If you live in Toronto, chances are you’ve done at least one of the following three things: eaten street meat, rode on the TTC, or taken a day trip to Blue Mountain. All of the above are considered rites of passage for Torontonians, but only one is said to rejuvenate the soul (hint: despite being absolutely delicious, it’s not the street meat).
I have no way of determining exactly how many times I’ve visited Blue Mountain in my lifetime, but I’m assuming it’s well over 10. Being located two hours northwest of Toronto (just 90 minutes if you can avoid the exodus of weekend cottagers), the popular ski resort community is a source of comfort for those without cottages, located close enough from downtown Toronto to make the commute somewhat appealing, yet far enough to create the illusion of a bona fide vacation in cottage country.
I’ve spent many weekends hiking its surrounding trails, exploring its scenic caves and climbing the rocky escarpment, but never before with a kid in tow. Would the ‘adventure’ destination still hold the same appeal now that I’m a parent?
Most definitely, yes!
My small family paid a recent trip up to Blue (I’m happy to report my daughter suffered no meltdowns during the car ride), and checked into The Westin Trillium House, Blue Mountain, located just steps from Blue Mountain Village. The hotel, which celebrated its 10th anniversary last year, is the epitome of Canadian hospitality: cozy, comfortable and almost apologetically stylish. It’s hip without trying to be, bashful even about how cool it really is, which, when you think about it, is the defining trait of all Canadians.
Our one-bedroom suite was nothing short of amazing, with a fully equipped kitchen, pullout sofa, a balcony and a bed that restored my faith in a good night’s sleep (shout out to all new parents everywhere!). Seeing how we were there during the height of the Olympic Games, the master bed would’ve been the perfect place from which to binge-watch women’s gymnastics, but alas, there was so much to do and so little time do it all.
First stop, the Kids at Blue Discovery Room, which my daughter caught a glimpse of earlier on our way to the elevators. With its wall-length Lego board, play fort and mish mash of toys, the room is irresistible to any munchkin with an imagination. We spent a good hour spelling out our names entirely in Lego blocks before heading out to the Village, where an open-air gondola awaited.
I’ve taken many cable car rides during my travels, but this would be the first with my daughter. And boy, did she love it! The ‘gondola’, which looked more like an upright soda can, offered breathtaking views of, well, everything – the Village, the mountains, the lodges, and also the adventurous few who chose to walk ‘up’ the mountain rather than hitch a ride. All of it delighted my two-year-old who, thankfully, had no issue with great heights (the same can’t be said for the petrified Scotsman who shared our gondola on the way down).
From there, we moved onto miniature golf, to an 18-hole course that looked more like the tiered rice terraces of Bali. Granted, no two-year-old is equipped with the knowledge or skill to master the concept of golf (except for, of course, a particular Tiger), but my daughter still had a great time aimlessly swinging her miniature-sized club and plunking the ball (with her hands) directly into the hole. We lasted five holes before something else nabbed her attention (possibly ice cream or French fries, or a combination of the two).
The rest of the day was spent swimming at the hotel’s heated outdoor pool, playing at the excellent sand-pitted playground, eating a delicious pizza dinner at Firehall Pizza Co. in the Village, and devouring a nacho poutine at Mile High Poutine for dessert (yes, dessert, please don’t judge me). Our day was fun-filled and activity-heavy, which is why sleep came easy and deep that night, made even dreamier, I’m sure, by Westin’s Heavenly Bed (seriously, where can I get one of those for myself?).
After checking out in the morning, we headed next door to Plunge! Aquatic Centre with every intention of lounging by the indoor/outdoor pool. Of course, my daughter was more interested in going down the water slide over and over (and over) again, and since she’s still too small to go down by herself, this of course meant everyone in the pool had to witness my awkwardly hilarious runs down the kiddie slide. But the humiliation was worth the squeals of delight my daughter made each time she hit the water. Kids, simply put, are awesome.
Once the day was done and our fingers had successfully shriveled up like prunes, we packed up the car and headed back home. We may not have zip lined through the forest or cycled down dirt trails on this visit, but we did add to our growing bank of family memories, ones that could’ve only been achieved at a place like Blue. And despite the fact that I’ve been more times than I can remember, I have no doubt that I will be back again, especially now that I’m a parent.