When it gets dark in the forest, it gets dark. No street lights, porch lights, or car lights, just the light flickering from the stars, the moon, and their reflections in the ripples of the black lake. This, and the spotty internet in the wilderness, is the true definition of unplugging. Unplugging is one of the primary reasons to head out to Cottage Country’s Muskoka Region. The biggest city/town in Muskoka Region is Huntsville.
Finding things to do in Huntsville Ontario is easy as Huntsville is one of Ontario’s most beloved four-season destinations, perfect for an Ontario weekend getaway. This town is a vibrant, vast, and wondrous playground that attracts visitors from every corner of the world to enjoy the serenity and warmth of a small community nestled amongst the lakes and trees overflowing from nearby iconic Algonquin Provincial Park.
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When to Go to Huntsville, ON
Huntsville is beautiful in all seasons, but the most popular time to visit is during the summer. The warmer months allow you to enjoy all the outdoor activities that this town is known for.
Spring: May – June
Summer: July – August
Fall: September – October
How to Get to Huntsville
If you’re coming by car, Huntsville is a two-hour drive north of Toronto or about an hour and fifteen minutes south of Ottawa. You can also fly into the town’s airport, which offers daily flights on Air Canada Jazz from destinations such as Montreal or Quebec City.
If you’re travelling by bus, Greyhound buses depart from Ottawa, Montreal, and Toronto. If you’re travelling from downtown Toronto, it will take about four hours to get to Huntsville. There are also night bus options available. The buses cost between US$37 – US$59.
If you’re travelling by train, VIA Rail offers trains that depart from major cities in Eastern Canada and trek almost up to Huntsville. These trips can take four days depending on where your starting point is but are generally a much more affordable option than flying into town! However, since you’ll need to take a bus to complete the trip, this form of transportation is not ideal.
Best Huntsville Things to Do
Huntsville is a quaint, one-of-a-kind town where you can get lost in the magic of nature and discover your own space. The community offers over 100 restaurants to enjoy delicious cuisine worldwide, 120 kilometres of pristine lakeshore to explore on foot or by boat, and over 300 km of backcountry to get lost.
The Algonquin Theatre has hosted various plays, musical performances, meetings, videos, presentations, and school groups. As you stroll along the historic streets of downtown Huntsville, you can view the breathtaking bronze statue of Tom Thomson, created by local sculptor Brenda Wainman-Goulet.
This piece of history incorporated within the Civic Square illustrates the Town’s motto “touch the past, embrace the future.”
Historic downtown Huntsville is Algonquin Outfitters’ home of its largest retail location, with three floors of great gear and clothing for outdoor adventures. Located on Main Street, at the Brunel Street intersection, and backing onto the beautiful Muskoka River, the Huntsville store offers an amazing retail experience.
It is primarily a specialty outdoor store emphasizing camping equipment, paddlesports, bikes, Alpine and Nordic skis, snowshoes, outdoor clothing, and footwear. Reservation is recommended.
Muskoka Heritage Place
The Heritage Place is an amalgam of buildings and stories from the area as it developed through the late 1800s and into the 1900s. There are costumed Docents throughout to provide a take on the history of the times of the schoolhouse, bakery, and other buildings. A journey that begins with Muskoka’s first people. There are hundreds of artifacts, features, and even a self-guided scavenger hunt that would challenge all ages. Learn more HERE!
Heritage Place Train Station
It takes great skilled manpower and resourcefulness to operate a historic antiquated railway. Imagine yourself in 1904, heading toward South Portage and Lake of Bays.
You can take a scenic trip that takes about 30 minutes along the Muskoka River onto Fairy Lake Station to see the technical aspects of the railway. There is an oral presentation inside the train.
The Lions Lookout Trail can be accessed at the Forbes Hill Dr and Camp Kitchen Road intersection behind the Active Living Centre at the Canada Summit Centre. The trail follows Camp Kitchen Road along the Muskoka River to Fairy Lake. It then crosses the Portage Flyer railway tracks and heads up a steep slope to the top of the sports track.
The trail continues around the track, and along the roadway to Forbes Hill Dr. The view from the top of the track across Fairy Lake is magnificent, and the trail is 1.5km long and has steep inclines. So be sure to tackle this before you arrive, and strap on some good hiking shoes.
Canvas Brewing Co.
Canvas Brewing Co. was born from a love for the local landscape and a passion for fresh, well-made craft beer. Their debut brew is a German-inspired lager ale with the flavour of an ale and the crisp finish of a lager. With a sweet, malty aroma and flavour, Canvas Kolsch finishes dry and refreshingly with a hint of German hops.
The home of Canvas Brewing Company, the newest craft brewery in the region, was established in downtown Huntsville in late 2018. Located just east of the swing bridge, their brewery will boast two outdoor patios, a taproom with 20 taps and a 3200 sq. ft. event space.
Group of Seven Outdoor Gallery
We talked briefly about The Group of Seven and their views on the quaint town of Elora before. However, you can explore the Group of Seven Outdoor Gallery in Huntsville.
Canada’s iconic painters, The Group of Seven, were known for painting the unique beauty of our Canadian landscape and not only can reproductions of the Group of Seven’s original pieces can be found around downtown Huntsville but spread throughout Muskoka –– 30 murals or so.
Maps are available at the Muskoka Tourism office on Highway 11 and at a few shops in Huntsville. Our dear friend/colleague friend Stephanie talks about it here: +7 Ontario Group of Seven Locations
Naturally, you can’t visit Huntsville without taking the time to explore the Muskoka River! The waterfront is the ideal spot to take in the town’s natural beauty, with the Swing Bridge being a great place to take in magnificent river views.
Nothing says cottage country more than boats –– well, that and Muskoka Chairs and fishing. If you don’t have a boat, you can take a 45-minute tour around Fairy Lake with Tom Thomson Cruises.
The cruise will show you all the stunning sights of Muskoka that inspired the iconic art of Tom Thomson.
Best Huntsville Ontario Restaurants
While you’re in Huntsville, treat yourself to the best cuisines the town has to offer. Even better than their food is the beautiful, welcoming atmosphere of these restaurants, chocolatiers and bakeries. You’re sure to walk away with a smile on your face.
That Little Place By The Lights
Located downtown Huntsville, a family-owned restaurant resides. That Little Place By The Lights showcased a European vibe in Huntsville and was even featured on a food network show, “You Gotta Eat Here.”
Serving you various authentic Italian dishes such as Italian pasta, gnocchi, and pizza. According to previous customers, the most recommended order here is lasagna, gelato, and ravioli.
The Huntsville brewhouse is known for its brisket sandwich and the best veggie and turkey burger in town. With street-facing windows that draw up to welcome in the fresh air, this is the spot to be in the downtown core.
Its extra-small batch brewing facility includes a full kitchen with a seated capacity of 100+ people. A cozy ambiance will encourage you to grab their best-selling trout tacos and fish and chips while sipping your favourite beers and wines.
The Nutty Chocolatier
We were first introduced to this delicious chocolate on a day trip to Port Perry.
The Nutty Chocolatier is an adventure into a time when life was slower and sweeter, and the customer was King. Each of its stores throughout Ontario, Canada, is charmingly old-fashioned. Offering the finest, richest Belgian chocolate, truffles, and hand-crafted chocolate specialties.
The Nutty Chocolatiers’ incredible assortment of imported candies and an amazing variety of treats will please all ages. The homemade fudge and “Create Your Own Flavour” yogurt cones, in particular, are to die for.
We’ve been huge fans since we tried BeaverTails during our weekend getaway in Ottawa.
At this little spot, their specialty is in the name. A BeaverTail is often described as a flat donut. It can be dressed with themed toppings, including Apple Pie, Oreo, and Strawberry Cheesecake.
If sweets aren’t for you, there are a few savoury options, like the Poutail, poutine on a BeaverTail, and the SayCheese, a giant mozzarella cheese stick with a BeaverTail pastry coating. The restaurant has some classic touches, including a vintage canoe hanging in the seating area to bring you back.
Seng’s Authentic Thai Cuisine
Honest food and honest drinks set the foundation of the Seng Thai Cuisines menu. Established in August 2018, SengThai’s menu is inspired by northern Thailand cuisine, which Soukhaserm (owner) says is quite different from the food in southern Thailand.
Belly Ice Cream
If you’re craving ice cream –– who doesn’t? Head over to Belly Ice Cream. This local, small-batch creamery has developed quite the following!
If you prefer a classic ice cream joint, look no further than Kawartha Dairy, located on Highway 60 just outside the town centre! Established in 1937, Kawartha Dairy has a range of delicious ice cream flavours. And if you can’t decide which one to go for, why not sample a few before you decide?
If you’re heading to Huntsville, Ontario or the Muskoka Region, it’s most likely to get lost in its natural beauty and recharge your batteries!
Arrowhead Provincial Park
Arrowhead Provincial Park is a 10-minute drive north for active adventurers or nature lovers.
It’s one of the favourite provincial parks offering various activities year-round. During the winter, visitors can partake in snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and ice skating along the trails. Head to the Big Bend Lookout for that iconic bending lake shot in the fall. During the summer, it’s all about bird watching, camping and hiking.
The park is home to five trails, all under 3 kilometres. One of the most popular trails is Stubb’s Falls Trail, which leads to a stunning waterfall. Other trails in the park are the Homesteaders Trail and Mayflower Lake Trail.
Huntsville Hikes ON
If hiking is your energy source, we’ve put together an excellent and detailed list of Huntsville Hiking trails in Huntsville and the surrounding area for you to explore, but in a nutshell:
- Fairy Vista Trail is a 3.4-kilometre path accessed at Fairview Drive and Hwy #60.
- Hunter’s Bay Trail is a 4.6-kilometre trail great for biking and hiking.
- The Great Trail is a 52-kilometre section of the Trans Canada Trail.
- Lions Lookout Trail is a 1.3-kilometre that can be accessed at Camp Kitchen Road and Forbes Hill Drive.
Huntsville Fishing Spots
With pristine freshwater lakes, Muskoka offers the perfect fishing grounds for all levels of fishers, from beginner to expert. If you’re the definition of unplugging means fishing, we put together a great list of Huntsville fishing spots on lakes, rivers, boats, and docks. Some of them include the following:
- Mary Lake is a great place for Anglers of all levels of experience can find something to enjoy. The lake is teeming with potential catches from smallmouth and largemouth bass to northern pike, lake trout, perch, and sunfish.
- Lake Vernon is a premier fishing destination in Huntsville. From shore or boat, you’ll find abundant fish; trout, bass, pike, and walleye. It’s also an excellent ice-fishing lake too.
- Chub Lake has a variety of fish species to catch, including northern pike, crappie, and walleye.
If camping is your vice, Huntsville has plenty of spots for couples, friends and families looking to explore the tree-covered hills and sparkling lakes. For anyone seeking to experience the wilds of Ontario, we’ve put together a great list for camping in Huntsville. Here are a few from that list!
- Arrowhead Provincial Park is Ontario’s most popular camping site. This lakeside destination remains open all year round, providing visitors with abundant natural beauty.
- Deer Lake RV Resort & Campground Located beside gorgeous Deer Lake, this 120-acre park has 200 RV sites, each with a picnic table, water and electricity.
- Lagoon Tent & Trailer Park is perfect if you love the outdoors but don’t love the idea of a tent. Here you can book the campground cottage with everything, including a fully equipped kitchen + sink.
- Muskoka Camping Site is for those looking for something a little quieter.
Map + Accommodation in Huntsville, Ontario
Staying in a lovely space can add to your trip to Huntsville. There are gorgeous log cabins, stone houses, and luxurious guest houses to rest your head and recharge for another day of adventure. You could even set up a tent in one of the great Huntsville campgrounds. Take your pick – you won’t be disappointed.
Cedar Grove Lodge
An eco-friendly cottage resort on beautiful Peninsula Lake, Cedar Grove Lodge is stretched along 1500 feet of picturesque Muskoka shoreline. Many of their log cabins have wood-burning fieldstone fireplaces. Packages include three meals per day which are served in our dining room. Must try here is to experience “A Muskoka Tradition”.
Muskoka Guest Nest
Here you can find a luxuriously appointed spacious queen bedroom with a garden view, overhead ceiling fan, and tastefully decorated four-piece ensuite bath. Relax and enjoy your luxury accommodation with a private entrance.
The beautiful sunken living room with a wood-burning stone fireplace opens onto a delightful garden, stone patio, and the Muskoka River. Fully equipped kitchenette with a selection of gourmet teas, coffees, and bottled spring water provided. Enjoy Muskoka, paddling in the guest canoe, swimming, watching the ducks off the dock, or reading in the hammock.
Morgan House Bed and Breakfast
This historic stone house offers a unique country experience from its surrounding 80 acres of ponds, meadows, and forest. Morgan House has been beautifully restored, and the old-fashioned kitchen provides a hearty home-cooked breakfast in an inviting setting. The gardens and ponds entice guests to wander or hang about with a good book.
With hundreds of resorts situated in the Ontario region, Deerhurst Resort stands out as an ideal destination. First established more than a hundred years ago, this resort is located on Peninsula Lake near Huntsville and is only 10 minutes away from downtown.
It has luxurious amenities like a golf course, spa, an escape room and winter activities like skiing, wakeboarding, snowshoeing and ice skating – Deerhurst is ideal for couples, groups of friends, or a family vacation.
Things to Do in Port Sydney
Port Sydney is a lovely little town just 12km south of Huntsville. If you find yourself having done all of the Huntsville activities that interest you, head to this picturesque spot. You won’t regret it.
History of Port Sydney
Although the Port Sydney area had been visited many times in the early 1800s, it was not until Stephenson Township was surveyed in 1861 that settlers began to trickle into the area. Settlers had to come to the area up the arduous Muskoka Road or Muskoka River that led northward from Bracebridge to Huntsville. They were encouraged by free (with some stipulations) land grants.
Over the intervening years, these visitors developed roots in the village that mingled with those of the original settlers. They helped to preserve the century-old homes, and now their great-grandchildren enjoy the area throughout all four seasons.
Port Sydney Beach
The sandy beach in Port Sydney offers close to 80 metres of shoreline on Mary Lake. Venture south down Muskoka Road 10 and take a look at the beautiful waterfalls. The beach offers swimming, boating, and fishing in Mary’s Lake, one of Huntsville’s best fishing spots.
Fish on this peaceful lake, swim and stay overnight at Marys Lake campground or lodge. The lake is stocked with rainbow trout in the spring and fall and catches brown, lake trout, and kokanee salmon.
A campground is right next to Mary’s Lake with space for RVs and tents and is open May-October. Swimming is also one of the best things to do in Mary’s Lake, but the town of Huntsville is advised that a swimming advisory has once again been issued for Port Sydney Beach. Swim lessons will be relocated from Port Sydney to Hutcheson Beach.
Jamieson’s General Store
Jamieson’s General Store was started to make locally sourced products more accessible within the community. Located in the heart of Port Sydney, Jamieson’s General Store is a local variety store designed to be a one-stop shop with good coffee, baked goods, groceries, and pierogies. Everything you could possibly need for heading to the cottage is here. Jamieson’s General Store is known for its best-selling Kawartha ice cream and pizza.
Port Sydney Falls & Port Sydney Dam
Bring tubes and enjoy sliding down the rapids. Surrounded by cottage country next to Mary’s Lake, you’ll find the Port Sydney Slide just below the dam. There is a strong current down from the falls, and wearing a life jacket is recommended.
The river spills over a large incline of bedrock alongside large sections of exposed bedrock just below it. It is more of a natural “water slide” than a cascade or plunge “Waterfall”. Parking is near the slide and offers a nice view of Mary Lake and the dam.
Maple Syrup Season
Be for you write to us to tell us that Maple Syrup is not food, we’re here to tell you that we’re Canadian and it is –– food. As such, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention The Muskoka Maple Festival and the Maple Trail.
During spring, Huntsville and the surrounding offer many opportunities to sample delicious treats, browse unique crafts, listen to great music and soak up the atmosphere. A great Maple Syrup farm to visit is Sugarbush Hill Maple Farm which we’ll discuss in one second, but we also curated a list of the best Maple Syrup Festivals Ontario has to offer!
Sugarbush Hill Maple Farm
Sugarbush Hill is a “State of the Art” sugaring operation in the heart of Muskoka, a district of 1,600 lakes and endless forests. It is situated just 10 minutes south of the picturesque town of Huntsville.
Last Thoughts on Huntsville Canada Points of Interest
Huntsville has plenty to see and do, from beautiful restaurants to exciting trails and easy sightseeing. Huntsville offers the perfect escape for any soul, regardless of age or interests.
So pack your bags, and get ready for a fantastic weekend away. Please comment below if you have any questions or want to gush over your experience of Huntsville’s attractions. We would love to hear from you!