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Muskoka, Ontario: Canada's Cottage Country

© By Michele Sponagle
 

Long a playground to the Toronto jet set, this summer retreat spot is a great place to gather for a G8 conference-or just a girlfriend getaway. When busy women want to have fun-post-G8 conference or any time- Muskoka is one of Canada's favourite playgrounds. With clear lakes (perfect for skinny dipping), rolling green hills, quaint villages, homespun eateries and resorts aplenty, it's a perfect spot for urban escapees to unwind in the wild. Here's how:

Check in at The Rousseau Resort & Spa: It's a new addition to the hotel scene and packs in plenty of pampering perks, including the Spa Rousseau. Book the Rousseau Signature Massage for 80 minutes of heaven thanks to sweet birch oil and vigorous untying of knotted muscles. Then dive fork-first into the lobster mac 'n cheese at Cottages, or take a leisurely stroll on a mushroom foraging excursion alongside a mycologist, aka fungi specialist.

Take to the water: Canoeing could be declared the unofficial sport of the Muskoka region, with hundreds of kilometres worth of scenic paddling. Hardcore types may spend days exploring them, but rookies can enjoy a small taste with a guided day trip to nearby Algonquin Park through companies like Algonquin Outfitters. You'll learn the basics: paddling, portaging and safety skills. Who knows? Next summer, your girls' getaway may include extended paddling and sleeping under the stars...

Rent a cottage: Muskoka is known as Cottage Country because of the abundance of summer homes. You don't have to own one-just borrow one for a while through a site like cottagesontheweb.com. Fish for your supper lakeside and roast marshmallows over an open fire like a real cottager. End the day by planting yourself, drink in hand, into a Muskoka chair (aka Adirondak chair) and watch the sun go down.

Indulge in some retail therapy: Shopping outside big cities is an adventure; chic boutiques and one-of-a-kind stores offer up plenty of originals. Pick up outdoor furniture at places like Muskoka Teak; décor perks in typical rustic country-style stock the shelves at Sustain and Rafters of Muskoka. Make your own dipped candles the old-fashioned way at Rich Hill Candles. Pick up a canoe from the factory outlet of Langford Canoe , Canada's oldest company of its kind. Every would-be Canadian should have one.

Michele Sponagle (m.sponagle@sympatico.ca) is a travel writer based in Paris, ON, who has sampled hotel beds in more than 50 countries.

Photo & story credits
Courtesy of CTC

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