You can take a snowshoe and beer tour in Ontario this winter
Ever wanted to experience the untouched beauty of winter in Ontario with a snowshoe through a forest followed by a visit to local breweries? Now you can in Simcoe County thanks to Shoe and Brew by Free Spirit Tours.
The one-hour guided hike works for both beginners and experienced snowshoers, and snowshoes are provided, so all you have to worry about is dressing for the weather and pre-booking a time for your tour online.
You'll follow along the Bruce Trail as it winds its way through plenty of rock faces, crevices and cliffs in the Petun Conservation Area, near Blue Mountain and just a two-hour drive from Toronto.
The 100-acre site is named after the Petun people, who used to inhabit the land during the early 1600s while involved in the fur trade and performing corn horticulture.
It's known to be one of the first spots to get snow and the last to lose it making it a prime spot for snowshoers.
It's also one of the highest elevations on the Niagara Escarpment and is filled with cold limestone springs that help grow unique fern and moss on the rocks year-round before eventually pouring into Georgian Bay.
We learn all of this from our guide, Jim. His love for snowshoeing (well, winter sports in general, really) and the natural surroundings of Simcoe County are evident and equally as contagious.
Just a portion of the property, which is leased by the Georgian Triangle Anglers Association and used as a fish hatchery, is private while the rest of the beautiful trails are open to the public.
You have the choice when booking between visiting one or two local breweries after the hike. One of them is Side Launch Brewing Company, which started its brewing at Denison's Brewpub in Toronto in 1989.
Wheat Ale with notes of banana and spicy clove is the signature but a four-flight will let you try more of the small-batch brews such as cherry cola stout, chocolate raspberry stout and raspberry lemon refresher.
Collingwood Brewery is next on the agenda as another one of the original breweries of the area. They offer four-beer flights, as well as eight or 12-beer snowboards.
Sit by one of the outdoor firepits as you drink your way through a flight or board. They're the first brewery in town to make beer seltzers and offer both an orange blossom hibiscus and citrus, as well as other freestyle options like fuzzy peach that rotate out every few months.
Extend the day trip and book yourself a night in one of the unique rooms at 11 Rooms, a boutique hotel in a completely redesigned old rooming house in downtown Collingwood.
The charming Victorian includes six standard and three premium rooms with extra space to work or meet for entrepreneurs, freelancers and creative types, and each has its own look and feel. A team of artists and creatives worked together to design the entire space.
Desks, hidden whiteboards and plenty of quiet work areas make the rooms perfect for zoning in on your to-do list while the artwork, as well as the mix of textures and colours, spark a bit of creativity.
The hotel partners with the Blue Mountain Foundation for the Arts to feature work from all local artists in the rooms, as well as in the hallways and common spaces.
You won't be disappointed if you decide to stick around another day with downtown Collingwood offering more than enough modern, upscale retailers, and unique and eclectic coffee shops and restaurants to explore.
That, mixed in with the historic old-world charm and beautiful Victorian architecture makes Collingwood worth a stay.
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