Welcome to this week’s edition of the Friday Five…5 things that are bringing me bliss this week! Something different again this week. For Mother’s Day last week, I spoiled myself with a couple days getaway up to the Blue Mountain region, alone, sans kiddos. I thought I would share with you my top 5 from that trip, with lots of pictures!
Now, I have to begin with a caveat…I am not really an outdoor adventure type of person. No zip-lining or mountain climbing, no sailing or off-road biking. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time outside, and I enjoy hiking, scenic lookouts, soaking up the sun, listening to the birds. But the usual adventure activities that tempt people to the Blue Mountain region are not what draws me there. My bliss is in the quiet, the sounds of nature, slowing down to enjoy the view.
This is my second annual trip to Collingwood, and I repeated many of the things I did last year, for exactly the same reasons…bliss! I’m really thinking retirement would look good up that way. I could spend spring, summer and fall exploring everything there is to see and do, and then rent out my place to some snow-loving adventurers for the winter, while I escape to warmer climates!
So, without further ado, here is my top 5 things I love about Blue Mountain region!
Follow Grey County Road 13 north, through the picturesque Beaver Valley, right to the lake and you’ll end up at Thornbury Harbour, just one of the sights in this small town.
I did spend quite a bit of time with my toes in the sand, just enjoying the perfect blue sky, listening to the waves lapping at the shore, collecting a few rocks, and taking pictures.
The Georgian Trail, a 34km long hiking and biking trail that runs from Collingwood to Meaford, passes right through Thornbury, along the lakefront. While I was there at the beach park, a group of senior women were just loading up their bikes after a cycling excursion. I also spotted a few fishermen where the Beaver River meets Lake Huron, and just a bit further upstream is the Thornbury Fishway, a “fish ladder” that allows trout and salmon to “jump” upstream to spawn.
But this charming little town also boasts a surprising number of restaurants and shops. Some of my favourites…The Cheese Gallery, Sincerely Yours Boutique, and Loft Gallery. It was really hard to narrow down the choices of where to go for lunch.
2. Miso Hot
My craving for sushi won out when it came to lunch picks, so off I went to try Miso Hot in Thornbury. This fusion restaurant blends Korean and Japanese favourites for a unique take on Asian cuisine.
The lunch special options, served bento style, are an incredible value. Served with miso soup, green salad and choice of 6pc sushi roll, it is the perfect combination, especially for folks like me who have trouble making up their mind! I chose a true fusion, the Bulgogi Lunch…Korean style sliced beef stir fried with veggies and sweet marinade. I paired it with the spicy crab roll, and a serving of hot sake to drink. A second lunch ordered to go, the Maki Lunch, 8pc Dynamite Roll and 6pc California Roll, served as an excellent dinner later that night!
Located in a quiet neighbourhood minutes from Scandinave Spa, Blue Mountain Resort and the town of Collingwood, with direct access to the Georgian Trail behind the property, Craigleith Manor Bed and Breakfast is the perfect home base for your getaway.
Upon arrival, you are encouraged to treat the home like your own. Automatic keyless entry with your personalized door code allow you to come and go as you please. Hosts Guy and Craig do make an effort to greet guests in person, depending on time of arrival, to give you a tour and answer any questions you might have. Gracious and knowledgeable, it is clear how much they take pride in their business and providing the ultimate guest experience. They have exquisite decorating taste and attention to detail!
The main floor is open and spacious, with a two-story entryway. Here you’ll find a cozy reading corner with desk, and a library of information on local attractions and restaurants (each one taste tested by your hosts, who are happy to help make dining reservations for you).
The living room, complete with fireplace, sectional sofa and elegant chairs, invites you in, with soft jazz music playing in the background throughout the day. Guests are encouraged to cozy up by the fire with a glass of wine, read a book or enjoy a magazine. Large picture windows and sliding glass doors look out over the beautifully landscaped backyard and deck (which are scheduled for even more enhancements this year).
The kitchen and dining room round out the main floor space. Guests are encouraged to use the space for dining outside of breakfast hours. Real dishes and cutlery, as well as wine glasses and placemats are offered. There is also a microwave, and a guest fridge off the kitchen. As a solo traveller, I don’t dine out often, so this was a welcome luxury for my take-out dinners or enjoying wine and cheese al fresco on the deck at sunset!
Speaking of dining, the breakfast here is an outstanding feature included in your stay. Each night a menu is left for you to mark your selection for the next morning, including your preferred time. Locally sourced ingredients, and home-made touches abound in the ever-changing selections, including hot and cold options. Each dish is skillfully prepared by your host and chef Guy, and beautifully presented.
This adults-only accommodation has three rooms, impeccably decorated with modern and luxurious touches. Ensuite bathrooms feature in-floor heating, bathrobes, and all the essentials. LED TV with cable, Netflix, and Wi-Fi mean you’re never without technology.
My second visit was just as blissful as last year, and I again chose the Birch Suite.
Although my 2-night stay was short, it was the perfect way to kick back, relax, and enjoy the quiet solitude offered at Craigleith Manor. I hope to keep making annual (or more frequent) visits to the area, and when I do, you’ll find me here…
In keeping with my theme of quiet relaxation, you just can’t beat a day at Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain. Nestled on 25 acres of land, surrounded by trees, you are invited to relax in the heart of nature. The premiere experience is the Scandinavian Baths, following a circuit of body warming, cooling and relaxation. There are a number of different options for each around the property, including hot baths, eucalyptus steam room, saunas, cold plunge pools, solariums, hammocks, and muskoka chairs.
While the baths are the main draw, it can get quite busy, with long waitlists, particularly on weekends and holidays. One way to guarantee your spot is to book a massage with one of the Registered Massage Therapists on site. A variety of massage services are available, including couples massage, hot stone, and of course, swedish relaxation. Access to the baths is included (as well as bathrobe rental), and reservations can be made up to 4 months in advance. If you have extended health benefits coverage through your workplace, you can claim your massage, making your day at Scandinave free!
Silence is the rule, so talking is discouraged. You also won’t find any wi-fi, and cellphones are not permitted. The spa is open year-round, giving you the opportunity to enjoy nature in all it’s splendour; spring, summer, fall and winter! A bistro in the main building provides light lunches of sandwiches, salads, beverages and snacks.
One word of warning…bring sunscreen! The spring sun caught many people (myself included) off guard, and after a day spent soaking in the baths, enjoying the great outdoors, you might find yourself a little sunburnt!
At the water’s edge in the town of Collingwood, you’ll find Harbourview Park. The eastern end of the Georgian Trail, this community park boasts many features, sure to tempt those of all ages and walks of life! A boardwalk trail winds through the park’s tranquil wetlands, where you can spot an array of wildlife. The Arboretum, a botanical park with several species of trees, bushes and plants is surrounded by winding trails, both paved and natural. You can find many hikers and bikers enjoying the scenery.
My stop was the Collingwood Labyrinth, an 11-circuit walking path modelled after the famous Chartres Cathedral Labyrinth in France. This peaceful walk promotes rest, relaxation and reflection. A perfect end to a blissful few days away!
Well, that’s it for this week’s edition of the Friday Five! I hope you enjoyed my favourites from the Blue Mountain region. Have you travelled to the area? Got any favourites you’d like to share? Leave a comment below, or find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!