Northern Lakes Marine floats aquaphiles atop welcoming waters with adventure-inducing rentals and the convenient inclusion of all necessary safety equipment. The Sea-Doo smoothly launches one to three passengers on a 155-horsepower cruise that is swift enough to tow an upright water skier ($110/hr.). While quietly sailing along the lake's surface, riders may take turns wakeboarding, tubing, or piloting the watercraft. Intrepid wave runners receive a temporary license before their leisurely journey, as well as all required equipment, such as life jackets, a jerry can of gas, a fuel gauge, and a large jar of honey to deflect roving water bears.
Chirping birds and the wind in the trees are the only sounds that break the silence in Muskoka Forest. Until a human flies screaming through the canopy, that is. Treetop Trekking by Arbraska's seven aerial-rope courses wind through the forest canopies, challenging visitors with levels of difficulty increasing from beginner to advanced. Guides begin each adventure with a brief equipment-and-technique orientation, and gradually clear visitors for more difficult runs based on their performance.
Once they're cleared for climbing, participants scramble across bridges made of swinging, suspended logs. They crawl across webs of cargo netting, and swing through monkey cables. A series of ziplines completes each course. Guides help adventure-seekers navigate these treetop courses during regular day tours, or during more challenging night climbs, during which participants have only a headlamp and a guide to asking owls for directions.
Nature enthusiast Jeff Hathaway shares a passion for his country's indigenous animals—specifically amphibians and reptiles. At Scales Nature Park, staff and volunteers introduce visitors of all ages to more than 300 cold-blooded specimens from more than 60 species, most of which are native to Canada. The wildlife-conservation facility also houses exotic reptiles and amphibians donated by their owners or seized from private homes by protective agencies. All of these creatures coexist in a 21-hectare park, which represents natural habitats ranging from ponds and wetlands to hardwood forests and hemlock groves. An indoor nature centre showcases some animals in custom-built enclosures and serves as the venue for a range of programs, including hands-on animal demonstrations, guided walks, and guest lectures.
Without the benefit of planes or cars, 19th-century pioneers trekked to the County of Peterborough, where they built a new life for themselves. Here, they established a number of operations including farms, a cider mill, and a print shop, and today, it’s as if the village never changed. The Lang Pioneer Village Museum re-created the 19th-century town in 1967 to give visitors a glimpse into pioneer life, and more than 25 restored and furnished original structures have been moved as far as 90 miles to lend the outdoor museum authenticity. Among these buildings is the three-story Lang Grist Mill, an 1846-built facility where wheat is still ground into flour every summer.
Costumed villagers populate the town, roving past the museum's vegetable gardens, hitching posts, and watering troughs on their way to work. In the various shops, blacksmiths shape metals, carpenters assemble furniture, and printers generate handbills on a 1927 Washington Flatbed Press. Villagers perform crafts such as open-hearth cooking and weaving; in fact, the museum's weaver shop showcases one of the few Jacquard looms on display in North America.
Visitors to the museum can interrupt any of the townspeople to find out more about their trade or to lend a hand with chores, or participate in events, which range from corn roasts to traditional pioneer Christmas celebrations. The museum even rents out its 1886 schoolhouse to students for a day, replacing their usual teacher with a costumed interpreter who conducts lessons similar to those of a 19th-century classroom.
Kawartha Lakes Trout Farm is a 90-minute drive northeast of Toronto—just close enough to be convenient and just far enough way to feel like a true escape from city life. The tranquil lake is surrounded by verdant trees, making it a lush backdrop for fly fishing, swimming, paddleboating, or ceremoniously summoning the ghost of Bob Ross. Visitors can picnic at tables on the shore, rounding out their meals with items from the snack bar or the smoked trout sold onsite. After a long day of fishing, carousing on the playground, and tossing horseshoes, anglers can retire to their cozy campsite tent.
Kawartha Lakes also offers wintertime ice-fishing adventures, during which guests can keep warm inside a heated hut. The farm additionally hosts ice-skating outings.