Select Page
Katherine's Chateau afternoon tea
Afternoon Tea is just one way to ‘après’ in Collingwood

Collingwood may be Ontario’s premier destination for those who love to hit the slopes in the winter, but even if you are not a skiier or snowboarder, there’s no reason why you can’t indulge in a little après ski fun! There are plenty of activities in Collingwood that are the perfect way to socialize with your friends and keep the day going, whether you’ve been outside enjoying nature, or exploring the many other attractions this town and area has to offer. Whatever way you choose to après, Collingwood has something for everyone.

Après Snowshoeing with a Wine Tasting at Georgian Hills

Collingwood is a winter playground for many, but if downhill skiing isn’t your thing and snowshoeing is, one of the best places to strap on those shoes is at The Blue Mountain’s Scenic Caves. A popular destination for hiking and adventure activities in the summer, the Scenic Caves are equally busy in the winter, with 27 kilometres of groomed cross-country ski trails and 12 kilometres of snowshoe trails that wind their way up and around the Niagara Escarpment. There’s even Ontario’s longest suspension footbridge that is a showstopper in any season.

Scenic Caves Snowshoe trail marker

Bring your own snowshoes, or if you’re a beginner, Scenic Caves can rent you everything you’ll need. Staff at the main lodge can also recommend which trails are best suited for your time and energy, a popular one being the blue trail that loops up to Lookout Point, where you’ll be rewarded with a great view (and a warming hut with a cafe which is a nice bonus).

Scenic Caves Snowshoe trail map

There are no special orienteering skills needed to navigate the well-marked routes: just follow the coloured trail markers on the trees. There are also maps posted at every trail junction so you won’t get lost.

Scenic Caves Snowshoe trail bridge with JAne
Even when conditions aren’t great for skiing, there’s enough snow in the bush to go snowshoeing
Scenic Caves Lookout Point
Lookout Point is a popular spot to take a breather and admire the amazing views over Georgian Bay

Snowshoeing at Scenic Caves is one of the most popular winter activities in Collingwood, but perhaps an even better one is the après activity that you can pair it with: a wine tasting at Georgian Hills.

Georgian Hills Vineyards

Georgian Hills Vineyards is only a short drive from the Scenic Caves, making it especially convenient for extending your time on the Escarpment with a wine tasting. Originally known for its fruit orchards, this emerging cool-climate wine region has leveraged its unique terroir and short growing season by leaning into grape varietals that are fast ripeners. Georgian Hills’ signature white is their Seyval, an off-dry wine that reflects the acidic, citrusy nature of these cold-climate grapes. But Georgian Hills also produces other wines, and a tasting accompanied by food pairings is a great way to sample them.

Georgian Hills Vineyards Chris
Chris is one of Georgian Hills Vineyard’s knowledgeable staff who hosts tastings for visitors

Book a tasting and experienced staff members will introduce you to several of the winery’s products, accompanied with locally-sourced charcuterie and cheeses that are thoughtfully paired to beautifully complement each of the wines.

Georgian Hills Wine Tasting Collingwood charcuterie and cheese plate
Expert pairings with local products bring out the best in both food and wine

Try their Notty Bay Rose with prosciutto, or pair their medium-bodied Marechal Foch red with delicious Wildwood Cheese from nearby Perth County.

Georgian Hills Notty Bay Rose
Notty Bay (short for Nottawasaga) Rose is a perfect choice, even in winter

And if you like cider, Georgian Hills makes a great selection of premium craft apple and pear ciders, a nod to one of the founding partner’s expertise as a multi-generational fruit grower.

Georgian Hills Ciders
Georgian Hills Pear and Apple Ciders

TIP: All the chutneys and jellies used as garnishes on the tasting boards are also made here at Georgian Hills and available for sale. They are delicious, a fave being the Raspberry Red Pepper jelly with hints of Scotch Bonnet for that little extra kick.

Après Shopping with Afternoon Tea at Katherine’s Château

Katherine's Chateau tea cup

When it comes to year-round activities in Collingwood, shopping is definitely high on the list. Main Street is a thriving retail destination for locals and visitors alike, and is home to a nice collection of boutiques selling clothing, shoes, home decor, fine art and more. Browsing here can turn into an all-day event if you take this ‘sport’ seriously and are particularly thorough!

Mountainside Gallery Collingwood
Mountainside Art Gallery is a wonderful addition to the retail landscape in downtown Collingwood

But when you do need to recharge and refresh, head just off Main Street to the corner of Fourth Street and Sainte Marie, where you’ll find one of Collingwood’s newest establishments that offer both retail therapy and adult beverages: Katherine’s Château.

Katherine's Chateau exterior
Katherine’s Château is a new downtown destination for refined shopping & refreshments

Shopping Château-Style

Katherine’s Château is the namesake of Katherine Gregory, who envisioned this enterprise as a destination where friends could come to do a little shopping, do a little socializing, and top it off with a little decadent food and drink in a French-inspired cafe. The shopping vibe here is definitely inspired by the south of France, as well, with white-washed furniture and chic home decor items that make you think of fields of lavender and sunny Provence.

Katherine's Chateau retail shop
Katherine’s Château sparkles with European flair

Merchandise is sourced and curated by Gregory with inventory that changes seasonally, but the one constant throughout the space are the gorgeous chandeliers, which add that certain je ne sais quoi. The retail space also doubles as a mini art gallery, with an Artist-in-Residence program that features the work of local artists that are available for sale.

Decadent Refreshments in the Champagne Cafe

When you are finally, officially, done shopping, it’s time to head into the Champagne Cafe for a decadent treat, but just how you choose to indulge is up to you: how about a tasting flight of champagne (yes, champagne!). Or maybe a leisurely lunch with some elevated comfort food (lobster mac and cheese, anyone?) Or if three tiers of delicious goodies served up with a selection of fine teas is your idea of heaven, there’s also Afternoon Tea (which not surprisingly offers an actual Heavenly Cream Earl Grey tea of its own).

Katherine's Chateau interior cafe
The Champagne Cafe is a beautiful space for lunch, dinner or Afternoon Tea

There’s something very civilized about Afternoon Tea, whether you play by the rules and nibble your way from bottom to top (savoury sandwiches first to sweet treats on the top tier last), or throw the rule book out the window and follow your tastebuds, alternating ham and cheese tea sandwiches with fresh-baked scones slathered with clotted cream and jam.

Katherine's Chateau Jane at afternoon tea

Either way, this “aprèsnoon tea’ is a delicious way to refuel after a day spent shopping.

TIP: Katherine’s Château offers a full lunch and dinner menu as well as Afternoon Tea. You can also order a beautifully-prepared charcuterie and cheese board for two.

Charcuterie Board for 2 Katherine's Chateau

Après the Canadian Way at the 1858 Caesar Bar

It’s been an iconic Canadian beverage since forever (well, 1969 anyways), so it’s almost shocking that it took this long for someone to come up with the idea of an actual Caesar Bar. But a husband and wife team of entrepreneurs did exactly that: Steve and Vanessa Walker saw the opportunity and chose to open Canada’s first Caesar Bar right here in Collingwood, the 1858 Caesar Bar. And it’s lucky for everyone that they did.

1858 Caesar Bar Collingwood

The town of Collingwood is even reflected in the bar’s name: 1858 was the year in which the town was incorporated, so it only made sense to incorporate that into the name of the bar, too. “Bar” may actually be an understatement, because the size and volume of some of the drink garnishes that accessorize these Caesars could easily qualify as a meal, not just a drink. But if even those generous bites don’t satisfy your appetite, there’s also a proper food menu as well.

1858 Caesar Bar History of the Caesar
Learn about the history of Canada’s iconic Bloody Caesar

With over 50 Caesars on the drink menu, it’s hard to know which one to choose, especially because every drink can be customized based on the degree of heat you like, or the ingredients you prefer. A good place to start is the Favourites section where you’ll find the Bacon Bomb, a mouth-watering mass of bacon skewered onto a stalk of celery and draped across a bacon-and-garlic flavoured rim. It’s more bacon than you’ll get in many breakfast diners, and it’s absolutely delicious.

1858 Caesar Bar options
The Bacon Bomb lives up to its name. Or try the flight of 4 mini Caesars – a perfect sampler if you can’t decide!

Not surprisingly, the 1858 Caesar Bar fills up fast in the afternoon, especially as the weekend approaches, and it is even more popular with the evening crowd. So if you are feeling for a signature Canadian cocktail to complete your day’s activities in Collingwood, plan to come here earlier rather than later. The bar is so popular, in fact, that there are new franchised locations opening soon and many more planned for all across Canada.

TIP: Those delicious 1858 Caesar Bar rim spices and signature flavouring elixirs are all available for sale, along with other bar merchandise so you can prepare your own perfect 1858 Caesars at home, too.

Après the Cheesy Way at the Alphorn

The Alphorn Collingwood dusk

The Alphorn is practically an institution in Collingwood, and for many its retro Swiss chalet vibe just never gets old. Even for those visitors who may find the decor and the traditions here a little cheesy, there’s one authentically cheesy menu item that is a huge draw for many locals and visitors alike: the Alphorn’s signature fondue.

The Alphorn cheese fondue
An authentic Swiss recipe makes the Alphorn’s fondue a must-do

What better way to warm up after a day in the cold than by gathering around a table and dipping chunks of bread into a pot of hot, delicious melted cheese? Sitting in a cozy booth with taxidermy animals on the walls and an 8-foot long Alphorn hanging on the wooden beams, it’s easy to imagine yourself at an alpine lodge high in the Swiss mountains, not a roadside restaurant in Ontario.

There is plenty of local pride incorporated into the decor here, too, including racing memorabilia and equipment used by local ski racing legends Steve Podborski and Todd Brooker who helped put Collingwood – and Canada – onto the international World Cup stage.

The Alphorn booth 2
Cozy up in a booth with plenty of ski and chalet-themed decor all around you

But you don’t have to be an Olympic skier, or even a skier at all to enjoy the casual, lively atmosphere at the Alphorn. Even the staff, many of whom have been here for years, get in on the fun when the crowd gets going in the evenings, never more so than when there’s a birthday to celebrate. As soon as the Alphorn’s Birthday Song starts to play, everyone in the restaurant joins in and claps along with the staff who bring out a delicious slice of black forest cake for the birthday boy or girl – a cake that is made exclusively for the Alphorn by the local Thornbury Bakery.

For more adult fun, the Alphorn has a Beer Passport that includes 52 different beers of the world. Repeat customers who are making their way through the list actually ‘stash’ their passports all around the restaurant and bar until their next visit. Those who complete the entire passport don’t just get a stamp: their name is added to the engraved plaques on display in the bar for all to see.

The Alphorn horn
Anyone is welcome to take down the traditional alphorn and give it a try!

Casual, retro and fun, with comfort food that appeals to young and old alike, the Alphorn doesn’t take itself too seriously and neither do its patrons. (Unless of course you ring one of those giant Swiss bells – don’t do that unless you want to buy a round of drinks for the entire place!)

The Alphorn bell Collingwood
Do not ring this bell unless you’re feeling generous!

Collingwood’s Après Scene is a Year-Round Affair

It doesn’t matter whether you are a skier, a snowboarder, a snowshoer or none of the above, there are plenty of grownup ‘apres’ activities in Collingwood that are the perfect way to end any day in this winter playground. In fact, it doesn’t even have to be winter: Collingwood’s delicious food and drink venues, sophisticated tasting rooms and one-of-a-kind boutiques offer unique experiences year-round, which is just one of the reasons why this town has earned its reputation as one of the best four-season destinations in Ontario.

Special thanks to Julie of who hosted Henk and I on our visit, and to the businesses who gave us such a warm welcome and provided us with a taste of their products and services.

PINTEREST_Collingwood Apres
Jane with Hat Tanzania

Jane Canapini is a member of the Travel Media Association of Canada and the North American Travel Journalists Association. She established in 2014 to share information and tips based on personal experience so her readers could get the most out of their travels.

Subscribe and you'll never miss an update!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from Grownup Travels. (We keep your email STRICTLY private)

Thank you for subscribing to Grownup Travels!

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This