Every summer weekend, thousands of Canadians head to the wilds of Muskoka with one destination in mind: the cottage. While there, these weekend warriors eat, drink, swim and relax while taking in some of the country’s most stunning natural beauty.
But if you’re lucky enough to have a week or more in beautiful Muskoka, you can take the time to explore the many diversions the region has to offer (in addition to eating, drinking, swimming and relaxing, which should all definitely be on your to-do list).
1. Muskoka Wharf
Head into Gravenhurst to the Muskoka Wharf, a newly created seaside hub for shopping and dining. Try the Wolf’s Den Café for lunch or Dock of the Bay for a casual dinner with a view. Take a tour or a cruise on the RMS Segwun, the oldest operating steamship in Canada. And of course, there’s the world’s largest Muskoka chair, in front of the Home Hardware, which just begs for a photo op.
2. Bracebridge Falls
Bracebridge is the known as the “heart of Muskoka,” and it’s geographically in the centre of the region. Don’t miss the many scenic waterfalls in the area, including Bracebridge Falls right in the downtown and High Falls Park, which boasts five stunning waterfalls emptying into Clear Lake.
3. Lake Muskoka
This township includes dozens of small communities and lakes, the most famous being Lake Muskoka (of course). It’s home to some of the most beautiful cottage country you’ll find in Muskoka, as well as some of the nicest beaches.
4. Kee to Bala
Area highlights include the Kee to Bala, a legendary bar and music venue. It’s not beautiful, but it hosts big-name Canadian acts, from Sam Roberts to Blue Rodeo and The Tragically Hip.
5. The Wall
If you’re passing through Port Carling, check out “The Wall.” It’s a 111 by 45 foot photo mosaic, comprised of over 9000 photos depicting Port Carling life between 1860 and 1960. The photos create a larger picture, of the RMS Sagano circa 1922, and it’s quite a sight to behold.
6. Georgian Bay Islands National Park
If you’re looking for a deeper dive into Muskoka’s natural beauty, check out the 30,000 islands of Georgian Bay Islands National Park. You can take a boat shuttle to explore the largest island, Beausoleil, a true Ontario gem. Rent a cabin or tent camp amongst windswept pines, rock formations and crystal clear waters. Just watch out for the Massassauga rattlesnakes.
Despite its size, Huntsville’s got a friendly, small-town vibe and it will feel like a home-away-from-home. And if you’re looking for more communing with nature, nearby is Arrowhead Provincial Park, a hiking, paddling and camping paradise.