Winter Escape To Muskoka

Preparing For An Antarctica Cruise At The JW Marriott Rosseau Muskoka

Winter Escape To Muskoka at JW Marriott Rosseau

Fun On A Winter Escape To Muskoka

We planned a winter escape in Muskoka and enjoyed some cold and snowy weather.  With milder weather in Toronto, we needed to head north to prepare for our coming cruise to Antarctica.  We had a great packing list for Antarctica.  But we needed to refine it with some experience.  

We were excited to return to the JW Marriott Rosseau.  We knew the luxury resort offered us the experience we wanted.  With lots of outdoor trails, it offered many outdoor hiking options.  For a different winter experience, we did a day trip to the Muskoka Lakes Farm And Winery one day.  

Heading North For Cold And Snow

In the winter in Toronto, we expected snow and very cold weather through at least January and February.  We often found lots of fun things to do in the winter in Ontario.  But this year we counted on snow and cold weather as part of our planning for an Antarctica cruise.  We wanted to test our cold weather gear and get in better shape with some winter hiking.

Normally when we got a milder winter, everyone was happy.  But when the snow left after the holidays and the temperatures drifted well above freezing, we were dismayed.  At home in Toronto, we did not have the weather we wanted to prepare for our coming winter adventure to Antarctica.

When the forecast showed continued mild weather in the city, we decided to head north of Toronto to the Muskoka area in search of winter weather.  The Muskoka weather forecast looked perfect.  When we saw the snowbanks on the side of the road about an hour north of Toronto, we knew we made the right decision.  We were happy we headed to the JW Marriott on Lake Rosseau for two days on a winter escape to Muskoka.

A Birthday Treat On A Winter Escape In Muskoka

We had some free night certificates with Marriott Bonvoy that soon expired.  We enjoyed some great summer and fall visits to the JW Marriott but the rates were much higher than the certificates covered. So we were delighted when the winter rates at the JW Marriott on Lake Rosseau meant we booked our stay with the certificates with just a small points top-up. 

JW Marriott Rosseau - Winter Escape To Muskoka
JW Marriott Rosseau Fire Pit

With low occupancy mid-week in the winter, we even got a nice upgrade on points when we checked in.  Our suite looked out over Lake Rosseau.  This gave us a great view – even if the balconies were all closed in the winter.  

While we headed north to get a winter escape in Muskoka, our trip was also scheduled right around David’s birthday.  When we walked into our suite, it was clear that someone had prepared the room for a special birthday treat.  Even the tasty welcome amenity wished David Happy Birthday.

JW Marriott Rosseau Birthday
JW Marriott Rosseau Food Amenity - Winter Escape To Muskoka

Our suite had a great gas fireplace that we used throughout our stay.  And it even had a small kitchen area for snacking.  We used the soaker tub to warm up more than once!

JW Marriott Rosseau

Our haven in Muskoka had everything we needed for a relaxing birthday break.

Enjoying The JW Marriott Rosseau Muskoka In Off-Season

We soon learned how empty the resort was when we visited.  There were only a few guests plus a small group at the hotel.  Our room was dead quiet and we were often the only ones in the restaurants.  Many people would have missed having people around.  But the quiet was perfect for this escape.

JW Marriott Rosseau Veuve Cliquot
JW Marriott Rosseau - Winter Escape To Muskoka

We enjoyed the food options available at the JW Marriott on Lake Rosseau.  With our Marriott Bonvoy elite status we got free breakfast and we had lots of tasty options to choose from.

JW Marriott Rosseau Food Breakfast - Winter Escape To Muskoka
JW Marriott Rosseau Food Breakfast

One night the Italian restaurant Teca was open.  And on the other night the Chop House was open.  Of course we tried both.  And the birthday treats kept coming!

JW Marriott Rosseau Food Teca - Winter Escape To Muskoka
JW Marriott Rosseau Food Chop House
JW Marriott Rosseau Food Birthday - Winter Escape To Muskoka

We found pros and cons to travelling in off-season.  Less people and lower rates were always welcome.  But we also knew that off-season meant many places were closed.  And hours of service reduced.  We knew before we headed north that the fun Ice Caves at the JW Marriott Rosseau were not open mid-week.  But we were disappointed when we learned the Ice Bar and vodka tasting was also closed on our visit.

JW Marriott Rosseau Ice Caves
JW Marriott Rosseau Ice Caves - Winter Escape To Muskoka

On our winter escape in Muskoka we enjoyed some of the winter offerings at the hotel.  But missed several experiences we hoped to try.

Hiking Around The Resort In Winter

While we enjoyed the quiet inside spaces of the resort, we headed north for the winter weather.  Our packing list for Antarctica covered the many layers of winter clothes we needed.  And our new cameras needed some winter tests.  So we layered up and headed out on the paths around the resort.  The resort offered snow shoes but we wanted to test the gear we planned to take to Antarctica.

JW Marriott Rosseau Snow Shoes

The paths around the ponds were covered in fresh snow and there were no marked trails.  So we tread carefully as we followed the route around the ponds.  We stayed well back from the water since the ice was still barely formed.  It was a great test of our boots and poles on the uneven ground.  And we realized that when active we may not need as many layers as we feared.

JW Marriott Rosseau Winter Hike Marsh - Winter Escape To Muskoka
JW Marriott Rosseau Winter Hike Marsh
JW Marriott Rosseau Winter Hike Marsh

After the pond area we headed towards Lake Rosseau.  It was such a different view to see the lake area all covered in snow.  

JW Marriott Rosseau Winter Hike Lake Rosseau
JW Marriott Rosseau Winter Hike Lake Rosseau - Winter Escape To Muskoka

We tromped along the fresh snow.  And could not resist a stop at the Muskoka chair sitting in the snow.  From this lower level we got an interesting view of the snow-covered resort.

JW Marriott Rosseau Winter Hike Marsh - Winter Escape To Muskoka
JW Marriott Rosseau - Winter Escape To Muskoka

As we hiked around the JW Marriott Rosseau we took pictures and video with our new camera gear.  We did not want a learning curve when we finally started our cruise to Antarctica.  

A Day Trip To Muskoka Lakes Farm And Winery

When we visited Muskoka at cranberry season we enjoyed a day at the cranberry bog at the Muskoka Lakes Farm And Winery.  We knew they were open in the winter with other fun experiences.  When we called in advance we learned that some parts were open.  But the skating path was not yet fully frozen. We still decided it was worth a day trip.

Muskoka Farms & Winery Route
Muskoka Farms & Winery Store - Winter Escape To Muskoka
Muskoka Farms & Winery Winter Activties
Muskoka Farm JW Marriott Rosseau Muskoka Winter 2023

Arriving at the Muskoka Lakes Farm And Winery we walked around and checked out the ice path and the different hiking paths.  If we had more time, we could have rented snowshoes for a hike.  Our walk took us for a view over the cranberry bogs and the paths we walked on our previous visits.

Muskoka Farms & Winery Ice Trail
Muskoka Farms & Winery Trails - Winter Escape To Muskoka
Muskoka Farms & Winery Trails - Winter Escape To Muskoka
Muskoka Farms & Winery Trails

On our first visit to Muskoka Lakes Farm And Winery we did wine tasting and enjoyed the fruit wines.  The patio was covered in the winter so wine tasting still happened in all seasons.  A large fire pit area was set up by the store and cafe area.  But with few visitors, the fires sadly were not going.  But we still wandered in the store and picked up a hot treat to enjoy outside. 

Muskoka Farms & Winery Tasting - Winter Escape To Muskoka
Muskoka Farms & Winery Fire Pit

We loved the wide range of activities offered in the winter at the Muskoka Lakes Farm And Winery.  Mid-week it was quiet.  And the milder weather meant not everything was operating when we visited.  But it was still a great winter escape in Muskoka.

A Sweet Detour On The Way Home

Our visit to Muskoka for two days was successful.  David had a great birthday experience.  And we got some practice with our winter gear and cameras for our coming cruise to Antarctica.  With a weather forecast for more snow, we did not dawdle at check-out and headed back to Toronto before mid-day.

Snow

But when the snow did not really materialize on our drive home, we knew we had time for a detour.  We loved when our road trips had enough time for stops along the way.  We programmed the GPS for the Mariposa Market in Orillia and prepared for a tasty break.

Mariposa Market Orillia

Family members suggested several times that the Mariposa Market was a good stop on the way to Muskoka.  We were teased with pictures of desserts.  But when we entered we knew there were too many temptations on this stop.  Even though we wanted many of the things we found, we ultimately picked up only two mini cakes.  After all, we still needed another sweet treat for David’s birthday.

Mariposa Market Orillia - Winter Escape To Muskoka
Mariposa Market Orillia -Winter Escape To Muskoka

We left Orillia happy we stopped on our winter escape in Muskoka.  But we knew this was not the last time this detour would be made!

A Great Winter Escape To Muskoka

We enjoyed our winter escape in Muskoka.  Our luxury resort stay in off-season provided a great spot to relax after we explored the hiking paths.  It was one of the reasons we kept returning to the JW Marriott on Lake Rosseau.  When we re-visited to the Muskoka Lakes Farm And Winery we found some new winter activities too.  

We wanted the cold weather and snow to help with the preparation for our coming cruise to Antarctica.  So we were happy we tested some of our gear and made amendments to our packing list for Antarctica.  When we also got some great birthday treats, it made the whole trip extra special.  

Have you done a winter escape to Muskoka in Ontario?  Did you find a favourite winter activity?

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58 Comments

  1. You’re going on a trip to Antartica? That’s awesome! I can understand the feeling that everyone else had vs you – preferring not so freezing temperature vs preparing for a Polar trip! Birthday trip to Muskoka sounds fun. The treat in the room with cheese & fruits platter and wine is so awesome. The place looks incredible covered in snow. The Ice Caves are an icing on the cake. Good to know that wine tasting happens at Muskoka Lakes Farm And Winery in all seasons.
    Btw, Happy Birthday David!

  2. Testing out the equipment for Antarctica is a good enough reason to take a short trip to a cold destination. I have heard about Muskoka before, from a restaurant tv show, but that was filmed in autumn I think. It looks very beautiful in winter. And the hotel seems very cosy as well, even if some of the activities weren’t running, like the ice caves. Either way though, it’s great when there are just a few guests and you can enjoy some peace and quiet on your holiday. I love the way the hotel welcomed you, how cute!

  3. Muskoka’s winter was something I was eager to experience! It must have been enjoyable for both children and adults to take advantage of the cold weather and play in the snow. Your stay at the JW Marriott on Lake Rosseau seems to have been pleasant, and the meals there certainly seem delectable!

  4. Your winter escape to Muskoka seems quite an exciting one and it made for a good trial experience before you guys head towards Antarctica.I can understand how much you crave for snow living in Toronto. And your stay at JW Marriott facing lake Rousseau is luxurious one with cozy interiors and it was pleasure to see how a lavish birthday celebration was set up exclusively for your husband. And of course a wine tasting experience at the Muskoka lakes farm and winery is like a cherry on the cake.

    • We love a little pampering when we head out for a short break. Our trip to Muskoka got us some winter weather to play in and a great resort to relax in. Always fun to get back to the Muskoka Lakes Farm & Winery.

  5. What a wonderful birthday surprise for David awaiting him in the room! Muskoka looks freezing, but I’m glad you got to test your gears and yourselves for the trip to Antarctica while spending two days there. One other good thing I liked about your trip was you got to try a different restaurant in the hotel. And it’s a good decision to detour to Mariposa Market for the sweet treat.

  6. I love you snowy winter pictures from your trip to Muskoka. I always feel, that off-season travel is even more important in winter than in summer. Everything is expensive and you cannot have just a picnic outside. So it is very good to make use of low rate times. And a big plus: the winter landscape is even more charming when it is quiet.

  7. You’re going on a trip to Antartica? Woow that seems amazing to here. Even I’m also planning for Antartica. But I must say Muskoka looks like a winter land. The place looks amazing with snow around. Marriott Bonvoy seems amazing property to stay and enjoy with with amazing hospitality. I would like ve to visit Muskoka in coming winter.

  8. First of all, happy birthday to David, I’m sure he’ll have a great year. Antarctica – that has been on my list forever, but I have the impression that I’m far too naive. I though I put on a warm jacket and off I go. I’m very impressed that you are literally practicing – and I’m sure you are right! However, practicing in such a marvelous place – who needs Antarctica, after all?! Just kidding – I’m super-jealous 😉

  9. What a great way to celebrate and prepare for your trip! The food looks really delicious. I agree with you regarding the downside of traveling off-peak. Happy to know that you were able to visit the Lakes Farm and Winery. Enjoyed reading your post. Can’t wait to retire and start traveling like you. 🙂

    • We do love the quiet of travelling in off season but we know it means less things are open. We were still able to enjoy the JW Marriott resort and Muskoka Lakes Farm and Winery on our visit.

  10. Muskoka looks like a winter wonderland! And what a great idea to try out the gear for a trip to Antarctica head of time! I would love to go to Antarctica one day but I live in a desert and there is no way that we could test out the gear beforehand. Also, this desert dweller would love to spend a weekend in the snow. What a fun quick getaway!

    • It was a good idea to head north for some winter weather for prep for Antarctica. Since we normally get lots of winter weather at home, we normally do not need to travel for it. But this year we had a good reason.

  11. I know a lot of people that head here in the wintertime rather than the summer when it’s full of tourists. It’s a beautiful area to explore but I still haven’t been in the winter. Love your ideas about things to do here!

  12. Happy birthday David! Looks amazing there even though I have to say that this is the first time I heard about Muskoka. I am from Scandinavia and I know how important the right winter gear is. It used to be so normal to us have everything but now that I have been in California for over 10 years, I struggle to dress up my kids for cold. It’s great that you test out your gear beforehand. And by the way, the food in both of these restaurants looks so delicious.

  13. Woah that looks so cozy! And the food looks delicious. I hope you have a great time in Antarctica. That’s high on my bucketlist!

  14. What a beautiful winter get-away. that lobby fireplace looks lovely and so does all that great food. You always seem to find yummy food. 🙂

  15. Oh my word, the food alone looks like it was worth the visit! WOW! Hope the birthday celebrations were great! Did you at least get to sit around that big cozy fire? What a great read, even though a few things closed for the season, you guys sure looked like you were having a fantastic time! Cheers!

  16. Muskoka looks like a cosy winter escape with lots of great food and things to do. We’re not used to such an amount of snow here in South Africa and therefore aren’t that well equipped for it, so it is great to see how you can still have fun when it is that cold.

    • We have been spending more time outside in the winter these days. And with a coming trip to Antarctica we have a good reason to get some hiking practice in cold and snowy weather.

  17. I’ve always hated that my birthday is in the winter because I’m a beach girl. This looks like it would actually be a really fun (cold) place to celebrate. It’s a bummer that you missed out on things you wanted to try, but your pictures are amazing. Thanks for sharing!

    • David sure did love his birthday celebrations on our winter escape to Muskoka. The resort did a great job of recognizing the event … over and over again! It was a great break and good prep for our coming trip.

  18. It looks like an awesome way to prepare for your trip to Antarctica! I love your way for getting some practice with your winter gear and cameras for your coming cruise to Antarctica. I wish you a great trip and memorable experience!

  19. I really enjoyed reading about your trip to Muskoka. The hotel looks great and how lovely that the staff went to so much trouble to make David’s birthday special 🥳
    A very wise decision to test your winter gear ahead of your Antarctica trip (which also sounds amazing!) Have a fabulous time and I look forward to reading about it 😄

  20. Love that you used an upcoming trip as an excuse to take another trip 😉

    That photo of David in the big blue Muskoka chair is adorable. Sounds like the hotel set you up nicely and you had a great time!

    • We sure did use our coming trip to Antarctica as a reason to get away for a few days! We got some outdoor exercise and a great luxury stay. Perfect all the way around.

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