Huntsville is the largest city in Canada’s District of Muskoka. The region’s impressive forests, hills and lakes have drawn travellers from all over the world and earned praise from National Geographic and Toronto Star.
The city is 22 kilometres north of Toronto and bears a history marked by lumber, trains and pioneering. You can investigate these roots at Muskoka Heritage Place, where Portage Flyer Steam Train makes its rounds as a revival of the world’s smallest railway line, circa 1904. In the summer months, visitors can ride the train to Fairy Lake Station and even send a telegraph from the Huntsville telegraph office.
On-site Pioneer Village is a top attraction in Huntsville. This preserve of 20 buildings and furnishings depict life from the town’s early days. Costumed narrators card wool, dip candles and forge tools over a blacksmith’s fire.
Once you have soaked up living history, more things to do in Huntsville include experiencing art Canada style, in the great outdoors. Group of Seven Gallery is an outdoor celebration of art, with 90 murals installed throughout the city. The free self-guided tour begins on Main Street, unveiling murals on storefronts, brick walls and in unexpected places.
Broaden your outdoor experience with a ski trip, kayak outing, swim or hike. There is no better place for these adventures than Arrowhead Provincial Park, a 15-minute drive from the centre of town. The popular park is open all year, with inviting trails to beaches and waterfalls. You can enjoy the trails by foot or bicycle, and in the winter you can ice skate along a 1.5-kilometre torch-lit trail through the woods.
A 43-kilometre drive brings you to the west gate of Algonquin Provincial Park, a mecca for wilderness lovers with biking, boating, fishing and canoeing opportunities. The park’s Art Centre features an indoor and outdoor gallery and scheduled activities for all ages, while the Logging Museum preserves a steam-powered tugboat and logging camp. You can whale watch or dog sled as well, depending on the season.
Dog sledding is, in fact, one of the favourite things to do in Huntsville during winter. North Ridge Ranch on Williamsport Road can outfit you for a half- or full-day trip on the bush trails, led by an exuberant four-footed team.
To the north on Deerhurst Drive, Treetop Trekking caters to adventurers. The park offers a three-hour aerial tour of the forest canopy as participants travel over, under and along monkey wires, nets, bridges, swings and zip lines. Visitors can match their skills to various levels of the obstacle course, and there are night tours, tree climbs, team-building exercises and trails for old-fashioned feet on the ground.
When you are ready to catch your breath, entertainment is around the corner at Deerhurst Resort, another top attraction in Huntsville. For 25 years, guests have been enjoying dazzling productions of music, dance and theatre here. A new show is presented every year, and the word is that Shania Twain’s career was launched on this stage.