Rent a cottage
Spending a weekend at the cottage is a coast-to-coast Canadian tradition, especially for those “trapped” in big cities, and especially during bank holidays (i.e., a long weekend).
The perfect Canadian cottage is in the middle of nowhere, ideally lakeside. If you’re lucky, you may get invited to a family cottage by Canadian friends or coworkers. Otherwise, just rent one—it’s not that big of a splurge if the cost is split between friends. This is a great way to enjoy wide open space, forests, lakes and plenty of outdoor activities to make memories of a lifetime.
Cottages vary greatly. You can have the barebones version (no hot water, no heating, dry toilets outside) or a fancier place with a private pool, a hot tub, a BBQ and sporting equipment included. As you can probably guess, it depends on your budget and the location—the further you are from big cities and major attractions, the less you’ll pay.
Around Toronto: You’ll find plenty of cottages to rent around Lake Simcoe (90 minutes from Toronto), Muskoka Lakes (a 2.5-hour drive from Toronto) and Kawartha Lakes (90 minutes from Toronto).
Around Montreal: Aim for the Mont-Tremblant region (1.75 hours from Montreal), St-Sauveur (an hour’s drive from Montreal), and the Lanaudière and Laurentians regions. You could even consider a place in Estrie.
Around Quebec City: Check out Mont Saint-Anne (1.5 hours from Quebec City), Lac-St-Charles (a short 30-minute drive away) and Lac St-Jean (plan a three-hour drive).
Around Vancouver: You can find your dream cottage around places like Vancouver Island, Harrison Lake (a three-hour drive from Vancouver), and Okanagan Lake (a four-hour drive away).
You’ll find plenty of cottages for rent on specialized websites like Cottages in Canada, ChaletsAuQuébec, and WeChalet. Classic classified websites like Kijiji and Craigslist are also pretty helpful—take your time to compare prices and avoid potential scams.
Otherwise, just leverage your network! Ask coworkers, your landlord and even small-business owners if you’re a regular customer, they may know someone who knows someone with a cottage for rent (or recommendations of places to rent!).
Read more about what the cottage experience looks like: Indian Summer and the Perfect Canadian Cottage Weekend.