Take a family of 5. Add a mountain, a pond, 4 bikes, a playground, 2 ropes courses, a roller coaster, a water park, and much, much more, and you can pretty much guarantee that a whole lot of fun will ensue. Which it absolutely did.
I took my family to Blue Mountain Resort in Ontario this summer and there was nothing but excitement and adventure from the moment we arrived until the moment we left.
It’s amazing to me how wonderful a family vacation can be when physical activity features prominently. As a mother who works for an organization devoted to keeping children active, healthy, and happy, it should come as no surprise, but experiencing it consciously this time around really opened my eyes. Activity is good. For everyone.
Here are 12 things we loved doing at Blue Mountain:
Blue Mountain Resort
Where: Blue Mountains, Ontario
Who: Family of 5, kids aged 9, 6, and 3
Activities: Hiking, swimming, downhill biking, ropes courses, ziplines, roller coaster, and more
Where there’s a mountain, there’s usually a great hike. And Blue Mountain is no exception. But there’s a bonus when you hike up Cascade and Village Way hiking trails at Blue. It’s the free open-air gondola ride back down. I did the Village Way trail with my two oldest kids and though we were all pretty hot by the time we got to the top, it was totally manageable for everyone and the hike was beautiful. The lovely gondola ride down – with a spectacular view of Georgian Bay – was a chance to cool down and a perfect opportunity to survey just how far and how high we’d climbed.
The Plunge! Aquatic Centre is a perfect place to go for family fun no matter what the weather. With indoor and outdoor spaces, kids and adults alike will have a great time splashing. There is a sweet play area for toddlers, 2 fun water slides, a hot tub, and a rope swing. My kids would have spent all day here if we’d had the time. Blue Mountain guests also have access to a lovely private beach. Just hop on the free shuttle and in less than 10 minutes the whole family will be playing in the sand.
Daredevils and adventure-seekers will love Blue Mountain’s downhill biking experience. There are 23 trails that range from beginner to expert and an open-air gondola to get riders and bikes up the mountain. But downhill biking isn’t for everyone, including our family of 5. Not yet, at least. So we took our rental bikes (and a trailer) around the flat, paved paths of the property and had a great time. We just didn’t need the body armor. This time.
Yes, there is a full-size golf course at Blue Mountain, but the course we played on was the Cascade Putting Course. It’s an 18-hole, par-67 course surrounded by views of Blue Mountain Village and the gorgeous Niagara Escarpment. It was quite crowded the day we played, which meant I felt a little sorry for the group behind us waiting while our kids fought over who would get to go first, but we were waiting for the group ahead of us, too, so all was fine.
For kids (and adults) who have dreamed of doing movie stunts, the brand new Apex BagJump will be the experience of a lifetime. My husband, oldest son, and I were the only ones who could try this one, and try we did. Okay, so I chickened out after the lowest platform, but my husband and son did the highest they were allowed (kids under 13 can only jump from the lower 2 of the 4 platforms). What is it? Well, you pretty much just fling yourself from a high platform onto a gigantic air bag below. Fun? 100%.
6. Balancing (or climbing)
My youngest was too small to try the Woodland Low Ropes course, but my 2 older kids and my husband conquered it like champions. Designed so that climbers stay attached at all times on a continuous belay, there’s no need to focus on anything but the task at hand. The course has all kinds of cool elements (25, to be exact) and climbers get to walk across tires, climb nets, and brave veritable tight ropes. And, though it was tough to be the one staying on the ground with the youngest, he and I got some pretty cool life lessons watching kids and adults alike conquering some pretty major obstacles and fears above us.
Between the Ridge Runner roller coaster and the ziplines, it’s easy to feel like you’re flying at Blue Mountain. The Ridge Runner is an all-season roller coaster that takes riders through the beautiful Niagara Escarpment for more than a kilometer downhill. Aside from the gorgeous views, the best part of the ride is that one rider controls the speed. So if you’re on the ride with a little one, you can slow it down to something that’s comfortable for them. Cool fact: This is the only alpine coaster in Ontario. And though we didn’t try the ziplines on this visit, the squeals of joy coming from zipliners above us as we enjoyed other Blue Mountain adventures were enough to show me how much fun they would be.
8. Frog catching & fishing
There were a number of activities in which my youngest child couldn’t participate, but that didn’t mean he was bored. We bought him a little fishing net and he loved sitting on the dock at the Millpond catching and releasing tiny fish. And each evening we were at Blue Mountain, all three of my children insisted we spend time by the pond so they could catch frogs before bed. For those interested, there are paddleboats and kayaks available to rent at the pond, too.
When you’re out all day working up an appetite, restaurant selection is important. Blue Mountain has lots of incredible restaurants to choose from, all of them offering healthy food for parents and kids. If you’re going with kids, they’ll probably get the biggest kick out of Firehall Pizza, which is designed to look like a Northern Ontario Firehall. Of course, the flaming Saganaki at Tholos is pretty exciting, too. Good to know: Lots of suites come with full kitchens, so it’s easy to make your own meals, too.
Not everyone can be active all the time. One thing I love about Blue Mountain is that there’s something for everyone – including a family member who would prefer to get activity from strolling through shops. The Village at Blue Mountain is filled with lovely stores that appeal to all ages. There’s even a paint-your-own pottery place if you happen to get unlucky with the weather and need to entertain kids.
I never would have thought it, but physically active holidays can actually be quite relaxing. Keeping 3 young children happy and entertained could have been challenging, but it wasn’t at all. They had so many fun things to do that once bedtime rolled around, they were fast asleep in seconds. And with modern and comfortable suites at the Westin, sleeping came easily.
Okay, that’s not technically a verb. But Collingwood happens to host the Elvis Festival every summer and we weren’t going to miss an afternoon with the king of rock ‘n’ roll. The Grand Champion happened to be performing at the Water Street Bandstand while we were there, so we walked over, got all shook up, and couldn’t help falling in love with him.
Our time at Blue Mountain was ridiculously fun, easy, and effortless, in part because we were so happy and energized from all the activity. But also just because Blue Mountain is an awesome place to be.
Our review was made possible thanks to Intrawest and Blue Mountain Resort, which provided accommodations, some meals, and tickets for adventure attractions.