To find the most serene escapes, we went way off the beaten path to find five cottage areas you can explore this summer that won’t be overcrowded and swarming with tourists but are bursting with small-town charm.
Tucked away amidst the Great Lakes is Manitoulin Island, which also happens to be the biggest freshwater island on the planet. Because of its isolated location, the Northern Lights are visible from Manitoulin from August to October, making mid to late August a prime time to visit the island. Plenty of trails, rivers, and off-path escapes throughout the island, along with several shops and restaurants within the Gore Bay area. You can easily find a home to rent on the island, such as this one, and if you fall in love with the area, you can purchase a waterside plot of land like this one for a mere five million.
French for ‘Seven Islands,’ Sept-Iles is one of the northernmost points in Quebec. If you’re seeking peace, this remote spot is worth the trek (you can travel by plane, train, bus, or car to this magnificent area). The most popular thing to do in the area is whale watching, aside from kicking back on a deck and absorbing the nature surrounding the seven islands. Find a cozy cottage to rent, and don’t forget to bring lots of books – the Internet in the north can be spotty, and we think that’s a good thing!
Large open spaces, plenty of wildlife, parks galore, and a waterfront are what you’ll find in Temagami. This small municipality is part of northeastern Ontario and is approximately a five-hour drive from Toronto (you can also take a train or fly). This isn’t a spot you’ll want to visit if you prefer to shop and dine through a cottage break, but it’s an excellent way to stay off the grid for several days. The area also has some of the most expensive real estate, with homes starting around $800,000.
Bordering New Brunswick, Temiscouata is known for its cheese, maple syrup, and stunning views. Visiting this area is like stepping back to a simpler time when days are long and hours pass slowly – the type of cottage vacation that can soothe a city-dwellers soul. Staying in the area for a few days is simple, thanks to cottage rental options, quaint bed and breakfast selections, and quieter inns. Temiscouata is a long drive from the GTA (10 hours) but a quick (inexpensive) flight.
Canandaigua, New York
If you’re looking to cross the border, skip the popular towns upstate New York and seek out Canandaigua. This small picturesque town features homes built on the water, eclectic boutiques, museums, and historic homes. The city has a handful of cute bed and breakfast options and several cottage rentals. Canandaigua is a three-hour drive from Toronto, but it feels like an entirely different world.