TRAVEL SERIES: Ontario, Canada. Exploring Muskoka

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MUSKOKA: Bracebridge & Huntsville

A Trip Down Memory Lane

There’s something about visiting places that resonate with our childhood selves that muster up emotions of joy. The nostalgic feeling of returning to a place that holds happy memories, seemingly forgotten but suppressed within the subconscious, lights my face with a smile. This feeling was the amazing sensation I felt returning to Muskoka.

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Cruising along the 400, windows rolled way down, wind blown hair flying everywhere as music fills the summer air. The city fades in the rearview. The trees grow denser and the air increasingly fresher…now that’s road tripping at its finest.

I pull up to my first stop, a necessary one on my road trip down memory lane: Weber’s Hamburgers.

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My parents use to stop at Weber’s to get my brother – Kyle – and I out of the car and some food in our system whenever we drove out to Muskoka. We loved playing around the retired railway cars, which were converted into places to enjoy your meal.

The ever-so-popular roadside eats is located off Highway 11 in Orillia and was so well known as the place to stop, that a bridge was constructed over the highway to allow for both the comings and goings of people to delight in the delicious burgers.

Added into the mix is a Kawartha Dairy Ice Cream parlour [the best ice cream ever] and a small RV made into a Roots Clothing shop, making this pit stop the most classically Canadian. This cheap and cute old school spot is cash only, however an ATM is available.

As I chomp down into the mouthwatering fresh off the grill burger, I glance out the train’s window to the sight of children playing on the patio. Laughing and climbing the other cabooses, their carefree smiles and spirits reminding me of my brother and myself and the beautiful ability kids have to create fun anywhere.

The fresh grade-A meat makes for the perfect patty and the atmosphere of Weber’s makes it the perfect pitstop!

Arriving in Huntsville I’m instantly transported back to when I was a camper at Camp Tawingo many moons ago.

The main strip in downtown Huntsville is practically unchanged. I’m most excited to see the good old Nutty Chocolatier, where I use to devour 3 scoop ice cream cones on parent’s weekend, is still here and putting smiles on camper’s faces and sweets in their stomachs.

Whether craving tacos, crepes, pub food or fine cuisine, there is plenty of restaurant options.

You know you’ve arrived in cottage country when all the store windows are lined with cozy hoodies and wooden trinkets. Plaques are painted with cottaging quips, declaring that life is better at the lake… which I mean, I don’t disagree.

After wandering around the small centre, which doesn’t take long at all, I sit down at 3 Guys and a Stove. I fall in love with the place instantly.

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Old signed menus are framed and line the walls. The lights are dim, but it’s not dark. The service is friendly and attentive, smiling honestly. The food is flavourful, the barbecue is fall-off-the-bone tender, and the bread still warm and fresh from the stove. Buying a jar of their smoky sweet BBQ sauce is an easy sell. This was my first, but certainly not last, time eating here.

The winding roads weave through the immense greenery that encompasses most of the land here. Golf courses stretch through the hills and stunning mansions and cottages peak out from within the trees.

I pull into the place that is home to some of my favourite childhood memories.

Mom and dad would take us to Deerhurst Resort on little family getaways nearly every summer growing up. My love of the water comes directly from my family who all share my passion for the outdoors.

The family friendly resort has a plethora of things to do and the grounds are extraordinarily beautiful. For my family, coming to this beautiful resort was the perfect balance of activity and relaxation.

I learned to play racquetball and kayak here, but also enjoyed countless sunsets with my family overlooking the lake.

Returning here felt like coming home as I sat on the dock in a big Muskoka chair watching as the sun fell off the horizon and disappeared beyond the lake.

From a clean and well manicured beach with a patio, to a wakeboard park, a splash zone wipe out course, to all the water sports equipment your heart could desire, Deerhurst has you covered and is the perfect escape from the city.

For those who want to get out, get active, and get exploring there are tons of great trails located in Huntsville. For those looking for a leisurely stroll try Hunters Bay Trail. For the adventurous spirits looking for a good hike, the Lions Lookout Trail has a beautiful view at the top. For cyclists, a portion of the trans-Canada trail lets you zip through the town and around the countryside.

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Muskoka is also home to Algonquin Provincial Park.

Algonquin is well-known for camping. There’s nothing more rewarding after a long day of paddling, portaging, and pitching a tent, than building a fire, enjoying some s’mores, and watching the beautiful setting sun over a cold one with friends. Just remember to practice safe camping and hang your food packs to avoid any wildlife mishaps!

Whether adventuring with family or friends, Muskoka is one of the most beautiful areas in Ontario with something for absolutely everyone.

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