With the unofficial start of summer finally here, residents of Ontario and beyond begin to think about “cottaging season,” a term for the annual migration to summer cottages. There are many great locations in Ontario to consider purchasing a summer cottage, many of which are located along the shores of the Great Lakes. Each region in Cottage Country has its own unique flair that makes it preferable to some cottagers and not to others. It simply depends on what you want out of your cottaging season. Here are some of the top cottage destinations in Ontario to consider.

8 Top Cottage Destinations in Ontario:

MuskokaMuskoka is one of Ontario’s most popular cottage spots, and with good reason! It is easily accessible from Toronto or Ottawa, and cozily situated on the shores of the Georgian Bay area. The towns and villages here are chock-full of restaurants, shopping and other tourist attractions, always with a sparkling lake just around the corner. If you’re looking to get away from it all, Muskoka’s charming cottages and iconic Muskoka chairs will have you relaxing in no time.

HaliburtonHaliburton offers a getaway that caters to the active cottage-goer. The area is known for its rugged forests and numerous hiking and biking trails, and boasts the best geocaching in Ontario. Summertime visitors can enjoy kayaking, swimming and fishing, but don’t miss out on cross-country skiing in this winter wonderland.

Kawartha Lakes – Often referred to as “The Kawarthas,” this chain of lakes forms the upper part of the Trent River. Kawartha Lakes is known for its carp fishing, Carden Plain and other conservatories offer incredible birdwatching for nature lovers. Boats can be docked along the shores so that riders can enjoy shopping in any of the small towns that dot the river or go hiking or cycling.

Rideau Lakes – The Rideau Lakes region offers a variety of activities for cottagers of all ages, but it is best known as a popular fishing spot. The lake has largemouth bass, trout, perch, and musky for enjoyable fishing. The towns along the Rideau Canal, leading away from the lake, have plenty of attractions that are open year-round.

Thousand Islands – This popular area was once a retreat only the rich could afford, but now anyone can get away to Thousand Islands along the Canadian-US border. This stretch along the St. Lawrence River boasts more than 1,800 islands housing cottages and even mansions such as Boldt Castle on Heart Island. Take the 1000 Islands Helicopter Tour for breathtaking views of the region from above.

Parry Sound – Parry Sound is located close to Muskoka. Still, it is generally quieter than its neighbour, so it appeals to cottagers looking for a traditional cottage country that is quiet and peaceful. The gorgeous waterfronts are perfect for pulling up a chair and genuinely relaxing. But that doesn’t mean you have to – the town of Parry Sound is ripe with arts and culture. It’s also the hometown of hockey’s Bobby Orr.

Georgian Bay – In the northeastern arm of Lake Huron, Georgian Bay is known for its clear waters and sandy beaches, perfect for hot summer days. The lakeside towns of Tobermory and Orillia are home to many tourist attractions such as Flowerpot Island and the Chi-Cheemaun ferry that takes you to Manitoulin Island. For a more active afternoon, take a walk along the Bruce Peninsula with its 500 miles of shoreline and the infamous Bruce Trail.

Lake-of-the-Woods – While most of Ontario’s cottage destinations lie somewhere near the Great Lakes, Lake of the Woods in northwestern Ontario has its own lake system that reaches Manitoba and Minnesota, with more than 14,500 islands. Lake-of-the-Woods offers swimming and fishing in clear waters and plenty of hiking trails in the summer. Winter cottagers will enjoy ice fishing and hunting from their cottage home base.

Whether you’re looking to fill your days with enjoyable activities in town, lounge on the beach, or go hiking or fishing in nature, one of Ontario’s many cottage regions will be the perfect fit. This summer, try out one near your home region and consider purchasing a cottage to enjoy your future cottaging seasons in your favourite place on earth. Relax and refresh this summer in your Ontario cottage.