The Best Ontario Cottage Locations

Ontario’s Cottage Country is made up of several regions, each one with distinct features that make it special among cottage enthusiasts.  You’ve probably heard of Muskoka in Ontario as that is the cottage area most people first think of when they think of what an Ontario cottage rental vacation is about, but you may be surprised to learn about other areas that are just as beautiful, less crowded, and can even offer better value for your vacation dollars. From Kawarthas and Kawartha Lakes cottage rentals to Parry Sound and Haliburton cottage rentals and all the way back to the famous Muskoka area, we’ll be taking you on a trip around Cottage Country and highlight all of the many great spots you and your group can enjoy for that perfect cottage rental in Ontario.

Here’s a brief tour around Cottage Country with our take on what you should see and do.

The Top Areas To Explore & Enjoy Cottage Rentals in Ontario

Eastern Ontario Cottage Rentals

Head east of Toronto on Highway 7 to Ottawa or Hwy 401 to Kingston and you’ll get to a region of tranquility known as the Land’O’Lakes.  Tiny villages and bustling towns welcome you with open arms, quaint shops and bakeries, festivals and a wealth of fishing opportunities.  There are over 5,000 lakes in this vast area – many hidden down kilometres of winding country roads and others a little more accessible.


Most people will have heard of the Rideau Canal – a 7.8 kilometres stretch of it holds the Guinness World Record for longest maintained ice surface on a natural body of water in the world. But the Canal itself is 202 kilometres and connects Canada’s capital city, Ottawa, to the mighty St Lawrence River in Kingston. There are a total of 45 locks at 23 different stations along the route which passes through a number of delightful communities.

There are many great areas in Eastern Ontario to explore and there are things to do for groups of all ages.

Prince Edward County

Prince Edward County, in driving distance of most Eastern Ontario cottage rentals, is a perfect day trip and is home to many great wineries – many enjoying renting a set of bikes and biking between the many great wineries and taking in the summer sun and countryside views. There is also a vibrant mainstreet, perfect for window shopping, and many great local restaurants and well-known favourites, like the Drake Devonshire, well-known for great food, whether brunch or dinner.

Bon Echo Provincial Park

If you’re feeling outdoorsy, Bon Echo Provincial Park is just North of the town of Cloyne in Eastern Ontario. It is perfect for exploring, whether summer or winter. The park provides great hiking trails, ranging from 1 kilometre to over 15 kilometres. It also has many great biking, canoeing, swimming, rock climbing and fishing areas. Bon Echo Provincial Park is most well-known for its 100-metre high Mazinaw Rock that features over 260 Indigenous pictographs.

Visit:  Bon Echo Provincial Park and see the iconic rock face

Shop: Westport and Perth are two very picturesque towns with great shopping!

ExploreDark Sky Viewing Area – 37 km. north of Napanee and Ontario’s Prince Edward County and its wineries!

We have many great Eastern Ontario cottages available for rental year round!

Haliburton Cottage Rentals

For rugged scenery, great hiking and biking trails, a winter wonderland, and the best geocaching in Ontario, give Haliburton County a look.  The towns of Haliburton and Minden are hives of activity in the summer with plenty of restaurants and quirky stores.  For those who love to be active, there’s so much to do outdoors in every season from kayaking, canoeing and boating in summer to downhill and cross-country skiing in the winter.  The Haliburton area is also known for having some of the top lakes for ice fishing. The fall colours, the annual Hike Haliburton Festival, and the Studio Tour shouldn’t be missed either!

Haliburton is a great area to explore in Ontario's cottage country

Twenty years ago, Haliburton was a sleepy little town that came alive in the summer with cottage owners and visitors heading to the hundreds of lakes in the area. Not a great deal has changed except there’s now a Tim Horton’s, a large supermarket (just outside of town), two stoplights and there are probably twice as many people.

You don’t have to go far to get away from the summer crowds and get back to nature. From a range of hiking trails to suit any ability, outdoor tours and adventures with Yours Outdoors, to golf on numerous courses, this is an outdoor lover’s mecca.  Book your stay today at one of our Haliburton cottage rentals and experience the quiet beauty of this unique part of cottage country!

VisitSir Sams Ski and Bike for year-round activities

Shop:  Agnew’s General Store in Wilberforce, one of the best general stores in cottage country

Explore: Haliburton Forest & Wildlife Reserve where if you’re feeling adventurous you can do a Canopy Tour!

We have many great Haliburton cottage rentals available year-round for you to enjoy!

Kawarthas Cottage Rentals

Sometimes referred to as ‘the Kawarthas’, the region to the east & south of Peterborough (Northumberland County)  is home to some of the best carp fishing in Ontario, as well as some great little towns to visit such as Warkworth to the south and Buckhorn & Lakefield to the north.  The great Trent Severn Waterway winds its way through the area so you’ll find plenty of waterside eateries and places to just sit and watch the boats pass by.

Lift Lock in the Kawarthas - a great spot for an Ontario cottage rental
Peterborough Lift Lock

The Kawarthas is not only a great place to enjoy in the summer but also has many great winter activities as well.

VisitKawartha Country Wines to sample locally grown fruit wines

Shop: Lakefield Village

Explore:  Take the Butter Tart Tour

We’d love to help plan your trip and provide any information you need to enjoy our cottage rentals in Kawartha!

Kawartha Lakes Cottage Rentals

Drive north and to the east of Lake Simcoe and you are in the Kawartha Lakes.  Visit Bobcaygeon, the town made famous by Tragically Hip; stop by the Kirkfield Lift Lock as boats are carried down the Trent Severn, or cycle the Victoria Rail Trail.  The meandering Burnt River is wonderful to canoe and kayak, and a stop in Fenelon Falls for an ice cream is a must on a hot summer’s day. You can also enjoy a meal at one of many great restaurants in Kawartha Lakes while you’re staying at your Ontario cottage rental or enjoy one of the many great craft breweries in the Kawartha Lakes.

Kawartha Dairy - a favourite for everyone who visits Ontario Cottage Country

One of the major attractions in Kawartha Lakes and the Kawarthas is the town of Fenelon Falls and the nearby town of Cameron. Cameron offers a bit of everything with outdoor activities, rural landscapes, miles of open water, shopping and great restaurants. 

A great day trip activity is Balsam Lake Provincial Park. It has boating along the Trent-Severn Waterway and lots of sandy beaches to explore.  

VisitHighlands Cinema in Kinmount – unique film-going experience in the heart of cottage country.  Be sure to check out the one-of-a-kind film museum and cat sanctuary on the property while you’re waiting for your movie to start!

Shop: Bigley’s Shoes in Bobcaygeon – over 40,000 good quality name brand pairs of shoes + clothes and kitchen store

Explore: Balsam Lake Provincial Park and the town of Fenelon Falls 

For more information and links to cottage rentals in the Kawartha Lakes

Bruce Peninsula Cottage Rentals

One of the most scenic areas of Cottage Country is the Bruce Peninsula, with Georgian Bay on one side and Lake Huron on the other.  The Bruce Trail runs through the area on its way to the monument marking the Tobermory end of the trail, at the tip of the Peninsula.  There are many parks in the area to visit, but be sure to book your parking spot at The Grotto, at the Bruce Peninsula National Park, a must-see while you’re staying at your Ontario cottage rental nearby.  Take a boat tour in a glass bottomed boat to Flowerpot Island, part of Fathom Five National Marine Park, and spend as much time on the island as you wish before catching your boat back to the mainland. 

Don’t forget to check out one of the many great National and Provincial Parks found in the Bruce Peninsula! While Bruce Peninsula National Park, located near Tobermory, is the most well-known there are several other hidden gems that are often overlooked.  

Sauble Beach at sunset, a big attraction for Bruce Peninsula cottage rentals
Sauble Beach

Visit:  The Lions Head lighthouse

Shop: Aunt Donkey’s Toys and Novelties in Lions Head

Explore:  Some of the many Provincial Parks in the area

More information on Bruce Peninsula Cottage Rentals.

Southwestern Ontario Cottage Rentals

Not strictly ‘cottage country’ but a great choice nonetheless if you like the idea of a Great Lake vacation.  There are some wonderful spots bordering Lake Erie that have been vacation favourites for generations such as Port Stanley and Port Colborne – holiday towns with lots of fun stuff for families to enjoy.  The big draw are the beaches so you may not get your own private waterfront, but that’s made up for in the long stretches of sand to run and play.Not strictly ‘cottage country’ but a great choice nonetheless if you like the idea of a Great Lake vacation.  There’s some wonderful spots bordering Lake Erie that have been vacation favourites for generations such as Port Stanley and Port Colborne – holiday towns with lots of fun stuff for families to enjoy.  The big draw are the beaches so you may not get your own private waterfront, but that’s made up for in the long stretches of sand to run and play.

Port Colborne promenade - a lesser known area in Ontario Cottage Country
Port Colborne Promenade

Visit:  Take a day trip to Niagara Falls

Shop:  For local farm produce at DeBackere Farm Market

Explore:  The coastline by bike on Elgin County cycling trails

For more information and links to cottage rentals in Southwestern Ontario 

Georgian Bay Cottage Rentals

Head northwest a little from Lake Simcoe to find endless sand on Lake Huron from Midland to Wasaga Beach.  Featuring more than 30,000 islands and 2,000 km of shoreline, Georgian Bay is sometimes referred to as the sixth Great Lake, with towering cliffs, rocky shorelines and islands, and clear blue water.  Discover the rich marine heritage and lighthouses that dot the coastline, relax on a beach, explore the great outdoors or ride or drive along the Georgian Bay Coastal Route to see spectacular scenery. There are many popular Georgian Bay hiking trails for you to explore during your cottage rental. 

Georgian Bay - a perfect spot to explore Cottage Country

Visit: Discovery Harbour in Penetanguishene

Shop:  At the best bakeries in the Georgian Bay/Penetanguishene area

For more information and links to cottage rentals in Georgian Bay.

Lake Simcoe Cottage Rentals

Lake Simcoe is the closest big lake to Toronto and is home to big fishing, sandy beaches, and the traditional lakeside towns of Keswick, Beaverton, and Orillia at the northern end.  Explore this very accessible but great part of Ontario’s Cottage Country within just a short drive of the GTA, and enjoy “big lake” paddling or fishing, and swimming close to home.  You’ll find lots to do there too.  Enjoy the trails at Copeland Forest, enjoy a show at the Orillia Opera House, or take your chances with the slot machines at Casino Rama.  This is a great winter playground too with Blue Mountain, Hardwood Hills and Mount St Louis Moonstone closeby to help get your snow on!

Mt. St Louis Moonstone

Visit: Hardwood Ski & Bike for year-round fun

Shop:  A unique local artisan experience at Sloths and Molasses in Norfolk

Explore:  Historic Orillia and visit the Mariposa Market

For more information and links to cottage rentals in Simcoe.

Parry Sound Cottage Rentals

Head up Hwy 400 to where it merges with Hwy 69 and you’ll be in Parry Sound in no time.  Quieter than its bustling Muskoka neighbour but with the same Canadian Shield terrain, this is a beautiful area to stay awhile.  The town of Parry Sound is easy to reach from most lakes so a trip into town isn’t a long journey, but you may not want to from your deck or dock on one of the area’s gorgeous lakes.  This is traditional cottage country and you’ll find everything here from tiny cottages to mega mansions – with the one thing everyone wants…perfect waterfront.

Marina in Parry Sound, a more quiet part of Ontario Cottage Country
Parry Sound

Parry Sound has many great Provincial Parks to explore during your trip, including the well-known Killbear Provincial Park which has over 6km of trails for hiking or biking and many great beaches, perfect for swimming, sailing or windsurfing on Georgian Bay. 

Killbear Provincial Park near a Parry Sound cottage rental
Killbear Provincial Park

In downtown Parry Sound there are many popular restaurants to enjoy a meal at or local breweries to enjoy a pint at, as well as many great shops to check out. Just outside of downtown Parry Sound, you will not want to skip going to Tower Hill Lookout which provides 360-degree views of the Downtown harbour and stands tall over the city, initially created to detect forest fires. 

Tower Hill Lookout & Parry Sound Harbour
Tower Hill Lookout & Parry Sound Harbour 

Visit: Bobby Orr Hall of Fame in his hometown of Parry Sound

Shop: For local produce at Farmer’s Markets

Explore:  The 30,000 islands on the Island Queen Cruise

CottageLINK Rental Management has a large portfolio of Parry Sound cottage rentals to enjoy. 

Almaguin Highlands

Just a little north of Huntsville, you’ll find the Almaguin Highlands, one of the province’s best kept secrets, with thousands of lakes and rivers, hills, and forests, between Algonquin Park to the east and Parry Sound to the west.  Home to the largest freshwater lake in North America without an island, it’s an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise!

Ontario cottage rental
The beautiful Forest Lake Retreat in the Almaguin Highlands area

Visit: Copperhead Distillery in Sundridge

Shop: Kearney Treasures Gift Shop

ExploreArrowhead Provincial Park for summer and winter activities

For more information and links to Almaguin Highlands cottage rentals

Muskoka Cottage Rentals

Why did we leave Muskoka and its beautiful cottage rentals to the end?  So you could appreciate all the other areas in Ontario’s Cottage Country before coming to the one everyone knows and loves.  And of course, there is a reason it’s popular.  It’s easy to access – just drive Hwy 400 and onto Hwy 11 at Orillia and you are heading north to Gravenhurst, Bracebridge, and Huntsville.  Go a little west and discover Bala, Port Carling, and Rosseau.  If you like to explore an area, find towns and villages packed with restaurants, great shopping, and drive winding roads with a sparkling lake around every bend, this is the place.  It’s a little more expensive to stay here because of all the above, but if you want a great cottage country experience and be fairly close to shopping and eating out, this may be the perfect choice for you!

Muskoka Wharf – Gravenhurst

The “Big Three” Lakes in Muskoka

The area of Muskoka that is most well-known is the “Big Three” which includes Lake Joseph (“Lake Joe”), Lake Rosseau and Lake Muskoka. All three of these lakes are interconnected, making it easy for boaters to go between lakes! Many Canadian and US celebrities and wealthy individuals live on these three lakes and these lakes are known as being the highest-priced cottage real estate in Ontario with some cottages on these three lakes going for $15 million or more. The Big Three have been popular since the early days of cottaging in Ontario, located only 1.5 – 2 hours from the GTA and offering picturesque landscapes and crystal clear swimming and boating, while still keeping its old-school roots and giving that traditional cottage country feeling that everyone loves. Many enjoy renting a Muskoka cottage because of the many great things to do in the area like all of the great small towns to explore, many provincial and national parks, pristine golf courses and local restaurants and breweries. 

Many Other Great Lakes to Explore in Muskoka

Outside of the Big Three, there are hundreds of incredible lesser-known lakes that provide similar attractions at a fraction of the price. There are too many to list but it includes Skeleton Lake, Turtle Lake, Hardy Lake, Healey Lake, Three Mile Lake, Bass Lake, Lake of Bays, Lake Vernon, Morrison Lake, Clear Lake and many others to explore and enjoy for a summer cottage rental!

Things to Do in Muskoka

There are many great activities to check out, including:

  • If you are staying near the town of Huntsville during your Muskoka cottage rental there are many things to do around the area like visiting Algonquin Provincial Park or Arrowhead Provincial Park, taking a boat tour on the Lake of Bays, visiting Muskoka Lakes Farm and Winery which is most well-known for its Cranberry marsh (over 300,000 pounds of cranberries grown annually!), or testing your luck at the Deerhurst Resort Casino
  • If you are in the Port Carling, Muskoka area you can check out Hanna Park on Mirror Lake, one of the top public beaches in the area, with an elaborate playground for kids and basketball and volleyball courts. You can also check out the “Welcome to Port Carling” mosaic, affectionately called “The Wall” by locals, which is a 111-by-45-foot mosaic composed of over 9,000 separate pictures lined up to form a huge picture of a steamboat. There are plenty of live events, shows and festivals to enjoy in the summer in the town. 
  • There are many great golf courses in the Muskoka area to enjoy during your stay

Visit: Port Carling for a great waterfront restaurant experience

Shop: Downtown Huntsville

ExploreSome of the many great waterfalls in Muskoka

For more information and links to Muskoka cottage rentals 

CottageLINK Rental Management
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