Falling in Love with Muskoka, Ontario: The Capital of Cottages
Updated: Aug 25
Muskoka, Ontario—Canada’s fan favourite summer destination.
Yes, Toronto is two hours away and is a famous Canadian city, but if you haven't heard of Muskoka—you are not doing your homework on acclaimed destinations.
Toronto is a fast-paced, fashion-forward city with sky-high architecture and artistic values. It’s a city that you can mention in most countries and someone will turn around and say, “Oh, Toronto? I know someone who's travelled there.”.
Boasting flavour and desirable sightseeing, somehow most are only familiar with the Ontario city because of the famous Canadians who emerged from it. Thank you, Drake, Jim Carry, and The Weekend.
Sadly for Muskoka, it didn’t birth internationally acclaimed artists, but celebrities of all talents are accustomed to visiting and purchasing cottages.
Clearly, these icons have great taste because Muskoka is praised all over the world.
It has a long list of recommendations including:
#1 Best Summer Trip in the World – National Geographic
20 Best Trips in the World – National Geographic
10 Greatest Canadian Road Trips – Reader’s Digest
Where to Go in 2017 – Westjet Magazine
Canada’s Best Family Vacations – Frommer’s
10 Places in Canada Every Canadian Needs to Visit – Reader’s Digest
Muskoka’s dream-like essence cannot be denied and if you think you won’t be swept up in its natural splendour—think again.
The City of Cottage Getaways
Celebrities, locals, Canadians, and people from all over the world wish to someday own a cottage in Muskoka. This Ontario city is the cottage capital of Canada.
With 1,600 lakes, an abundance of natural landscapes, thick forests to explore, and ideal outdoor entertainment—how could you not want to vacation in Muskoka?
Unfortunately, it’s not a dream everyone can achieve.
It’s nearly impossible to find a property for under $300,000. If you do, it will be a shared purchase. It’s not necessarily a timeshare, you do have ownership—just not full control over the property.
Surprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic increased sales in the “Big Lakes” area of Muskoka. Sales went up 54.4% and has an average sale price of $2,337,783.
Depending on the lake you choose, there are lower average prices, although they don’t vary greatly.
Shocked by the price tag? Are you considering building a place instead? Think again.
Building a cottage won’t save you much money. The land costs, structural costs, real estate fees, etc., all add up—sadly, it’s not inexpensive.
So, you want to experience the jaw-dropping beauty of Muskoka, but your pockets aren’t steep enough—what do you do?
Rentals, resorts, and Air BNB’s are great short-term solutions. Plus, you have loads of accommodations to choose from.
Cottage rentals on a weekly term on average start at $1,450. That price usually includes 3 bedrooms, an elevated waterfront property, but a 70's-80's interior. Don’t expect stainless steel appliances, WIFI or A/C.
If finer living is more your style, expect a rental cost from $5,000 - $9,000 per week. These types of rentals include 4-8 bedrooms, fully stock amenities (hello WIFI and A/C), a modern interior, and a well-landscaped property.
As always, Air BNB’s have more flexible prices. Weekly rates are still steep, but they have starting prices of $600.
Resorts are another great option for a short-term holiday. An average daily fee is between $100-$300.
Choose between a luxury stay like, Rawley Resort, Spa & Marina, which features a satellite flatscreen tv in each room, evening entertainment, and a fully-equipped spa, or a classic cottage get-a-way like The Pines Cottage Resort.
When you book a private cottage through The Pines Cottage Resort, you’re renting a fully equipped accommodation that even has a picnic table. With a selection of different accommodations, you can choose a stay that’s perfect for you.
Muskoka might not be your family-friendly budget trip, but it is a dream destination.
Adventures in Muskoka
Whether you’re visiting your cottage, renting an accommodation, or staying at a resort, Muskoka does not disappoint on entertainment.
Their selection ranges from outdoor/indoor activities, family-friendly/adult adventures, lifestyle leisures, and the list goes on.
When you’re planning a trip to Muskoka, it’s best to make a list of what you want to accomplish and categorize your fun.
Exploring the Outdoors
Stopping by Muskoka, no matter what season it is means you’ll be spending plenty of time outside.
Sightseeing, becoming one with nature, and admiring organic elements, are taken to another level when you’re exploring Muskoka.
Let's start with waterfalls. The region is covered with them. Bracebridge is the most notorious area to view waterfalls: in three different locations, they have over 5 waterfalls.
Bracebridge Falls is located on Wharf Road, High Falls is located on High Falls Road, and Wilson's Falls is located on Wilson's Falls Road. It’s about a 14-minute drive to hit all three locations.
Walk around, go swimming, drive through the area, or even bike on the trails. You have an endless amount of choices for exploration. Much like the rest of Muskoka.
Mountain biking is a top choice among locals and tourists. There are trails for beginnings, intermediates, and experienced riders. Flying through the thick forests with sky-high trees is equally exhilarating as breathtaking.
Dorset Lookout Tower offers a 360 view, while you’re 450+ ft off the ground, above the Lake of Bays. It’s a highly anticipated spot during Autumn.
Walking is perfectly acceptable transportation for adventures. With over 2,000 ft to explore, the Boardwalk of Muskoka Wharf is a sure way to get your steps in.
Fishing isn’t for everyone, but seeing the Muskoka region by boat or through water transportation should be.
Any way you turn, look or walk, you will have the urge to pull out your camera.
Gravenhurst, a popular town in the Muskoka region of Ontario, offers “KIDZONE”, a space created for families with children. The space offers tons of fresh activities like a lego building center, board games, and an advanced floatplane simulator.
KIDZONE is conventionally located in the Muskoka Discovery Centre. It’s North America’s only in-water exhibit of working antique boats, preserves the traditions of the steamship, boat building, and resort era while continually educating the public about these fascinating times.
Pay one admission, get access to both facilities.
Soaking up a hot summer with the family in Muskoka? Summer sports can’t be missed.
Hit up the SWS floating waterpark 7 days a week. Their passes are affordable, kids of all ages can enjoy this activity, plus it’s an inflatable waterpark. Do we need to say more?
Zip Lining is another fan-favourite for family fun.
Other top choices:
Sit back, close your eyes, and be pampered. What’s a better holiday?
Amba Spa at Deerhurst Resort allows you to fully indulge in your five senses. With six full-body treatment rooms, five pedicure & three manicure stations, an intimate couple’s massage room, steam room, swimming pool, and whirlpool, you will be sure to find your zen zone.
After a calm morning, pampering your body from head to toes, your feet will be more than ready to hit the shopping districts.
Each main point of Muskoka has a Downtown area full of retail shops.
Huntsville Downtown has over 20 shops including antiques, home furnishing, fashion, and specialty stores.
Looking for something extra unique (or should we say extra and unique)? Try Soul Institute’s Glamping Experience! You’re off-grid in a 22-acre forest, in a place that has a perfect balance of modern and rustic feel.
Patio Service, Dining In and Ordering Take-Out
Revolving your trip around meals is a planning strategy we can all approve of.
Eating is more than a necessary function of life. It’s a true enjoyment that can elevate your travels.
So far, if you have been able to resist Muskoka’s affection appeal (you need to rethink your perception of aesthetics) get ready to fall in love.
Muskoka’s restaurants are heavenly, absolutely delicious, and never overlook ambiance.
Patio spots are craved by all. Stunning landscapes paired with delectable ingredients can enhance any outing.
Gaze at the Indian River while sampling a Black Tiger Shrimp Risotto at Loondocks. While sitting lakeside at Water’s Edge Wine Bar and Grill, sip Chardonnay while enjoying a flourless chocolate cake. Enjoy a casual, lively night at On The Docks Pub. You’re guaranteed to have a local Misoka Craft Lager in one hand with their Jerk Chicken Wrap in another.
Taking a break from the heat can be a difficult task while you’re indulging in the scenery. A good compromise is dining inside.
Bartlett Lodge offers a unique water taxi experience with a four-course odyssey.
Decade after decade, Chef Domenic Grimaldi has been creating extraordinary dishes for The Marine Dining Room at Bigwin Island. Classic with hints of contemporary describes their dining room and menu.
Paying a high price tag for your cottage, rental or resort can guilt you into staying put during your trip. Don't ignore the tempting Muskoka meals. Order take-out instead.
Traditional Italian dishes can be found at That Little Place by the Lights, a family-owned restaurant located downtown in Huntsville.
Flavourful, authentic, and versatile: Marigold Flavours. Your taste buds will never be the same after trying their Indian, Thia, and/or Indo-Chinese cuisine.
Breakfast on the go? Try The Bakery, a tasty shop that’s been baking goods since 1959. Still family-run and still handcrafted. Cakes, buns, loaves of bread, pies, and only the best carbs are served by the Rebelein family.
The Captivating Charm of Muskoka
Ontario is one of the few provinces that has several luxurious cities. Toronto, Ottawa, and Brampton all have their selling points.
None of the major cities can compare to the Muskoka Region’s ability to capture and rejuvenate all 5 senses. See beauty in a new light while feeling a complete essence of freshness.
Skip a trip to Hawaii, Peru, or the Hamptons, instead, book a vacation at Canada’s oasis.
Don’t forget to absorb the gorgeous architecture of the lakeside cottages and keep an eye out for Nightscapes landscape lighting designs.