Cottage Country: Fun Things to Do in Muskoka, Ontario
With its natural beauty and extensive system of lakes and rivers, Muskoka has become a premier vacation destination in Ontario. It is a popular vacation spot for outdoor enthusiasts, boaters, and families, especially in the summer months. In recent years, Muskoka has gained increasing popularity as a spot for Hollywood celebrities, professional sports players, and others to build extravagant vacation homes. Famous people with vacation properties and estates in the area include Tom Hanks, Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, Mike Weir, Martin Short, Cindy Crawford and Steven Spielberg.
You certainly don't have to be a millionaire to enjoy a vacation or weekend getaway in Muskoka. It is a great vacation spot for families, with lots of activities to keep everyone entertained. Located a 2 hour drive north of Toronto, it is easily accessible, but you will feel like you're much farther away from the city.
National Geographic Traveler Magazine voted Muskoka Cottage Country #1 in the Best Trips of Summer 2011 and one of the Best Trips in the World in 2012.
Video from Our Summer Vacations in Muskoka
Places to Stay in Muskoka
There are less than 60,000 permanent residents in the district of Muskoka, but the population increases to at least three times that number in the summer months, as cottagers and vacationers descend upon the area. You won't find many small cabins in the area anymore, but there is quite a range of cottages and vacation homes to rent. There are modest places available suitable for a couple, right on up to huge homes that can accommodate 20 or more guests at a time - great for large groups or family reunions. Many of the "cottages" are really more appropriately called houses, and a lot of them are suitable for staying in year-round. Summer cottage rentals typically require a minimum term of one week, but you can rent a cottage for shorter periods in the off-season. Waterfront cottages are more expensive, but they really help you appreciate the true Muskoka experience.
For visitors that prefer not to stay in a cottage, there are also a number of hotels and resorts to choose from in Muskoka. I recently wrote about our family's weekend getaway at the JW Marriott The Rosseau Resort and Spa . If you're looking for luxury accommodations for your trip to Muskoka, you might want to consider staying here.
For those looking to get closer to nature, camping is also an option. There is a wide range of privately owned and provincial park campgrounds to choose from in the area. Algonquin Park, Ontario's largest provincial park, is located just outside the north east border of the Muskoka region.
Muskoka has an abundance of activities for outdoor enthusiasts. The natural beauty of the area's lakes and rivers, forests and rock formations have made it popular as both a place to go for relaxation as well as more active vacations.
Outdoor Activities in Muskoka
Water Sports & Activities
Winter Sports & Activities
Cross country skiing & snowshoeing
Waterskiing, tubing & wakeboarding
Relaxing on the beach
Tobogganing & snow tubing
Places to Visit in Muskoka
Museums in Muskoka
Muskoka has many museums and historical sites that will interest history buffs.
- Muskoka Boat & Heritage Centre, 275 Steamship Bay Rd, Gravenhurst
- Muskoka Rails Museum, 53 Covered Bridge Trail, Bracebridge
- Muskoka Heritage Place (Museum, Pioneer Village & Portage Flyer Train), 68 Brunel Rd, Huntsville
- Muskoka Lakes Museum, 100 Joseph St, Port Carling
- Bala's Museum with Memories of Lucy Maud Montgomery, 1024 Maple Ave, Bala
- Little Norway Memorial, 1011 Airport Rd, Gravenhurst
- Bethune Memorial House, 235 John St, Gravenhurst
Arts Events in Muskoka
Muskoka has a large community of talented artists and craftspeople, and there are many opportunities to view their work throughout the year.
The Muskoka Autumn Studio Tour has been held for 35 years. Visitors can visit a variety of artists in their studios to view their work and learn more about the Muskoka landscape that inspires them.
The Muskoka Arts & Crafts Association holds various events throughout the year, including The Summer Show - Canada's largest and oldest outdoor craft show, featuring over 200 creative artists from around Canada. The show in July 2013 will be 50th year for this event, which attracts over 20,000 visitors per year.
The association also holds an annual Christmas Show and Sale in late November, and a Spring Show and Sale in March.
Some other popular things to do in Muskoka include:
Shopping - local crafters, artists, and artisans for pottery, jewelry, paintings, photography, clothing, antiques, and other treasures
Farmer's Markets - featuring a wonderful variety of fresh produce, meats and cheeses, baking, preserves, maple syrup and crafts
Spa - get pampered with a relaxing massage, manicure, facial, pedicure or other spa treatment - or all of the above
Dining - sample local foods prepared by chefs at local restaurants and resorts
Relaxing - Muskoka is the perfect spot to curl up with a good book and a glass of wine and do absolutely nothing at all.
More Information on Muskoka
Muskoka has become one of my family's favourite vacation spots. It is an ideal place for outdoor enthusiasts, photographers, nature lovers, families and anyone looking for a relaxing vacation on the water. I highly recommend it!
Have you ever been to the Muskoka region of Ontario?
© 2012 Kathy Sima