Muskoka Wharf in Gravenhurst, Ontario, is located in the Muskokas, a short drive away from Toronto. The Muskokas are so loved that National Geographic Magazine has named it one of the best summer trips in 2011. And it gets better every year! Read on to find out why it is the perfect place to take your kids this summer.
Only two hours from Toronto, the Muskoka area is well known as one of Canada's most beautiful places to summer. Its lakes are filled each summer with families and kids from all over the world who can't resist its charm. When planning a trip to the Muskokas, head to the town of Gravenhurst. Here you will find Muskoka Wharf, a family playground that lies on the shores of Lake Muskoka. With a surface area that covers almost 75 miles, Lake Muskoka is the heart of the Muskoka region. Here's what you need to know about this perfect weekend destination for families.
A few streets away from the main street that runs through downtown Gravenhurst lies Muskoka Wharf. Although minutes from the highway, the area is quiet and picturesque. Here you will find the perfect ingredients for an easy family escape. Restaurants, a boardwalk for strolling, ice cream shops, a park and of course the historic steamships that call Muskoka Wharf home.
Where to Stay
When booking your stay in Gravenhurst, you'll want to check out the extremely family friendly Residence Inn Gravenhurst Muskoka Wharf. The hotel is in tip top shape and located adjacent to the restaurants and shops of Muskoka Wharf. Families can choose from traditional hotel rooms or two-bedroom suites that offer plenty of room for kids and adults alike and a gorgeous view of Lake Muskoka. The rooms are fully equipped with kitchens but there's no need to buy anything for breakfast as it's provided by the hotel each morning and is included in your room rate.
We've stayed on site twice and each time found the hotel to be clean and a pleasure to visit. Kids will love the indoor pool while moms and dads will rejoice that it is located right next to a sizable hot tub. The pool area is also attached to the hotel gym. At the Residence Inn in Muskoka Wharf you will find everything you love about the Residence Inn brand with the added benefit of a beautiful setting and a deck to watch the sunset.
Free amenities like parking and great wi-fi make this the perfect hotel for families exploring Muskoka Wharf and Gravenhurst.
Where to Play
One of the secrets of Muskoka Wharf is that despite its smaller size, there are plenty of places for kids to get out and play. Head to the Muskoka Boat & Heritage Centre located next door to the hotel for an inside look at the historic steamships that still run on Lake Muskoka. The centre has plenty for kids to do particularly in their newly completed Kid Zone which spans most of the 2nd floor. Here volunteers and employees work together with kids to make boats, explore camping life and even fly an airplane simulator. Admission to the centre is $10 per adult and $6 per child but is for free for all passengers of the historic steamships.
Once you have explored the Kid Zone, head across the street to play in the steamship park. Kids love climbing aboard the replica steamship complete with a slide and climbing netting. Make sure to also bring bathing suits on a hot day to take advantage of the free splash pad.
Explore Lake Muskoka on a Historic Steamship
You can't visit Muskoka Wharf without taking a cruise on the historic R.M.S. Segwun. The ship built in 1887 has a long history in the area and is a well known symbol of the Muskoka region. Kids and adults alike love boarding the ship and seeing how the steamship operates. Cruises take place daily and include options such as lunch, a 2 hour cruise and a shorter 1 hour cruise which younger passengers will prefer. Aboard the cruise you will see the beauty of Lake Muskoka while also checking out some historic properties, celebrity owned cottages and an island bird sanctuary. If visiting this summer with kids, make sure to check out the Frozen, Star Wars and Pirate Cruises on Saturday and Sunday mornings.
Where to Dine
What I love most about staying at the Residence Inn in Muskoka Wharf is that it is surrounded by great restaurants. A quick walk down the boardwalk offers a variety of options for families. Canadian chain restaurant Boston Pizza is easy with kids and has an incredible patio overlooking Lake Muskoka. Next door, the Dock Of the Bay offers a more upscale menu paired with great wines and live music. There are also various cafés and restaurants welcoming families for breakfast and lunch.
After dinner, there are a variety of choices for fresh Ontario ice cream. Grab a cone and watch what may be one of the most incredible sunsets I've seen.
Muskoka Wharf, Gravenhurst
Muskoka Wharf is a wonderful place for families looking to explore Muskoka. I love that you can park your car and have a great weekend playing in the lake, eating good food and even teaching your kids about the history of the area and steamships. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled as we were lucky enough to spot a few beavers as well as a family of otters who agree that Muskoka Wharf is the place to be this summer.