There’s no better way to beat the summer heat than with a weekend getaway to one of Ontario’s magnificent northern lakes. Whether your passion is fishing or wakeboarding, cruising or paddling, it’s tough to beat one of these amazing Northern Ontario boating destinations for a perfect weekend getaway.

Lake Nipissing
Water Sky Cloud Boat Water resources

Photo by Mercury Marine

The gateway to Northern Ontario, massive Lake Nipissing – just four hours from Toronto – offers a lifetime of boating opportunities ranging from the open of the lake’s eastern basin to the island-studded coves at its western end. Most boaters begin their Nipissing weekend adventures in North Bay, just a few hours north of Toronto on Highway 11, where you can find the excellent North Bay Waterfront Marina, fuel, restaurants galore and plenty of comfortable overnight accommodations.

Known as the home of the Dionne Quintuplets, North Bay is a vibrant community with a delightful waterfront that has been featured in Hollywood film productions. The city is home to a budding craft beer industry, with artisanal brewers like New Ontario Brewing and Gateway City Brewers offering tastings and tours throughout the summer. Or for a quieter experience away from the hustle and bustle, stay at one of several lakefront cottage resorts for a more intimate experience. Whatever you do, don’t forget to bring your fishing gear, since Lake Nipissing is widely known as one of the top walleye lakes in the country, and is developing an international reputation for producing trophy muskie as well.

Lake Temagami
Water Sky Cloud Leg People in nature

Photo by Ontario Parks

Located about 80 kilometres north of North Bay and about four-and-a-half hours from Toronto, beautiful Lake Temagami stretches through the lush northern forest like a giant spider, its multitude arms and branches meandering far into the hillsides to create a sparkling boater’s paradise. Extending more than 50 kilometres from north-to-south and 35 kilometres west-to-east, Temagami offers plenty of room to get away from it all with more than 1,200 islands to explore. The shorelines surrounding the lake are part of the Canadian Shield, one of the largest expanses of Precambrian rock in the world, and one of the oldest mountain ranges on earth. Climb the Temagami Fire Tower on nearby Caribou Mountain for sweeping panoramic views of the lake and the surrounding countryside.

Most visitors set out from the community of Temagami, located on Highway 11 at the lake’s eastern end, where visitors can find a full range of facilities including houseboat rentals and an excellent marina. If you prefer to camp, nearby Finlayson Point Provincial Park offers a number of both RV and tent sites, cottages, and a range of facilities including showers, washrooms, a park store and a good boat launch.

The North Channel
Water Cloud Sky Boat Watercraft

Photo by Ontario Tourism

When it comes to picking the top options for a weekend getaway, it’s hard to do better than the magnificent North Channel, the spectacular northern shoreline of Lake Huron that stretches more than 300 kilometers separating Manitoulin Island from the mainland. Peppered with islands and blessed with some of the coldest, clearest and cleanest water anywhere, the North Channel is a feast for the eyes and the soul with its stunning shorelines, abundant wildlife and what many people claim are the best sunsets anywhere.

Start exploring from the village of Little Current, located on Highway 6, where you’ll find launch ramps, overnight accommodations, a number of restaurants, two terrific ice cream stands, and several excellent marinas, including Boyle Marine, Spider Bay Marina, Harbor Vue Marine and Kagawong Municipal Marina - Aus Hunt Marina. Little Current is also home to the Manitoulin Brewing Company, which offers tours and tasting of its craft beers, as well as the Honora Bay Stables which offer sightseeing tours on horseback.

Lake Temiskaming
Water Sky Boat Cloud Watercraft

Photo by City of Temiskaming Shores

Straddling the border between Ontario and Quebec, lovely Lake Temiskaming is just five hours north of Toronto but a world apart in terms of peace, tranquility, and pure relaxation. A widening of the upper Ottawa River, Lake Temiskaming is most easily accessed from the pretty communities of Temiskaming Shores or Haileybury, both located right on the lake shore on Highway 11 with restaurants, overnight accommodations, launch ramps and two excellent marinas operated by the town – Haileybury Marina and New Liskeard Marina.

You’ll want to bring the fishing gear, because Lake Temiskaming enjoys a well-earned reputation as a top spot for walleye and pike. Non-anglers will enjoy a side trip to Thornloe Cheese, in Temiskaming Shores which has made more than 35 varieties of delicious artisanal cheeses on site since 1940. They also offer an on-site food truck with what locals say is the best poutine anywhere. Or visit the bustling farmer’s market in Haileybury, housed in the town’s old clock tower, for a range of delicious local fare.

Lake Manitou
Water Cloud Sky Water resources Vehicle

Photo by Ontario Tourism

Talk about a great lake within a Great Lake – sprawling Lake Manitou, on Manitoulin Island, boasts nearly 150 kilometres of shoreline and depths of up to 50 metres, making it the largest lake contained within a freshwater island anywhere in the world. Perhaps that explains its name of Manitou, the Ojibwe word for a great spirit or powerful being. Today, its exceptionally clear, clean waters represent a paradise for boaters, anglers and scuba divers looking for a terrific weekend retreat. Anglers will appreciate the lake’s abundant brook trout and lake trout – two species that only come from the purest of waters, and which are both abundant in Lake Manitou.

A number of cottage resorts front the big lake, including Manitoulin Report, Bass Creek Resort, and Timberlane Rustic Lodges. Each offer a range of accommodations and dining options, while local restaurants like The Garden’s Gate provide further options for a night out. The nearby communities of Rockville, Green Bay, Bidwell, Big Lake and Sandfield offer everything from gas to shopping and more.

Perhaps the best part of getting to Lake Manitou is the experience of taking the Chi-Cheemaun car ferry, which makes the crossing from Tobermory to Manitoulin Island in about two hours, giving this weekend getaway an extra dose of nautical adventure.