Photo courtesy Huntsville Festival of the Arts

City - 15575490.json

Commissions may be earned from LuxuryOntario‘s affiliate partner links.


Muskoka’s stunning scenery is as much an inspiration to its visitors as it is to those of us who live and work there. In fact, the region’s abundant natural beauty has drawn creative types for decades, whether as day trippers, cottagers, or like me, those who have settled down here and now call Cottage Country “home.”

And I’m in good company. You don’t have to look too hard to find artists and artisans, writers and filmmakers, actors and musicians, all part of Muskoka’s rich and vibrant arts community. Some of them even got famous, such as Shania Twain, Hawksley Workman, and a number of Canada’s famed Group of Seven.

The list of top cultural attractions in Muskoka is equally diverse. It’s home to one of Ontario’s oldest annual outdoor art shows, the Muskoka Arts and Crafts Show in Bracebridge; Canada’s first fall colour art tour, the Muskoka Autumn Studio Tour; and the Gravenhurst Opera House, a century-old heritage theatre that continues to offer a superb program of professional summer theatre.


Muskoka’s Creative Side on Display


Muskoka’s creative side is also reflected in its numerous art galleries, such as the excellent Artists of the Limberlost in Huntsville; and the region’s many world-class music events, such as the Muskoka Music Festival (also in Gravenhurst), which has in the past attracted such Canadian legends as Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo fame.

In addition, numerous antique and craft shows offer unique shopping opportunities, including jewelry, pottery and souvenirs, such as the Antique and Vintage Show in Port Carling, and the always-popular Dockside Festival of the Arts.

Another great place to experience the area’s rich culture and artistic talent is at the almost daily farmer’s markets across the region, which also provide locally grown food items and produce not found elsewhere.


Muskoka’s Museums and Educational Adventures


Muskoka is as rich in culture and heritage today as it has ever been, with numerous attractions showcasing its vibrant history. Many museums have also popped up in celebration of Cottage Country’s cultural and social heritage. In fact, the region’s history encompasses people from around the globe, from the early British settlers responsible for starting the Muskoka resort industry in the 19th century to their American guests, to the Norwegians who used Muskoka Airport as a training base in World War 2.

Muskoka’s many museums and historic sites offer exciting educational family adventures dedicated to everything from transportation (trains, planes, antique boats and steamships) to famous people, real and imagined, with famed Canadian doctor Norman Bethune born in Gravenhurst, and Anne of Green Gables creator, Lucy Maud Montgomery, once a cottager in Bala.

To help you in your travel planning, here are a few must-see top cultural attractions in Muskoka and fun things to do that offer superb educational opportunities… and plenty of fun.


The Best Cultural Attractions in Muskoka


Huntsville Festival of the Arts, Huntsville

Along with its bustling main street and its many entertainment opportunities, Huntsville is home to the superb annual Huntsville Festival of the Arts. Established in 1992, the HFA is one of Muskoka’s top cultural events, and from its early beginnings has grown into a year-round celebration of the arts, dipping its toes in jazz, pop, choral, Celtic, country, orchestral, and classical music… not to mention a healthy smattering of theatre, prose, poetry, and the visual arts.

Past artists who have performed here are like a “who’s who” of Canadian talent, including the likes of John McDermott, Bruce Cockburn, Alex Cuba, and local superstar Hawksley Workman. The Festival not only features big-name artists, it also acts as a launch pad for up-and-coming local artists, too. Most evening performances take place in Huntsville’s 400-seat (yet intimate) Algonquin Theatre.

The Festival’s fringe program has encouraged a writers’ series, an outdoor theatre festival, and visual art installations throughout the community. It also celebrates local artists through its free Music at Noon concert series, once again running weekdays for three weeks in the middle of July.

For tickets and information, contact the box office at 705-789-4975 or visit the Festival’s website at


Muskoka Discovery Centre, Gravenhurst

Located in the sprawling Muskoka Wharf project overlooking Muskoka Bay, this recently refurbished Gravenhurst attraction offers an up-close look at the classic

vintage wooden boats that were once built here. It also provides a look at the fascinating history of Muskoka’s famous resorts and serves as a backdrop for the always thrilling Antique and Classic Boat Show.

Admission is included with the purchase of a ticket aboard RMS Segwun, North America’s oldest still operating steamship, or its sister ship, Wenonah II.

Address:  275 Steamship Bay Rd, Gravenhurst, ON



Bethune Memorial House National Historic Site, Gravenhurst
Bethune House one of the best cultural attractions in Muskoka photo by Kim Kerr
Bethune House, the birthplace of Norman Bethune,  is one of the best cultural attractions in Muskoka (Photo: Kim Kerr / LuxuryOntario


While in Gravenhurst, check out Bethune House. An easy five-minute walk from Muskoka Wharf, this first-rate museum and national historic site was where internationally acclaimed humanitarian Dr Norman Bethune was born in 1890 and lived until age three. Formerly Gravenhurst’s Knox Presbyterian Church’s manse, this well-preserved Victorian home has become one of the most visited cultural attractions in Muskoka and is especially popular with visitors from China.

Highlights include the state-of-the-art Visitor’s Centre with its exhibits and artifacts detailing the good doctor’s achievements. Of particular interest are displays dealing with his time spent on the frontlines in China, where he was at the forefront of military medicine in the 1930s before his death in 1939.

Address: 297 John St N, Gravenhurst, ON



Muskoka Lakes Museum, Port Carling

An attraction dedicated to the early settlers and native peoples around the region, the Muskoka Lakes Museum is just one of a number of great reasons to want to visit pretty Port Carling. Situated by the locks that join Lake Muskoka with Lake Rosseau, the museum is a treasure trove of local history and brings to life the story of the original Indigenous inhabitants of the region to the European settlers who forged new lives in the Canadian wilderness.

A highlight is the recreation of a turn-of-the-century log cabin, offering an authentic glimpse into the lives of the settlers. The museum also pays homage to the area’s natural history, showcasing the flora and fauna that make Muskoka unique, and the ecological narratives that have shaped the land.

When you’re done, step across the road for a look (and a selfie) of the famous Port Carling Wall, a fascinating mural depicting a steamship that’s made up of hundreds of photographs of Muskoka places and people.

Address: 100 Joseph St, Port Carling, ON



Bala’s Museum with Memories of Lucy Maud Montgomery, Bala

The family-run, family-friendly Bala Museum focuses on the life of Canadian author Lucy Maud Montgomery, creator of the famous Anne of Green Gables books. Located in the pretty village of Bala, highlights include first editions of Montgomery’s books, as well as foreign language editions, as well as interesting artifacts.

Address: 1024 Maple Ave, Bala, ON



Muskoka Heritage Place, Huntsville

Located on the edge of the Town of Huntsville, Muskoka Heritage Place consists of a fabulous collection of preserved buildings that showcase Muskoka’s rich pioneer past. There’s also a vintage steam train that’s especially fun to ride in winter when it’s lit up with festive lights and even takes Santa for a ride.




kim Kerr is a luxury lifestyles writer  and Co-Founder of Riley and LuxuryOntario and is proud to call Muskoka “home.”

Beaches Negril 15424228.json