Gravenhurst Ontario

Gravenhurst is a charming lakeside town in Ontario that's full to the brim with history

Gravenhurst, Ontario is often referred to as "The Gateway to Muskoka," a small but charming town surrounded by beautiful lakes, dense forests, and the instantly recognizable exposed rock of the Canadian Shield.

Located two hours north of Toronto (pending cottage country traffic, of course), Gravenhurst is the closest of Muskoka's three major towns to the city and can make a wonderful day trip or overnight getaway.

Here are some of the best things to do and see in Gravenhurst.

Wander through downtown

Gravenhurst's historic downtown boasts an assortment of welcoming shops, restaurants, bakeries, art galleries, and more to peruse or grab a coffee and bite to eat.

Walk down to the long wooden boardwalk to Muskoka Wharf, where you'll find occasional events by the water. While you're down there, grab an afternoon tea at the Blue Willow Tea Shop overlooking the water, or a more substantial meal at The Oar Restaurant serving up refined tavern fare.

Go on a historic cruise

One of the biggest attractions in Gravenhurst is embarking on a historic cruise of the lakes aboard a Muskoka Steamship, with heritage older than the country of Canada itself.

Board the RMS Segwun, North America's oldest operating steamship, and sightsee some of the lavish waterfront cottages and mansions of Lake Rosseau and Joseph.

Check out the Muskoka Discovery Centre

Before or after your steamship cruise, make a point of stopping in the Muskoka Discovery Centre, which recently opened a newly-renovated gallery space after 5 years of planning and fundraising.

Marvel at The Muskoka Story: A Microcosm of Canada, a 12,000-square-foot gallery featuring three unique exhibits, including Misko-Aki which tells of the Indigenous presence in Muskoka for over 10,000 years and was fully curated by a circle of Indigenous elders, scholars, and linguists.

Visit some iconic landmarks

History buffs should check out a live music, theatre, or comedy show at the Gravenhurst Opera House, which has been welcoming theatre-goers since 1901.

Another town landmark is the Bethune Memorial House, the Victorian-era home of famous medical pioneer Dr. Norman Bethune. Designated a national historic site, you can learn about the world-famous humanitarian, his achievements, and his fight for Canada's universal healthcare.

Take a hike

With over 35 km of trails, getting out into nature is an amazing year-round activity in Gravenhurst. The Peninsula Trail is an easy 2-km trail with a mix of boardwalks, and paved and gravel paths that lead you to two gazebos by Gravenhurst Bay where you can take in the views.

For something a bit longer, follow the Devil's Gap Trail, a 4.3-km trek that follows an old colonization road leading west from Gravenhurst, which, according to local folklore, has also been said to be haunted.

Pick up local produce at the farmers' market

If you're in town during a weekday in the summer months, head to the Gravenhurst Farmers’ Market located right across from the Muskoka Wharf. The market runs every Wednesday from late May to late October and can host up to 100 vendors selling everything from fresh produce and baked goods to artisan gifts and crafts.

Go stargazing

Just 30 minutes west of downtown Gravenhurst is one of the best places in Ontario to go for stargazing. The Torrance Barrens Dark-Sky Preserve has low trees and flat wetlands and is one of the few designated dark sky areas in the province, meaning it's free of light pollution.

Grab a blanket and enjoy a sky full of stars, or you might even get lucky enough to spot the Northern Lights on a cold, clear night.

From historical sights to incredible hikes, cruises, and activities, Gravenhurst has something for everyone to enjoy all year round. 

Lead photo by

Lisa Liidemann

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