With over 250,000 lakes in Ontario, you’d better believe a vacation by the water is a favourite pastime for residents and visitors alike. Lake Muskoka and the surrounding region consistently ranks highly as a top vacation spot in Canada. Keep reading to find out why.
Where is Lake Muskoka?
Lake Muskoka and the District Municipality of Muskoka is located just under 200 kilometres north-west of Toronto, and 395 kilometres south-west of Ottawa. The district includes the towns of Bracebridge, Huntsville, Gravenhurst, Bay of Lakes, Georgian Lakes, and Muskoka Lakes. This scenic area is also home to The Wahta Mohawk and Moose Deer Point First Nations.
You may be able to drive to Muskoka from Toronto in a few hours, but you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to another world. Need a break from the rat race of the city? This is the place to take it. It’s all about fun, relaxation, and serenity in nature here.
Best Time to Visit Lake Muskoka
Muskoka is a year-round destination offering a range of seasonal activities. So naturally, the best time to visit will hinge on what you like to do and what type of vacation you’re seeking.
Summer is popular with families and groups spending quality time together over the school holidays: swimming, canoeing, hiking are all popular activities.
Winter is also a beautiful season to visit for its crisp air, snow-covered beauty, and icy activities. Temperates range from 11 to 25 degrees Celsius in July and August and drop as low as -17 in January.
In autumn, expect a naturally stunning display of colour spread across the forests and mild temperatures perfect for hiking and biking.
Top Things to Do Near Lake Muskoka
Get active at Algonquin Provincial Park
There are 11 provincial parks in Muskoka and Algonquin is amongst the favourites. From hiking and biking to cross-country skiing and snowshoeing to canoeing and birdwatching, this 7630km² park is a Mecca for outdoorsy types.
When to go: Any season
Cruise the waters
A region with so much water is bound to offer boat cruises, and Lake Muskoka district certainly does. You’ll find several operators sporting classic riverboat-style cruising options with commentary as you tour the lakes and waterways. The historic RMS Segun is North America’s oldest working steamship and offers cruises from 1-4 hours.
When to go: May to October
Embrace the cold
The Muskoka region is a winter wonderland from December to March with a collection of Canadian pastimes available. Think dog sledding, ice skating, tobogganing, snowshoeing, ice fishing, and sleigh rides. The Arrowhead skating trail at Arrowhead Provincial Park was named one of the world’s most beautiful natural ice rinks by Travel + Leisure for its extensive ice paths through the forest. The famous trail is weather and temperature-dependent (open when the temperature is below 0 degrees Celsius) and busy on Saturdays.
When to go: All winter long
Do some lake hopping
There are 1600 lakes spread over the Muskoka region, which means there is plenty of opportunity for water-based fun. Lake Muskoka itself is one of the larger ones, but check out the neighbouring region lakes too. Lake of Bays, near Algonquin Park, boasts over 100 lakes, and the lakes of Georgian Bay are great for fishing and boating.
When to go: Summer
Take a hike
Getting out in nature for a little forest bathing is a proven way to shake off the blues and clock your daily steps. With over 400 square kilometres of trails to wander, it’s safe to say, you’ll never have to walk the same path twice.
When to go: Spring, summer or fall
Taste the wine
Muskoka Lakes Farm and Winery draws a crowd for their cranberry Bog to Bottle tour. This tour is so significant to Canadian culture, Canadian Tourism Commission has deemed it worthy of its Canadian Signature Experience status. Take the tour, drink the wine, and enjoy fresh, dried or chocolate-covered cranberries.
When to go: Year-round.
Tip: Visiting during the cranberry harvest (October) means you’ll tour the farm via wagon rather than on foot.
For Families Visiting Muskoka
Muskoka is a goldmine of fun and exciting adventures for the whole family. For many young and old, Christmas is one of the most wonderful times of the year but why wait until December when you can feel the joy of Christmas all summer long at Santa’s Village in Bracebridge, the hub of the Lake Muskoka district. This theme park offers hours of laughter and if you can’t bear to leave, there are cabins and camping sites too.
Kids need to stay active, even while on holiday. A fantastic any-weather activity is KIDZONE, a discovery centre with hands-on educational exhibits based on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math (STEAM). Not only will the little ones be entertained, but they’ll also learn something.
Muskoka Heritage Place is another must-visit attraction for families. This living museum is more than gazing at artifacts (which may bore in kids). But add in farm animals, costume-wearing staff, and a train called the Portage Flyer and you’ve got a winning day of educational fun.
Best Restaurants, Bars, and Bakeries
Can you get any more Canadian than a butter tart bakery? Pop into Humble Pie Butter Tart Factory and Pizzeria for the most delicious baked goods, pies, and pizza in all the land. Coffee-fiends will appreciate the efforts of the folk at Muskoka Roastery Coffee Co. Look for all-Canadian blends such as Butter Pecan and Northern Lights.
When your idea of a rest stop includes beer, head to Lake of Bays Brewing Company. Overlooking the South Muskoka River, this local favourite serves a collection of unique brews that will delight the taste buds as they quench your thirst. Brewery tours are also available. Their Huntsville Brewhouse in Huntsville, Ontario cooks up tasty pub grub and the Bracebridge Barrelhouse is set to open in spring 2020.
Friendly service and local produce are the specialities at 3 Guys and a Stove. Open for lunch, dinner, and breakfast on weekends, this is where you’ll savour flavours like maple syrup-drenched pork ribs, blackened Georgian Bay whitefish and handmade pasta with pesto.
For traditional family dining, you can’t go past the Swiss Chalet or The Old Station Restaurant, both in Bracebridge.
Where to Stay in Muskoka
Otherwise known as ‘Cottage Country’, you’ll find a range of Lake Muskoka cottage rentals and holiday accommodation to suit all styles and budgets in the Muskoka region. Here are three places to highlight, but rest assured, you’ll find many more choices via Skyscanner search engines.
Quality Inn Bracebridge
Rates from: from C$119 per night
Best for: Location
Quality Inn Bracebridge (previously known as Riverside Inn) offers spacious and clean accommodation with an ideal location near Lady Muskoka Cruises. The hotel is great for families who like free WiFi, a swimming pool, fitness room, and an onsite restaurant. And it’s close to Santa’s Village, a must when travelling with kids.
Cedar Grove Lodge
Rates from: from C$164 per person, per night
Best for: All-inclusive packages
This deluxe log cabin resort is located on the shores of Peninsula Lake near the town of Huntsville and close to Algonquin Park. Cedar Grove Lodge isn’t just a place to sleep; it’s where dreams of classic Canadian holidays are realized, all year long.
Rates from: from C$69 per night
Best for: Affordable cabins
Near the town of Gravenhurst, this budget-friendly property offers clean cottages for your Muskoka getaway. Its central location means you’re only 10 minutes from Lake Muskoka too. Pets welcome, free of charge.
Ready to Book Your Holiday to Lake Muskoka?
Get ready to book a fantastic vacation now. Start planning your next trip by using Skyscanner search engines for cheap flights, car rentals, and hotels.