It was our weekend playground when we used to have a steady job and a home in Canada. Collingwood, Ontario, is one of our favourite spots in the province for a quick and easy getaway. Located two hours northwest of Toronto, with a charming village at the base of the Blue Mountains, great dining, excellent spas, and incredible adventure activities, a visit to the Blue Mountains is like going on vacation without having to leave the country! We're now back from our travels around the world, and when Ford Canada asked us where we'd like to go for our Ultimate Escape in Ford's new 2014 Escape, we immediately thought of Georgian Bay.
We've been scuba diving over shipwrecks in its waters, mountain biking and cycling through its rolling landscape, rocking climbing at its crags and snowboarding on its ski hills. We thought we'd done it all until we found out that there's more!
Collingwood is the main city in the area and it's the perfect place to make a home base as you travel to the neighbouring villages to explore all there is to do. Nestled between Georgian Bay and UNESCO biosphere reserve, the Niagara Escarpment, it offers plenty of opportunity for adventure travel. And today, adventures are what we had.
We love a road trip.
It's imperative to have a car when exploring Georgian Bay. The towns are spread out and the scenery is beautiful. Driving gives you the freedom to take your time and see everything. We drove all over the place from Thornbury to Meaford and Craglieth to Beaver Valley. The temperature was dropping quickly as autumn approached, but our heated seats kept our bottoms toasty warm.
We were surprise with the gas mileage of the new Ford Escape. It's an SUV (sport utility vehicle) but with its EcoBoost® engine and aerodynamic design, it has the gas mileage of a smaller car. We drove from Woodstock to Collingwood and everywhere in between and still had plenty of gas in the tank. Filling up was cheap too. Before heading home, topping up the car only cost us $45.
The Ultimate Adventure
As we said, we drove a lot, but there was plenty of fun to be had in between. We've done a lot of ziplines and high ropes in our travels, but surprisingly have never done it in our own backyard. Finally, we have the chance to show off Ontario adventures, and we started with the Scenic Caves. Scenic Caves Eco Adventure Tour starts off with a stunning walk over Southern Ontario's longest suspension bridge. It's a thrilling walk as you span 420 feet from high above Georgian Bay. It offers the best views around.
Your guide gives you a history of the area and how the bridge was formed and we were surprised to hear that it was built over the winter. An archer was hired to shoot a small cable across the gorge and then larger cables were pulled piece by piece until the heavy cables were eventually put in to place creating the bridge that we have today.
While the views were spectacular, we were here for the adventure and soon we found ourselves on a tractor taking us to our starting point of our canopy walk. It was fun to walk along the narrow wooden planks set high above the treetops, but the real thrill came 600 metres later when we reached our first zip line.
I've never ridden such a smooth zipline before. Usually we come crashing in to a heavy spring or have to break ourselves with our own leather gloves, but here the guides did all the work for us and slowed us down by pulling up on the cable as we approached. It was smooth like butter and I was ready for more.
Before another zipline, we had the chance to explore the historic scenic caves. This natural wonder took millions of years to form and was an important historic village to the Petun First Nation's people. I can understand why they chose this place as sacred ground, it has a magical feel to it.
We hiked through the caves and once we came out to the lookout, I surprised to see just how high we were. It made for the perfect jumping off point for our final zipline – a 1000 foot span with a 150 metre drop was the perfect ending to our eco adventure thrills.
The Ford Ultimate Escape continues
The day wasn't over though and we were happy to be able to jump in our Ford Escape to warm our freezing tootsies and toes. We love our home and native land, but it gets cold quickly in Canada and as we soared through the air, we felt the winter chill sneaking up behind us. We turned on our heated seats, cranked the heat, set our satellite radio to our favourite Sirius XM station and started back to the Blue Mountain Village.
We were staying at the beautiful Trillium Westin House Resort located directly on the Millpond. It's a fabulous resort with full spa and recreation facilities, outdoor heated pool and hot tubs and one of Canada's premier fine dining restaurats, Oliver & Bonacini. But if you are not up for eating out after all your adventures, you can cook in your fully loaded kitchen. We enjoyed a two bedroom suite with fireplace and kitchen.
We didn't have a moment to spare for cooking though as there were more adventures to be had. Located right next door to the Trillium Westin House is the Plunge Aquatic Centre. It's the perfect four seasons water playground. Canadians are a resilient bunch and we won't let a little winter stop us from swimming outdoors. With it's heated indoor outdoor swimming pool, you have the option to go outside and play or stay indoors and be toasty warm.
We advise going outside though as that's where the fun is to be had. There's a waterslide and tarzan swing, diving platform and basketball nets. Don't worry though, if you just want to let the kids play while you sit back and relax, there's also a giant outdoor spa.
If you are looking for a more mellow spa experience, the Scandinave Spa, just a short drive out of town is a spectacular experience. Live life like a true Scandinavian and plunge into icy waters after soaking in heated tubs. The Scandinave Spa is a outdoor oasis of thermal baths, nordic waterfalls and cold plunge pools with a Finnish Sauna, Eucalyptus Steam Room and quiet sitting areas. It is a place to truly take your time to relax and enjoy after a full day of outdoor adventures.
Heading up north to cottage country is a Canadian tradition. For as long as we can remember, we'd load up the cars at the start of the weekend and head to the wilderness to enjoy our many lakes, forests and hiking trails. We're keeping the tradition alive and Ford's helping us as they continue to promote escaping the city for an ultimate escape. As someone said to us recently, there's so much to see in Ontario that they've made a point to choose a different getaway destination each weekend. We think that's a great idea. Where would you take your Ultimate Escape?
Check out our post and video on The Ford Blog at Adventure is for Everyone!