Every Canadian knows that summer is the shortest season. It’s also the busiest season, so it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle, only to realize that suddenly it’s September 1st and kids are going back to school… wait… where did summer go?
If you’re feeling like I am right now and wondering how in the world summer skated by so fast, don't fret; you can still hang onto summer in the Muskoka and Parry Sound region till about Thanksgiving weekend! The September weather in the area has been sunny and warm and the colours on the lakes are spectacular so don’t rush to take your boat out just yet!
In my opinion, this is the best time of year for boating, because the lakes aren’t as busy as they are throughout the summer. I know, I know: it’s a very “local” thing of me to say, but seriously, it’s peaceful when you’re the only boat on the lake, and if you’ve never experienced Northern Ontario peaceful before, you aren’t living! A lot of people take their boats and personal watercrafts out of the lake the last weekend of the summer before school starts, but little do they know they're missing out on some prime boating. Lots of waterfront seasonal restaurants are open till Thanksgiving weekend and there are lots of cottage rentals and accommodations that hold discounts during September and October.
Port Carling is one of my favourite places in Muskoka to visit in the summer, whether by boat, PWC or by car. The shops, amazing restaurants and the energy in the area are all wonderful and there is always something to do. Port Carling can be extremely busy during the summer months, but come September it almost becomes a ghost town, only mildly livening up on the weekends until Thanksgiving, when it really closes down. If you don't mind the peace and quiet, then you should take advantage of some of the off-season savings on cottage rentals.
The famous waterfront restaurant Turtle Jack's Muskoka Grill and the surrounding shops on Lake Muskoka (with easy access to Lake Rosseau) are open until Thanksgiving making it a great place to spend a fall weekend. Take in the quiet lake and the fall colours while staying at the JW Marriott on Lake Rosseau on Lake Rosseau, just a short boat ride away from Port Carling.
Lake Manitouwabing is a perfect spot for those looking for a smaller inland lake to adventure on. Just a short 20-minute drive north from Parry Sound and with a local boat launch in McKellar, this lake is easily accessible! Whether you are planning a day or weekend trip, there are many local places to stay and great places to eat, all either on the lake or nearby. Glenwood Cottages and Marina is located right on Lake Manitouwabing and offers cottage rentals of all kinds.
One great thing that I love about this lake is that you can get anything from basic fry shack food to fine dining in one day! Located in downtown McKellar is Jimmy’s Fry Shack. Jimmy’s fries are arguably the best in the area and he has lots on his menu to top them off. He also has fresh Kawartha Ice Cream! Jimmy’s is hard to miss, his fry shack is right across from the Kwick Way store and LCBO in McKellar.
On the other end of the lake lies Tait's Landing Restaurant and Marina. They offer casual dining with a broad lunch and dinner menu that will satisfy everyone's tastes, including kids' menus.
Accessible by boat and by land with a large deck that overlooks the lake, the Ridge at Manitou is probably one of my favourite places to go for dinner. They have an amazing Cordon Bleu meal, and the atmosphere in the clubhouse overlooking the lake is incredibly relaxing. I am not much of a golfer, but I’ve been told that their 18-hole course is spectacular, and the idea of spending a day surrounded by the changing colours does sound appealing.
If you’re looking to stay closer to Parry Sound and the main highway, Sunny Point Resort Cottages & Inn has a deal on for fall that you get your third nights; stay half off! Sunny Point Resort is pet friendly and located on Otter Lake with boat docking available. Otter Lake is a smaller inland lake but offers the same boating fun and relaxation of a large Muskoka lake. See the Otter Lake Marina website for details.
There’s no need to be upset about summer ending or fearing those winter blues just yet; there is still plenty of time to enjoy these great Muskoka-Parry Sound locations. Make the most of the season and get out on the water!