Enjoy cottage country with the best lakes in Ontario

Home to numerous lakes with cool, blue waters, lakefront cottages, and dense wilderness to explore, Ontario is an excellent destination for a cottage retreat. You can have just about any experience at Ontario lakes, ranging from memorable family trips with relaxing beach days and sightseeing to romantic retreats with sunbathing by day and sunset viewing by night. The lakes are also popular for all manner of water sports, including fishing, boating, canoeing, and waterskiing. However you want to spend your time, take a look at the best lakes in Ontario to plan a vacation in the picturesque cottage country.

Lake Ontario

Lake Ontario is a massive lake that shares its borders with both Canada and New York. The lake is surrounded by vibrant cities, scenic wilderness, sandy beaches, and dramatic cliffs to explore. You’ll find wildlife all around and in the lake that you can see with hiking, paddle boarding, canoeing, and fishing. Other water sports, such as windsurfing and waterskiing, are popular at the lake.

Lake Simcoe for all-season fun

Lake Simcoe is one of the largest lakes in the province and boasts many charming towns and cottage communities near the shoreline. The lake is popular for recreation in all seasons, from ice fishing and skating in winter to kitesurfing, fishing, jet-skiing, and sailing in summer. Several events are hosted at Lake Simcoe throughout the year, including regattas. One of the best activities at Lake Simcoe is scuba diving to see shipwrecks like the J.C. Morrison.

Lake of the Woods for scenic beaches

The Lake of the Woods is located in western Ontario and borders the United States. Nestled in the wilderness, the Lake of the Woods can be reached by a scenic drive to the remote shores. All around the lake, you’ll find dense forests with wildlife, streams, waterfalls, and more. The lake itself has thousands of islands as well.

Lake Huron for unique dives

One of the Great Lakes, Lake Huron is a spectacular lake that connects Ontario and Michigan in the United States. The beach has many quaint lakefront communities and resort areas for outdoor recreation. One of the most popular things to do is scuba diving, thanks to the thousands of shipwrecks in the lake’s waters. The lake's Georgian Bay has hundreds of shipwrecks on its own and boasts the incredible Fathom Five Marine National Park. When you visit, you can see the wrecks with diving excursions or take a glass-bottomed-boat tour to see it all from the surface.

Lake Superior for camping and hiking

The largest of the Great Lakes, Lake Superior is an expansive freshwater lake that shares its shoreline with both Canada and the United States. On the Canadian side, you’ll find the Lake Superior Provincial Park and its numerous campgrounds, hiking trails, and cultural sites. The park is known for its hiking trails that travel along canyons, cliffs, and forests to see hidden waterfalls and wildlife.

Big Rideau Lake for family fun

Big Rideau Lake in the Tay Valley is a quiet lake that offers peace and quiet far from the activity of cottage country. The lake has numerous waterfront cottages and scenic wetlands to explore, as well as a variety of sandy beaches with gentle waters. Swimming and sunbathing are popular at Big Rideau Lake, but you can also fish and boat.

Lake Couchiching for family beaches

If you’re looking for a traditional Ontario cottage experience, there’s no better place than Lake Couchiching. As part of the famed Trent-Severn Waterway, Lake Couchiching is an ideal lake for boating and fishing. Families also flock to the lake for its peaceful beaches with quiet waters for little ones to swim. Many activities are popular, including boating, waterskiing, tubing, canoeing, and kayaking.

Lake Rosseau for cottage stays

Located north of Toronto, Lake Rosseau is a stunning lake in cottage country. The lake is surrounded by dense wilderness with wildlife and offers serene blue waters. You could choose between staying in Muskoka or Seguin for your trip, both of which offer historical attractions, excellent lakefront dining, and eclectic shopping for the whole family.