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Travel Canada: The Best Things To Do In Muskoka

Most people know of Muskoka as cottage heaven. With over 1,600 lakes, beautiful lush forests, and outdoor activities galore, it’s one of Canada’s best vacation destinations. There are so many things to do in Muskoka during any season, but the best time to visit Muskoka is in the summer. It’s all about cottage fun and waterfront adventures!

Muskoka is cozy, rustic and homey, with a hint of luxury if you’re looking for it. The region consists of five main townships: Gravenhurst, Bracebridge, Georgian Bay, Huntsville and Baysville. A nearby highlight is Algonquin Provincial Park, about one hour out of Huntsville. There are so many things to do in Muskoka, so we’ve made a list of our favourites to get you started.

When to visit Muskoka

Wondering what to do in muskoka this summer? Try canoeing

There are plenty of things to do in Muskoka year-round but this area in the summer is heaven! Temperatures are ideal for a cottage vacation and the lakes average about 20 degrees so the waters are perfect for swimming.

Towards the end of September, the weather gets cooler and the fall colours attract local tourists. If you want to experience this beautiful phenomenon, we recommend booking your fall trip for early October. Thanksgiving is a popular time to enjoy a Muskoka cottage in the autumn.

In the winter, even when the waters are frozen, there are many fun things to do in Muskoka. Try new outdoor activities or participate in seasonal events throughout the holiday period.

As the snow starts to melt in the spring, the maple trees produce their sap. After maple season, Muskoka is pretty quiet until summer, as the waters are cold and the weather can be rainy.

What to do in Muskoka

Summer

Twilight on Long Lake, Muskoka cottage country, Bala, Ontario, Canada

If you’re coming to Muskoka in the summer, you’re probably going to be near a lake. There are 1,600 different lakes of varying sizes throughout Muskoka! The waters here are incredibly beautiful, and we’ve featured them on our Canadian Travel Bucket List. If your Muskoka cottage doesn’t come with a boat, there are countless boat rental services in Muskoka, offering motorboats, paddle boats, kayaks, boards, and even jet skis. Some companies to check out are Muskoka Boat Rentals in Gravenhurst, Northern Lakes Marina in Lake of Bays, and Huntsville Marine in Huntsville. If you like fishing, do it at your dock or with a fishing charter like Captain Action Fishing.

Get in the water

When it comes to swimming, the lakes near your cottage will probably be great, or you can head over to a Muskoka beach. There are over 40 beaches in the region. We have a few favourite places to visit in Muskoka, such as Port Sydney Beach, or Bracebridge Bay Park & Beach where you can catch fireworks on Canada Day. Some other great beaches are High Falls near Bracebridge, Dwight Beach in Dwight Bay and Muskoka Beach Park in Gravenhurst. 

While you’re beach hopping, catch a performance of the Canadian National Ski Show Team. They do travelling shows all over Muskoka during summer.

If you’re interested in unique swimming activities in Muskoka, try scuba diving! You can explore shipwrecks such as the Waome in Lake Muskoka’s Milford Bay or the S.S. Mohawk and S.S. Mary Louise in the Lake of Bays’ Portage Bay. 

Experience the heritage of Gravenhurst, Bracebridge and Hunstville

In Gravenhurst, you can check out some of the best vintage steamships. You’ll find North America’s oldest operating mail steamship right in Muskoka! When you deboard, you can explore the Muskoka Discovery Centre. This interactive museum presents the history of the area from Aboriginal origins to the introduction of steamships. On the second floor, there’s the Kids Zone for children. 

There are some other pretty unique Gravenhurst attractions. During summer, you can catch Music on the Barge. Every Saturday in July and August, a different band plays just off the shore on a boat.  After the sun sets, drive to the Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Preserve. From here, you’ll see the night sky completely untouched by man-made light. This is one of the most unique things to do in Ontario. Be sure to respect the land, keep your lights low or off, and don’t leave any garbage behind. You’ll need to stay up late for this one, but it’s an unforgettable experience.

Local Tip: The small-town Bala is a quaint, rural community between Bracebridge and Gravenhurst, with some great kids’ activities in Muskoka. The Bala Museum, located in the house where Lucy Maud Montgomery once lived, celebrates all things Anne of Green Gables. For a different kind of blast from the past, visit The Balacade. This retro arcade opened over 60 years ago and some of the video game cabinets seem to be just as old!

There’s more live music over in Huntsville. On Wednesday nights in the summer, you can see the Concerts on the Dock series. Bring a toonie or two for the band, sit on the grass and enjoy the sounds of summer nights. Another of the can’t-miss Huntsville tourist attractions is the Rotary Dockfest. It has typical festival fare, but the main draw is the annual Bathtub Derby. Contestants build their own mini motor boats out of bathtubs and compete to be the fastest! 

While looking for things to do in Bracebridge, you’ll find some great lookout spots for aerial views. At the Muskoka Zip Lines and Aerial Park, you can view the Muskoka river from their aerial adventure courses. You and your little ones will get strapped into a harness so you can safely run, jump and climb through the treetops or soar across a zip line. For an all natural view, take a hike to the Huckleberry Rock lookout point. You’ll get a great scope of the surrounding area, and it’s the best spot to watch the sunset in all of Muskoka.

Explore the Georgian Bay

  Stay close to all the things to do in Muskoka in a cottage rental!

To get an even higher view, head over to Georgian Bay. You can embark on an airplane tour to see the surrounding area from a pilot’s view. Georgian Bay Airways has several tours to choose from, including wining and dining and hiking adventure experiences. We recommend the 30,000 Islands tour, where you’ll fly above Killbear Provincial Park and the ghost town of Depot Harbour. 

After your flight, visit the Georgian Bay Islands National Park. There are hiking, kayaking and biking trails for visitors to explore. To get there, you’ll need to take a ferry from Honey Port. You can also camp overnight and catch a ferry back the next day. This is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, so it’s a must-do for nature lovers.

Also in Georgian Bay, you can see the waters and shores from a big cruise ship. The Island Queen will take you on a two or three-hour tour of some of the most beautiful spots in the Georgian Bay that can’t be seen from land. 

Fall

Fall in Muskoka is quieter than the summer, but there’s no reason to avoid this season. The weather is cool but not cold, the waters are still open for boating (bring a sweater!) and the changing fall leaves are a sight to behold. If you’re a fall person, you’ll enjoy the seasonal activities in Muskoka.

Discover Muskoka craft beer scene
Photo by Scott Turnbull of Muskoka

Discover Muskoka’s rising craft beer scene

The fall is a great time to enjoy some brews. There is an emerging craft beer scene in Muskoka, and Brew Tours can help you discover it.

Alternatively, Muskoka Brewery offers 4 free tours per day from 12 pm to 3pm. Reservations in advance are recommended to enjoy this 30-minute tour where you will learn about the history of the brewery and taste a few samples of their best brews on tap.

If you’re more interested in caffeinated brews, the Muskoka Roastery in Huntsville offers an interactive showroom so you can see exactly how the coffee you’re enjoying is made. 

Eat your way around town

Muskoka has some great places to eat all year round, but with BBQ season over and Thanksgiving and Halloween in the same month, fall is a good time to try some treats. Head over to Baysville for the best baked goods in all of Muskoka. The Humble Pie Butter Tart Factory and Pizzeria serves up the Canadian classic which they’re named for, and Erika’s bakery has all kinds of homemade comfort food. If these sound appetizing but you’re gluten sensitive, go to Beat the Wheat for gluten-free versions of all your carby favourites. Grab some snacks and go for a walk on the Baysville Historic Walking Trail to enjoy the Muskoka fall colours and the township’s history. 

Visit the Muskoka Lakes Farm and Winery

muskoka festivals
Photo provided by Muskoka Lakes Farm and Winery

One of the most unique things to do in Muskoka during the fall is a visit to the Muskoka Lakes Farm and Winery in Bala. This farm also has over 10km of hiking trails to see the Muskoka fall colours. Then, you can enjoy a cheese platter with some interesting wines made from a variety of fruits other than grapes. But the real highlight is their cranberry farm. During harvest time, the farm has a cranberry celebration with wagon tours, helicopter rides and wine tasting. Get a picture of yourself doing the Cranberry Plunge, where you can stand waist-deep in the water full of cranberries.

Take in the fall colours

Fall foliage near Lake Muskoka

The changing leaves in Muskoka are some of the best in the country. Muskoka is on the list of top 10 Canadian Destinations for fall colours. You’ll find something beautiful no matter where you’re staying, but we have a few recommendations. There are four trails in Huntsville you’ll want to hike, including the Lions Lookout where you can gaze over the town and Fairy Lake, and pretty much any trail in Arrowhead Provincial Park. Near Lake Muskoka, there are some great fall hikes that take you along the water. But our personal favourite is the Muskoka Chair Tour. There’s an interactive Google map showing you where you can find all 10 of the Muskoka chairs that have been strategically placed at the very best views Muskoka has to offer. This one is for hike lovers, as it’ll take a few days to cross off every chair on the list!

Bring the family along

If you want the little ones to experience the fall colours, try swinging through the treetops at Treetop Trekking Huntsville. Then, for some seasonal Muskoka kids activities, head to the Muskoka Heritage Place for an old fashioned train ride, a recreation pioneer village and the train themed Steam museum. Towards the end of October, the town begins to decorate in preparation for the annual Great Pumpkin Trail. On Halloween night, children can Trick-Or-Treat in the pioneer village. 

Local Trip: For something really spooky, check out Paranormal Muskoka. This small group of people claim to have a gift for communicating and sensing spirits and offer tours and ghost hunting workshops in the most haunted places to visit in Muskoka.

Winter

Discover muskoka in the winter
Photo provided by Muskoka Lakes Farm and Winery

Considering Muskoka is known for its beautiful forests and lakes during other times of the year, it should be no surprise that it becomes an outdoor playground in the winter. The Muskoka lakes freeze over, and the trees become frosty with snow and icicles. Winter in Muskoka means days filled with snow up to your knees and nights cuddled up by the fireplace. If that sounds good to you, strap on some skis and explore all the things to do in Muskoka in the winter.

Get in the holiday spirit

Around Christmas, many locals string lights up on their cottages and driving around to see them is an activity in itself. The towns hold Christmas events like markets and concerts, but the most special event happens at Santa’s Village in Bracebridge. Bring your little ones to celebrate with Santa and send him off before he returns to the North Pole to start Christmas’ preparations. 

Try Cross Country Skiing

Head out a little farther to some of the 100 km of ski trails all over Muskoka. Many of the hiking trails we’ve already mentioned double as ski trails in the winter. The best places to visit in Muskoka for cross-country skiing are Muskoka KOA, Arrowhead Provincial Park and the huge Algonquin Provincial Park. At Algonquin, which is closest to Huntsville, you can rent equipment from Algonquin Outfitters. They’ve got everything from skis and snowshoes to winter bikes. For downhill skiing, go to Muskokas ski resort Hidden Valley Highlands in Huntsville. 

For cross-country skiing, many visitors can find great routes by just going around their Muskoka cottage. If water is frozen solid, you can ski onto the lake. Be sure to always check with local weather agencies about the state of the ice when embarking on ski, skating or ski-doo activities on the water.

Local Tip: Have you ever heard of skijoring? It’s a wild winter sport where you get pulled by a dog or horse while you ride skis. If you’re bringing your dog to Muskoka, you can try out this unique activity in Algonquin Park. Even if your dog isn’t trained to pull you around, it’s a good place to just hang out with your furry friend. Rent some skis and head to the Sunday Lake Dog Sled Trail or the Old Trailway Trail.

Hit the ice

Visit Muskoka in the winter
Photo provided by Muskoka Lakes Farm and Winery

Muskoka has two very special spots for skating. Arrowhead Park has a beautiful skating trail that’s lit up with tiki torches at night. This is extremely popular, so if it fills up you should try the Muskoka Lakes Farm for Night Skating By Torchlight in Bala. This is one of the most romantic things to do in Muskoka and you can add hot mulled wine, cranberry cider and seasonal snacks to your experience. 

Dash Through The Snow

Sometimes you’d rather sit back and be pulled while you enjoy the winter wonderland. In that case, Muskoka has two awesome options for you. From mid-November to April, the Back of Beyond Equine Center in Huntsville offers sleigh rides. You can snuggle up under a blanket on the Romantic Evening Sleigh Ride or bring the kids to jingle all the way on the Winter Sleigh Ride. Another of the cool things to do in Muskoka that’s very popular with kids is dog sledding. Go to the North Ridge Ranch in Huntsville for some cute and casual dog sledding, or the Wilderness Adventures in Algonquin Park for a serious overnight adventure.

Grab a sweet treat

Find the best things to do in muskoka in the winter
Photo provided by Muskoka Lakes Farm and Winery

At the end of winter, Muskoka gets maple fever. There are so many sugary things to do in Muskoka, as there are plenty of farms and sugarbushes providing a traditional sugar shack experience, complete with breakfast and pulled maple candy. Starting in March, restaurants like Whimsical Bakery and 3 Guys and a Stove feature seasonal dishes made with local maple syrup. In the main part of Huntsville, you can join the Muskoka Maple Festival on the last weekend of April. 

How to Get to Muskoka

It’s only a two-hour drive from Toronto to Muskoka, and you’ll be going down the ON-400 highway for most of the way. From Montreal, it’s a seven-hour drive, and you can take the ON-401 most of the way until it meets the ON-400. Chartered buses like The Northern Airport Service and Hammond Transportation will get you from the Toronto Airport to Muskoka. Ontario Northland has also partnered with GO Transit to provide a limited bus service from the Greater Toronto Area to Muskoka in July and August.

If you prefer to fly, Porter offers a 25-minute flight from Toronto to Gravenhurst. Flights are only offered from late June to early September.

Where to Stay

when is the best time to go to muskoka
Bella Muskoka Cottage Rental in Port Carlington, ON Canada | Property ID #p345510

You can drive from one side of Muskoka to the other in under three hours, so you’ll be able to explore the whole region if you want to. Keep in mind that Muskoka is very popular during summer, so be sure to book with Canadastays well ahead of your trip, or plan to go during the shoulder seasons.
Whether you’re coming to Muskoka for summer fun, the fall leaves or winter adventure, Canadastays has a rental for any kind of trip. With vacation homes in all of the main townships in Muskoka, you’ll be able to find your perfect Muskoka cottage wherever you choose to stay.

Top 5 Cottage Getaways from Toronto better than Muskoka

A lot of Ontario cottagers automatically pick Muskoka as their go-to getaway zone. However, there are many other places you can go that are just as good as Muskoka! Skip the crowds this year and find a quiet, peaceful place to enjoy your time away. Here are some of our favourite non-Muskoka getaways.

camb

Cambridge. This beautiful Ontario town is far away enough from Toronto to shake off all those big-city feelings, but it’s close enough for you to take a break from the bustle without putting too many miles on your car. Here, enjoy a world where nature meets urban in a historic setting! The town is filled with parks and nature areas, but it also has theatres, museums and other indoor activities for foul-weather days.

Browse or book a cottage in Cambridge.

graf

Grafton. Originally named “Grover’s Tavern,” this town still features the real Grover’s Tavern at its centre. You can dine at the old tavern when you visit this sleepy little town and you can walk the historic streets to imagine what like must have been like during the War of 1812. Many of the buildings hail from this era and others have been constructed to reflect the town’s historic roots. If you want a relaxing getaway with an old-fashioned touch, this is the perfect place to get it!

Browse or book a cottage in Grafton.

banc

Bancroft. The charming town of Bancroft was built along the York River way back in the mid-1800s. It’s little wonder why this place was chosen as an ideal spot to settle! The town has all the beauty of the Canadian Shield and Algonquin Park and is close to a multitude of outdoor adventures. Today’s Bancroft is quintessentially small-town Ontario, with the charms you love about close-knit communities and close proximity to Toronto.

Browse or book a cottage in Bancroft.

fene

Fenelon Falls. If we had to pick one word to describe Fenelon Falls, it would be “adorable.” This town is characterized by white picket fences and tiny shops. Grab a snack at the bright pink Pie Shack or fine country treasures at The Barn & Bunkie. If you get your fill of the town, you can go hang out on the water at the nearby Kawartha Lakes.

Browse or book a cottage in Fenelon Falls.

huro

Huron County. Leave the city of Toronto far behind you and head to Ontario’s loveliest rural setting! Huron County has the wide-open spaces you’re craving and also offers plenty of fun on the shores of Lake Huron. You can find a cottage here in one of the many small communities dotting the county, such as Goderich or Blyth. Huron County boasts endless historic sites, provincial parks, nature reserves and quirky attractions. Why not find a cottage in your favourite town and then spend some time driving through Huron County? There’s plenty to see here and none of it involves traffic jams or busy sidewalks. Here, you can spread your arms and breathe.

Browse or book a cottage in Huron County.

If you’re looking for a cottage or home vacation rental in any of these communities, CanadaStays can help! Check out our website’s listings of wonderful vacation rentals in each of these areas. You’ll be sure to find the perfect place to relax and get away from the city!

Canada Day in Muskoka

Canada Day is just around the corner! This special year, we celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. With such a significant holiday comes plenty of fun for Canadians everywhere. If you’re in Muskoka for Canada Day 2017, you are in luck! This is a great place to spend Canada Day, and there is plenty to do all day long. Take a look at some of our favourite Muskoka Canada Day activities!

Ontario fall colours – Where and when to spot them!

Fall is here and the trees have begun to trade their green summer fashions for brighter shades of orange, red and yellow. Ontario fall colours are perhaps among the best in Canada since there are many places to colour-watch throughout the province!

The best time for fall colours in Ontario is from mid-September to late-October. However, the colour burst in each area completely relies on the weather. The easiest way to know where and when to go for the best view is to check the Ontario parks fall colour report. Here, you will find information about the parks in Ontario and the colours of the trees in the area. 

Ready for the best Ontario fall getaway? Here are a few destinations to visit during the best time for fall colours in Canada. 

Algonquin Park. 

Wonder when is the best time for fall colours in Algonquin Park?

With almost 25 species of trees changing colours every year, Algonquin Park is one of the best places to see fall colours in Canada. During this season the park displays the widest array of fall colours in Ontario. 

The iconic red maple leaves steal the Algonquin park colours show. But the brilliant yellows, flaming oranges and enduring greens are also a sight to behold. Algonquin fall colours are different depending on the time of the season you visit. Parks Canada recommends going to Algonquin Provincial Park from mid-September to late October to spot the park’s colourful foliage. 

Algonquin Provincial Park is a large territory to explore. For the best Ontario fall colours observation, we recommend heading to the west side of the park where the warm orange and red leaves prevail due to the abundance of Sugar Maple Trees. This side of the park is also ideal for leaf-peeping as it has a natural elevated ground perfect for panoramic views of the Algonquin fall colours. If you are driving, the Highway 60 Corridor runs through a large section of the west side of the park and offers several look-out points along the way, making it a scenic drive that you won’t want to miss.

Another great way to enjoy the Algonquin park colours is by staying near the park and immersing yourself in the colourful forest. Since the park is a national territory, there are no private properties inside the park, but you can definitely find vacation rentals steps away from Algonquin around the nearby lakes. For the best fall stay, we recommend looking for rentals on the west side where you can find several waterfront cottages and cabin. Picture yourself relaxing by the water with the best autumn view!

Algoma Country

Algoma country in Sault Ste MArie has some of the best fall foliage in Canada

For a perfectly picturesque view of Northern Ontario’s autumnal display, you can’t pass up Algoma Country. Like the rest of Ontario, the best time to spot the autumn leaves in Algoma is between the months of September and October. 

Head to Sault Ste Marie and take the Agawa train ride for a panoramic view of Lake Superior along the Agawa Canyon bursting in fall colours. This train ride begins in Sault Ste Marie and ends at the Agawa Canyon where visitors can climb to a lookout area and take in the view of the canyon ablaze in colour. The route is a 4-hour ride each way and although the North Ontario fall colours are a great source of amusement, there is not much variety along the way. If you are travelling with kids, make sure to be prepared with additional entertainment for them. 

Another option for enjoying the fall colours of the area is by hiking a mountain to see the bright blue lake ringed with a veritable flame of orange leaves. The Algoma district consists of 28,000 square miles so you’ll surely find a trail to accommodate your adventure needs. 

If a train ride or a hike is not your travel style, take a scenic drive across the Algoma Country instead.  The region has several routes that pass through the rugged landscapes, making it a delight to drive during the fall. Drive-up Route 17 to Lake Superior Provincial Park from Sault Ste Marie to find perhaps the best view of the area. This road was named one of the top ten drives in Canada and for a good reason:  Route 17 winds its way along the shores of the largest freshwater lake, Lake Superior. During the fall, the drive offers scenic views of the changing trees against the lake, so feel free to stop along the way to take in the view.

The Bruce Trail

The Bruce Peninsula has great views of the fall foliage over the Georgian Bay

The Bruce Trail may be too long to complete in just a day or two, but any section of this 890-kilometre hike is sure to bring you through some of best fall colours in Ontario. 

Bruce Peninsula

Head to the Georgian Bay to see the turquoise waters against the bursting reds, oranges and yellows of the leaves. Late September is a good time to explore the Bruce Peninsula since the crowds are smaller, the shops and restaurants are still operating and you can get first access to fall foliage lookout point. Go up the 65-foot Observation Tower in the Bruce Peninsula National Park for an incredible view of the Georgian Bay, Tobermory and Lake Huron. 

Devil’s Monument Loop

South of the Bruce Peninsula National Park, you’ll find a lesser-known hiking trail with incredible views of Ontario fall colours, the Devil’s Monument Loop. Rather short, this hike takes you through rocky, slippery and steep paths up to the top of the largest flower pot formation in the Bruce Peninsula.  Although the hike is not difficult, it is not meant for kids or pets and we recommend wearing sturdy footwear. 

Spencer George Conservation Area

Even southern down the Bruce Trail tail in Hamilton, take one of the several autumn hikes in the Spencer George Conservation Area. Visiting this place is rewarding at any time of year, but autumn is when the real show happens. The most popular points for the best autumn displays are Dundas Peak, Tews Falls and Webster Falls.

There is no loop trail or authorized parking available at each point, so we recommend taking the shuttle bus to the tree location from the Spencer George parking lot. 

Visit Tew's Fall for the best fall foliage in Ontario

From the two falls in the tour, our favourite one is Tew’s Fall. This 22-meter curtain waterfall shines during the autumn months among the orange trees. The lookout point is above the falls rather than at the bottom. This elevation allows for a prime leaf viewing of the area and the water below. From this point, you can take the 40-minute hike to Dundas Peak for an even more mesmerizing view. 

The best place to see fall colours near toronto is Dundas Peak

When you arrive at the top of Dundas Peak, you can take a breather on a cliff overlooking the entire valley below. Be prepared to be rendered speechless! The mosaic of reds, yellows, oranges and greens below is a view that you won’t mind hiking.

With the immensity of the Bruce trail, we could write for hours and still not cover the entire trail. One thing that’s for sure, whichever portion of the trail you decide to explore in the fall, we are positive the views of the fall leaves will take your breath away! 

Along the Niagara River 

Did you know Niagara falls has some of the best fall foliage view in Canada?

The road along the Niagara River is a wonderful place to take in the Fall colours in Ontario. However, there are two places in particular that are popular among locals and tourists alike: Niagara-on-the-Lake and Niagara Falls.  

Niagara-on-the-lake

Niagara-on-the-Lake is by far the crowned winner of this trip, especially if you prefer a much more relaxed and local vibe. This area is Ontario’s wine country and during the fall, the vineyards, orchards and maples turn their colours to receive the harvesting season.  Take some time to stop and snap a few pictures, wander through the town and enjoy a glass of wine on a crisp October day.

Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls, on the other hand, is way more flashy city and one of the most popular places to see fall colours in Ontario for tourists. If you are there to enjoy the fall foliage, your options are bottomless. From hikes to helicopter rides, it’s not hard to find yourself in a fall colour hunting adventure. The city provides several aerial activities during the summer and fall months. Some of the most recommended ones are the Niagara Skywheel where you get to see the falls and the colourful leaves from 175 feet above, or dining at the Skylon Tower where you can enjoy a delicious meal while taking in the view from above. For a unique experience, take the Whirlpool Aero Car, a cable car that runs for 1 kilometre above the falls, which provides a close-up view of the water and the autumn trees.

Muskoka. 

Muskoka has some of the best Ontario fall colours

Moving to a much more local destination, Ontario’s cottage country, Muskoka is a magical place in the autumn months.

The best way to see Muskoka fall leaves is by taking a road trip all the way to this wonderful fall destination. Get off the main roads and take the back roads! It’s worth slowing down a little and enjoying the scenic view. For awesome Ontario fall colours scenery, drive the backroads of Highway 400, Highway 11 North to Gravenhurst or the Highway 60 Corridor.

Take your Muskoka experience a notch up and stay at one of the many cottages in the area to immerse yourself in nature. The region has more than a thousand lakes, which means there is an abundance of waterfront homes. Picture yourself waking up on a crisp fall day to the reflection of the turning trees over the lake right outside your window! Muskoka in the fall is a lovely town,  just take a look at all the things you can do in the area. 

Ottawa

Find Autumn colours ontario canada when you visit ottawa

Beautiful Ottawa is rendered even more appealing with its fashionable outfit of fall leaves! The city’s historic architecture, lovely lakeside and green lawns are most attractive with a background of orange and yellow foliage. There are many ways to enjoy the fall colours in Ottawa. Take a walk through the park, kayak along the edge of the lake or go all out and run the Ottawa Fall Colours Marathon!

If the city is not colourful enough, the nearby Gatineau Park is the ultimate destination for Ottawa autumn leaves. The most popular and easy-access lookout point is the Pink Lake trail, which we’ve named one of the best hikes in Canada. But make sure to check the park’s Fall Rhapsody Festival in October for other hiking trails. The festival offers guided tours and free shuttles from the city to see the region’s fall foliage. 

Toronto

Head to High park to see the fall foliage in toronto

Looking for fall colours without giving up the city vibe? Toronto has it all! 

Head to High Park for the best Best fall colours in Toronto.  During this season, the tree’ leaves put up a colour show right in the heart of the city. The central and east side of the park are well known among Torontonians as the best place to spot golden yellow and red trees. The Best time for fall colours in Toronto is late September or early October right before the rainy season begins and the leaves start falling down. 

One of the most unique places to see fall colours in Toronto is Evergreen Brick Works. This site is located right by the Don River Valley and its best-kept secret is the mountain lookout point hidden within. Head to the back of the building to find a short and easy hike to the top of the mountain where you will be able to see the best East Toronto autumn leaves view. Evergreen Brick Works is a great family-friendly place to visit in the fall as it offers several festivals, farmers markets and kids activities to enjoy during the weekends. 

Now that you know where to go, get out and explore! Need a place to stay during your Ontario fall colours trip? Find a cottage or a condo and enjoy the view right from your rental’s window.

Best Places to See Fall Colours in Canada

Fall colours in Canada are among the most beautiful in the world. Before we know it, the trees will be bursting with flaming shades of red and orange. If you’re as excited about autumn as us, why not make a weekend trip out of fall colour watching? Escape into the Canadian wilderness this autumn for a glimpse of nature’s most brilliant show! Here are some of the best places to go.

Gatineau Park – Quebec 

“Pink Lake” by Ankakaya is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Just less than a 15 min drive from Ottawa’s Parliament Hill you will find one of the most biodiverse parks in Canada, Gatineau Park. Known for its views of the Ottawa River, this park offers some of the best lookout points to spot fall colours in Quebec. Starting October, the park’s trees burst in all shades of orange, yellow and red when nature lovers enjoy hiking and walking its trails while taking in the fall colours. 

One of the  Best Hikes in Canada can be found inside this park, the Pink Lake trail. In the fall, this calm hike is a show to the eye as you can see the turquoise water of the lake against the magnificent autumn foliage. 

Experiencing the Gatineau Park fall colours has never been easier, for those who prefer leaving their cars behind,  Parkbus offers a shuttle service to Pink Lake, Phillippe Lake and other popular lookout points along the park departing right from downtown Ottawa. 

Montreal – Quebec 

“View from lookout, Mount Royal” by Rick’s Pics is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

If you are looking to do some leaf-peeping while still enjoying the vibrant life of the city, Montreal is a great destination to do just that. Montreal fall foliage can be spotted all over the city, but two of the most accessible points to enjoy it are Mount Royal Park and Parc Jean Drapeau. 

Mount Royal is an urban mountain and park that during autumn adds a special warmth to the city. Go all the way to the top to see it yourself and get the stunning views of the city and countryside merged together by the crispy orange trees. 

On the east side of the city, Parc Jean Drapeau is an island park popular for families and outdoor-enthusiast any time of the year. During the fall, however, the park turns into a romantic dream with views of downtown Montreal, the Saint-Lawrence River and the beautifully turned leaves. Visit Parc Jean Drapeau during the fall for more than just the view. The island has great cycling paths, trails and picnic spots perfect for those looking to enjoy the fall colours in Quebec. 

Algonquin Provincial Park – Ontario 

Overlooking a lake surrounded by brilliant fall foliage – Algonquin Provincial Park Ontario Canada

Approximately 25 species of trees change colours in Algonquin Provincial Park! This produces an enormous variety of shades and colours, ranging from golden to deep purple. This park is a great option for those looking to enjoy some fall colours near Toronto as Algonquin is only a 3-hour drive from the city. If driving is not an option, Parkbus also offers shuttles to several points in Algonquin Park from downtown Toronto.

Wondering the best time for fall colours in Algonquin Park? The answer will vary depending on the type of tree you are interested in seeing. Traditionally mid- September to mid- October is considered a good time for fall colours in Ontario, but we recommend searching for Algonquin’s foliage status in the fall colour report Ontario beforehand to avoid disappointment. 

Capilano suspension bridge park – British Columbia

Looking for fall colours in Vancouver bc? Go to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park in October for a leaf-peeping delight. This natural paradise is only 20 minutes away from Downtown Vancouver and it offers tons of outdoor activities to enjoy the autumn. From ziplining to treetop adventures, there are endless opportunities for fall foliage views. Its’ most famous attraction, the Capilano suspension bridge is like nothing else in the park! Be ready for out-of-this-world views. This 450 feet long bridge is situated 230 feet above Capilano River giving you the perfect bird’s eye perspective of the turned forest above. Cross the bridge and experience everything else the park has to offer anytime you are in Vancouver. Capilano Bridge Park is open 364 days a year and offers a free shuttle bus from several points of the city. 

Cape Breton- Nova Scotia 

The best time to visit nova scotia for fall colours is in October. And the best place to see it is at Cape Breton Island, particularly when you hike along the Cabot Trail. You’ll see the most vibrant colours appear on the treetops.  

Visit during the second week of October and you’re sure to witness a fantastic display not only from the hike but also from the island’s autumn festival, Celtic Colours. Fall colours in Nova Scotia Canada are celebrated in full at this festival that honours Cape Breton’s traditional culture through heritage craft events, outdoor events, live concerts, farmers’ market and much more.  

Visiting Cape Breton while staying in Halifax is one of the most popular activities for tourists, however, Cape Breton offers a wide variety of accommodation to enjoy the fall right within nature. 

Fundy Coastal Drive – New Brunswick

October marks the best time to see fall colours in eastern Canada. If you’re thinking about taking a Thanksgiving weekend trip to catch the season’s colours, New Brunswick is one of the best places to see fall foliage.

To enjoy the maritime views, we recommend you take the Fundy Coastal Drive, which is a scenic drive that stretches along the southern shore of New Brunswick. This road moves along breathtaking landscapes overlooking the Bay of Fundy. During the month of October, the fall foliage is at its peak and a portion of the North Atlantic Right Whales population remains in the Bay of Fundy waters. This makes it one of the most unique experiences in Canada for wildlife lovers. Leaf and whale watching along the Fundy shores is also a very underrated activity that mostly locals know about, so you’ll have this unusual nature’s combo all to yourself. Sit back and discover the beauty of this scenic drive!

Larch Valley – Alberta

Banff National Park is a summertime wonderland, but its secret magical season is autumn. Most hikers visiting Banff are quickly hypnotized by the blue waters of Moraine Lake and make this point their final destination. However, only locals and experts know about the beauty that hides just passed Moraine Lake, the Larch Valley. 

Next time you visit Banff in the fall head to the valley for a chance to escape the crowds and see some of the best fall foliage in western Canada. Larch Valley is home to thousands of larch trees and during the autumn, their leaves turn to an unbelievable golden yellow. This hike starts at Moraine Lake and climbs up to the larch forest. Depending on how much time you spend taking in the view of all the Banff fall colours, it can take up to four hours to go up and down. 

Mont Tremblant – Quebec

Fall colours in Quebec are among the richest in eastern Canada and Mont Tremblant offers a truly spectacular view of the season! Whether it’s hiking, on a cable car, biking or on a zip line there’s no shortage of spots to see the spread of fall foliage along the Laurentians. The best time to see fall colours in Quebec is from mid-September to late-October when the trees are in full colour. Plus, the weather is still warm enough to experience outdoor activities in the area, like canoeing in Tremblant’s Laker or treetop trekking the sepia forest. 

Muskoka – Ontario 

Red maples are the stars of the fall foliage show in Muskoka, Ontario. Go for a hike, ride your bike or simply gaze at the brilliant colours from your cottage rental’s front porch. There are many ways to enjoy autumn in Muskoka! 

Dare to take the leaf-peeping experience to new heights – 500 feet above the treetops, to be exact. Muskoka is famous for helicopter tours to see the beauty of the area. If the turned fall leaves are not enough, take a look a the best things to do in Muskoka for more activities during this season.

Niagara-on-the-Lake – Ontario 

Drive the highway along the Niagara River and you will enjoy beautiful views of the water and the trees. A stop at one of the lookout points is beautiful at any season, but fall offers an especially wonderful view of Ontario’s small-town region! While you enjoy the fall colours, make sure to visit one of the many wineries in the area. Fall is harvest time for all wineries in Niagara and there’s no better time to visit than fall. The vineyards are spilling and most grapes are finally ripe. This means winemakers are active and there are many opportunities to learn about the entire process of winemaking.

Like in most parts of Canada, September and October represent the best time to see fall foliage in Ontario. In Niagara on the Lake, however, it also means a town full of local events that attract tourists and locals alike.  

No matter where you go, you are sure to see impressive fall colours throughout Canada! Whether you want to rent a cottage in Muskoka or explore western Canada and rent a cabin in Banff, make your fall trip exceptional when you stay in a vacation rental close to all the fall foliage you can. You’ll love watching the changing of the leaves as you curl up with a cup of hot cider on the porch of your vacation rental!

Luxury Cottages and Vacation Rentals fit for Royalty

With the arrival of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s baby boy, the spotlight continues to be on the growing Royal family. With all of the recent media attention, a private reunion might just be the summer getaway the whole family needs. Here are our picks for luxury cottages in North America that are fit for a royal family getaway:

Modern Luxury Vacation Rental in Les Éboulements, QC

5 star luxury cottages in Canada

This chic, luxury rental property in Les Éboulements accommodates up to 14 guests and is perfect for larger groups. Perched in the mountains in the Charlevoix region of Quebec, this 4 bedroom and 3.5 bathroom home offers incredible views of the St. Lawrence River.

The property includes a full meeting room with a television and large conference table that can also be used for a family games night!

With an outdoor lounge area, sweeping river views and total privacy, it’s the perfect place for the royal family to unwind outside the public eye.

Average Nightly Rate: $1,247 / night

If this one doesn’t suit their fancy, there are plenty of other luxury chalet rentals available across Québec.

Lakefront Luxury Cottage in Port Severn, ON

This private cottage rental in muskoka in fit for the royal fmaily

If secluded luxury cottages in Ontario are more their style, this executive lakefront property in Port Severn is the perfect option. Located on 2.2 private acres behind iron gates, this 4,000-square-foot retreat offers ultimate security. It boasts 6 bedrooms, each with its own walk-out space, and 5 full bathrooms for up to 10 guests.

The best part? 200 feet of private lakefront with shallow water perfect for the kids. Plus, a 50 foot dock that can accommodate larger boats big enough for the whole family.

Average Nightly Rate: $863 / night

The province is famed for its million dollar cottage homes, so there’s no shortage of luxury cottage rentals to choose from in Ontario.

Award-Winning Luxury Rental in Fall River, NS

Live like a royal at one of these luxury cottages to rent

For more of an East Coast vibe, this luxury home to rent offers ultimate comfort and entertainment. It has 5 bedrooms – each with its own ensuite and walk in closet – and a total of 8 full bathrooms.

But it’s really the amenities that speak for themselves. The property offers a full sports bar and chef’s kitchen for wining and dining. There’s also a gym, sauna and steam room to keep fit and rejuvenated during the stay.

The built-in movie theatre also makes the perfect addition for the kids. With plenty of seating, the whole family can enjoy the movie experience without having to face the public eye.

Average Nightly Rate: $2,707 / night

While they are less abundant in number than in other provinces, the luxury cottages and vacation rentals in Atlantic Canada offer a different type of Canadian experience. With access to great seafood and private whale watching tours nearby, the East Coast provides a unique royal summer escape.

One of a Kind Castle in Paradise Valley, AZ

Feel like a royal at these luxury vacation rental in the USA

When it comes to luxury rental properties, this “castle” in Paradise Valley won’t fail to impress. Plus, it’s one the kids will love! Close to many family-friendly activities (including horseback riding), it’s the perfect home base for exploring Arizona’s deserts.

The private gated estate offers 6 bedrooms and 4.5 bathrooms for up to 16 guests. With a sparkling pool, a fire pit lounge area, and a game / arcade room, this kid-friendly property has something for everyone.

Average Nightly Rate: $1,288 / night

While it’s known for its stunning desert landscapes, Arizona also boasts an impressive selection of luxury vacation rentals for the royal family to choose from.

Oceanfront Luxury Home for Rent in Gold Beach, OR

Dog friendly luxury holiday cottages

For ultimate privacy, the royals can sneak under the radar in this luxury rental home in Gold Beach, Oregon. Sitting on 30 private acres, this oceanfront estate comes with its own helipad so high-profile guests can come and go freely without being seen.

This 5 bedroom, 4 bathroom home is suitable for up to 14 guests, and includes 2 master suites. With unique log and stone architecture and incredible views of the Southern Oregon coast, this property offers the ultimate private beach getaway. And, of course, we’d be remiss not to mention the vibrant in-home movie theatre.

It’d be hard to go wrong with this oceanfront rental that has so much natural beauty surrounding it.

Average Nightly Rate: $4,045 / night

Oregon’s diverse landscapes give the royal family plenty of luxury vacation rental options, whether they’re in the mood for a beach or mountain retreat.

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Visit CanadaStays to find vacation rental properties, such as luxury cottages, across Canada, the United States and the Caribbean. To discover more luxury rentals, search for properties in your preferred destination. Then, set your price point to a minimum of $1,000 per night.

The Best Time to Book a Vacation Rental, and Save!

When it comes to your vacations, you want it all — and with these tips on the best time to book a vacation rental, you can have it.

Did you know that you should book your vacation rental at least 3 months in advance for the best selection? Or that the smartest destination for rental and travel deals change by the season?  Travelling to Vancouver Island in April could save you an average of 20% on your vacation rental in comparison to other Spring months.  Popular seasonal destinations like Vancouver Island book up even earlier, so give yourself a longer booking window for best selection. Being smart with your travel budget and thinking ahead means you’ll be free to head east in the fall, when Muskoka’s beautiful autumn colours pop. While you’re there, be sure to take a trip around the lakes and visit local sights like the best places to view the changing leaves or the Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Preserve — more info in our guide.

We took a close look at our booking data across the country to compile a list of travel tips so you can book smartly, every single time. Experience the whole country without breaking the bank with smart seasonal travel:

Follow our tips for the best time to book a vacation rental!

Ready to plan your next trip? Check out our 2019 Canadian travel bucket list for inspiration on where to go next and follow these tips for the best time to book a holiday and save on your next vacation rental.

Feeling inspired? Visit CanadaStays and find a condo in Toronto for a summer weekend, a cabin in Big White for a winter ski trip, and more!

Must-Do Canada: Your Travel Bucket List

Explore the Great White North and discover everything this beautiful country has to offer. From record-breaking ziplines to breathtaking northern views and whale watching on the coast, there are enough sights and experiences across the country to fill your Canada travel bucket list for years to come.

In the mood for adventure? Here are our top picks for the the top 10 Canadian experiences to add to your travel bucket list.

Kayak Iceberg Alley (Twillingate, NL)

The best time to visit Canada? In Twillingate, it’s May to June to catch the icebergs!

Canada is called the Great White North for a reason — famous for the cold and snow, we’re also home to an impressive amount of Icebergs! The province of Newfoundland and Labrador is an iceberg hotspot, with between 400 to 800 icebergs floating down south each year. Taking a kayaking tour to chase them is an exhilarating, unforgettable and unique Canadian vacation that should be near the top of your travel bucket list.

Hire a guide and head out on the water to witness this impressive event between May and early June. Be on the watch for caves and rock formations in the icebergs for snap-worthy views, and keep your eyes peeled for animal visitors — whale and bird watching go hand-in-hand with iceberg watching.

If you’re lucky, you might even get to watch an iceberg crack or roll, a delight for the senses, but be sure to stay a safe distance away. One way to witness the beauty of this yearly spectacle without heading out on the water? Rent a charming place near the shore and pack your binoculars — the season is short and accommodations can be very limited, book now for the best pick of cabins!

Explore the shipwrecks in Fathom Five National Marine Park (Tobermory, ON)

 Seeing these sunken wrecks for yourself is one of the best experiences in Canada

Take a trip to Tobermory on the Bruce Penninsula in Ontario and you’ll find the Fathom Five National Marine Park, home to peaceful, protected freshwater ecosystems and over 20 historic sunken shipwrecks. The numerous scuba, snorkelling, and glass-bottom boat tours available let visitors explore the shipwrecks up close make this bucket list entry one of the top must-see places in Canada!

Some of the shipwrecks in the marine park date back to the 19th century, while others are more recent. Whether you’re a novice snorkeler or a diving enthusiast, Fathom Five is a unique, intriguing and truly Canadian experience.

After a day in the water, enjoy the lush local landscapes from the comfort of your own cabin rental in Tobermory!

Drive the Icefields Parkway (Banff, AB)

 Take the day and drive one of the best experiences in Canada

From coast to coast, Canada is a country filled with picturesque landscapes. Even our highways boast beautiful views — which is why the Icefields Parkway should be on your Canadian travel bucket list! Considered one of the most scenic highways in the world, spending a day exploring the Icefield Parkway means taking in impossibly blue waters, crisp clean air, healthy lush nature, and inspiring mountain views. Nature lovers need this on their bucket list!

The Icefields Parkway takes you through two of Canada’s most famous national parks, so if you’re taking the drive in the winter, be sure to stop for some skiing at Banff National Park — we’ve written a guide to get you started on this slope!

Stops along the way give you the chance to walk a glacier, hike to a roaring waterfall, picnic in peaceful meadows, see local wildlife, and more.If you’re a nature-loving traveller, this is a bucket list idea for summer or winter. Before you hit the road, why not start the trip off in a cozy lodge in Banff?

Catch a wave in Pacific Rim National Park (Tofino, BC)

 Looking for a new must do? Canada’s surf capital awaits

Surfs up in thisCanadian travel bucket list entry! You don’t need to head south to ride the waves — just put Tofino, British Columbia, on your bucket list and head west. With a sandy shoreline that provides a wide variety of swell windows, Canada’s surf capital has the perfect waves to get you started.

You’ll catch the best waves in the winter, but don’t let the weather worry you. Tofino’s swells are a consistent 10°C all year long, and a wetsuit will protect you from the ocean chills. Check out a cabin in Tofino and hang ten!

See the Northern Lights (Whitehorse, YT)

 The aurora borealis makes for a unique Canadian vacation

If you love the enchanting romance of the northern lights, Canada is a great destination for viewing the aurora borealis — particularly between October and March. A trip to Whitehorse in the Yukon to watch this phenomenon with friends or family is a simple bucket list idea that everyone should consider!

Open skies, untouched landscapes, and undisturbed nature make the Whitehorse area one of the best places to visit in Canada if you’re looking for the clearest view of the northern lights.

Given that Whitehorse is a land of midnight sun and daytime moonlight, heading up north during the winter offers you the best chance to see the lights multiple times. Rent a cozy cabin or condo in the heart of Whitehorse and take in the lights on your own schedule!

Canoe the sparkling lakes (Muskoka, ON)

 Muskoka is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Canada

If you’re looking for things to do in eastern Canada, the Muskoka region is famous for over 1,600 lakes, with Lakes Joseph, Muskoka, and Rosseau topping out the most-popular lists. Dubbed Canada’s cottage country and considered one of the best places to visit in the country, the Muskoka region is an easy two-hour drive north of Toronto, making it the perfect spot for a weekend getaway from the city.

No visit to Muskoka is complete without time on the lakes. One of the best ways to experience the area’s breathtaking landscape is by canoe, and there are several places to rent a canoe in the region. The sheer number of lakes and rivers means there are paddling spots for everyone from the most to the least experienced, and everything in between. 

As one of the most beautiful places in Canada, the Muskoka region deserves a top spot on your Canadian travel bucket list. Rent a cottage in Canada’s cottage country and get paddling!

Go whale watching in the Bay of Fundy (St Andrews, NB)

 Whale watching is a great bucket list idea for couples, friends, and families

Looking for some bucket list ideas for the summer? Take the family to Saint Andrews in New Brunswick — the Bay of Fundy is great for whale watching, particularly between the months of June to October.

This is one of the best spots anywhere in the world to see the endangered Northern Right Whale, but that’s not all you’ll see, Humpback Whales and various species of dolphins are also fans of the bay. There are a number of boat tour companies to choose from but they tend to work together to make sure tourists get to the best views. If one boat spots a whale, the others will soon follow. If you visit Saint Andrews during the peak season, you’re sure to spot a marine animal or two.

Stay right in Saint Andrews and explore the Bay of Fundy for an experience that should definitely be on your bucket list!

Ride the longest zipline in North America (Whistler, BC)

 Whistler’s zipline is one of the best experiences in Canada!

Craving an adrenaline rush? The Sasquatch Zipline is the longest zipline in North America, with over 2 kilometres of high-speed scenic thrills. Whistler is one of the top places to visit in Canada and the perfect choice for a unique vacation that will make the whole family smile — kids as young as 10 can ride.

Starting from Blackcomb Mountain and ending at Whistler Mountain, this zipline provides you with an incredible aerial view of the landscape any time of year. Take in the old-growth rainforest, the Whistler Sliding Centre, and more!

With the Sasquatch Zipline just one of the many adventures to explore in Whistler we have to recommend (don’t miss skiing Whistler/Blackcomb as well) — you’ll love being able to curl up in your own cabin at the end of the day.

Hike the Laurentian Mountains (Mont Tremblant, QC)

 Spending time in the Laurentian Mountains should be at the top of your bucket list for Quebec

Want to see vibrant natural colours you won’t find anywhere else? The Laurentian Mountains should be one of your top places to visit! One of the oldest and most picturesque mountain ranges in the world, the Laurentians feature numerous trails of varying difficulties for hikes that suit any group.

The Laurentians are truly a year-round destination, so slot this entry onto your bucket list for any season. Heading out in the summer or fall? Hike the Grand Prix des Couleurs and take in colours so rich, you’ll think you’re in a painting. Feeling like a winter trip? Mont-Tremblant is a charming ski spot with fluffy, fresh snow. Spring traveller? The local sugar shacks — or cabanes à sucre in the local vernacular — will be in full swing tapping the delicious maple sap.

Find your own charming cottage in the area and don’t miss this Canadian travel bucket list must-see!

Bike the Cabot Trail (Cape Breton Island, NS)

Maritime bucket lists need to include the Cabot Trail

Our final suggestion for your Canadian travel bucket list involves grabbing a bike and hitting the trail on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia! With views so scenic it rivals the Icefields Parkway for the most beautiful road in Canada, the Cabot Trail is one of the world’s most highly rated cycling routes.

This 300 kilometre loop includes some steeper climbs and advanced rides, so this is a trip for anyone who wants to add a challenge to their bucket list. Though the trail is open all year long if you’re looking for the best road and weather conditions to take in all the incredible coastal views and highland scenery, book your trip between June and October.

After long days of biking, you’ll want a cozy cottage to relax in and enjoy the sunsets.

With captivating sights and experiences from coast to coast, Canada is a country we could (and should) spend years exploring — what better time to start than now? Check you travel bucket list, book your perfect rental, and hit the road!

Best Fall Foliage in Ontario

Fall is here, and the trees have begun to trade their green summer fashions for brighter shades of orange and yellow. Ontario is perhaps the best place to see fall colours in Canada, since there are so many incredible places to colour-watch throughout the province! Looking for a good Ontario fall colours destination? Here are a few of the best!

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Algonquin Park. With an indescribable display of every leafy shade imaginable, Algonquin Park is perhaps the most stunning place to see a wide array of fall colours in Ontario. The red maple leaves steal the show, but the brilliant yellows, flaming oranges and enduring greens are also a sight to behold.

Book a cottage in Algonquin Park

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Algoma Country. For a perfectly picturesque view of Northern Ontario’s autumnal display, you can’t pass up Algoma Country. Take a train ride down the railroad for a panorama of the colours or hike a mountain to see the bright blue lake ringed with a veritable flame of orange leaves.

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The Bruce Trail. The Bruce Trail may be far too long to complete in just a day or two, but any section of this endless hike is sure to bring you through some of Ontario’s loveliest fall colours. Take the train north of Owen Sound for a view of the fall leaves in Colpoys Bay or hike the Devil’s Monument Loop.

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Dundas Peak. The hike up Dundas Peak is rewarding at any time of year, but autumn is when the real show happens. When you arrive at the top, you can take a breather on a cliff overlooking the entire valley below. Be prepared to be rendered speechless! The mosaic of reds, yellows, oranges and greens below is a view for which you don’t mind hiking. There are many tour companies that offer trips up the mountain, so you may want to join a group tour if you don’t want to go alone.

Book a cottage in Dundas

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Along the Niagara River. The road along the Niagara River is a wonderful place to view autumn leaves. Niagara-on-the-Lake is the crowning glory of this road trip! Take some time to stop and snap a few pictures, wander through the town and enjoy a cup of coffee on a crisp October day.

Book a cottage in Niagara.

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Muskoka. The best way to see fall colours in Muskoka is by taking a road trip all the way to this wonderful fall destination. Get off the main roads and take the back roads! It’s worth slowing down a little and enjoying the scenic view. For awesome fall scenery, drive the backroads of Highway 400, Highway 11 North to Gravenhurst or the Highway 60 Corridor.

Book a cottage in Muskoka.

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Ottawa. Beautiful Ottawa is rendered even more appealing with its fashionable outfit of fall leaves! The city’s historic architecture, lovely lakeside and green lawns are most attractive with a background of orange and yellow foliage. There are many ways to enjoy the fall colours in Ottawa. Take a walk through the park, kayak along the edge of the lake or go all out and run the Ottawa Fall Colours Marathon!

Book a vacation rental in Ottawa.

Now that you know where to go, get out and do it! Need a place to stay during your Ontario fall colours trip? Check out the CanadaStays website for options you’re sure to love!

Tax tips for Buying and Selling a Cottage with Rental-income Opportunity

Sponsored by Sheila O’Hearn, Zoocasa

Purchasing a cottage to rent out?

The plan to buy a cottage as a rental-income opportunity can be exciting, but before you sign on the dotted line, you’ll want to learn all you can about the new tax implications.

The huge rise in real estate prices, from detached homes to townhouses for sale in Toronto, has now entered cottage country. The Lakelands Association of Realtors will tell you that the median price of waterfront property in Ontario, such as the Muskoka, Haliburton and Orillia regions, has increased by more than 30 per cent over the past year.

One source has observed that more Canadians are seeking to defray or reduce cottage ownership costs by renting it out. Now, if you were able to swing the financing on a vacation property to rent out as recently as 2015, realtors had hailed the idea. You could potentially have earned $6,000 a season, or you might even have added a couple of renters’ bedrooms to the cottage and locked up other bedrooms for your personal use.

But if you’re buying a cottage in 2017, the rental landscape has altered, and, if you’re not careful about your renting habits, you might inadvertently be jeopardizing your ability to claim your principal residence exemption (PRE) to shelter any gain on the sale of the cottage down the road.

Rental activity is not precisely the problem. You’re allowed to rent part of your cottage and still be entitled to Principal Residence Exemption (PRE), BUT only if you meet these three conditions:

– Your use of the cottage as a rental is additional to your use of the property as a personal vacation property.

– You don’t make any structural changes to the cottage to earn income.

– You don’t claim depreciation (Capital Cost Allowance) on the property.

So, the portion of the cottage that is used for earning rental income will not be eligible for the PRE. This scenario could result in a tax bill later if the property is sold for a profit. In addition, because of the “change-in-use” rules (and you happened to add on rooms for guests), you’ll be deemed to have sold − on the day you begin renting the place − that portion of the cottage you are now using to earn rental income. You’ll also be deemed to have reacquired that portion of the property at the current value on that same day.

Normally, the tax laws won’t apply this change-in-use rule if those three golden conditions stated above have been met. Sources further note that you can likely use the PRE to shelter any gain on the change-in-use if you wish – but you are strongly advised to speak with a tax professional about all the implications.

In defraying other costs, such as allowing your renters to use a boat or other equipment, the tax law explicitly prohibits these kinds of expenses.

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Selling the cottage?

Sources note that foreign speculators might initially have been the target of a new rule from Ottawa that has since been imposed to clamp down on the tax-free capital gains exemption on the sale of a homeowner’s principal residence, but house flippers and cottage owners are now involved in the fray.

The new rule says you must now report the sale of a principal residence on your tax return.

In the not-so-distant past, homeowners were obliged to report sales of secondary residences (such as cottages) that were subject to capital gains tax, while the sale of a principal residence was not mandatory to report.

This practice, however, had made it difficult for the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) to track the frequency with which people were turning over their primary residences, especially house-flippers, and the crackdown has now created a complicated question about the principal residence exemption for cottage owners or people with secondary properties for personal use.

You can only claim the principal residence on one property but, historically, vacation properties have often been ignored in reporting. Sources note that legally you always had to disclose any sale of property, but CRA’s administrative policy was that you didn’t have to report a gain, if it was your principal residence.

Gains on a cottage or secondary property are considered taxable at the 50 per cent capital gains rate, unless you deem it as your principal residence, which, in turn, would leave you with a tax liability on your principal residence. The consequence is that if you sell a secondary property and report nothing on your return, the CRA deems that you’ve sold your principal residence and have used up the exemption. The further consequence is that you could face a major tax bill on your primary home that probably will have increased considerably in value.

Experts say that no real designation of principal residence is made until you sell. The minute you sell, you make the choice of whether to report it or not. If you don’t, however, the CRA deems you’ve made a principal residence exemption – and this means that when you sell the other property that you hold concurrently, you cannot use the exemption on that second residence.

While these laws haven’t exactly changed, the new catch is that if you sell your cottage first and don’t report the sale or capital gain, the CRA can now go back and reassess you indefinitely. As one industry authority explains: If you do nothing, which previously meant you were automatically claiming the exemption, the CRA can now say you’ve squandered that exemption and they can potentially fine you. Your best option at this point is to take the opportunity to refile your returns, saying you made a mistake.

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When to claim or not to claim cottage losses?

If your cottage is like most vacation homes, it will be considered a “personal use property” under Canada’s tax laws, meaning that any loss on the sale of the property cannot be claimed. Similarly, if your cottage for personal use is destroyed, say, by fire or flood, the loss cannot be claimed.

On the other hand, if your cottage is primarily a rental property, you might be able to claim a capital loss in cases of disaster. But the recommendation is not to be too eager to rent out the premises most of the time, as this could jeopardize use of the PRE if the property appreciates in value − and you want to shelter the gain from tax.

Furthermore, if you’re renting the cottage part-time to offset ownership costs, you’d be wise to avoid reporting rental expenses in excess of your rental income, year after year. Those losses will only serve to raise eyebrows on your tax return and will probably be denied.

If you are curious about buying a cottage and renting it out as an income property, you can learn about the how to fund your mortgage, create a renovation budget or simply add to your savings account here.

Zoocasa is a real estate brokerage based in Toronto.