The Blue Mountains area has long been known as a hub for ski-focused winter weekends, but the region is now gaining a reputation as a serene summer getaway thanks to quaint towns like Thornbury.
Drink aficionados will find a wealth of interesting sips at the cideries and wineries found in and around the village, while outdoor enthusiasts will appreciate its picturesque hiking trails and views of Georgian Bay. Add in a walkable downtown and a thriving art scene in neighbouring Clarksburg, and you’ve got the makings of a two-day excursion that’s sure to satisfy road trippers of all stripes.
In the morning:
Leave Toronto around 7:30 a.m. to arrive at your first stop, Thornbury Bakery Café, by 10 a.m. There are several routes to choose from, but you’ll usually find the least traffic (and certainly the best views) driving west along Highway 401 before continuing north on Highway 410 and then following Highway 10 and other county roads to Thornbury.
The family-owned Thornbury Bakery Café has been a landmark on the village’s main strip for more than a century. Order a freshly baked muffin or the eggs benny topped with homemade hollandaise sauce. After, stretch your legs by exploring the cute shops along Bruce Street. Don’t miss the well-curated collection of plants, jewelry and other gift items found at the Georgian Artisan Shop.
In the afternoon:
Located in Ontario’s largest apple-growing region, you better believe that Thornbury knows a thing or two about cider. Pick up a rental bike at the Shed in Clarksburg and begin a self-guided cycling tour of the area’s cideries.
Don’t miss the adventurous collection of wild-fermented ciders, some of which feature locally foraged ingredients, at Grey & Gold Cider Company. Next up is Spy Cider House and Distillery, where you can sample eau de vie
(a lesser-known, clear style of brandy) and organic cider.
Nearby Georgian Hills Vineyards is also worth a stop to try cool climate wine blends as well as ciders made at their sister cidery, Ardiel Cider House. A visit to Thornbury’s largest and most well-known cidery – Thornbury Craft Co. Cider & Beer – is also a must.
Order a few snacks at each cidery to keep you going, or swing by Ravenna County Market for a proper lunch of homestyle soups and sandwiches.
In the evening:
Check-in to Penny’s Motel, Thornbury’s answer to the revamped motel trend. John Belknap – who also co-owns John and Sons Oyster House in Toronto’s Financial District – maintained the previously rundown motel’s 1970s bones while refreshing the rooms with a modern aesthetic.
After settling into your room, take a leisurely walk around the nearby green space surrounding the Town Hall and the Thornbury Dam and Fishway and then follow the leafy Georgian Trail back toward the village’s main strip.
For dinner, stroll to Sterlings Restaurant for Mediterranean-influenced fare and harbour views, or head to Bruce Wine Bar for wood-fired pizzas and ingredient-driven snacks and entrees. Bruce’s thoughtful selection of wine, which includes numerous organic and natural varieties, also makes it a great option for an after-dinner nightcap. End your night cozied up by the fire pits in the courtyard of Penny’s Motel.
In the morning:
Start day two with fresh pastries and coffee at Penny’s on-site snack bar, Apres. From there, it’s time to get moving with a hike. The 5.3-kilometre Loree Forest Loop is a popular option that takes in forest views and Georgian Bay vistas. Alternatively, the 4.5-kilometre Margaret Paul Side Trail is another beginner-friendly and scenic route.
In the early afternoon:
After a morning of hiking, you’ll be ready to refuel with lunch at the Mill Cafe. The restaurant’s back patio offers views of the Beaver River, while the menu features globally influenced food made with local ingredients.
Soak up more of Thornbury’s natural beauty in the afternoon on a kayaking excursion with Free Spirit Tours. Paddle down the shallow Beaver River, keeping an eye out for turtles, egrets and, of course, the river’s namesake, beavers.
Next, discover how Clarksburg earned the nickname, “Artsburg,” with a tour of the tiny town’s galleries. Pop into the Matilda Swanson Gallery to peruse paintings or check out works in a range of mediums at the Art Bank Collective.
Cool off with an ice cream at Hugo’s or, if you’re in the mood for more culture, visit Sheffield Park Black History and Cultural Museum, which features exhibits dedicated to early Black pioneers and settlers in Simcoe and Grey counties.
In the late afternoon:
Make your way back to downtown Thornbury and pick up a platter of fresh seafood from Bivalve Oyster & Libation. Walk the short distance to pretty Bayview Park, where you can tuck into your P.E.I. oysters and Fogo Island snow crab while admiring the views of Georgian Bay.
Stop by Roost Wine Co. on your way out of town to pick up one of their small-batch, minimal intervention wines to enjoy when you get back home.
For the drive
Get an insider perspective on tourism in Blue Mountain Village and the wider Grey County region, where Thornbury is located, by listening to the “Blue Mountain Village Voices” podcast. Hosted by Andrew Siegwart, president of the Blue Mountain Village Association, the podcast features thought-provoking interviews with local community leaders and industry experts.
- 7:30 a.m. Leave Toronto
- 10 a.m. Thornbury Bakery Café
- 11 a.m. Bruce Street
- Noon Cidery cycling tour
- 4 p.m. Penny’s Motel
- 6 p.m. Sterlings Restaurant & Boutique Marketplace
- 8 p.m. Bruce Wine Bar
Loree Forest Loop or Margaret Paul Side Trail
NOTE: Times are suggestions only
The writer was hosted by some of the featured businesses, which did not review or approve this article before print.
- Noon Mill Cafe
- 1 p.m. Kayaking
- 3:30 p.m. Sheffield Park Black History Museum
- 4:30 p.m. Bivalve Oyster & Libation