While most people run away from the cold winter months, there are those that embrace it and head outdoors for some winter adventures. For as long as I can remember I have always look forward to the first snowfall. I would wait until the sun went down, put on my winter gear and walk around my neighborhood. There is something magical about walking in the snow.
I would normally stray away from cold destinations as I am always complaining about being cold, however, I decided to opt out of the warm destination and experience a week in Ontario, Canada. We headed to Collingwood Ontario for a week of outdoor adventure.
Collingwood did not disappoint us in the least. Abdou and I have never skied so we decided to take a Newbie Sky Lesson at Blue Mountain Ski Resort. We paid $89.00 CAD per person which is about $67.75 USD and included rental. They also have snowboarding newbie lessons as well. The lessons consist of 5 stages. At each stage, you have an instructor that will teach you every aspect of skiing one step at a time. Once you mastered the first stage the instructor would then move you on to the second stage and so on. The best part of this is that if you wanted to stop and go get a hot chocolate or grab something to eat, you could stop and then come back to the stage you left off at.
For those of you that have some experience or are pros, there are several terrains you can ski at. There are 6 ski lifts for experts and 7 beginner lifts for those of us that are just starting out. The trails are marked with signs from easiest, more difficult, most difficult, most difficult (Experts Only). Lift tickets cost $68 CAD which is about $51.77 USD for adults, youth/seniors pay $51 CAD and children under 5 pay $10 CAD. Ski Rental is $48 CAD about $36.54 USD for adults and children under 12 pay $35 CAD which is about $26.64 USD.
After our day of ski lessons, we unwind by walking around The Village and enjoying a nice dinner. The Village has a ton of restaurant and shops. They even have live entertainment and numerous activities, great for children and adults. Defiantly a place to check out and the views are amazing, especially at night.
Day 2 of our outdoor adventure consisted of Snow Shoeing at Scenic Caves. There is about 15 km of trails for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. All trails are marked specifically for either or and are great for families, first-timers and experts as well. Since I went during a weekday I paid $15.00 CAD which is $11.42 USD, this includes snowshoe rental. Weekend Trail Pass tickets are $20 CAD for adults, children under 6 years old are free and seniors/youth pay $16 CAD.
Scenic Caves has over 450 million years of history. The caves were shaped and sculpted by glacial ice and weathering. During the summer months, you can explore the caves. They are closed during the winter. It’s recorded that there were nine villages of native people living along the Niagara Escarpment.
Since I had never snowshoed before I was super excited to venture off. I was told by the attendant that the snowshoes have spiked so if I was going up a hill or down a hill, I should walk with my toes and this will keep me from sliding or falling. Point taken, so with map in hand, I ventured off to the Lookout Trail which was 1.5 km.
There were other people around but they soon vanished out of sight as we all went on different trails. I started on my trail and was taking back by the views. As you make your way through the trails you will see 100-foot high maple, oak and beech trees. Not to be cliché but I felt one with nature. As I reached the top of Lookout Trail, the view was breath-taking, overlooking the Georgian Bay. I could even see the resort we were staying at. During the summer and fall, you can actually zip line down to the Paradise trail.
Next, I headed to the Nature Trail and the Suspension Bridge Trail. The Suspension Bridge is Southern Ontario’s longest suspension footbridge, at 420 foot. I was a bit intimidated by the bridge, none the less I made my way over the bridge. The view was spectacular though I have to admit, once the bridge started to move a bit I did get a bit frighten and made my way across hastily.
My day at Scenic Caves was one I will always remember. There is so much to do here all year around. I am definitely looking forward to returning during the summer to learn more about the caves and history of the natives.
Day 3 We explored Down Town Collingwood. My husband and I enjoyed walking down the streets and wandering into various shops. As we strolled down the streets we admired the architect on some of the buildings. In the early 1850’s Collingwood was a shipbuilding town. This attracted many people and soon beautiful homes and buildings were built. If you are into architect, the town has a walking tour where they discuss the building design and architect who built the town.
One thing that stood out to us the most was the hospitality. Not only were the shop owners welcoming and friendly but the people of this town were so friendly. I can honestly say the Canadians are one of the most welcoming and friendly people we have had the pleasure of meeting. We love talking with the locals and that’s how we learned about the Elvis Festival. One of the shop owners told us about a yearly Elvis festival held in Collingwood. Over 30,000 Elvis fans attend the festival every year. How cool is that! The town is not only full of history but all hosts various festivals. This is definitely a four-season destination.
Day 4 was for relaxation and sleeping in. While in Collingwood, we stayed at the Living Water Resort & Spa. We started our morning off by attending an Aqua Groove with Pool Noodles fitness class that was given by a resort staff member. Did I mention that the resort offers free fitness classes all week long for all ages? The class was a water-based cardio class that kicked my behind but was so much fun. After lunch, we made our way to the Living Shore Spa on the resort property and indulged in a 45-minute Aquapath Adventure. We started off by standing under a series of waterfalls in a cave-like benches. Followed by being rained on, splashed on and we totally loved every minute of it. Then we stepped into a Eucalyptus steam bath then headed to a Detoxifying Mineral Bath.
Next, we headed to the River Walk, which was a small pool composed of 2 water trenches that have pebbles on the bottom for your feet. One side of the pool was filled with warm water and the other filled with cool water. Our favorite part was the large mineral tub, meant to replenish mineral in your body. It felt like we were in the rain forest, swimming under a waterfall. We ended our Aquapath Adventure at the Exfoliation Tub with a coconut, lemon and sea salt scrub. This was the best $65 CAD we have ever spent. In all honesty, this was the best spa experience and it was really romantic.
We ended our night by having dinner at the Lakeside Seafood & Grill. The restaurant is very modern and had a variety of vegetarian and gluten-free options. Food was fresh and totally yummy.
Day 5 lead us to Ice Caving with Free Spirit Tours. We have been anticipating this day since we booked our trip and it totally exceeded our expectations. The Ice Caving Tour cost $70 CAD per person which is $53.29 USD. Now let me begin by saying that we were under the assumption that we would be walking into the batman cave and wondering around. Well, this was totally not what we expected and definitely one winter adventure not to be missed. The tour company picked us up at our resort which I thought was a nice touch. Driver then picked up another couple and drove about 20 minutes away to explore the Niagara Escarpment caves. We arrived at the location and strapped on our snowshoes.
We were led by the tour guide into the woods to Metcalfe Rock which is over 300 million years old. As we made our way to the first cave, our tour guide pointed out trees that were over 500 to 700 years old. This was pretty amazing. Much to our surprise and the other couple with us, we were shown a little opening where we were to enter the cave. Now, I am by far not little so my first reaction was Ummm, there’s no way I will fit in the opening. After being reassured that I would fit, we one by one climbed over the rock and slid into the opening.
We worked as a team during the tour. Each person was responsible for helping the person behind them make their way. We got on our hands and knees and crawled backward where we came out to a cave. Here we were able to stand up and walk around.
During our expedition, we climbed on rocks, pushed ourselves up with our legs and most importantly relied on our team to help us along the way. At times my anxiety kicked in but our tour guide kept me going. He was the most kind and patient man. When I had doubts he encouraged me. When I was scared, he reassured and made me push through my fears. There is no doubt that this experience was exciting, exhilarating and nerve wrecking at times. Did I tell you that I have a fear of the sensation of falling? I don’t like the butterflies I get when I’m about to fall. If it weren’t for that, I think I would have been less nervous about ice caving. I ended up with some bruises on my knees however, I wear my wounds proudly. I made it out alive and concur my fears.
Canada is filled with tons of exciting winter adventures from snowshoeing to ice carving, we enjoyed every minute of it. The Canadian’s are one of the friendliest people we have met. We were overwhelmed by the kindness of the people of Canada who made us feel at home. I was a bit disappointed that we did not find any Mosque in the area however we were happy to have found Halal food at the local Supermarket, Fresh Co.
What’s your favorite winter adventures in Canada?