Muskoka

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.

Some things to do may not be available due to COVID-19.

Many tourism experiences require advance bookings or have restrictions in place due to COVID 19. It is important to check directly with the business operator before you travel. Get the most up-to-date information now.

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.

Several Muskoka towns offer a self-guided heritage walking tour, such as Gravenhurst and Baysville, while downtown Huntsville features the self-guided Group of Seven Outdoor Mural Gallery.

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. And get your lederhosen on for Oktoberfest Muskoka, a four-day craft beer celebration in October with music, food and drink at breweries, restaurants and other venues in Bracebridge, Gravenhurst, Huntsville, Lake of Bays and Muskoka Lakes.

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.

Gravenhurst

Perched on the southernmost shores of Lake Muskoka, Gravenhurst is the regional government seat and gateway community for Muskoka. Key sights include the Bethune Memorial House, the Gravenhurst Opera House and the bustling boardwalk and heritage steamships at the Muskoka Wharf.

Bracebridge

Set among three waterfalls, including the Bracebridge Falls, in the middle of town, and overlooking the Muskoka River, Bracebridge is a scenic little community that’s also home to Santa’s Village theme park.

Huntsville

The largest town by population in Muskoka, Huntsville is under 50 km from the west gate of Algonquin Provincial Park and 10 km south of Arrowhead Provincial Park. And between Hidden Valley Highlands Ski Area and Deerhurst Resort, you’ll find year-round outdoor adventures here.

Lake of Bays Township

In Muskoka’s northeastern corner, the towns of Baysville, Dorset, and Dwight are the main urban centres of Lake of Bays Township, which serves as the gateway to Algonquin Provincial Park. A great way to explore this pocket of Muskoka is along the Lake of Bays Scenic Drive, an 80 km loop.

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.

Locals Know

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

The owners of the expansive property at Limberlost Forest & Wildlife Reserve near Huntsville allow hiking and snowshoeing on the beautiful forested trails free of charge.

Where to go ice skating

In winter, lace up for a magical Saturday evening of ice skating under the stars on the Ice Trail loop around frozen cranberry fields, lit up by tiki torches, at Muskoka Lakes Farm & Winery.

Where to snap a great Instagram pic

Just east of Hardy Lake Provincial Park in Muskoka Lakes, hike the steep 1 km Walker’s Point Lookout Trail to one of the most breathtaking views of Lake Muskoka.

Explore More of Ontario Through Our Visitors

Tag your photos with #DiscoverON to inspire others.

Looking for Ontario travel advice?

Our experts are here to help you plan your perfect trip.