The Township of Muskoka Lakes is anchored by many smaller communities such as Bala, Port Carling, and Windermere to name a few. Bala is a small rural community that has a year-round population of approximately 370 residents but swells to over 5000 during the summer months. It’s located just over two hours from Toronto and 30 minutes from the town of Bracebridge.
Its small-town charm makes it the perfect place to retire or enjoy some of the best cottage country because of its access to year-round recreational activities and escape from the fast-paced lifestyle. The community is most well known for its unique events and festivals put off by the town, most notably the Cranberry festival.
Bala being such a small rural community does not have any schools local to the community, so students are bussed to the nearby town of Bracebridge which has a variety of elementary and secondary school options. Glen Orchard Public School, Monck Public School, and Monsignor Michael O’Leary Catholic School are just a few elementary school options. High School students can attend either Bracebridge and Muskoka Lakes Secondary School or St Dominic Catholic Secondary School.
As mentioned earlier Bala provides access to many recreational activities. The Bala Historic Walk is a 4.5-kilometer walk and is accessible for those in wheelchairs or for strollers. The self-guided walk provides views of Moon River and Bala Falls as you visit a variety of historic destinations along the way including the Lucy Maud Montgomery Museum.
You will also find many parks and beaches to choose from within the community for outdoor fun. Jaspen Park has a small beach that’s perfect for swimming during the summer and the Muskoka Lakes Sports Park provides a couple of fun activities having a skate park and soccer field.
The community of Bala is known for its unique events and festivals such as the Bala Cranberry Festival. This annual festival happens every October and is centered around celebrating their beloved cranberry. There are a variety of kids’ activities and entertainment throughout the whole weekend, as well as an arts and crafts show. A visit to the four-season destination Muskoka Lakes Farm and Winery is a must-do during the Cranberry Festival. You can participate in their Bog-To-Bottle Tour which allows you to immerse yourself in the harvesting of cranberries while being in the middle of one of their cranberry beds. You can also visit their shop or tasting room for one of their guided wine tastings.
Located at the center of town is “the Kee” which is an iconic destination for entertainment in Muskoka. The Kee is an outdoor concert venue located on Lake Muskoka and has hosted many prominent acts like Blue Rodeo in more recent years. Although many things have changed in Muskoka, the Kee has remained a tradition even after many decades in operation by residents and visitors.
Bala has a vibrant downtown filled with many unique local businesses that are worth checking out. If you’re looking for a great gift idea Cottage Cravings is the place to go. For those looking for a place to enjoy a nice family dinner Bala Falls Pub provides a great family atmosphere and has all your classic homemade pub fare favorites. If you’re looking for a restaurant to enjoy a relaxed date night, the Moon River Lookout provides spectacular views of the falls while you enjoy your dinner.
Bala may be a small community, but it is the perfect place to enjoy cottage country or retire. Nearby amenities are just a short drive away and there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy unique adventures and experiences to help you relax and escape the hustle and bustle.
-The BDAR Team