Muskoka is a great place to take a weekend or day trip - or even longer. Here are a few of the great destinations and activities that you can enjoy in Muskoka and its immediate environs.
- Muskoka Heritage Place. Visit the Muskoka Museum and Pioneer Village to journey back in time to the initial settlement. The museum has a variety of temporary exhibits. The pioneer village represents a late nineteenth century community, complete with costumed narrators and hands-on activities. Finally, the train and steam museum includes the Portage Flyer. This was the world’s smallest commercial railroad and was, as the name suggested, built to provide “portage” for cargo and passengers between Fairy Lake and Lake of Bays.
- Algonquin Provincial Park. This 125 year old park offers miles and miles of backcountry canoeing (you can rent canoes and kayaks at a variety of locations), great fishing, swimming holes. In winter, you can go dog sledding, skiing or snowmobiling. Lake of Bays, the adjacent township, has a variety of restaurants and specialty shops.
- The Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic Site allows you to canoe or kayak through a 386 km waterway, via a number of historic lockstations. The route includes the unique Big Chute Marine Railway - North America’s only marine railway portage, moving boats in a 100-ton open carriage.
- Santa’s Village. If you have the little ones with you, Muskoka’s Christmas-all-year theme park offers a variety of rides (including an antique merry-go-round and a Christmas ornament ferris wheel) as well as breakfast with Santa all summer. The park also has a pay as you play ‘sports’ area with go karts and sport-themed games and a zip line route.
- Muskoka Lakes Winery. Wine? In Canada? Wine does not have to be made out of grapes, as this winery proves. Their wines are made out of cranberries (or blueberries), but still come in red, white and rose. For something extra special, check out their Red Maple Dessert Wine which, as the name suggests, is made with maple syrup. If you are not wine fans, then consider the Sawdust City Brewing Co. instead for excellent local beer.
- Sugarbush Hill Maple Farm. A great way to stock up on maple syrup. During the summer, you can tour the farm (except on Mondays), although you should be sure to book in advance. The tour takes place inside the sugarhouse. You can also explore their maple forest.
- Dorset Scenic Lookout Tower. It’s a bit of a climb, but the tower, purpose-built in 1967 (replacing an earlier fire lookout tower) is worth it for the view from 142 metres above Lake of Bays. It’s also a great place to have a picnic. A 2.3km loop hiking trail (with some steep slopes) can be accessed from the tower base. Complete your day with the Dorset Heritage Museum, featuring exhibits of early pioneer life and traditional logging practices.
- Arrowhead Provincial Park. A smaller, but quiet park. You can rent canoes, kayaks and mountain bikes in the summer, or skis, snowshoes, and ice skates in the winter. Power boats are not allowed on the lakes, making them perfect for canoeing. There are also several hiking trails, including a couple easy enough for young kids or grandma. You can also go fishing or swimming. In the winter, more than 33km of cross-country trails await.
- The Group of Seven Outdoor Gallery. When the weather is nice, visit this outdoor trail that will take you through some great locations in Muskoka and Algonquin Park. You can take a guided or self-guided tour and appreciate some fantastic 20th-century Canadian art.
This is just a small selection of the great destinations and activities in Muskoka. Check them out and you will find a weekend is not nearly enough time.