If you are planning a summer cottage vacation or camping at Ontario provincial parks, you might want to steer away from the wildly popular and often over-priced Muskoka area and consider Haliburton instead. The area is less congested and the drive up Hwy 35 is one of the prettiest, weaving through tiny hamlets and long, winding stretches of forest and Muskoka rock. The Village of Minden has a good selection of restaurants, shops, grocery and liquor stores while the smaller Carnarvon is a good stop for essentials, as well as home to Carnarvon Family Golf.
Sandy Lane Resort, Halls Lake
This 19-cottage resort features deluxe cottages with a maximum 4, 6, 8 and 10 occupants. Cottages are well decorated and include four-piece bathroom, Satellite TV, DVD player, bedding, towels, dishes, cooking utensils, cutlery, picnic table, and campfire pit, and have electric heat and air conditioning. Some of the cottages are lakeside. This family resort offers beach volleyball, basketball, waterskiing, and tubing, as well as complimentary kayaks, canoes, paddle boats, and mountain bikes. Summer weekly rental fees range from $1,395 to $1,780 plus tax. No pets allowed.
The Pines on Boshkung Lakefront Cottages are seven housekeeping cottages that sleep from 2 to 6 people and range from $950 to $1,050 per week plus tax. There is a sandy beach with free use of canoes and kayaks, and boat rentals for fishing or touring. Several cottages have their own hot tubs in addition to a common area hot tub for all. Cottages each have three-piece bath, cutlery, cooking utensils, blankets, pillows, TV/DVD (for movies only), wireless Internet, propane BBQ and picnic table. Bed linen costs extra so you may want to bring your own.
With eight luxury housekeeping cottages, many of which have Jacuzzi baths, Ogopogo Resort is geared to both families and couples. There are complimentary canoes, kayaks, and paddle boats, as well as a heated pool and children’s play area. Gourmet dinners will be delivered to your door for $60/couple. Power boats may be rented for $50-$90 per day and bicycles for $10 per day. Cottages are equipped with colour TVs/VCRs or DVDs, gas fireplaces, electric heat and covered porches and range from $1,025 to $1,540 plus tax, sleeping 3 to 7 people. No pets allowed.
Willow Beach Cottages are 13 privately-owned cottages that are well decorated for this price range and include woodburning fireplaces and colour TVs with cable. Cottages sleep 6 to 9 people and range from $1,430 to $1,840 per week plus tax. Wireless Internet is available in the Rec Hall as well as in some cottages. Bring your own sheets, pillow cases, and towels. Pets are allowed in August for pet-designated cottages only. The Ski-Mazing Watersports School is located right next door and provides private or group lessons in ski, wakeboard, barefoot and watersports as well as parasailing and Banana Boat rides.
Matabanick Cottages, Boshkung Lake
Matabanick Cottages include six nicely-decorated housekeeping cottages, two of which are beachfront. Cottages include pots, pans, cutlery, BBQ and propane, and Satellite TV. Some cottages have screened-in porches with a magnificent view of Boshkung Lake. The resort has a sandy beach, a sauna, and complimentary canoes. You’ll have to bring your own life jackets, beach towels, bed sheets, pillow cases, dish cloths, dish soap, toilet paper, paper towels and tea towels, but despite this, Matabanick Cottages offer great value with 2-4 bedroom cottages ranging from $895 to $1,465 plus tax per week. Pets are welcome, but dogs must be kept on leashes.