Travel: Grey County, Ontario – Day 1

Our Ontario licence plates are very encouraging aren’t they? For those of you haven’t seen them, our provincial licence plate slogan is “Ontario, Yours to Discover.” And a couple of weeks ago, I did just that! I drove north to explore the region of Grey County.

If you’re like me, you may associate this region with Collingwood and the Blue Mountains, but the county has much more to offer than ski hills. Over a series of blog posts, I’ll take you on a little 3-day tour of the region. If you’re looking for something to do this winter, take note!

Day 1

On day 1, I drove about 1.5 hours from Waterloo to the town of Flesherton. Here, I stopped in at The Bicycle Café for a cappuccino and a piece of apple pie. Folks, the pie! Get the pie!

at The Bicycle Café in Flesherton, Ontario

I needed the sweet energy boost before I headed out to Hogg’s Falls. The falls are just around the corner from the main intersection in Flesherton (at Hwy 4 and East Base Line). There is plenty of parking, and while you can spend a while hiking the trails, you don’t need to go too far at all to reach the falls. Follow the sounds, and you’ll find them within minutes of parking. I wasn’t certain I’d be too keen on hiking in the snow, but it was absolutely peaceful.

the trail and Hogg’s Falls

As I’m not an avid winter outdoors-woman, I appreciated that I could hike for as little or as long as I wanted. Listening to and seeing the falls felt really quite magical, and I was so appreciative of the natural beauty that surrounded me! Ontario is yours to discover, remember?

Grey County has 9 waterfalls that you can explore, and 7 of them are accessible in the winter. I’m sure each one has something special to offer, and since they’re not too far away from one another, you can take in a lot even on a short visit to the area.

getting caught in the sunlight

As for my outfit? Along with my scarf, hats, and mitts, I wore  this hiking outfit (I didn’t even include one piece of athletic wear!), my L.L.Bean Downtek, and Sorel boots. The boots were great. I wouldn’t recommend wearing light boots as if there is a lot of snow, you’ll need footwear with traction (and warmth).

After I had my fill of outdoor time, I drove to The Flying Chestnut Kitchen for dinner. This restaurant is worth the drive, let me tell you! I walked into the restaurant just as it was opening, and the staff was conversing about Saved By The Bell. So of course I joined in.  Remember the episode when Jessi Spano took the sleeping pills? Sure do! – There’s no time, never any time! – Ha ha. Does anyone remember this episode? People who remember episodes and lines from Saved By The Bell are my kind of people. All this to say that my intro to The Flying Chestnut Kitchen was great!

Not only did I enjoy chatting with the staff, but I also feasted on a delicious dinner at a leisurely I’m-on-vacation pace. The menu changes regularly depending on the local offerings. I began my meal with an amuse bouche – a sausage roll on a layer of mustard. For the main course, I opted for the evening’s special – duck confit. The first time I had duck confit, I was a 16 year old exchange student in France. Every time I order it, I remember that time period in my life! For dessert, I was treated to a delicious mousse. The quality of everything was superb.

The Flying Chestnut Kitchen is run by Chef Shawn Adler. He opened the restaurant in the Old General Store in 2010. The restaurant is quite small, seating about 25 people, so it’s wise to make a reservation. And bring cash since it’s a cash-only restaurant!

After just about rolling out of the restaurant, I drove about 30 minutes to the Pretty River Valley Country Inn.

Side note: Dark, country roads in the winter are a touch on the scary side. I went slow and used my high-beam lights for just about the whole commute. I was extra grateful for my TomTom since with it, I knew I wasn’t going to get lost, and I could see how windy the roads were via the image on my screen. Other reasons I was a touch nervous on these roads? Well, beyond the snow, I wasn’t even sure if there would be bears and such popping out of the trees. Are there bears in Grey County? Maybe it’s best that I don’t know. If you’re not used to winter driving, I would recommend that you take it slow and drive in daylight hours as much as possible. Oh – and I should also note that the next morning, I drove the same road in the daylight, and it was absolutely smooth and easy. It wasn’t scary at all! It’s amazing what darkness can do to a gal.

Now, to the Pretty River Valley Country Inn! The young staff at the inn helped me with my luggage and checked me into a cozy loft (they call them Crofts). My 600 square foot room had a main floor with a king bed, large bathroom, foyer, and seating area. And a wood-burning fireplace. Oh, the fireplace. So so good. My room also had a second floor with a pair of twin beds.

the Ben Nevis Croft at the Pretty River Valley Country Inn

I had a lazy evening in my Croft. The inn has great options for cozy nights in – popcorn and games are at the ready! I fell asleep to the sounds of the crackling fire, feeling happy for my first day of exploring Grey County.

All photos by Jordana.
Thanks to Grey County and Amanda P. for sponsoring my trip. All opinions are my own.

Travel: Things to Do in Collingwood, Ontario

As I mentioned on Monday, I recently enjoyed a relaxing time at the Scandinave Spa Blue Mountains in Collingwood, Ontario. The day was a full one, and I’d like to fill you in on a few other things I experienced during this mini-vacation.

As I mentioned, the drive from Waterloo to the Collingwood area is very easy and enjoyable. Driving the country roads is relaxing and beautiful. The route took us through the charming town of Erin, Ontario, and just as we entered the main part of town, we spotted a house painted black with cafĂ© on the sign – the Tin Roof CafĂ©. We grabbed homemade cookies and coffee (healthy way to start a spa day, right?) for our journey. I appreciated the design, and the coffee was well-made, too. I recommend it.

As we made it to Collingwood, we stopped to walk the main street. When we spotted a white bike in a shop window, I knew I had to explore. Turns out that the store – Leuk – was made for people like me. White, white, and more white! In fact, Leuk has three stores – a flower store, a cafĂ© and clothing store, and a furniture store – all on the main street (Hurontario St.) in Collingwood. I wanted to buy everything.

photo via Leuk

On the recommendation of a Leuk saleswoman, we stopped in at The Tremont for a delicious lunch in a design-y, French atmosphere. Marble tables get me. Every. Single. Time. I had a freshly made quiche and side salad, which I thought was an improvement from my morning cookie. The closer you get to a spa, the healthier you get? 🙂 I would definitely go back to The Tremont on a future visit.

photo via The Tremont Cafe

Not wanting to return home after five hours at the spa, we took the quick drive over to the Blue Mountain Village. This is the ski zone. There are shops, restaurants, and accommodations for all those people who love to ski. In the spring, though, the Village is a great place for a little walk. We were also hungry for dinner at this point in the day (worked up an appetite after all that relaxing!), and we walked around the sweet boardwalk to the Oliver & Bonacini CafĂ© Grill restaurant at the Westin Trillium House hotel. I had already known that the Westin was in the Village, but I didn’t know that Oliver & Bonacini was the in-hotel restaurant. The restaurant has a beautiful, modern, and welcoming interior, and the sun was shining brightly in the restaurant even though it must have been close to 7pm at this point in the day. Such a wonderful atmosphere! Here, I opted for a classic pizza margherita. Yum. I’d order it again. And one of these days, I’m going to stay at the Westin because it looks like my kind of place – regardless of season!

photo via Oliver & Bonacini

So, not only did I have an amazing time at the Scandinave Spa, but I also really enjoyed exploring a bit of Collingwood. I know the area has so much to offer, and while we generally hear about the winter activity options, I think now is also an ideal time to take explore the area.

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Travel: Scandinave Spa Blue Mountains, Ontario

This year is all about #Canada150. Our country’s notable birthday is encouraging me to explore what lives outside of my neighbourhood. I’m a traveler as you may have noticed, but traveling for extended periods of time is challenging given my schedule. That’s why I’m trying to travel closer to home for shorter periods of time.

I recently took a day trip to the Collingwood area of Ontario. The region is about a 2-hour drive from Waterloo, which makes it a great day trip destination. The main purpose of my trip was to relax at the Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain.

don’t be fooled – this is just a photo backdrop since cameras are not allowed in the baths area

the trees are absolutely beautiful – even if they don’t yet have their leaves

I brought along my Sea Bags tote, and it was perfect!

walk down memory lane – here I am two years ago in the same location

It has been a few years since I first went to Scandinave, so my trip was long overdue. Since my last trip, Scandinave has added an infrared sauna, relaxation solaria, and multiple indoor and outdoor loungers.

one of the best parts of Scandinave – the quiet

The idea at Scandinave is to alternate between hot, cold, and rest periods in a calm, quiet environment. We started with the infrared sauna since it was new, and we wanted to try it out. Thumbs up! We moved to a warm bath, then plunged into one of the cold baths (I could only go up to my thighs!). A rest outside turned into a short snooze, then the routine continued. And continued some more. For four more hours. Heavenly! Magical! Perfection!

Scandinave Blue has an infrared sauna, a traditional sauna, a eucalyptus steam room, three warm(er)(est) bath pools, and three cold(er)(est) bath pools. In addition to these, there are multiple indoor solaria with loungers and magazines for rest periods as well as plenty of outdoor spaces with Adirondack chairs, fire pits, moon loungers, and hammocks. The views in every direction are beautiful – even when there are no leaves on the trees. You can imagine the views as Scandinave is surrounded by 25 acres of forested land!

In between this challenging routine of hot-cold-rest, I had to have a massage. Ha! Right? Tough life! (Have I mentioned how grateful I am!?) I booked myself in for a massage because (a) I seem to be on in a self-care phase at the moment and (b) I’ve never had a massage.

I met with Cathy, a Registered Massage Therapist, who explained her approach and told me to relax. Done. I was already in full-relaxation mode because of the baths, but I relaxed to the extreme with the massage! Cathy was great and definitely made my first massage experience a positive one. I thought she was going to massage me karate-chop-style, but she didn’t. Apparently, I believe things I see in movies? Anyway, the massage was definitely a worthwhile experience, and you can be sure I’ll be having another one at some point in my life! If you book a massage, access to the baths is included. It’s best to book your massage months in advance as the website suggests.

The weather on the day I went was absolute perfection. It was sunny and cool, but warm enough to lounge outdoors on the moon loungers.

A day at Scandinave Blue is supposed to rejuvenate, revitalize, and relax you. I’d say it definitely did for me! Mission accomplished.

If you only plan to go to Scandinave for the baths experience, go. If you’re looking for more, try a massage. Bath access is $55 and a Swedish massage is $145. If you’d like to extend your visit, check out the packages as well as the getaway packages.

The Collingwood area is beautiful year-round, so anytime is a great time to go! And if you’re not able to get to Collingwood, there’s a Scandinave Spa in Whistler, Old Montreal, and Mont Tremblant.

Thanks to Mallory and Mylisa for arranging my visit. All opinions are my own.

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