Ringlet Park is new (opened in mid-February) and offers kids a unique opportunity to hop on a snowboard, work on balance and weight transfers, and have some freestyle fun. The Kid Zone focuses on skiing, for even the littlest snow bunnies.
We decided that my son should take a ski lesson to learn the basic techniques of gliding through the snow. The private class was forty-five minutes long and included a ride along a 'carpet,' almost like riding a conveyor belt up a small hill, an overview of a few important ski skills (weight forward, hands of knees, pizza position stop), and the opportunity to ski down the hill. All children must wear a helmet. The instructor, Kaitlyn was excellent and the class format was well-suited for young children.
Skating at Mill Pond
Mill Pond is an icy oasis in the centre of the Village. Rental skates, helmets, and even skating aids are available for the whole family.
We decided to skate on our final day at the resort, and while we appreciated the bright sun, the warmer temperature made for poor ice conditions, and an early closing.
Part mountain roller coaster and part manually operated go-kart, Ridge Runner takes riders on an exciting trip up the mountain, and then down the mountain while twisting and gliding along rails. Children between the ages of 3-11 must ride with an adult, although they do need to purchase a ticket.
Despite my best intentions to conquer a fear and ride Ridge Runner, I decided to step aside and let my husband and little boy enjoy the mountain thrills. Surprisingly, my four-year-old son loved flying down the mountain (despite his fear of roller coasters) and hopped on Ridge Runner repeatedly (three times in total).
Plunge! Aquatic Centre
An indoor-outdoor, open year-round fun centre, Plunge! includes swimming pools, a water playground, hot tubs, a rope swing, docks, and two water slides.
We visited on a weekday afternoon and it was ideal. A collection of children played in the playground and a few teenagers played water basketball, while grandparents watched from the hot tubs. For us, the heated outdoor pool was the most enjoyable. The water was warm and surrounded by misty air, and my son even felt confident enough to go on the water slide.
A FEW TIPS
Staying in the Village is ideal. Once you arrive at your hotel, you can park your car and walk to all of the Village activities, eateries, and shops.
Plan for a visit during the week. We arrived at Blue Mountain on a Sunday and left on a Tuesday, so we managed to avoid the weekend crowds, and really enjoy and relax at the resort.
Do some research and determine which activities you would like to do and when. Be sure to check operating hours (they may differ from day to day) and ticket prices (so you can budget better).
Dress weather appropriate. Plan for cold days with layers, and then you can easily manage warmer days. We purchased some winter weather essentials before our visit (snow pants and base layers for all of us) and felt comfortable spending the entire day outside. There are some clothing shops in the Village, but the prices vary.
Be open to outdoor adventure. This was the first winter resort vacation for our family, and despite the fact that we don't ski or snowboard regularly, Blue Mountain was a wonderful escape from the city.
For more information visit: www.bluemountain.ca.