Often overlooked in favor of Blue Mountain, Collingwood, Ontario, is a town that has plenty of fun things to do in its own right. Nestled between Georgian Bay and the UNESCO biosphere reserve, the Niagara Escarpment, Collingwood makes for the perfect weekend getaway in Ontario. We have spent a lot of time in Collingwood in all seasons and have explored every inch of the surrounding area. It used to be our snowboarding haunt in the winter and cycling location in the summer. If you want to visit the nearby towns on Georgian Bay or simply want to spend time away from the hustle and bustle of Blue Mountain, read on to see all the top Collingwood attractions to add to your list.
Best Things to Do in Collingwood Ontario
Collingwood, Ontario, is located just a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Toronto on the southern shores of Georgian Bay. It is part of Simcoe County and is situated northwest of Toronto, providing a scenic backdrop with the Blue Mountains to the north and vast expanses of natural beauty surrounding it. The town is known for its proximity to recreational activities, both on the bay and in the surrounding highlands, including skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and water sports. Collingwood serves as a gateway to the Blue Mountain Resort and is part of the Georgian Triangle area, making it a popular destination for tourists year-round.
When in Collingwood, visit the South Georgian Bay Visitor’s Centre and Collingwood Museum to find out what’s going on in the area. Located in an 1873 train station, the two share a building, so you can explore the history and ship-building culture of Collingwood while finding out what events are happening in Collingwood today.
1. Collingwood Harbour
Collingwood Harbour serves as a hub of aquatic activity and is a significant part of the town’s nautical heritage. It’s a place where boaters and sailors congregate, with its marinas and docks providing the perfect launching point for a day on the water.
Visitors can enjoy a variety of water-based activities such as kayaking, and paddle boarding. The harbor also features trails and parks along its perimeter, which allow for picturesque walks with views of the bustling waterfront activity, historic shipyards, and the serene waters of Georgian Bay. There are kayak and SUP rentals at Southwinds Marine and Little Eds Ski and Bike Shop.
2. Enjoy the Waterfront Trail
The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail passes through Collingwood and it is an ideal trail for cyclists, joggers, and walkers of all skill levels. The trail stretches over 3000 kilometers (about 1864 miles) along the Canadian shores of the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence River. In Collingwood, Ontario, the Waterfront Trail is a part of this expansive network and we normally pack our bikes but you can rent bicycles and e-bikes from the likes of Little Ed’s Ski & Bike Shop.
The segment of the Great Lakes Waterfront Trail that passes through Collingwood showcases some of the area’s most beautiful landscapes and waterfront views. As the trail weaves through Collingwood, it allows for easy access to several key attractions in the town, including parks, marinas, and historic sites. The Great Lakes Waterfront Trail provides a serene and picturesque experience with views of Georgian Bay.
Along the way, interpretive signage provides insight into the local flora and fauna, making the trail not only a recreational journey but also an educational experience. With ample opportunities to spot wildlife and take in the stunning views, the Waterfront Trail is a must-do for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.
3. Sunset Point Park
This family-friendly park has ample space for picnics, a pebble beach for wading, and playgrounds for children. The park is a community hub where people come together to enjoy the great outdoors, whether it’s cooling off in the splash pad on a hot summer day or enjoying a leisurely stroll along the water’s edge. The natural beauty and serene environment make Sunset Point Park a cherished spot for both locals and visitors.
Ideal for picnics and swimming, Sunset Point Beach Park is located on Nottawasaga Bay and offers stunning sunset views over Georgian Bay. A giant Inukshuk stands proudly overlooking Georgian Bay honouring the Indigenous People of this land.
Paid parking is in effect here. Parking rates are $10/hour with a daily max of $50 so we suggest exploring the area by bicycle and leaving your car at the hotel.
4. South Georgian Bay Trails
Hike or bike along numerous trails that offer scenic vistas and connect to the Niagara Escarpment, including the Georgian Trail and the Bruce Trail. The Georgian Trail is a 34 km coastal trail that runs from Collingwood to Meaford. Pack some food and drinks and ride this trail all day.
South Georgian Bay Trails are a network of paths that provide outdoor enthusiasts with an array of landscapes to explore, from shoreline routes to forested pathways. These trails are perfect for hiking, biking, and during the winter months, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.
They offer a wonderful opportunity to experience the area’s natural beauty, observe local wildlife, and get a breath of fresh air. Each trail provides a unique experience, whether you’re seeking a casual hike or an ambitious trek through the diverse terrain of the South Georgian Bay area.
5. Collingwood Arboretum
The Collingwood Arboretum is a botanical haven, showcasing a diverse collection of trees and plant species that flourish in Southern Ontario’s climate. It’s a tranquil place where visitors can wander through beautifully arranged landscapes, discover various thematic gardens, and enjoy the changing seasons.
Educational programs and guided tours can enhance the experience, providing insights into the region’s horticulture. The Arboretum is not just a feast for the eyes but also a peaceful retreat for those seeking a moment of solitude or a quiet spot for contemplation amid nature’s beauty.
6. Harbourview Park
Nestled along the shores of Georgian Bay next to the Collingwood Arboretum, Harbourview Park offers a serene escape with its panoramic views of the water and the distant Blue Mountains.
Families often flock here to enjoy the well-maintained playgrounds and picnic areas, while fitness enthusiasts appreciate the walking trails that meander through the park. The park’s proximity to the Collingwood Terminals gives it a historical edge, where visitors can glimpse the remnants of the town’s rich maritime history, making it a perfect spot for leisurely strolls and soaking in the tranquil waterfront ambiance.
Thornbury, a charming hamlet just a short drive from Collingwood, is renowned for its quaint atmosphere and vibrant arts scene. The town’s main street is lined with historic buildings, artisan shops, and cozy cafés, inviting visitors to wander and explore. The town is a stop on the Apple Pie Trail which is a great self drive tour of the area.
Thornbury also boasts a picturesque harbour and is famous for its apple orchards, with the annual apple harvest festival being a highlight. Whether it’s sampling cider at a local cidery or browsing through unique galleries, Thornbury offers a delightful retreat into small-town sophistication and pastoral pleasures.
8. Suspension Bridge and Scenic Caves Nature Adventures
The Suspension Bridge and Scenic Caves offer an exhilarating encounter with Collingwood’s natural beauty. The Suspension Bridge, the longest of its kind in Ontario, sways gently over a lush valley offering panoramic views that are particularly awe-inspiring in fall when the foliage is a blaze of color.
After crossing the suspension bridge, you enter the Scenic Caves for an underground adventure, taking visitors back in time through geological formations carved out thousands of years ago. Exploring these caves and crevices is an adventure in itself, revealing the rugged beauty of the Niagara Escarpment up close.
9. Collingwood Brewery Tour
Craft beer enthusiasts will find a special spot at Collingwood Brewery, where the art of brewing is celebrated with a local twist. This boutique brewery prides itself on creating small-batch beers using the finest ingredients and traditional methods.
The taproom allows visitors to sample a range of their crafted brews, from classic lagers to innovative ales, in a warm and welcoming atmosphere. Behind-the-scenes tours can also be enjoyed, offering insights into the brewing process and the passion behind creating the perfect pint.
10. Side Launch Brewing Company
If you want to continue with the brews, Side Launch Brewing Company is named after the unique method of ship launching in the town’s historic shipyards. This brewery has garnered acclaim for its wide range of meticulously crafted beers. Visitors to the brewery can enjoy a tour of the facility to see the brewing process first-hand, followed by a tasting session in the taproom. With a selection that ranges from wheat ales to dark lagers, there’s a flavor for every palate.
11. Northwinds Brewery
Northwinds Brewery brings the art of beer crafting to life in Collingwood with its impressive lineup of handcrafted beers. Each beer is made with local ingredients, showcasing the flavors of the region. The Collingwood offers a Seafood Raw Bar.
The brewery’s restaurant serves up hearty, beer-infused dishes that pair perfectly with the in-house brews, from ales and IPAs to stouts and porters. The lively and rustic setting, combined with the friendly staff, creates a warm and welcoming environment where friends can gather for a great meal and excellent beer.
12. See the Tiny Jail of Creemore
Creemore is most famous for the Creemore Springs Brewery, where visitors can tour and taste locally crafted beers but while in Creemore, don’t miss visiting the smallest jail in Ontario. It dates back to 1892 and houses 3 cells in its small footprint of only 4.5 X 6 meters.
The village’s main street features historic 19th-century architecture, unique boutiques, and inviting eateries that serve up local fare. A stop in Creemore is like stepping back in time, offering a peaceful break from the hustle and bustle of modern life.
Creemore is a delightful village steeped in tradition and known for its big heart and small-town hospitality.
13. Collingwood Museum
Delve into Collingwood’s history including its maritime past and its role in the development of skiing in Ontario. The Collingwood Museum is located in a beautifully restored train station on the harbourfront. The museum’s exhibits delve into the town’s marine heritage, showcasing Collingwood’s shipbuilding past with artifacts, models, and interactive displays. Visitors can learn about the famous Collingwood Shipyards, which for over a century were a cornerstone of the community and an integral part of Canada’s maritime industry.
Inside, you can also explore the region’s First Nations history, the development of the railroad, and the impact of both World Wars on the local community. The museum boasts an array of artifacts ranging from indigenous tools and crafts to Victorian-era objects reflecting the daily life of the town’s early settlers.
Hurontario Street is the bustling commercial heart of Collingwood, offering a vibrant shopping experience. From chic boutiques and specialty shops to art galleries and local craft stores, the street has something for everyone.
As you stroll down the historic downtown core, the Victorian-era buildings add a touch of charm, housing an array of businesses that sell everything from fashionable apparel to handcrafted jewelry and home decor. Shopping on Hurontario Street is not just about the purchases—it’s about enjoying the lively atmosphere, the friendly locals, and the small-town charm that Collingwood is celebrated for.
15. Check out the Live Music Scene
The live music scene in Collingwood is vibrant and diverse, with a variety of venues hosting performances from local and visiting artists. From cozy cafes to bustling bars, there’s a wealth of spots to enjoy live tunes ranging from jazz and blues to indie and rock.
The Historic Gayety Theatre: This landmark venue in downtown Collingwood is known for hosting a variety of live shows, including music performances. The theatre’s schedule often features concerts ranging from classical to rock and tribute bands.
The Harbour Street Fish Bar: This is the place to go for music lovers. They offer a regular lineup of live music acts and serve up a menu of delicious eats to go along with the tunes every Friday and Saturday.
Blue Mountain Village: Although not in Collingwood proper, it’s very close by and hosts a variety of live music events throughout the year. During the summer months and various festivals, the village often has free outdoor concerts. Every Friday night, KAYTOO Restaurant & Bar hosts DJ KAOS Flow Fridays.
16. Spend a Day at Wasaga Beach
17. Meaford Museum
The Meaford Museum gives you a history of the area where you can explore exhibits behind their walls. We stopped here on the Apple Pie Trail and it was a great start to the day as we had a better understanding of the area when we road to see the actual locations where the items in the museum came from.
It helped us to plan our route better and reminded us to slow down and enjoy the ride. As the curator of the museum said “People need to give themselves time to stop. Don’t simply make a b-line from one place to another, the villages all around the Blue Mountains have some fascinating hidden gems.” We agree!
18. Camp at Craigleith Provincial Park
This is our favourite camping spot in near Collingwood. Located directly on Georgian Bay, it makes for a great base to explore the Blue Mountains for hiking and mountain biking. But it is also a destination unto itself.
The gorgeous shale rock coastline is the perfect spot for outdoor activities like kayaking and SUP (stand up paddleboarding). The Georgian Trail cuts right through Craigleith so pack your bike and go cycling along Georgian Bay. Read More: 25 of the Best Places to Camp in Ontario, Canada
19. Explore Blue Mountain Village
This all-seasons resort offers skiing and snowboarding in the winter, and during the summer, activities like mountain biking, hiking, the Ridge Runner Mountain Coaster, and the Open Air Gondola. Check out: The Best Places to Hike in Ontario
Blue Mountain Resort is the cornerstone of winter sports in Collingwood, boasting a wide array of slopes to suit every level of skier or snowboarder. With its picturesque views and well-maintained trails, the resort is a winter wonderland offering much more than just skiing and snowboarding. Year-round activities such as mountain biking, golfing, and zip-lining ensure that the thrill of adventure is always alive. The resort’s village adds an extra layer of charm with its array of shops, restaurants, and spas, creating a perfect blend of action and relaxation for visitors looking to enjoy a quintessential Ontario getaway.
20. Hit the Slopes at Blue Mountain Resort
Blue Mountain Resort is the cornerstone of winter sports in Collingwood, boasting a wide array of slopes to suit every level of skier or snowboarder. We used to always stay in Collingwood and go snowboarding at Blue Mountain for a day. Blue Mountain is seven kilometres or 10 minutes from Collingwood, so it’s very easy to drive or even take an Uber if you want to enjoy Apres Ski.
With its picturesque views and well-maintained trails, the resort is a winter wonderland offering much more than just skiing and snowboarding. Year-round activities such as mountain biking, golfing, and zip-lining ensure that the thrill of adventure is always alive. The resort’s village adds an extra layer of charm with its array of shops, restaurants, and spas, creating a perfect blend of action and relaxation for visitors looking to enjoy a quintessential Ontario getaway.
21. Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain
Experience relaxation at its finest with Scandinavian baths, massages, and other wellness treatments amidst the tranquility of a natural forest setting. For a tranquil escape, Scandinave Spa presents a peaceful retreat set amidst a natural forest setting. It’s a haven for those seeking to rejuvenate with its Scandinavian baths experience, which involves a cycle of heating the body in hot baths or saunas and then cooling off in cold plunges or relaxation areas. The spa also offers a variety of massages and treatments, ensuring visitors leave feeling refreshed and renewed. Surrounded by nature and silence, Scandinave Spa is an oasis of wellness that captures the essence of relaxation.
22. Collingwood Farmer’s Market
The Collingwood Farmers’ Market is a great stop to get a taste of the region’s best fresh produce and artisanal goods. Operating seasonally, typically from May through October, the market is traditionally held on Saturdays, providing an excellent start to the weekend.
At the Collingwood Farmers’ Market, shoppers can find a wide array of products. Local farmers offer fresh fruits and vegetables. The market also features vendors selling organic meats, freshly caught fish, local cheeses, and free-range eggs, catering to those looking for wholesome and sustainable food options.
Beyond the fresh food, the market is a hotspot for artisanal crafts and goods. Bakers sell a delightful selection of homemade bread, pastries, and sweets, while local artisans offer handmade jewelry, crafts, and home décor. The presence of prepared food vendors also means visitors can enjoy a tasty snack or breakfast as they peruse the stalls.
23. Cycling Collingwood Loops
Collingwood has some of the best cycling in Ontario, with challenging routes. When training for Africa, we went up here all the time. The Scenic Caves Route was the toughest. There’s Dave in front of me, enjoying a great ride outside Collingwood.
There are loop routes ranging from 40 to 100 km. We loved riding out to Creemore where there’s a great place for coffee or a beer. But there are plenty of routes to choose from. If you want a longer route, try the Collingwood to Kimberly route.
24. Go Hiking in the Blue Mountains
There are plenty of hiking trails in the Blue Mountain and Collingwood area. You don’t even have to leave the village to go for a great hike. The slopes of Blue Mountain are filled with great nature hikes and you can leave directly from your hotel room. Located on the Niagara Escarpment, Blue Mountain Resort is in the heart of some of the best hiking in Ontario.
But if you want to get out further to explore more of Georgian Bay and the Escarpment, the Bruce Trail is nearby, with countless loops to get you outside.
The Loree Forest Loop is one of the more popular short routes that offer exceptional views. It’s only 5.3km so it’s great for beginners. The Bruce Trail Beaver Valley Route is an excellent hike The Georgian Trail is another top choice.
When you get a day pass to Craigleigh Provincial Park, your vehicle permit is good for Wasaga Beach.
Where to Stay in Collingwood
Collingwood, Ontario, has a variety of accommodations, including several boutique hotels and inns that offer a more personalized and intimate experience compared to larger hotel chains. Here are some of the best boutique hotels and unique stays in and around Collingwood where you can enjoy a comfortable and stylish visit:
Living Water Resort & Spa – Living Water provides a boutique experience with a focus on wellness and relaxation. With a full-service spa and luxurious amenities, this resort offers a rejuvenating stay with beautiful views of Georgian Bay. The VanderMarck Boutique Hotel – Located in the heart of downtown Collingwood, The VanderMarck Boutique Hotel is just steps away from shops, restaurants, and entertainment. The hotel is housed in a beautifully restored historic building and offers a range of luxury suites, each with unique decor and modern amenities. Craigleith Manor Bed & Breakfast – This upscale B&B on the outskirts of Collingwood offers a peaceful retreat with stunning views of Georgian Bay and the Blue Mountains. With beautifully appointed rooms and a gourmet breakfast, Craigleith Manor is perfect for a romantic getaway or a restful escape.
When planning your stay, it’s always a good idea to check the latest reviews and availability for these boutique hotels, as they can fill up quickly, especially during peak tourist seasons. Additionally, some properties may offer seasonal packages or special rates, so it’s worth inquiring directly with the hotel for the best deals and experiences.
There’s a lot more to do than just chill on the beach, there are plenty of hiking trails, you can head over to the Nancy Island Historic Site or you can do some bird watching at its protected wildlife habitat.