Vacation rentals in Lake Simcoe
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Your guide to Lake Simcoe
Welcome to Lake Simcoe
Centered on southern Ontario’s largest inland lake (other than the Great Lakes, that is), the Lake Simcoe region is part suburb and part outdoor getaway. Starting just an hour north of Toronto, it’s close enough to the city to seem like part of the metropolitan area, but the lakeside setting offers more of a holiday feel. You can swim, kayak, or go boating on the lake; hike or ski in the nearby hills; and cycle along the lakeshore or through adjacent wetlands on gentle rail trails. Lake Simcoe is part of the historic Trent-Severn Waterway, originally constructed in the mid-19th century and now a popular route for recreational boaters travelling between Lake Ontario and Georgian Bay.
The Lake Simcoe region’s largest city is Barrie, which is the transit hub and the best place to stock up on supplies. If you’re interested in local history, visit the Simcoe County Museum in Minesing, 15 minutes northwest of Barrie. Another scenic community is Orillia, on Lake Couchiching at the north end of Lake Simcoe. Noted Canadian humorist Stephen Leacock summered in Orillia, and his former home is now a museum about his life. Several smaller towns surround the lake, so there’s plenty to explore.
When is the best time to stay in a vacation rental in Lake Simcoe?
Summer and fall are peak seasons to stay in one of Lake Simcoe’s cottage rentals, when you can enjoy swimming, boating, and fishing on the lake, or hiking, cycling, and other activities outdoors, as well as the region’s music and art festivals. The autumn colours are usually most vivid in October — a great time for bike touring or road tripping. The Lake Simcoe region has several family-friendly ski hills for alpine skiing and snowboarding and gets plenty of snow for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing between December and March. Spring weather can be variable, as it is throughout Ontario, with days changing quickly between warm temperatures, cold, and rain.
What are the top things to do in Lake Simcoe?
MacLaren Art Centre
Barrie’s art museum, the MacLaren Art Centre, is worth a stop for its collection of contemporary Canadian artwork and for the special exhibitions on view. The museum encompasses the city’s former library, constructed in 1917, and a modern addition, making the building almost as intriguing as the art. If you’d rather stay outdoors, Barrie also has a collection of public art that you can check out as you walk around the city.
Barrie Farmers’ Market
Need snacks for the road or food for the house? The year-round Barrie Farmers’ Market, one of the longest-running farmers’ markets in Ontario, sells local vegetables and fruits, cheeses, prepared foods, sweet treats, and more. The market is located outside City Hall from May through October and inside the building the rest of the year.
Sibbald Point Provincial Park
On the eastern side of Lake Simcoe, Sibbald Point Provincial Park is a popular camping spot, but even if you’re just day-tripping, you can enjoy the lake beaches, go canoeing, or take a hike.