One of the best parts about living in Toronto is that Muskoka – in all of its Canadian Shield, lake, dock and yuppie-filled glory – is just a few hours away. And Canadian cottage season is finally in full force.
Here’s where to go in Muskoka.
Where to Stay
If you can’t quite score a cottage invite, don’t forget that there is no shortage of resorts in Muskoka. Sitting on a granite bluff above Lake Rosseau is the JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort & Spa. Though luxurious, the resort has a distinctly Muskoka feel, with outdoor activities, stunning views and fireplaces throughout. The resort also houses a full-service spa, pools and hot tubs, a private beach, boat rental and gourmet restaurants. In terms of food, Teca serves up comforting Italian fare, while the Muskoka Chophouse is a reliable option with its cuts of Certified Angus Beef and diet breaking-worthy sides.
Nobody knows the region better than the locals, and staying at a bed and breakfast comes with the advantage of hosts who can direct you to all the hidden gems and must-sees in the area (and feed you a solid meal to start the day). Muskoka’s bed & breakfast spots range from turn-of-the-century homes in picturesque towns, to vintage lakeside cottages and even a former monastery.
What to do
If you want to experience the views and history of Muskoka from the water (and be a total tourist), you can do so aboard the storied Muskoka Steamships. The company’s fleet of Instagram-worthy steamships and cruises takes you through the region’s waterways for sightseeing cruises, lunch or dinner cruises and themed cruises (including the Craft Beer Cruise). If you have a license, you can also captain your own boat through the interconnected lakes at one of Muskoka’s surrounding boat rental spots. Feeling adventurous? Rent a kayak, canoe or stand up paddle board from Liv Outside instead.
Where to Shop
The town of Port Carling is home to a selection of specialty shops that sell everything from fine furniture and décor, to swimwear and designer clothing. If you’re looking to switch up your living space, Muskoka Living is a go-to for the stylish set of décor-loving cottagers. If you’d like to take a piece of Muskoka home with you, at The Muskoka Store, you’ll find everything from distinctly Muskoka decor to furniture and sporting goods. This summer, iconic Canadian brand Tilley – which has moved away from your grandfather’s or David Suzuki’s fishing hat with a younger, fresher rebrand – has opened up a pop-up in Muskoka at the Muskoka Shipyards Marketplace.
Where to Party
One of the best places to let loose in Muskoka is the Kee to Bala. Not only is the raw, nostalgic spot host to some not-to-miss concerts (Snoop Dogg has even played there), Mondays are themed “Resort Nights” (because drinking on Mondays is totally fine when you’re on vacation). Acts to grace the Kee to Bala stage this summer include Big Wreck, July Talk, The Sheepdogs and Sam Roberts Band. If you don’t get enough of the club scene in Toronto, you’ll find it on Friday and Saturday nights at Liv Muskoka.
Where to Eat
At Windermere House – another resort option – you’ll find The Rosseau Grill, which dishes up quality steak and seafood that rivals that found at top Toronto steakhouses. Some of Toronto’s foodie favourites have found their way to Muskoka in recent years, including beloved taco spot Grand Electric, which offers Mexican-craving cottage-goers breezy waterside real estate for a quality casual meal. For a more refined vibe, in Bracebridge, you can get a taste of the local, farm-to-table offerings at the Riverwalk. Of course, a trip to Muskoka should probably include a stop at the famous burger spot Webers on the way home.
Are there any other spots in Muskoka that should be visited? Share them with us in the comment section or tweet us at @ViewtheVibe.