Only two hours from Toronto, Muskoka is the lakeside wonderland where city slickers come to embrace nature. Here are their favourite things to do.
With a number of national and provincial parks in the vicinity including Algonquin, Canada’s oldest provincial park, Muskoka is one of North America’s prime 'leaf peeping' areas. In the autumn months the trees are ablaze with golden and auburn leaves.
Autumn leaves in Muskoka (Shutterstock.com)
The local tourist board puts out an annual list of Muskoka Fall Colour Routes, mapping out the best roads to take for the most spectacular displays. But really, the best ways to truly experience the changing leaves is to hike, bike or canoe along one of the many trails that criss-cross the region.
Creating fruit wines is an art unto itself, and the Muskoka Lakes Winery in Bala is considered one of the best. Would-be sommeliers, are encouraged to take one of their daily tours the opportunity to learn the intricacies of producing fruit wine first hand and with a cold glass in hand.
Johnson’s Cranberry Marsh (Muskoka Lakes Winery)
The winery is most famous for its unique cranberry wine from Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh, which also hosts the Bala Cranberry Festival every October, when visitors don waders and head into the marsh themselves to join in the fun.
Late November to mid-March transforms Muskoka into a winter wonderland and with it the opportunity to mush with huskies, ski, snowmobile and snowshoe. But for ice skaters – both beginners and old hands – the highlight is skating the Arrowhead Provincial Park Ice Skating Trail.
Torch-lit skate trail (Explorers’ Edge)
Set amidst towering, snow-dusted trees, the 1.5 kilometre trail winds its way through a variety of environments in the park. For a truly unique experience, visit during one of the park’s Fire & Ice nights when the trail is illuminated by hundreds of Tiki torches.
2016 marks the 150th anniversary of the R.M.S Segwun, North America’s oldest operating steam-driven vessel, and one that has played an important role in the area’s history. The beautifully restored vessel still operates and taking a cruise gives a unique perspective on lakeside Muskoka, as well as a peak at the holiday homes of the rich and famous, including Steven Spielberg, Kate Hudson, Tom Hanks, Cindy Crawford, Shania Twain and Martin Short.
The R.M.S Segwun (Shutterstock.com)
The Muskoka Boat & Heritage Centre in Gravenhurst is home to Canada’s largest in-water display of antique and classic boats and offers a fascinating insight into the area’s history and culture. Visitors to the museum have the opportunity to step back into the past and experience the nostalgia of Muskoka’s famous resorts and ships of yesteryear.
Tucked away on a back street in Bala, the quirky Bala’s Museum is a shrine to Canadian author, Lucy Maude Montgomery. The museum commemorates the summer of 1922, when Montgomery came to town, staying at an inn across the road and taking her meals in the building that now houses the museum.
Anne fans (Bala’s Museum)
Montgomery is best known for her book, Anne of Green Gables, a favourite with children around the world, including China and South Korea. Visitors can see the silver service set she used during her stay, as well as one of the best collection of her books, including rare and first editions. In truth, the museum is just a chance for fans of her books to dress up and have their photos taken with Matthew’s buggy.
For more information on what Muskoka has to offer, visit the Travel Ontario website.
Main image: Deckchairs in Muskoka (Shutterstock.com)