With its pristine lakes, scenic drives, and refined yet relaxed vibe, Ontario’s picture-perfect Muskoka region makes for a no-fail road trip option. We ventured north of Toronto’s concrete to the Port Carling area of Muskoka for a little sunshine, water sports, and relaxation (and wine).
To get to our destination, we accessed the Buick press fleet and test drove the 2021 Buick Envision. Of course, on a memorable road trip – the kind filled with throwback tunes, the creation of new inside jokes, and a perpetual sense of adventure – the journey is just as important as the final destination.
Not only does the roomy SUV offer an incredibly smooth ride, it’s also exceptionally good on gas. Other appreciated talking points include things like QuietTuning technology, a massaging driver’s seat, a driver-centric cockpit, an in-car air ionizer, and ample room for luggage (even for the over-packer set).
On the music front, the car’s SiriusXM messaging is the star of the show. With the SXM App built directly into the car’s dashboard, curating the perfect road trip playlist couldn’t be easier – whether you have a soft spot for country or 90s hip-hop (or anything in between).
Beyond entertaining with its exclusive channels of many genres on SXM, the Buick Envision also includes OnStar services, giving customers access to a suite of safety, security, and convenience services including enhanced roadside assistance and turn-by-turn navigation.
While the last days of summer may be looming, there’s still plenty of time to take advantage of Muskoka in all of its glory before the leaves fall from the trees. Last month, we highlighted all the things to do in Gravenhurst, Ontario, Now, it’s Port Carling’s time to shine.
If you find yourself in the Muskoka region village, make sure to hit up some of our favourite spots…
What to Do
Muskoka Lakes Museum
Get better acquainted with the stunning and storied Muskoka Lakes region by learning all about its history at the Muskoka Lakes Museum. Located right in the village of Port Carling, the charming museum features six different galleries that educate visitors on everything from the First Nations history in the region, to cottage and boating culture. Here, you’ll also find local art exhibits. The seasonal museum is open from Victoria Day until Thanksgiving weekend. Find more info here.
Peerless II Sunset Cruises
One of the best ways to take in the scenery (and sprawling cottages) of Muskoka is from the region’s pristine lakes. The restored Peerless II ship – a historic supply ship – takes guests on a journey on the water in a quality cruise that’s full of live commentary on the history, quirks, and fun facts of the region. A staple at the Port Carling locks, the Peerless II offers a selection of choices – from stunning sunset cruises to “Lake Muskoka Millionaire’s Row” tours. Note: the tours are just as spectacular – perhaps even more so – in the fall. Find more info here.
Mala Boutique Muskoka
Fit right in with the cottage-owning set in Port Carling with a visit to Mala Boutique. Here, you’ll find a well curated selection of all the luxe and cozy cottage attire for women and children that your heart could desire. The contemporary boutique features brands like California’s Aviator Nation, Freecity, J Brand, and I Stole My Boyfriend’s Shirt, to name a few. Be prepared to dent the wallet here. Find more info here.
Mooskoka’s Ice Cream
To complete a visit into Port Carling, treat yourself with a trip to Mooskoka’s Ice Cream. The charming small-town ice cream spot is located in the heart of Port Carling and offers Kawartha Dairy ice cream, frozen yogurt made with real fruit, old fashioned milkshakes, smoothies and iced coffee and teas. Find more info here.
Where to Eat
Located right on the water of Lake Muskoka in the centre of downtown Port Carling, Turtle Jacks is a reliable go-to for upscale, cottage-inspired comfort food and cocktails. Menu highlights at this breezy spot include everything from fish tacos and a selection of burgers, to blackened Basa or chicken, and shrimp and sea scallop fettuccine. For a casual conversations with with fellow guests, sit at the outdoor tiki bar. Seating is available on a first come, first serve basis. Find more info here.
Water’s Edge Wine Bar and Grill
Lovers of wine and a Muskoka-chic see-and-be-seen vibe will get their fix at The Lake Joseph Club’s Water’s Edge restaurant. The lakeside restaurant offers a comforting but elevated cuisine that’s hyper focused on local ingredients. In addition to an expansive and well-curated wine list, this spot also serves specialty craft cocktails that complete the summertime dockside sipping (and people watching) experience. Find more info here.
For a casual fine dining experience that cuts no corners in the flavour department, make a reservation at Portside Fusion. A well-rounded menu draws heavily on local ingredients and features enough variety to cater to a range of tastes and dietary restrictions. Menu items include everything from pork belly bao buns and falafel bowls, to tuna poke and tandoori chicken wings. The scenic spot features a covered patio. Find more info here.
Tulo’s Taqueria Muskoka
Another reliable restaurant with prime waterfront real estate is the ever-popular Tulo’s Taqueria. The bustling Mexican-inspired spot serves up a selection of addictive tacos, power bowls, tostados, tequila, and cocktails in a relaxed and casual vibe. The restaurant recently expanded with the addition of a rooftop patio and bar. Find more info here.
Where to Stay
JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka Resort and Spa
The sprawling and stately JW Marriott never disappoints in offering a refined yet relaxed quintessential Muskoka experience year-round. Located about a 15-minute drive from downtown Port Carling, the resort offers a luxurious but cozy feel, thanks to constantly roaring fireplaces, rustic décor, and comforting food. The resort features an indoor/outdoor pool with an outdoor hot tub (open year-round), a seasonal lakeside swimming pool, a soothing spa and fitness facility, and a sandy beach with water sports. Find more info here.
For another quintessential Muskoka experience that’s a little easier on the wallet, the iconic Windermere House is a no-fail option in the Port Carling(ish) area. Known as “The Lady of the Lake,” the Victorian landmark on the stunning Lake Rosseau features 56 luxury rooms and a four-bedroom cottage for guests craving more space. The peaceful property features a beach, full-service spa, a golf course, water sports, and tennis courts. Find more information here.