Striking lakes and landscapes, abundant wildlife and charming ice-cream communities make Muskoka one of Ontario’s most cherished natural playgrounds.
The area is renowned for over 1,500 sparkling freshwater lakes and mature mixed forests as far as the eye can see, with southern deciduous trees transitioning to northern coniferous pines. Rocky shorelines and exposed Canadian shield formations offer the opportunity to glimpse a moose, beaver or graceful blue heron.
It doesn’t take long to become enamoured with this place. In fact, Muskoka rapidly became a popular holidaying destination over a century ago. Originally land of the Indigenous Ojibwa, early European expansion revolved around the lumber industry. This in turn spurred the arrival of steamships as the easiest method to transport the harvested timber back to the sawmills. As a navigable lake system was developed, the natural beauty of the area did not go unnoticed. The increase of ‘pioneer tourists’ resulted in the development of several grand lakeside vacation hotels, many of which still stand today.
With stunning lakes and vistas being its most defining character, there’s a timelessness to Muskoka. People gravitate to this area for the very same reason they did 150 years ago, and Muskoka has ranked high on the list of best places to visit in Canada by the likes of National Geographic, Travel + Leisure and Reader’s Digest.
Discover (or rediscover) the magic of Muskoka for yourself.
Scroll down to learn more about all there is to see and do in Muskoka or visit the area's tourism website.
Where is Muskoka?
The Muskoka District is located directly north of Lakes Simcoe and Couchiching and extends from the southeast shores of Georgian Bay to Algonquin Provincial Park. Key thoroughfares include Highway 400 and Highway 11 travelling north/south to connect to Toronto, and Highway 60 between Huntsville and Ottawa. The towns of Bracebridge, Gravenhurst and Huntsville, as well as the townships of Georgian Bay, Lake of Bays and Muskoka Lakes are located within Muskoka.
Things to Do in Muskoka
Although often referred to as Ontario’s cottage country, there is a wide variety of ways and places to stay in Muskoka. Choose from heritage hotels like Windermere or Clevelands House and luxury spa and golf resorts, such as Deerhurst or Rocky Crest Golf Resort. For family oriented accommodations, look for cozy lakeside cottages, like Severn Lodge, Cedar Grove Lodge or Bayview Wildwood Resort. You’ll also find budget friendly motels and private rentals.
From the big three lakes of Muskoka, Joseph and Rosseau to Lake of Bays, Mary Lake, Fairy Lake and the Georgian Bay coast, there’s no shortage of water related activities. Most lakeside resorts and lodges will supply kayaks and canoes, while local marinas may offer fishing boat rentals. Fish for northern pike, lake trout, walleye and smallmouth bass. Explore the vast waterways and lake systems on a sightseeing cruise aboard Muskoka Steamships from Gravenhurst, Lady Muskoka from Bracebridge or Dorset’s SS Bigwin. Winter transforms the lakes and forests into a cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and birdwatching paradise.
Local heritage sites and museums preserve Muskoka’s Indigenous, pioneering, logging, steamship and rail history. View artifacts and old photographs at Lake of Bays Marine Museum, peruse exhibits and galleries at Muskoka Steamships & Discovery Centre, explore preserved buildings and a steam train at Muskoka Heritage Place and learn about the area’s First Nations at Muskoka Lakes Museum beside the locks in Port Carling. Tour the Bethune Memorial House in Gravenhurst to learn about the achievements of Dr. Norman Bethune or visit the holiday home of author Lucy Maud Montgomery at Bala’s Museum.
From upscale resort dining halls to main street cafes and bakeries, ice-cream parlors and chip trucks, you’ll find a wide assortment of establishments for foodies to explore. Henrietta’s Pine Bakery, for example, in Dwight and Huntsville has been treating customers to their famous sweet and savory breads and pastries for over 50 years. Ice Cream Dreams Soda Shop in Bala or Port Carling's Mooskoka's Ice Cream are summer staples.
Nothing says cottage relaxing quite like a cold beer, so naturally Muskoka is home to amazing craft breweries. Pick up your favourite brews from Sawdust City Brewing Co. in Gravenhurst, Muskoka Brewery in Bracebridge, Canvas Brewing in Huntsville or Lake of Bays Brewing in Baysville. Muskoka Lakes Farm & Winery in Bala produces delicious cranberry and blueberry wines, rose and cider for the wine and cider aficionados. And those with a sweet tooth should make a beeline for Muskoka Honey Bee in Dwight, Sugarbush Hill Maple Farm near Port Sydney or the Nutty Chocolatier in Huntsville.
Communities of Muskoka
Explore the inviting towns, townships and communities scattered across Muskoka.
Lake of Bays Township
Township of Muskoka Lakes
The big three bodies of water, Lake Muskoka, Lake Rosseau and Lake Joseph, among other smaller lakes, such as Skeleton Lake, make up Muskoka Lakes. Hardy Lake Provincial Park and Torrance Barrens Conservation Area are popular protected wilderness zones, while the area’s largest communities include picturesque Bala and Port Carling.
Georgian Bay Township
Muskoka’s westernmost border meets the Georgian Bay shoreline, famous for its dramatic rocky coasts, windswept pines and plethora of islands and inlets. Honey Harbour serves as the access point to Georgian Bay Islands National Park. Other towns within Georgian Bay Township include South Bay and MacTier to the north.
Whether you’re still in the planning stages or you’re already on your way to Muskoka, a little local knowledge goes a long way in deciding what to do next.
Great farmers' markets
Tap into the essence of Muskoka’s local communities at seasonal farmer’s markets. From Monday's market in Bala to Bracebridge’s Saturday event, the farmers markets are held on different days throughout the week.
Where to go for a hike
Where to go ice skating
Where to snap a great Instagram pic
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