The lakes are calling your name. Tourism spending in Canada rose by 4.2% in the second quarter of 2021. The overwhelming majority of this spending went toward domestic tourism, especially at outdoor locations.
Lake Muskoka is becoming one of Canada's biggest hubs for outdoor activities. Yet few people know a lot about it.
What does Lake Muskoka have to offer? Where are some important places you can visit? What type of accommodations can you find?
We love Lake Muskoka, and we want you to know all about it too.
Lake Muskoka is a small lake located in Ontario. It is a great site for camping near Toronto as well as cottaging.
Cottaging allows urban residents a respite from urban life. They can have the amenities they have at home, cooking meals and sleeping in comfortable beds. During the daytime, they can pursue a wide range of outdoor activities, including water activities.
Lake Muskoka is a versatile and beautiful area. You can shop in small towns, go for hikes, and swim in the water. The foliage is vibrant and the water is blue and reflective.
Lake Muskoka is distinct from Muskoka Lakes. Muskoka Lakes is the township that contains most of the lake as well as other bodies of water.
Prehistoric glaciers created Lake Muskoka and the surrounding area. You can find rugged rocks around the lake, which can make the area feel remote and ancient.
Yet Lake Muskoka is vibrant with plant life. The area is a part of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence forest region, which is home to evergreen trees and white pines. Wildlife enthusiasts can look for birds, reptiles, and bears in the forest.
The Muskoka River Watershed is slowly eroding and flooding, which makes the ecology vulnerable. If you choose to camp or hike, be very careful. Limit the amount of trash you produce and put out any fires you make.
Getting to Lake Muskoka
Lake Muskoka may seem remote. But it is near enough major areas that transportation is relatively easy, once you know what to do.
Most tourists get to Lake Muskoka in their cars. The lake is adjacent to Ontario Highway 11, making it an easy drive from Toronto.
Muskoka Airport connects to Ontario Highway 11 north of Gravenhurst. It is a tiny airport that can handle small planes with up to 15 passengers in them. Flights run out of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport year-round.
A few private companies offer water shuttles to the lake. This is a good option if you don't have access to a car and are in the surrounding area. Bus routes do not run directly to the lake.
How Far Is Lake Muskoka from Toronto?
A straight line between Toronto and Muskoka is 102 miles or 164 kilometres. The driving distance is slightly longer, running 126 miles or 203 kilometres. If you are driving at 100 kilometres an hour, you will get there in roughly two hours.
What to Do at Lake Muskoka
Outdoor activities are some of the best things to do at the lake. Yet there are many attractions you can visit as well. Here are some of the must-sees on our list.
Muskoka Lakes Farm and Winery
Muskoka Lakes Farm and Winery is a working cranberry farm. The cranberry harvest begins in October, and you can watch workers wade into the water and extract beautiful red fruits. You can buy plenty of cranberry products, including fresh berries you can incorporate into recipes.
But the farm offers more than just cranberries. The farm contains numerous nature trails you can walk along, by yourself and in guided tours. The tours include a guided wagon tour that teach you about how cranberries are grown and harvested. Then you can head over to the wine tasting where you can sample a variety of cranberry wines, all locally made. Then you'll head over to the grand finale - the cranberry plunge! You get to put on coveralls and wade through the cranberry bog yourself. It makes for an amazing photo-op!
The owners run attractions throughout the year. During the wintertime, the farm offers an ice trail that you can skate on. You can also play hockey in the cranberry bogs and go snowshoeing.
Besides cranberries, you can sample wines and taste local dishes. The farm offers many kinds of cheese and artisanal crackers. You can sit on their patio and take in the beautiful surroundings while sampling their food.
The farm is located in Bala, a town east of the lake. You can drive to it and park your car on-site. It is free to visit the farm and its shop, but you must pay fees to do any attractions like the wagon ride, wine tasting, cranberry plunge, and snowshoeing.
Santa's Village is a seasonal theme park in Bracebridge, a town northeast of the lake. It is open from May to December, though the park is only open on weekends during the fall. You can reach the park after a short drive.
As you might imagine, the theme park is Christmas-themed. Santa's Village is supposed to be Santa's summer home before he heads north and makes presents for children. You can visit Santa and take photographs with him.
But the theme park offers a lot more. You can ride classic amusement park rides like merry-go-grounds and rollercoasters. You can visit petting zoos and go for walks through enchanted forests and suspension bridges.
Muskoka Zip Lines and Aerial Park is connected to Santa's Village. You can take to the sky and enjoy breathtaking views of the forest as you zip through the air.
Santa's Village has several distinct meal options. You can find rotisserie chicken, poutine, and fried dough.
The park is intended for children and families. But adults can go and enjoy the attractions, especially walking through the woods.
Hardy Lake Provincial Park
Hardy Lake Provincial Park is a park that the Ontario provincial government runs. You can drive to it on Highway 169. The park is non-operating, meaning that camping and recreational vehicles are not allowed on the grounds.
Hardy Lake offers the beauty of Lake Muskoka with fewer tourists. It is a great location to go on walks by yourself, as it offers many natural trails. It is similar to Glacier National Park since both cater to the same activities and offer similar views.
It is also an incredible attraction for plant collectors. Hardy Lake formed when ancient lakes receded, leaving behind thousands of shoreline plants. You'll be sure to get some fantastic photographs while you're there.
Lake Rosseau lies to the north of the Township of Muskoka Lakes. It is another important cottaging area, and it is less well-known than Muskoka. If you have trouble finding a place to stay near Muskoka, you should consider Rosseau.
Rosseau offers thick forests and crystal-blue water. You can perform many of the same outdoor activities near the lake as you can near Muskoka. It is a great spot for boating, as there are numerous marinas around the lake.
Bracebridge Falls is another attraction at Bracebridge. It is one of the leading attractions for the town. It offers three separate waterfalls just outside of the downtown area.
The water roars and froths with snow-white foam. You can take photographs and get close enough to feel the mist on your skin.
You can also find plenty of small shops around the falls. Buy a pastry and a cup of coffee and gaze upon the water for a relaxing afternoon activity.
Camping Experiences at Lake Muskoka
Lake Muskoka is a great destination for camping and glamping alike. Consider a few different options before you pick a campground to stay at.
All campgrounds in Muskoka are adopting COVID-19 security protocols. Before you go camping, make sure you know what they are. Follow COVID-19 safety tips for camping like setting up your tent six feet away from others.
Whispering Pines Campground
The Whispering Pines Campground is located at Santa's Village. Some people refer to it as Santa's Whispering Pines Campground. If you plan on visiting the theme park multiple times, you should consider renting space on the grounds.
You can rent a cottage, cabin, or yurt. You can also bring an RV or tents onto the grounds. The campgrounds are open between May and September, so you cannot go camping during the wintertime.
Besides access to the park, you can enjoy canoeing and kayaking on nearby beaches and lakes. Camping on-site gives you access to private hiking trails and roads, allowing you to go on driving tours.
Gravenhurst / Muskoka KOA
The Kampgrounds of America (KOA) is an organization that runs campgrounds throughout North America. Their property in Gravenhurst covers hundreds of acres of forests, making it one of the largest camping sites in Ontario. It is open between May and October for camping.
Gravenhurst / Muskoka KOA offers important campground amenities. You can get Wi-Fi, go swimming in a pool, and enjoy live shows at a pavilion. You can go fishing or make campfires after you pay fees.
One unique outdoor activity that KOA offers is cross-country skiing. You can find ski trails on the grounds between November and April, and you can rent equipment directly from KOA. You can also go snowshoeing during the daytime.
Muskoka Falls Trailer Park and Campground
Muskoka Falls Trailer Park and Campground is south of Gravenhurst. As the name suggests, it is a trailer park, which makes it good for campers with RVs or moving vehicles. The grounds are open during the spring, summer, and fall.
The park sits on a private pond, which creates a serene space for swimming and boating. Nature trails are short, making hiking easy for inexperienced people.
Where to Stay at Lake Muskoka (If Camping Is Not Your Thing)
If you don't want to camp, you can find many accommodations at Lake Muskoka. Make sure you look at different rates before booking your room.
Touchstone Resort is located on the lake itself. It is a great resort for adults, containing a spa and private restaurants. The resort is open year-round, but it caters to winter guests by offering an ice skating rink and rentable snowshoes.
Residence Inn by Marriott Gravenhurst Muskoka Wharf
Residence Inn by Marriott is an extended-stay hotel chain. It caters to people who need to stay in an area for a month or longer.
The hotel is close to the area's hiking trails and to community centers. The Muskoka Wharf is within walking distance, giving you access to shops and local restaurants.
JW Marriott the Rosseau Muskoka Resort and Spa
JW Marriott offers luxury amenities. You can enjoy meals at several different restaurants, including ones limited to the summer and winter. You can enjoy spa treatments and exercise inside a full fitness centre.
Rooms include suites with fireplaces and king-size beds. Some rooms do not have scenic views, so make sure you look closely at the details before you order one.
Muskoka Lakes Hotel
The Muskoka Lakes Hotel is one of the newer hotels in the area. It offers exquisite views of the lake, especially during sunrise and sunset. It also offers services for boating and kayaking, making it a great choice for water sports enthusiasts.
Rooms contain essential amenities like kitchenettes and Wi-Fi. You can request a balcony suite and eat meals while looking out at the water.
When Is the Best Time to Visit Lake Muskoka?
You can visit Lake Muskoka year-round. International tourists should figure out the best time to visit Canada before looking at Muskoka. Many people like to go cottaging during the summer, so crowds can get large from June to August.
But if you are looking for a winter vacation, you can visit the lake. Try to avoid going during December, as many people like to spend Christmastime in their cottages.
Keep in mind that many attractions are seasonal. Some are open in the summer, while others are available in the winter. Figure out what you want to do and do your research to see if places are open.
Pack Your Bags for Lake Muskoka Today
Lake Muskoka has a lot to offer. Toronto residents can arrive in the area within a morning of driving.
You can walk through beautiful forests, swim in clear lakes, and eat delicious berries and food. Popular attractions include Santa's Village, which caters to children and families.
Campgrounds are open during the summer. If you want to visit Muskoka during the winter, you can rent a hotel room. There are affordable, extended-stay, and luxury options.
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