With summer in full swing, those with their own cottage getaways will be boating on the lake and relaxing on the dock every chance they get. But if you’re among the GTA-ers who aren’t cottage owners, you don’t have to feel left out. There are plenty of ways to enjoy the beautiful Muskoka region without owning your own cottage—or even having a bunch of friends who do. With a long weekend and a little thirst for adventure, you can plan a cottage country road trip that will satisfy all your countryside cravings.
How to get there
Some of the best parts of a road trip are stopping to check out the bizarre roadside attractions on the way to your destination. The Muskoka Region definitely offers a few quirky stops. You’ll want to get out and pose with the 30-foot tall Pencil as you drive through Bracebridge. If you stop in Gravenhurst, the Bear and Fish Fountain should catch your attention. And there’s no way you can pass up the opportunity to climb up on the World’s largest Muskoka Chair (also in Gravenhurst). If it’s big and goofy, it’s sure to add some fun and frivolity to your journey.
If you’re looking for a one-of-a-kind adventure, board Muskoka Steam Ships in Gravenhurst and cruise the dazzling Lake Muskoka on the RMS segwun, North America’s oldest operating steam ship. Or book a ticket for the Wenonah II, if you prefer more modern conveniences. Huntsville offers art fans the incredible opportunity to view famous paintings in an entirely new setting. The Group of Seven Outdoor Gallery is a public mural collection, featuring more than 80 reproductions of artwork by Tom Thompson and the group of seven.
Embracing the outdoors
Of course the main reason for a trip to cottage country is the breathtaking natural scenery. And the opportunities to enjoy it are endless. Arrowhead Provincial Park in Huntsville is the perfect spot to go hiking, picnicking or just spend a day on the beach. The Dorset Scenic Lookout Tower, an observation deck built 142 metres above the Lake of Bays, and Lion’s Lookout in Huntsville provide stunning aerial views of the landscape. A Treetop Trekking adventure (available in Huntsville) is an exhilarating way to journey through a forest canopy; ziplining, climbing balance logs and cables, travelling over wooden bridges and resting on hammock nets. Canoe and Kayak enthusiasts can paddle along the gorgeous lake and river systems in the Muskokas by booking a tour with Greater Opportunities.
Where to eat
Mealtimes will never get boring with the myriad of restaurant options in Muskoka. Each town has its fancy hot spots and favourite local hangouts. Standouts on the upscale end include Loondocks in Port Carling, a fine dining establishment with an exciting menu and a gorgeous waterfront view and R&L Bistro in Bracebridge a contemporary restaurant with varied international influences and a fantastic Sunday brunch. That Little Place By the Lights, a classic family friendly Italian joint in Huntsville, is a great casual option. Seven Main Café in Huntsville is a haven for coffee and tea drinkers or fans of freshly baked sweets. And if you’re looking to take home the perfect country pie to enjoy back in the city, Henrietta’s Pine Bakery in Dwight will not disappoint.
Where to stay
When you’re all tuckered out from packing in so many activities, there are many different types of accommodations to choose from. If you’re looking to replicate the authentic cottage experience you can book a lakefront cabin with a full kitchen at Beauview Cottage Resorts in Huntsville or a cottage suite at Blue Spruce Resorts in Dwight. If you prefer the quaint B&B atmosphere, The Muskoka Rose Guest House and Retreat in Gravenhurst, which is right on the lake and promotes a holistic lifestyle, has earned rave reviews from vacationers. Another popular choice is the The Moose B&B in Dorset, a classic Victorian style getaway, nestled on the river.