Now that the warm weather is here, perhaps you’ve found yourself daydreaming about an escape to Ontario cottage country for a much-needed summer break.
Whether that means heading up north to places like Haliburton and Muskoka, east to Frontenac, or south to the stunning Bruce Peninsula, it’s a good idea to do your research before booking your next cottage vacation.
To help navigate your online search, try using these five tips the next time you look to book:
- Select listings that have been validated or have positive reviews from past guests — and always use reputable booking sites. A few popular ones are VRBO, Airbnb and Cottages in Canada.
- To narrow your search, determine your budget and how far you’re willing to drive. That way, you can focus on listings only within your desired radius and price range. Try to stay flexible since popular locations tend to be pricier than others and may be harder to book at the last minute.
- Consider how long you want to stay. Often property owners rent by the week during high season, but sometimes you can find places that offer two or three-night packages. If you see a cottage with booking parameters that don’t quite work for you, try connecting with the owner to see if there’s any wiggle room.
- Think about your vacation needs and expectations. Do you want a rustic getaway or something more upscale? Do you need to be directly on the water? Does privacy matter? How about amenities and activities?
- Lastly, be sure to read the fine print before making a transaction. Check the cancellation policies, additional fees and house rules. Although many places welcome additional people, children and pets, others don’t.
While it’s true that many places are already booked to the brink, it’s not too late (yet) to snag a few days lakeside. To help inspire your search, here are five cottages throughout some of Ontario’s most popular destinations that are still available to rent for the summer, including a few that are still available for the May long weekend.
West-coast chic on the Bruce Peninsula
Enjoy a week on the Bruce Peninsula at this west-coast-inspired cottage that sleeps six. Swim in crisp turquoise waters, relax in the hot tub, admire breathtaking sunsets and cozy up at night to the gentle sound of waves. Offering plenty of peace and privacy on the shores of Lake Huron, this cottage is also a short drive to Tobermory and Fathom Five National Marine Park. It’s currently booked up for all of May but there’s plenty of availability from July to August.
A cute-as-a-button lake house in Frontenac
Head east to Frontenac County for a nostalgic week on Howes Lake. Built in the 1940s but stylishly updated, this cozy cottage sleeps six and includes a bunkie. Use the patio kitchen for an epic cookout while the kids enjoy the woodland playscape, dip in the lake and sunbathe on the big dock. This property is available for most of May (excluding the long weekend) and there are a few weeks left from June to August to book.
A family cottage on a spring-fed lake in Haliburton
Spend time in Haliburton and relish the inspiring scenery. Situated on 200 feet of shoreline surrounded by old-growth pines and cedars, this spacious family cottage sleeps eight and offers waterfront views from every room. Splash away the afternoon in the spring-fed waters of Stormy Lake, play rainy-day games in the newly constructed boathouse and trade stories around the campfire come nightfall. The cottage is available the entire month of August and most weeks in June and July.
Relax in style in Muskoka
The world-class lakes and landscapes of Muskoka make it famous for good reason. Escape the daily grind for a few days and experience life on Kahshe Lake in this luxe cottage that sleeps ten. Unwind in the Scandinavian-style wood-burning sauna and hot tub, followed by drinks in the gazebo amid postcard-like settings. Enjoy dining with serene sunset views and nights filled with dockside stargazing. This property is still available to rent for the May long weekend, and has weeks-long availabilities for most of the summer.
Connect with nature in the Kawarthas
Less than two hours from the GTA, discover the charming lakelands of the Kawarthas. Enjoy a rejuvenating week at this beautifully maintained Ontario cottage that sleeps six. Situated on Head Lake, which connects to a pristine provincial park, spend an afternoon canoeing on quiet waters, opt for a swim, or perhaps catch a fish. Savour meals surrounded by birdsong on the raised patio or head to the firepit to roast marshmallows by moonlight. You can still book this one for the May long weekend, and for most of the summer!