1. Muskoka Cottage Country, Ontario, Canada
In Eastern Canada, “cottage country” covers any lake destination within easy driving distance for a quick weekend getaway. Central Ontario’s Muskoka district is close to Toronto—about two hours north via Highways 400 and 11—while still offering an unplugged pace that’s a world away from Canada’s largest city. The 2,500-square-mile natural playground includes 8,699 miles of shoreline; 17 historic towns and villages; and countless waterfalls and lakes bordered by the granite peaks of Algonquin Provincial Park to the east and the 30,000 islands of Georgian Bay Islands National Park to the west. Spend the day paddleboarding on Muskoka Lake or exploring the Riverwalk and shops of Canada’s waterfall capital, Bracebridge. For an old-school family vacation, head north to Peninsula Lake’s Pow-Wow Point Lodge, a 91-year-old, all-inclusive resort featuring simple summer pleasures like campfires, canoeing, and volleyball. Plan an August visit to catch Algonquin Park’s educational Thursday evening wolf howls starring—weather-permitting—the reclusive, inhabitant, four-pawed chorus.
Pictured here: Colorful deck chairs invite lingering at Kahshe Lake in Muskoka, Ontario.
- Best Of
10 Best Summer Trips of 2011
Looking for an out-of-the-ordinary destination for your summer vacation? Check out these 10 top trips, hand-picked by National Geographic Traveler editors as the best of summer 2011. Where do you want to go this summer? Share your travel plans—real or ideal—below. (See more trip ideas.)