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National Geographic picks Muskoka as #1

October 12th, 2014

Folks in Ontario and at Tourism Ontario should be proud. In the National Geographic Traveler Magazine, Muskoka, Ontario was “handpicked” by National Geographic Traveler editors as their choice for the best summer travel destination for those looking for an “out-of-the-ordinary” summer vacation area.

So now that you know, you should contemplate a visit. By receiving this highly coveted recommendation by one of the most popular and respected travel publications in the world, the Muskoka region will receive well-deserved international exposure that will greatly benefit the area.

Muskoka is a beautiful Ontario resort area offering large clear lakes, majestic outcroppings of granite and towering pines. For visitors to the area, there is also much to do, with many interesting towns and villages, a wide variety of resort accommodations, visitor attractions and recreational and shopping opportunities.

The Muskoka region is located approximately 2 hours north of Toronto in central Ontario. An extremely popular cottage country destination, Muskoka has been attracting visitors from southern Ontario and the northern U.S. states for over one hundred years and is considered by many as Ontario premier resort area. Muskoka is well-known throughout Ontario and the border states where it has a tremendous reputation as a favourite lake country vacation destination.

With approximately twenty percent of the earth’s fresh water, an extensive web of interconnecting water routes, over 270 provincial parks and six national parks, Ontario is considered a vacation paradise. Landscapes contrast dramatically throughout the province. Certain areas, like the Muskokas, proclaim themselves as ‘cottage country’, but it is worth exploring many of the more secluded, unsullied regions as well.

For many decades now, people have sought out the scaled down lifestyle of “up north”. People head in droves to “cottage country” in search of hammock-swaying snoozes, exceptional air quality and outdoor pursuits. “Up north” to those who reside in Toronto usually means somewhere in the Muskokas between Barrie and Algonquin Park. In the Algonquin language, Muskoka translates to “the land of red earth”, describing the billion-year-old granite that blankets the region.

Situated just a 90-minute drive from Toronto, the region is comprised of the Georgian Bay on the west and Algonquin Park on the east and is encompassed by water interspersed with many small islands, making it Ontario’s premiere cottage destination.

Waterfalls, wildlife and towering pines are all characteristic of the Muskoka experience, but a variety of activities and attractions appeal to all interests.

A year-round destination, Muskoka offers a diversity of activities, attractions and events, including an abundance of antique shops, championship golf courses, a vibrant arts community, several historically significant attractions and much more. This area welcomes over one million visitors each year who come from across Ontario and indeed, many parts of the world, to experience this special area of Canada.

Lake Muskoka, Lake Joseph and Lake Rosseau comprise the Muskoka Lakes where canoeing, fishing, power boating, waterskiing and other water activities are popular. But, one must spend some time in a Muskoka chair – a high back, fanned wood chair with the large armrest to support a drink – listening to the loons or howling wolves while sipping a beverage of choice.

Muskoka’s documented history dates to 1615; however, it was known that the area was originally occupied by the Algonquin and Huron native tribes. Explorers such as Samuel de Champlain, who travelled from France in search of Northwest Passage to Asia, and several other missionary groups, passed through the area during these early years.

Around the turn of the 20th century, many elite society members began building summer homes in  areas in the Muskokas. In June, vacationers would arrive in Gravenhurst with their families and house staff, and stay until September. A steamboat departing from Gravenhurst brought them to their luxurious cottages, some of which, to this day, line the shores of Lake Muskoka. This collection of magnificent summer homes is still referred to as Millionaire’s Row. Resorts, lodges and other luxury accommodations were also constructed around this time, which continue to contribute to Muskoka’s prosperous tourism industry.

A fun, and picturesque, activity is to board the The Lady Muskoka, which is the region’s largest cruise ship. Based out of Bracebridge, cruises take visitors for a sightseeing adventure around Lake Muskoka, passing by such attractions as Millionaire’s Row, Santa’s Village and other local landmarks. Tours are operated between May and October.

Here’s a fact that perhaps you didn’t know. Bracebridge is located halfway between the equator and the North Pole on the 45th parallel, and is also where you will find Santa’s Village. This unique amusement park was built in 1955 with the vision that vacationers could enjoy the spirit of Christmas throughout the summer. Although Santa’s Village is only open during the summer season, it reopens in December just before Christmas for Santafest.

There is accommodation of every category and description in and around the Muskokas from rugged outdoor campsites to sophisticated world class resorts, to charming B&Bs and comfortable cottage resorts, hotels and motels. But here’s a tip … if you have a sense of adventure or a spirit of romance, take a wilderness canoe trip in Algonquin Park or other areas of the Muskokas. This very popular camping experience appeals to the young and young-at-heart and people return year-after-year.

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