Whether you're currently hunkered down in cottage country or you've got plans to reach Muskoka in the next couple weeks for a holiday-season escape, there's one important factor you need to work into your December: coffee.
It's the perfect companion for the road trip up north, and for enjoying once you're already settled into the cottage, gazing out the windows as morning frost clings onto tree branches.
Not only is the drink delicious, energizing, and comforting, but it's also an easy way to support small local businesses in the peak of winter. From strong espresso to tea lattes to mugs topped with dollops of ice cream, there's an option for everyone at the hands of a barista in Ontario's northern region.
To help you navigate cottage country's coziest pockets, we're recommending the following five coffee shops as must-visits, regardless of whether Muskoka is your winter's final destination or simply a stunning place you're just passing through.
Affogato Cafe + Gelato
Gelato in your morning brew? It's a go at this Huntsville cafe. On special for December, the coffee and gelato shop is serving candy cane affogatos, gingerbread cappuccinos, apple cider, and peppermint hot chocolate, on top of their regular caffeinated bevvies. While you're here, you may as well pick up a pack of truffles too; with the melty treats being hand-crafted and covered in chocolate or dusty cocoa... how could you say no?
Address: 72 Main Street East (Riverfront Entrance), Huntsville
RELISH Kitchen & Market
Perhaps the hard opposite of ice cream for breakfast, RELISH is a "fresh cafe" serving up healthy goods in Gravenhurst. Don't get it twisted, though -- these eats are mouthwatering not in spite of their wellness-factor, but because of it. While you snag a snazzy hot drink (which can be made vegan), you can also stock up on goodies like clean skincare, natural soap, and artisanal condiments in store.
Address: 240 Muskoka Road North, Gravenhurst
If you're more team London fog than cappuccino crew, this tea-centred cafe is the pit-stop for you. From matcha to chai to earl grey, this spot's got all the non-coffee caffeine options you could dream of, while they're also appealing to bean lovers with classic coffee orders available as well. Some may say "you can't please everyone," but it looks like TeaBeards is up for the challenge.
Address: 115 Muskoka Road South, Gravenhurst
This cafe has several locations across cottage country, which is good news for anyone planning to road trip this winter -- once you're in the Muskoka region, Oliver's won't ever be too far away. While you'll stop by for a caffeine-boost, you'd be remiss not to grab one of the unreal-looking pastries this place is serving up. Doughnut, cinnamon roll, or butter tart, you do you... just make sure you remember it's espresso, not expresso!
Address: Several; find your closest here
Camp Muskoka Coffee House
You'll come for the coffee, but you'll (want to) stay for the building its served in. Camp Muskoka Coffeehouse might just boast the most quintessential cottage-vibes in all the region, at least where cafe outposts are concerned. As you make your way in and out of the log cabin-style coffee shop, make sure you take a few moments to enjoy the outdoor fireplace that keeps the building's exterior ultra cozy.
Address: 72 Manitoba Street, Bracebridge