Even though it’s barely more than two hours from our home, we have never ventured into Grey County beyond a ski weekend in The Blue Mountains several years ago.
We were wildly surprised by the number of luxe activities and restaurants the area offers, and I can’t recommend it enough for couples looking to get away for a night or two to unwind from — you know — life.
When romance and relaxation are calling, your journey should start at Scandinave Spa Blue Mountain. And since massages can be booked up months in advance, the real journey starts with nailing down your day at Scandinave and then building an itinerary around it.
Where to play
Of course, you don’t have to book a massage. But I suggest you do. And that’s because not only does it guarantee you entry to the baths (at no additional charge, no less) but it also means you don’t have to arrive with the convoy of cars that start lining up at Scandinave’s gate at 7 a.m. from Friday through Sunday.
Those people are lined up because they don’t have a massage time reserved and just want general admission to the baths — and that’s first-come, first-served.
A few Pro Tips:
- Visit the spa from Monday through Thursday if you aren’t planning to book a massage; the lines are significantly shorter (or non-existent).
- If you do make the drive and find yourself on the waiting list, don’t despair! Use the fun stuff I’ve listed below to fill the gap. You might have anywhere from four to six hours to kill, so fit in a winery tour, an exquisite meal and some gorgeous mountain views.
- Phone the spa exactly four months to the day ahead of time if you absolutely must have a massage on a specific date (like a birthday, anniversary or other milestone celebration); otherwise, you’re going to get a massage date and time that’s available in the spa’s calendar. And it may not jibe with yours.
Expect to spend three or four hours at Scandinave Blue Mountain. We enjoyed a one-hour massage and then more than two additional hours doing the hydrotherapy circuit — hot tub, waterfalls, steam room, cold plunge, infrared sauna, outdoor fire pit, solarium (not necessarily in that order…and I may have skipped the cold plunge altogether) — before heading out. I could have easily spent an extra hour there if Big B would have let me nap. (I even found an appropriate nap room.)
This is your relaxation hub. Set in 25 acres of lush woods. And there’s no time limit, so make the most of it.
Keep that zen feeling alive at this DIY aromatherapy retail store and workshop. Sure, you can buy pre-made bath salts and moisturizers but it’s so much more fun when you make them yourself! The owner — a former nurse and certified herbalist — has everything from shampoo and conditioner to massage oil and body mist available for you to personalize.
Using essential oils, scents, herbs and crystals, you and your partner can customize products to keep the romance alive after the Scandinave aphrodisiac wears off. Let tobacco, vanilla, bacon, grass, cotton candy and more infuse the base oil of your choice to create a massage oil you know you’ll both love. (Even if your husband will also claim that he’s the only one who gives out massages.)
We loved this experience and my favourite product of the bunch was the detox bath salts concoction I created with black salt, pink Himalayan sea salt, Dead Sea salts, and scented with lilac and lily essence. I even added some dried hibiscus petals.
An 18-metre waterfall — the biggest in the area — awaits at Inglis Falls. If you’re into hiking, there are trails around the falls, too. There’s something so soothing about the powerful white noise crashing down; I found myself lingering at the lookout point, completely mesmerized by it.
This was such a fun outing! Perfect for when you’re done with relaxation and want a bit of adventure. On one side of the property, you’ll find Ontario’s longest suspension bridge after an easy half-kilometre hike. If you’re longing for views of Georgian Bay, this’ll deliver. It can get a bit windy up there, so if it’s a cool day be sure to bundle up!
Head back toward the main entrance and over on the other side there’s a rocky nature walk that takes you through the cave system that’s from the Glacier Age — later home to the Petun people, a smaller Iroquoian tribe known for its tobacco. Enjoy wandering through the “ice cave” (yes, it’s cold!) and finding the Indian Chief’s face embedded into a rockface.
Although running or hiking shoes are mandatory, I’m going to tell you to leave the sneakers at home. I found the terrain slippery at times even in hiking boots and was glad I’d opted out of wearing my runners at the last minute.
Where to stay
Oh, this is just the cutest little spot! Tucked away on a long, winding country road — where you’ll lose cell service for a good stretch — this 11-room inn is spread across a couple of buildings and is also home to reindeer and Icelandic horses. The kitschy décor even includes a painting with a woman donning an owl mask and a dozen or so clocks on the garage. Random? Perhaps. Interesting? Definitely.
We stayed in the Ben Nevis Croft, which was a sizable loft-style room with a working fireplace (complete with kindling and logs just screaming to be lit), jacuzzi, king bed and two twin beds in the half-floor up top. Breakfast is included and served in the main building near reception, part buffet and part hot breaky served to your table, you’ll leave with plenty of energy for the day ahead.
The Guest House at Eugenia Falls
(519) 924-0234 / firstname.lastname@example.org
This was our first-ever B&B experience. (Can you believe in all my travels around the globe that I’d never stayed in a bed and breakfast before now?) If you’re the kind of couple looking for a more intimate, homey experience where you’ll have opportunities to interact with other like-minded travellers, a B&B could be just your thing.
Our host couldn’t have been more gracious and was so excited to share tidbits about the Eugenia Falls area — from restaurants to bakeries to the best hiking trails. She also makes a mean quiche!
Where to eat
The restaurants and bakeries in Grey County are a foodie’s dream. There were more outstanding restaurants in this small radius relative to the local population than we’ve experienced anywhere else. We didn’t even make it to half of the places we wanted to try. Obviously, I’m going back. Just to eat.
Located in the Blue Mountain Village, here you’ll want to pair a local craft beer with the house wagyu burger. Add the fried egg for some extra pizzazz (not that wagyu beef ever needs more pizzazz).
You know your meal’s gonna be great when you can smell the restaurant before you even get through the front door. The shining stars on the menu are the duck confit spring rolls, the venison loin (go 8 ounces all the way!), the stuffed pepper (add the steak for only $8 more), the S’more spanikopita and — mmmm mmmm! — the carrot cake, a whole mason-jar of smushed up goodness.
There are three things you have to indulge in here:
- The spicy hot chocolate.
- The horchata.
- The pulled pork nachos.
Those nachos. I could marry those nachos. Best.Nachos.Ever.
Just a short walk from The Guest House at Eugenia Falls, this restaurant feels like it’s smack in the middle of nowhere. Because it is. And yet, if we hadn’t had reservations there’s NO WAY we would have gotten in. We arrived at 6:30 and left close to 9 p.m. and it was full when we arrived and full when we left.
My husband “won” the dinner choices with the garlic shrimp (an appetizer big enough to be a meal) and the smoked ham and potatoes. Don’t get me wrong: I loved my parsnip and celeriac soup and the Georgian Bay whitefish, but he won. We shared a scotch-infused chocolate torte for dessert that makes me want to drive 2.5 hours right now to have again.
So many goodies we barely made a dent in the place (but, boy, did we try). My two savoury favourites were the sausage roll and Jamaican beef patty — both of which smacked of authenticity — and my two favourite sweet things were the pecan butter tart and the flourless chocolate square.
All The Cheese! Get all of it. We took home $40 worth of cheese — one of which was marbled with truffles — and promptly ate it all as soon as we got home.
Where to drink
Who knew this part of Ontario was so ripe — literally — with wineries and cideries?! Apparently, at least a quarter of the apples we eat in Canada are grown here and its microclimate is perfect for growing grapes, too. If you’re planning to drive, then don’t do this circuit all in one day, because the flights are inexpensive and poured generously. (Hint: there are local tours that will drive you around. I just can’t tell you what they’re like because we didn’t use one.)
I’m not much of a cider girl. SCRATCH THAT. I am now. Because the blood orange cider we had here was redonkulous. I liked all of the ciders we tried here, actually, but I was compelled to buy a whole bunch of the blood orange before we left.
This place has a really cool vibe. And there are wooden gift boxes for the wine shaped like mini coffins. Plus they have pink cider that’s super yummy (see? I’m totes a cider girl now.)
We just loved this charming little spot! Between the incredibly rich history provided with the tasting, trying pear-flavoured cider and dessert wine was surprisingly wonderful. Have the cheese plate pairing with the ice and dessert wine flight if you like a good mouth-gasm.
Such a cute coffee shop in downtown Thornbury. Once you have your cheese and bakery goods, grab a mocha for the road.
I hope I’ve inspired you to check out Grey County. I know we’ll be going back — and taking the kids. This place is just too good to keep to ourselves.
DISCLAIMER: Visit Grey and Scandinave Blue Mountain partially hosted us for many of the experiences listed above. However, not everything made it into this post — only what we loved the most — and some we found on our own and wanted to tell you about. All opinions and suggestions my own.