Cottage vacations are a great way to get your little one out into nature while still keeping some of the comforts of home. We’ve been taking out little guy to the cottage since he was about two months old and it’s become a great summer tradition. Here are some of my tips, ideas & suggestions for getting the most our of your cottage adventure with your toddler.
What to Pack
It always amazes me how much extra stuff you need to bring with you when you’re traveling with a little one. Our car was packed to the point we could barely open the doors but, we used everything we brought!
We made sure to pack lots of little guy sized items like a special inflatable toddler bed, mini camping chair (with cup holder of course) toys, games, floaties & our new Munchie Mug. I was so excited to try out the Munchie Mug since my little guy tends to be messy when it comes to snacks. I was so surprised that all of his snacks actually stayed in the cup or his mouth, this is definitely worth checking out if you’re traveling with a kiddo!
The Drive There
There is nothing I dread more than the drive to the cottage. Three hours in a car with a little one is no easy feat. So, every year we find ways to break up the journey so it’s less stressful for everyone.
This year we stopped at Santa’s Village on the way up as it was about two hours into our drive and was the perfect place to get out and have some fun. If you are headed to the Muskoka area I highly recommend you check it out!
We also downloaded a few episodes of Paw Patrol onto the iPad which helped to take my little guy’s mind off the car ride. I love that Netflix allows you to download content, it certainly helps to make a long drive (or plane ride) with a little one more manageable.
Enjoying the Great Outdoors
Hiking is such a great activity when you’re up at a cottage but isn’t always the easiest thing to do with a toddler. Make sure you research the area you are going to and look for a few trails that are shorter in length and have a relatively even terrain. I find that most trails that are marked as ‘accessible’ are perfect for taking a little one as they are generally quite flat and often have boardwalk sections which are much easier to walk on.
If you aren’t sure your little one will make it the entire way make sure you have a back up plan! We always bring our Saddlebaby which is a backpack that has a shoulder seat attachment. We love it because, it’s easy to carry (we generally always need to bring a few things in a bag anyways) and it’s such a comfortable way to carry my little guy if his legs are too tired to continue lol.
If hiking isn’t really your thing or you’re looking for another good way to enjoy nature try visiting look out points. These are generally just a short walk in (sometimes you can drive right up to them) and they definitely give you a nice easy view without the trouble of hiking.
Find some local Toddler Friendly Activities
Depending on how long your vacation is you may need to look for other activities in order to keep your little one interested and engaged. Most small towns in cottage county have at least a few family friendly activities that are worth checking out. Here are a few that we found in the Huntsville/Algonquin Park area.
The Muskoka Heritage Place
The Muskoka Heritage Place was such an awesome day trip! You start by wandering through a restored Pioneer Village which is full of very friendly & informative staff. There are also tons of hands on activities your little one can try to keep them interested and engaged.
After visiting the town you can ride the old steam engine and even get a chance to see how it works. This was by far my little guy’s fav part!
Algonquin Visitors Centre
This is one of my favourite places to take my little guy. It’s indoors (which is perfect for a super hot or rainy day) and has so much to see and discover. Like animal exhibits (all humanely collected and expertly displayed) and many different interactive areas that talk about the history of the park. There’s even a food court if you’re looking for a place to grab a quick lunch!
Algonquin Logging Museum
Last but certainly not least is the Algonquin Logging Museum. This exhibit combines so many great aspects of other activities into one awesome place. The museum is set outdoors, so it requires you to hike from place to place in short spurts which is ideal for little ones. There are also lots of interactive stops along the way and tons of information to make the experience educational as well. This is a must do in my mind if you’re in the area with a little one.
Spending time at the Lake
The BEST part of being at the cottage is getting to spend time at and in the lake. My little guy loves swimming so we managed to spend many days (or at least portions of many days) at the lake.
And, the lake isn’t just for swimming we went kayaking, fishing & played in the sand. The possibilities are really endless especially if you’ve got a few floaties to enjoy (not pictured are our giant donut and flamingo inflatables 😉
Enjoying Cottage Nights
Unfortunately, I don’t have many pictures in this area for a few reasons. It was really damp during our trip so camp fires weren’t really possible. It was also VERY buggy and I’m a bug magnet so as soon as the sun went down I stayed indoors. BUT, we still managed to enjoy my fav cottage snack S’mores, we just cheated a little and made them on the BBQ rather than over the camp fire. If you’ve never tried this method you totally should, they were the best S’mores ever and were so easy to make. You could even make them at home if you wanted although that might not be a good idea lol.
Well that’s it! If you are thinking about taking your little one to a cottage I highly recommend it. It’s such an easy get away that you and your kiddo will love. Can’t wait to book for next year!!