The Great Canadian Wilderness Just North of Toronto: Summer’s Epic Getaway

Stunning lakes and forests everywhere you turn, charming historic towns and villages, and a vibrant arts and culture scene. It’s all waiting for you just two hours directly north of Canada’s biggest city.

When you envision the quintessential Canadian vacation, look no further than this region of the province to encounter the real thing. Also known as “Ontario’s cottage country”, think lakeside lazing, bonfire gatherings, starry nights, and the notion of daily grind and schedules being erased. Millions of visitors before you can testify; this is where you can really, really relax.

What You’ll Find

The region is one of the most popular outdoor adventures spots in Canada, in all four seasons. There are thousands of sparkling lakes and rivers, which means everywhere you turn there are opportunities to be in, on and around the water. There are also hundreds of multi-use trails to explore, and plenty of leisure pursuits, such as golf, cycling and boating. A perfect mix of town and country, the area has a thriving arts and culture scene as well.

What’s really great is that, no matter if you are a backcountry explorer or you enjoy a more pampered experience, you’ll find what suits you best so that you can have an unforgettable getaway this summer. Here are some highlights of what you’ll discover in the great Canadian wilderness just north of Toronto:

Outdoor Adventures

Experience the 30,000 Islands with Georgian Bay Tours

The region is most famous for its accessible wilderness, and the ways to experience the iconic landscape are endless. From hiking to biking, paddling to cruises, a visit to the region can entail as much adventure as you’d like. Guided tours, gear rentals, and resort on-site activities will ensure every type of adventurer has a fantastic time.

History Hot Spots

The Muskoka Steamships

Explore the history of the region in many towns and villages, or by climbing aboard for one of many historic cruise boat tours. Museums and monuments dot the region as well, and are well worth their own multi-day tour. For an encounter with local Indigenous peoples, visit the Misko-Aki: Confluence of Cultures exhibit at the Muskoka Discovery Centre in Gravenhurst, Muskoka.

Lakeside Fun

The patio view of the iconic train trestle at Tailwinds Bar & Grill in Parry Sound

Swimming, boating, paddling, or sun bathing, these have been the favourite activities of visitors to the region for generations. Patio dining by the water is always sure to delight as well. But most of all, just lazing on the dock any time of day is sure to please.

Golfing Galore

The Ridge at Manitou on Manitouwabing Lake

This part of Ontario has some of the best golf you’ll find in Canada. The region offers plenty of opportunities to get out on the greens, with over 30 courses found here. It’s a golfer’s paradise, so plan multiple days to play. Stay & Play packages are available too.

Festivals, Events, Live Music and Regattas

Nuit Blanche North / Huntsville Festival of the Arts. Photo credit to Picture Muskoka

There is ALWAYS something happening across the region, so never doubt you’ll find lots to entertain you and the whole family. Check out our events listing and live music concerts, and explore the arts until your heart’s content.

Resorts of Ontario

The region is known for its long-standing resort culture, which began as the steamships opened up transportation to previously inaccesible areas in the late 1800s. Since then, a resort stay here has been refined to perfection, and for those wanting everything at their finger tips, from beautiful locations, exemplary service and incredible recreation activities (including entertainment), this is the way to go.

There are over 30 iconic resorts to consider for your unforgettable stay in the region, from remote log cabins to luxury properties. CLICK HERE to learn more.

Camping & Glamping

Pitch your tent or have someone pitch it for you in over a dozen national and provincial parks, and exceptional private campgrounds as well. Glamping – a sort of refined camping – has grown exponentially in recent years, with many lovely spots now just as popular. Check out all the fabulous spots in the region. And if you’re a fan of B&Bs, be sure to check out all the exceptional hosts in the region as well, all of whom will ensure a warm welcome awaits you.

Getting Here

The region is approximately 2 hours north of Toronto (which has two international airports) by car and 2 hours west of Ottawa (which also has an international airport). For directions, click here. To explore our sub-regions, click here.

Plan your epic summer getaway to the great Canadian wilderness just north of Toronto today. And consider visiting this fall as well, for the most beautiful fall foliage display in the world.

Visit GreatCanadianwilderness.com for more info and to plan your stay.