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It is not uncommon for Torontonians to plan a weekend getaway at a cottage or other retreats for much of the year. Many workers choose to take an extra day off around a weekend rather than a longer holiday, using the 3-4 day stretch to take a relaxing break away from the city.

Cottages

Many Toronto residents own a cottage somewhere north of the city. Generally, cottages are available for rental from early summer onwards, and are usually closed after Thanksgiving. Cottages can be located along lakes or rivers, or merely somewhere picturesque and away from the city.

There are quite a few great towns in Ontario's Muskoka region that rent out cottages. A favorite city for many cottagers is Parry Sound Ontario. It's a beautiful town set in Thousand Islands region. Lakes stretch out from the central township, which are dotted with tons of little islands with cottages that provide a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of the big city. Click the link for more info.

Cottage rentals can be found in the classifieds sections of any of the city newspapers. The following websites specialize in cottage rentals:

The cost of renting a cottage varies according to its location and furnishings. Expensive, luxurious cottages run at CDN $2,000 or more per week, while low-end, rustic cottages can be rented for a few hundred dollars a week. Rental costs are higher during the peak season (June-August), and more reasonable during the spring and fall.

Camping

A less expensive but still enjoyable alternative to renting a cottage is to go camping. There are many provincial and private campgrounds located within an hour’s drive from the city. Camping is also a great way to reduce the cost of traveling if you decide to take a longer vacation around the province.

A prime choice for camping around Toronto is the Algonquin Trails Camping Resort, in Dwight Ontario. Located about 2 1/2 hours northeast of the city, this campground offers spacious campsites for tents and trailers, plus some pretty sweet amenities, like an indoor pool, mini-golf, and free wifi. Click the link for more details.

If you plan to go camping you will either need a trailer, or a tent to stay in. There are many stores that sell quality camping gear such as tents, sleeping bags, and other supplies at reasonable prices.

You can also choose to rent a trailer or motor home if you are not comfortable with the rustic camping experience. Some places that rent trailers include:

The following websites list campgrounds and trailer parks available through the summer:

Skiing

Winter does not necessarily put an end to recreational fun in Toronto. Many people love to go skiing through the winter months, taking advantage of the many downhill and cross-country ski resorts located not far from the city. Generally the ski season starts in early December and lasts until March. Most of the ski resorts make artificial snow to improve the slopes, but a mild winter can mean that only a few runs are available. During winter, weather reports usually have a special segment dedicated to skiing conditions.

A great place for skiing, Blue Mountain Resort is located just north of Toronto, and offers chalets, a wide range of hills for all ski levels, and a fun nightlife, when you're finished hitting the slopes. Click the link for more information.

Visit these websites to find other ski ski resorts:

Beaches

Even if you don’t want to rent a cottage or go camping, you may want to spend a weekend at one of the many lovely beaches not far from Toronto. There are usually plenty of hotels and motels located near beaches, making for a comfortable and enjoyable stay. You can also try out one of the beaches located within the city limits if you don’t want to travel too far.

Woodbine Beach, at 10 Ashbridges Bay Pk Rd, in Toronto is a fun beach to visit for the day, with a great boardwalk for walking or rollerblading, beach volleyball courts, and lots of space for sunning and water for swimming.

Toronto’s beaches are tested regularly for swimming safety. To find more about the safety program go to http://www.toronto.ca/beach. Beaches that consistently pass the quality testing are considered “Blue Flag” beaches. To learn more about the International Blue Flag program, visit http://www.blueflag.ca.