Muskoka Regional Guide
Muskoka is a beautiful, popular tourist destination located just a few hours north of Toronto, Ontario. With enchanting lakes, charming towns and endless outdoor activities, the region has no shortage of attractions. If you’re planning a visit, here’s a guide to the top sights and activities, as well as practical information for planning your trip.
Notable Muskoka Towns:
There are several towns and villages in Muskoka. Each one has its own unique charm, as well as different attractions.
Bracebridge is Muskoka’s largest town, with lots of shops, restaurants, historic buildings, parks and trails. It is known for its breathtaking natural landscapes, having been built around the iconic Bracebridge Falls, with two other waterfalls, Wilson’s Falls and High Falls, nearby. Its rich history consists of generating power from the waterfall it was built around, as well as a transportation hub due to the Grand Trunk Railway. With its natural beauty, vibrant arts scene, and welcoming community, Bracebridge is an ideal destination for those seeking a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure.
- Downtown Bracebridge has quaint boutiques and places to eat, especially on Manitoba Street.
- Bracebridge Falls, in the heart of town, is a great spot for a picnic.
- The Muskoka River, which flows through the town, has stunning scenery. Canoes and kayaks are available to rent.
- The Muskoka Lakes Museum, on the lakeshore, showcases the rich history of the region.
- The iconic Bracebridge Bay Lookout has breathtaking views of the town, the Muskoka River, and the surrounding natural landscape.
- At The Muskoka Brewery you can take a guided tour that showcases the brewing process and enjoy exceptional craft beers.
- The Lady Muskoka Cruises offer scenic boat tours of Muskoka’s lakes for beautiful views and a unique perspective on the region.
- Santa’s Village is a family-friendly Christmas-themed amusement park with exciting rides, live entertainment, and the opportunity to meet Santa Claus himself.
- The Rene M. Caisse Memorial Theatre hosts various performances, including from live music concerts to theatrical productions.
- The Touchstone on Lake Muskoka, a luxurious resort that offers lakefront accommodations, spa services, and a host of outdoor activities to make your stay truly memorable.
See cottages for rent near Bracebridge.
Gravenhurst has many attractions, and its downtown is full of unique shops and restaurants. Previously named McCabes Landing and Sawdust City, it is located at the end of the Toronto, Simcoe and Muskoka Junction Railway, and therefore known as the “Gateway to Muskoka.” Bordering Lake Muskoka and Gull Lake, Gravenhurst offers a captivating blend of natural beauty and cultural attractions.
- The Muskoka Wharf is a vibrant waterfront area is home to shops, restaurants, and recreational activities on Lake Muskoka, such as a boat cruise, paddleboard and kayak rentals,and scenic views along the boardwalk.
- The historic Gravenhurst Opera House is an architectural gem that hosts live theater, concerts, and events, for a taste of local culture and entertainment. Be sure to check the calendar for upcoming events.
- The annual summertime Tall Pines Music Festival has a diverse lineup of talented musicians from various genres, providing a memorable experience for music enthusiasts in a beautiful outdoor setting.
- The picturequest Gull Lake Rotary Park has walking trails, picnic areas, and a sandy beach with stunning sunsets.
- The Muskoka Steamships and Discovery Centre houses exhibits about the area, where you can learn about the steamship era, and even take a ride on one of the beautifully restored vintage vessels, or a tour on the famous steamship RMS Segwun.
- At the Muskoka Bay Lookout are breathtaking panoramic views of the town, the shimmering lakes, and the lush surrounding forests.
See cottages for rent near Gravenhurst.
In the heart of Muskoka, Huntsville is the gateway of Algonquin Provincial Park, a vast wilderness area known for its pristine lakes, hiking trails, and wildlife viewing. Named after the first European settler and postmaster George Hunt, who arrived in 1869, It has a vibrant culture, with plenty of galleries, museums, and festivals.
- Learn about the town’s history at The Muskoka Heritage Place, with tours in pioneer buildings, a working blacksmith shop, and a steam train ride, for a glimpse into the region’s past.
- The Algonquin Provincial Park is a wilderness paradise perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. Hike the scenic trails, go canoeing or kayaking on the pristine lakes, and hopefully encounter some of the abundant wildlife.
- There are several lakes nearby, such Fairy Lake or Peninsula Lake, with sandy beaches, swimming, and boat rentals.
- The Huntsville Festival of the Arts hosts various performances including music, theatre, and dance.
- The Group of Seven Outdoor Gallery is an art gallery along a beautiful walking trail that showcases stunning reproductions of famous Canadian landscape paintings.
- The Huntsville Museum of Art features a diverse collection of visual arts and hosts rotating exhibitions throughout the year.
- The Deerhurst Resort, on Lake Peninsula, offers activities such as golfing, watersports, and zip-lining.
- The Hidden Valley Resort offers cozy accommodations, spa services, and access to a private beach on Peninsula Lake.
- Tall Trees Muskoka is a renowned fine dining restaurant that offers a delectable menu using locally sourced ingredients.
See cottages for rent near Huntsville.
The beautiful Lake Rosseau is a popular spot for cottaging, boating, kayaking, and paddleboarding. For a truly unforgettable experience, catch a sunset cruise. The lake’s shoreline has charming communities with quaint shops, waterfront dining options, and luxurious resorts. You can also explore the nearby towns and villages, such as Port Carling and Rosseau.
Another popular lake for boating and cottaging, Lake Muskoka is home to several towns and villages along its shores, including Bracebridge and Gravenhurst. You can also explore some of the smaller islands on the lake by boat. It is renowned for its natural beauty and recreational opportunities like fishing, swimming, or water skiing. Take a stroll along the waterfront, visit local museums, or indulge in a delicious meal with a stunning lake view.
Lake Joseph offers a natural splendor that captivates visitors from the moment they arrive. Nestled amidst lush forest cover, the lake boasts clear blue waters reflecting the surrounding greenery and sky above. In the fall season, the wooded hills surrounding the lake come alive with a riot of colors, creating a truly scenic landscape. A leisurely kayak ride or paddle-board trip allows for an up-close and personal experience of the stunning views. Moreover, Lake Joseph is renowned for its luxury resorts, providing the ultimate relaxation haven. With private cabanas, spa treatments, and various outdoor activities like hiking and fishing, there is something for everyone. Boating, skiing, and other water sports are also popular on the shimmering waters of Lake Joseph. Additionally, the lake is home to exceptional dining and entertainment establishments, offering not only delicious cuisine but also breathtaking views of the lake.
Lake of Bays
The quieter Lake of Bays is known for its scenic beauty and excellent fishing. Canoe, kayak, and paddleboard rentals are available to explore the calm waters. Dwight and Baysville line the lake’s shores and have local shops, cozy cafes, and waterfront dining options with a view. Climb the Dorset Lookout Tower for the panoramic views of Lake of Bays and the surrounding forests.
Top Activities in the Muskoka Region
Muskoka offers a wide range of activities for adventure, families, couples and groups. You can hike scenic trails, boat on the pristine lakes, fish for trophy-sized fish, golf on championship courses, and explore charming towns with unique shops and galleries. Additionally, you can indulge in spa treatments, savor local cuisine, and immerse yourself in the region’s rich arts and cultural scene.
For the adventure and adrenaline enthusiasts, there are there are plenty of options in Muskoka, such as
Muskoka has many families and kid-friendly attractions and activities, such as:
For a romantic getaway, Muskoka has plenty to offer, such offer:
- Wine tasting and vineyard tours – Muskoka Lakes Winery in Bala.
- Sunset cruises on Lake Muskoka or Lake Rosseau.
- Delicious dining – Muskoka Lakes Farm & Winery, The Mill on Main in Huntsville.
There are plenty of activities and attractions that can accommodate groups, such as:
Places to Shop in Muskoka:
Muskoka is known for its unique shops and boutiques, where you can find one-of-a-kind gifts and souvenirs. Some popular shopping destinations include:
If you’re planning to cook during your stay, there are several grocery stores and markets in the area where you can stock up on provisions, including:
- Metro in Bracebridge, which is the largest grocery store in the area.
- Foodland in Gravenhurst, which offers a variety of fresh produce and meats.
- Dwight Market in Dwight, which is a small market with a bakery and deli.
- Bala Freshmart in Bala, which has a wide selection of fresh and local produce.
In addition to the specialty shops and boutiques mentioned above, Muskoka is also home to several notable stores, including:
- Algonquin Outfitters in Huntsville – outdoor gear and clothing, canoe and kayak rentals.
- Muskoka Brewery in Bracebridge – craft beer tours and tastings, and sales.
- Wild Muskoka Botanicals – producer of artisan wild foods and cocktail mixers, using local foraged ingredients foraged in a sustainable manner, and hand-produced on a small scale
- The Trading Bay Gourmet in Bracebridge – specialty foods and kitchen accessories.
- Robinson’s General Store in Dorset – a fixture in the area for over 90 years and sells everything from groceries to outdoor gear.
Restaurants in Muskoka
- 3 Guys and a Stove in Huntsville – a cozy atmosphere with an eclectic menu featuring dishes such as lamb shank, blackened chicken pasta, and grilled salmon.
- Pie Wood Fired Pizza Joint in Gravenhurst – delicious wood-fired pizzas made with locally-sourced ingredients.
- Riverwalk Restaurant in Bracebridge – a mix of Mediterranean and Canadian cuisine, with a focus on fresh and locally-sourced ingredients.
- Tulo’s Taqueria in Port Carling – delicious Mexican fare, such as tacos, burritos, and nachos.
- Allora in Huntsville – authentic Italian with a twist, bringing a city dining feel to Muskoka.
What is Muskoka known for?
Muskoka is known for its stunning natural beauty, with its pristine lakes, dense forests, and picturesque landscapes. It is also renowned for its cottage country lifestyle, outdoor recreational activities, and as a popular vacation destination.
How far is Muskoka from Toronto?
Muskoka is located approximately 200 kilometers (124 miles) north of Toronto. The driving time from Toronto to Muskoka is typically around 2 to 2.5 hours, depending on traffic and the specific destination within Muskoka.
How do I get to Muskoka from Toronto?
- By Car: take Highway 400 North from Toronto, which will lead you directly to the Muskoka region. The driving time is typically around 2 to 2.5 hours, depending on traffic and your destination within Muskoka.
- By Bus: Ontario Northland and Hammond Transportation offer scheduled bus services from Toronto to various towns in Muskoka, including Bracebridge, Huntsville, and Gravenhurst.
- By Train: VIA Rail operates train services from Toronto to the town of Gravenhurst in Muskoka. Enjoy scenic views during the train journey.
What are the best times to visit Muskoka?
The summer months of June to August are the most popular times to visit, when the weather is warm and ideal for outdoor activities like boating, swimming, and hiking. The Autumn leaves of September and October make for stunning, multi coloured vistas. The Winter months, from December to February offer opportunities for fun in the snow, like skiing and snowshoeing.
How can I get around in Muskoka without a car?
There are limited public transportation options available. Taxis and ride-sharing services may be expensive, so it’s advisable to plan ahead and check the availability and schedules in advance.
- Muskoka Taxi is Muskoka’s largest taxi service.
- Muskoka Taxi Cab services Huntsville, Bracebridge, and surrounding areas. Phone: +1 (705) 787-1133
- Muskoka Lakes Taxi services the Muskoka Lakes area, including Bala, Port Carling, and Windermere. Phone: +1 (705) 644-0650
Have a wonderful time in Muskoka!
With its natural beauty, charming towns and endless activities, it’s no wonder why Muskoka is a popular travel destination around the world. We hope this guide has given you some ideas for your visit.