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How to Have the Most Cottage Fun This Summer in Muskoka

These family-friendly activities will keep you occupied all summer long, rain or shine

A woman taking a photo by the water in Muskoka, Ontario

The cottage is open and the car is packed. Now all you need are a few fun ideas for the long weekend—and the summer beyond. Here are six activities that will keep your crew entertained no matter what the forecast.

Rainy Day Cottage Fun

1. Try a New Board Game

Me Want Cookies! board game is displayed with cards and game pieces

There’s a reason that nearly every cottage has tattered copies of classics like Monopoly, CandyLand and Sorry. But there are plenty of just-launched games that might become new favourites. This summer, settle in with the fast-paced, playfully named Me Want Cookies!, in which players pretend to be monsters racing for dessert. Or heat up the competition with Ice Cool, which involves flicking penguin game pieces around the board to collect fish. It’s easy enough for older kids to set up by themselves, and figuring out how to get their penguins around corners will keep them occupied until the storm passes.

2. Indulge Your Sweet Tooth

Closeup shot of butter tart with a single bite out of it

You could get the kids to help with a batch of homemade cookies. Then again, you could also treat yourselves to the Butter Tart Festival at the Muskoka Lakes Museum in Port Carling. On July 15, sample butter tarts from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. While you’re there, take a self-guided tour around the museum and learn about the history of the region.

3. Wait Out the Rain with a Movie

A dimly lit movie theatre is shown full of people sitting in their seats

Drive into town and catch a summer blockbuster as a family. The Capitol Theatre in downtown Huntsville is a family-owned cinema that first opened in 1926 and still has plenty of vintage charm (though today it also has digital projection and surround sound). Bring cash for tickets to a first-run flick and enjoy freshly popped popcorn from the cute concession stand.

Summer Activities for Sunny Days

1. Ride the World’s Smallest Commercial Railroad

The green steam engine at the Muskoka Heritage Place trudges along with full cars of tourists enjoying the ride

Visit Muskoka Heritage Place for a 30-minute round trip on the Portage Flyer Steam Train. Originally built in the early 1900s to transport cargo, mail and passengers between Fairy Lake and Lake of Bays, the line was relocated to this museum and historic village in the 1990s. Today, visitors can take a short, scenic trip along the banks of the Muskoka River. Train enthusiasts will want to see the steam engine in action during July and August, and true aficionados can even sign up in advance to be an engineer for a day.

2. Hike Muskoka’s Only National Park

A man stands on a large rock, arms outstretched as he gazes out at Lake Muskoka

Though Muskoka has lots of incredible scenery, its only national park is Georgian Bay Islands—and it’s only accessible by water. If you’re not boating over in your own vessel, book a spot on the DayTripper ferry, which runs 15-minute trips from Honey Harbour. Kids will love clambering over the granite bedrock of the Canadian Shield; adults will appreciate a backdrop of lake and pine trees that inspired the Group of Seven. Plus, if you have a Parks Canada Discovery Pass, park entry is free in 2017.

3. Try Out S’more Ideas for Campfire Desserts

A smore is seen with a toasted graham cracker, oozing marshmallows and milk chocolate piece

If you’ve been eating those classic treats since childhood, maybe it’s time to switch it up. Swap the traditional milk chocolate for filled bars (think ones with caramel centres or peanut butter cups) or replace the chocolate entirely with a dollop of a sweet spread like dulce de leche, cookie butter or fruit curd. Alternatively, wrap bananas, apples, pears or peaches in foil with cinnamon sugar and roast over the campfire.

Need ideas for water activities? Check out 7 Water Toys That Will Make You a Hero This Summer.